Les, you came from very humble beginnings and made it in an industry that really wasn’t defined. What financial mistakes did you make along the way?
Les: I often say that most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss. No . . . most people fail in life because they aim too low and hit. You see, I was left in an abandoned building to die as a child and was labeled mentally retarded, so my expectations of myself were not always the highest. Even after I had served in the Ohio state legislature and had a successful career as a radio personality, I was aiming too low when I got my first big national break in media. Too often, we are so desperate to get that first big break that we are willing to accept any deal that comes our way, so we lowball ourselves during the negotiation process.
You see, I was so broke that I use to trip the alarm when I walked pass the bank!!! (laughter). So when I was in a position to negotiate my own TV Show, are you kidding me, I just wanted to be on TV! I was willing to accept whatever paycheck they were offering, and that’s the mistake so many new people make when coming into the business. From that experience, I learned that you should always have someone negotiating business deals with you or on your behalf. That way, you won’t let your lesser view of yourself and your worth get in the way of your destiny. Even if you can’t afford to pay a manager or you’re not famous enough for an agent, get someone to work with you and speak on your behalf because the other party doesn’t know any different.
Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes, only you can say what you need to say the way it needs to be said when it comes to your future. Don’t bury your head in the sand and let everyone do the talking for you, but don’t talk so much when you are negotiating a new salary, a new deal, or your first big break that you talk yourself out of a blessing.