How to Move to Florida and Bask in the Sun...
by John Francis
Some months ago, the snow was swirling outside my window and cars were screeching on ice down below. I thought of Rene Gnam, one of this country's most successful direct response writers, and how he must be enjoying Florida sunshine.
"How did you get there?" I asked. "Doesn't being away from New York limit your income?"
"Well, John," he hesitated, "if I answer you, my ego will show."
"Oh, nuts, Rene, it always shows," I said. "Think of all Pete Hoke's readers who'd love to be consulting and creating copy at a retreat like yours. Write me a few grafs about how you did it. I promise to buy lunch when you're in New York."
"I'll give you great publicity."
That did it. He did it. And here are his remarks on how to get out of the snow and increase your income.
Rene Gnam's Early Fears"When I decided that I 'had it' with New York mayhem, I told a few friends I was planning to move to New Jersey. "They were horrified. 'Where's that' was a typical comment. 'You'll lose your clients' was another. I weighed the problem, shuddered, but decided to move anyway.
"I did lose clients, the time-wasting wheel-spinners, those who believe six meetings are needed to polish a comma.
"But income grew, because my copy was working."
His Big Move"In Jersey, I could always get into Manhattan within an hour for a meeting. But what if I was 1,000 miles away? I thought about a Florida move, but chickened out.
"One day the snow was 52" high on my Jersey patio, way above the barbecue grill. That was the clincher.
"The devil with meetings, I said to myself. I don't need this.
"So I spent alternate weekends searching for a place in the sun, finally finding sparkling Clearwater. I moved half of what I owned, still clinging to the possibility that I might have to go back to the New York metroplex to earn an income.
"I won't go back. I love it here for several reasons.
"I hate doing layouts in vests. They restrict my mind. I abhor writing copy in a glass and steel environment. It stifles me.
"These days, when I wear a t-shirt and Bermudas, I'm really dressed up. My normal attire is a bikini. Nothing else. When clients visit for consulting, I get fancy � a sport shirt and slacks, sometimes.
"My secretaries wear cut-offs, jeans, whatever they're most comfortable wearing. We churn out more good work than a covey of pin-stripes.
"My superior ladies don't frown at bringing me coffee. And they'll mix a drink for a client, or themselves. They're getting New York pay in a prettier, less expensive town, and they have major medical and all the other goodies."
His Big Discovery"When I moved here, suddenly clients sought me. If I was good enough at what I do, at age 40, to chuck New York, I must be plenty good, they seemed to say.
"They fly here and stay at my guest house. They drive my guest car. We beach and pool and barbecue together. We review marketing strategies with no blueprint interruptions.
"When I write, I'm totally alone, able to concentrate on the project at hand.
"My income has risen, dramatically. My client roster has expanded, triple-fold. My peace of mind and lifestyle are just what I want. And I no longer fight to get a cab.
"Sure, I get back to New York -- two or three times a year. Clients visit me at my hotel suite. That eliminates the phone calls in their offices. We can concentrate.
"And how do I recharge my creative batteries? I cook. I swim. I sun. I count herons and pelicans and ducks and geese. I pick my own oranges, grapefruit, and lemons as big as grapefruit.
"And I travel the world, picking up new insights into people everywhere I go, everywhere I speak.
"That makes me realize how fortunate I am...to be making a very good living by doing just what I love doing.
"When it rains in New York, you get streaks of soot on your windows. When it rains here, your windows sparkle and you get new hibiscus blossoms.
"We don't have the restaurants and theatre you have.
"But we have restaurants and theatre. And I find them wherever I travel. That makes it fun to visit a client.
"Could I live again in New York? I doubt it. Copy would suffer. I would suffer. I must live free, so I can think free -- for myself and my clients."
Tighe Queries GnamAfter Rene's glowing comments on what he terms the good life, I asked him if his income away from New York really is so stellar.
"Over a quarter of a million dollars a year since I've been here, John."
Maybe he has a point.