By now, I was getting used to the raucous welcome we were in the process of receiving at the offices of Clifton Insurance in Roswell, just up the road from Atlanta. It was 8:00 AM, but the brokers and managers who had gathered for the rehearsal of a major presentation were already stoked with double-shot Starbucks, not to mention naturally pumped up with adrenaline. It was crunch time and they were loving it!
Laughter erupted from a corner of the large glass-walled conference room as Mr. Shmooze delivered the punch line from one of his classic stories. Then a deep voice sucked most of the oxygen out of the atmosphere.
"Okay, where is he?"
"We've got him over here, boss."
"You owe me, bro!"
"I know, I know. Don't rub it in."
Mr. Shmooze reached into his pocket and pulled a 20-dollar bill from his silver money clip.
"I still can't believe Soriano goes deep for the walk-off Grand Slam. I almost swallowed my cigar."
By now, Jack Clifton, all 6 feet 6 inches of him, had made his way over to Mr. Shmooze and was happily relieving him of the 20 bucks. He was smiling ear to ear and laughing loud enough to stop a truck.
"Yeah, baby. I love it. It's the Cubbies' year. Double or nothing tonight, Shmooze?"
"You're on, shorty. Don't spend that twenty on lunch."
With that, the two men embraced and exchanged back slaps that validated their long and warm friendship.
"Are you ready to rock and roll, Shmooze?"
"Let's do this."
It was time to get down to business. Everyone ...