THE PRICE TAG

THE PRICE TAG

I could feel myself getting smaller in the chair, and turning a distinct shade of purple. Be cool, Kelsey, I told myself, he doesn’t know. No one knows…

As I told myself to calm down and reclaim a normal skin color — it was a video interview after all — Grant Cardone continued his rant.

“I was bragging because I got upgraded to first class. Oh my God I got upgraded! Dude, if you’re bragging about getting upgraded?! you don’t have a business. You’re a slave to Delta.”

I was sitting there with a man estimated to be worth about 500 million, and I couldn’t even afford Delta. I flew Southwest. In fact, I drove almost four hours to Dallas in order to fly Southwest because they offer direct (cheaper AND faster) flights from Love field to almost anywhere.

Sometimes before an interview, my millionaire guests will make small talk with me and I think please Lord, don’t let them ask where I’m staying. Please oh please oh please. Because you know where I stay? The Holiday Inn.

Alright, if I’m coming clean here it’s usually a Holiday Inn Express.

Which to give you an accurate picture, express hotels in New York and LA are not anywhere near as nice as some of the pet hotels available, should Mr.Snuggles need a place to stay while you are off traveling through Paris. There are people drinking fine wine and eating baguettes with glee, knowing their pooch is getting a mani pedi, while I’m just trying to get the thermostat somewhere between You’re In Hell Now and So Cold You’ll Actually Die Here Alone.

Joe Berlinger did actually ask me, I guess God was helping refugees that day. The nerve. I kind of mumbled my answer under my breath. He said, “Oh, you’re a freelancer, huh?” with a distinct mixture of respect, pity and disgust that comes from having been there — the bottom of the industry totem pole.

Cardone meant well during our interview — he was trying to explain that people don’t think big enough. On that we agree completely.

But I felt a little sad for my viewers, who may watch the episode and get discouraged when he implied that a $35,000 speaking fee was laughable. I know many aspiring speakers who would give up their legs for that kind of gig. People with inspiring handicaps always crush it with the crowd. Who hasn’t been jealous of the articulate gal who happened to get hit by a bus and survive and then wrote a bestseller?!

As we wrapped up the interview, I prayed a special prayer for the desk clerk at The Holiday Inn Miami South Beach. That morning, as I put on my black lace shirt from Dillard’s, I went to remove the price tag. I left the tags on until the last minute because the shirt was $99.95. A hundred bucks for one shirt?! You better believe that was going back if the interview got cancelled.

But, with great fear and trembling, I realized that the price tag was attached with unbreakable string. I don’t know a lot about string but I assure you, that particular blend was the stuff used on the international space station and in the military and probably in the manufacturing of Spanx. There I was, right before go time with Wonder String on my tag and no scissors. I put the shirt on, pulled the tag out, and got ready, thinking I’d ask for scissors at the front desk on my way out. I then promptly forgot all about it. But, because God loves me, I had gone to the desk to check out, something I don’t often do because it’s not necessary, and as I turned to walk away, the attendant cried out with appropriate urgency. “Miss! Ma’am! Um, your tag is showing.”

Can you imagine if I’d skipped check out and met Grant’s people with a price tag still attached to my shirt — a shirt that only cost a hundred bucks!? The. horror. I bet his underwear costs more than a hundred bucks! I’m feeling squirmy at my desk right now just thinking about it. The embarrassment, not his underwear.

I know there are people reading who wouldn’t pay $100 bucks for a shirt, or couldn’t afford it. There could also people reading who would not give that kind of purchase a second thought, because they just returned from Paris with a new collar for Mr.Snuffles that cost three times that much. For me, it’s a splurge, but it’s not a bank-breaker. However, when you start to add up all the outfits I buy for these interviews, it gets a little crazy. This is why, yes, I repeat outfits. Please pretend not to notice.

On the way home from an interview, I sometimes sit there on the plane, even a Southwest plane, feeling like a badass. Please Oh Please let someone ask me why I’m traveling or what I do! I think. (Between this admission and the earlier hit by a bus comment I made, it’s a wonder I have any friends, I know. Thanks for reading.)

Flying home from Miami, however, I felt lame and defeated. Holiday Inn Express. What a loser.

But then, I remembered. At the beginning, Cardone was just trying to stay sober and sell cars. At the beginning, his goal was probably a $1000 speaking gig, or maybe even just a paid speaking gig. At the beginning he bragged about getting upgraded to first class. He’s just so far removed from his beginning, he’s forgotten.

I made a vow with myself that day. Anytime I start to throw a pity party for myself, I would add two words to the end of my whining. This has been a game changer for me, and it will be for you as well.

Those words are “right now.”

I can’t afford to fly first class right now.

I can’t get Tyler Perry’s people to take my phone call right now.

I can’t give up my evening wine-replacing-dark-chocolate habit right now.

Those two words remind us that this too shall pass. They imply that change is coming. They comfort me and inspire me and scare me and motivate me all at the same time.

I am still in the beginning of my journey. You probably are at the beginning of something too. The beginning stages of losing weight, launching your business, starting a writing habit, etc.

To become our best selves and give the world our best work, we have to stick with it and get past the beginning.

I encourage you to try adding those two words to your problems today! Let me know how it goes. Unless, of course, your problems have to do with Mr.Snuggles’ hired dogwalker or your jet or your private chef, in which case, please refrain from emailing me.

This post is a working excerpt/idea from my upcoming book Success for the Rest of Us! If you enjoyed this piece, get my weekly personal posts and book updates emailed to you. You can also show the love by hitting the heart button below so more people will see it.

This post also appeared on Medium.com.

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