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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

I Met This Guy In A Bar


At least once a year I am privy to a story that focuses on why a friend, colleague, client, or associate is doing business with someone Ive never heard of. I listen intently as they tell me how this person (I never heard of) is going to save the planet, get them something clearly unattainable to everyone else, bequeath them millions, and make their life oh-so-much better than anyone elses.

This unknown person has some magical method of making money, and because of their genuine kindness they want to share this special gift with my friend. You would think I would be bored with this story and know it like the back of my hand, because 25 years ago I had an ex-business partner who ran a multi-million dollar Ponzi Scheme and that worked well for himnot!

I try to warn my friend/associate of the dangers of these types of people. I relay the advice my stepfather (who was the CFO of Northwest Industries) told me: If someone tells you they can spin straw into gold, and theyre going to share the method with you, ask yourself why they are so kind as to share this valuable gift?  Because in sharing this information they have de-valued their gold by 50 percent or more. Because if you can make gold, you can under-price him and sell your gold for less and make all of the money. The answer is, of course, nobody can spin straw into gold, nobody. Thats why they are called fairytales.

But as I listen to my friend rave about their newfound connection to the world of unfound riches and unjustified enrichment, I ask the obvious question:  Where did you meet this guy? And the answer is nearly always the same, I met him in a bar. Of course you did.

And what is his name, I ask. Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, or Mr. Kaluaha?  And of course they are in business making a killing with their magical method and they like you so theyre going to share their good fortune with you. Lucky you, you are going to be wealthy, wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. You who went to college, got a job, married your sweetheart, bought a house in the suburbs, have 2.3 kids (who love you and count on you to do the right thing for them), you who mows the lawn on Saturday, goes out with your friends for a burger, watches the football game on Sunday, and goes to work on Monday like the rest of us. You are going to be a multi-millionaire just because you met Magic Jeff in a bar and he likes you. Yeah, thats how it works. What Disney movie have you been watching?

Of course this never ends well. What starts off as I can get you $16 million. ends up with you at your lawyers office, bawling your eyes out, and begging them to save your house from foreclosure. So, my dear friend, colleague, associate, or whatever relationship we have now, here are my words of wisdom: You dont meet anyone in a bar who is going to make for a good business partner. Why? Because this is not the setting where most good business deals are consummated.  Not to mention the fact that liquor is involved and your brain is not working correctly. So, on behalf of your spouse and children who love you, continue to make it the good old-fashioned way: EARN IT, and then its yours.

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago. She's also one of Radio Ink's Most Influential Women in Radio. Miller can be reached at or 312-454-1111.