FRED PRYOR, I was not surprised to learn, has made enough money from lecturing corporation types on how to hire people, how to stop wasting time, etc., to build his horses a fine swimming pool. Heated, of course, so they can paddle about and refine the backstroke during winter, when they cannot race about the turf properly.
Yesterday he was lecturing on "Managing Time" at the Sheraton-Pack Hotel, where 150 people paid$100 each to ponder such truths as these:
Bosses waste a lot of their workers' time.
If you keep your back to people, they won't drop by to chat so often.
You can make somebody else answer the phone, sometimes.
Once you get the knack, which may involve the most outrageous flattery, you can sometimes make bosses do some of your work.
You can simply say no to the lovely colleagues who keep dreaming up things for you (rather than them) to do.
You can face it head-on, that some things are more important to be done than others, and concentrate on them.
The students included Vern Ballard, a lobster buyer, and Michael Cady, who works for a dental society, and Suzanne (no last name, to prevent wolves) who with a handful of other beauties has a design business and everything is great except nobody knows how to manage anything.
All of them had come to Canterbury, so to speak, to get help, and Fred Pryor was full of holy blissful answers.
I found him second to Judith Anderson in "Medea," but no worse than second, as he stalked, strode, melted and throbbed upon the stage. Hour after hour he can talk, over a tremendous range of tones, and he is rarely in one spot or one bodily position more than 1 1/2 seconds.
People seem to think they are learning a lot about organizing their time, but what they are really doing, if I may intrude the truth, is beholding a dramatic performance of astonishing force. Af if Themistocles were reading aloud the Athens phone book.
"Here is some money," he cried, holding up a batch of bills. "What is your name, sir? All right, Bill, choose any one of them. Ha. You choose the $50, not the fives or the ones."
He went on to high parables -- in our office hours we have obligations like the $50 bill, and obligations like the $1 bill.
The light dawns. We should tend chiefly to the big, main, substantial obligations and, if time runs out, leave the lesser things undone.
Wow. At lunch he told me he had grown up on a farm.
"The tremendous advantage of farming is you know what you have to accomplish. For me, milking cows. There is no way to convince a cow to wait till tomorrow, even if the milking machinery should freeze."
He turned his back, however, on all that clarity and "escaped" (as he somewhat ungratefully put it) into the study of psychology, hoping thereby to make more money than milking cows. Clarity is not everything.
He must have succeeded beyond his double-x dreams.
He now has a nationwide system of business seminars.
His wife travels all over with him, and sometimes he gets back to his horse farm. He was attired yesterday in a knockout expensive sports jacket of mainly red heavy wool. The sort high-quality horse blankets used to be made of. Tossed on the bushes before a swim possibly.
Everyone was -- and I do not use the word lightly -- spellbound. Returning to the office, thinking of the $15,000 gate, I promptly told one boss to go buzz off and stop wasting my time. I think that's what Fred said.
Can't tell what this fool pink slip means. Probably not important. To hell with it. Now the next $50 item...