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Remembering the mysterious Tom Clancy

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p>As you may know, popular and respected author Tom Clancy died recently at age 66. I confess, I have not read his books, but I have really enjoyed the movies based on his books, including, “The Hunt for Red October” (1990), “Patriot Games” (1992) and “Clear and Present Danger” (1994).

Clancy was deep into technology, military tactics and geopolitical maneuvering – things best shown to me on the big screen rather than recounted in detailed writing. (I would just glaze over, thrilling as it is.) His final book, “Command Authority” (Penguin Books, 2013) is due out in December.

I especially related to Clancy because he wasn’t a best-selling writer from the get-go. In fact, for a while, like myself, he was an insurance salesman. He wrote “The Hunt for Red October” (Naval Institute Press, 1984) in his spare time and sold it to a publisher for $5,000. The story goes that he had hoped to sell 5,000 copies and was thrilled when it sold 45,000 copies. And then it gets really good. President Ronald Reagan picked up a copy and called it “my kind of yarn,” which sent sales through the roof. (I hope he had a good royalties clause written into that book contract!)

There are still a few outstanding mysteries in Clancy’s backstory that will probably be recounted in due time. Where did he get all that intricate military knowledge? The Naval Institute Press had to cut 100 pages of technology from his first book. He joined the Army Officer Training Corp but was ultimately unable to serve because of his nearsightedness.

Following his initial literary success, he developed friends in high military places, but, frankly, I try not to picture them giving him sophisticated, detailed military information. Maybe he had a mole. OK, that’s just me being jealous of his brilliance. Forget I said that.

And then there is the mystery of his rather sudden death and the secrecy surrounding the cause. His adoring public doesn’t technically need to know the cause, but reassurance that he wasn’t murdered for his conservative political views might help those of a like mind sleep a little better. What if he himself became “a clear and present danger?” Now I’m scaring myself. (I’m done with the Internet on that topic.)

On a lighter note, did you know that quite a few famous people (that we know of) started out in the insurance industry? To name a few, television producer Mark Burnett once worked in an insurance office. Anne Rice, the queen of vampire literature, including her novel “Interview with the Vampire” (Ballantine, 1997), worked as an insurance claims processor before writing her first best-seller. Harland “Colonel” Sanders’ was also once a very successful insurance salesman. Olympian Bruce Jenner held a job selling insurance outside of training hours, which supported him in the years prior to winning at the Olympics.

I’m just saying ... it’s comforting to know that sometimes really talented people have to straddle two worlds to become famous in one. Salespeople everywhere, take heart! Make your quota early and then devote yourself to your passion. When Plan A doesn’t work out, it’s good to have Plan A/B in place.

Sharon Lennox-Infante is a Certified Life Coach who lives and works in Los Altos. For more information, visit SharonLennox.com.

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