In February, 2001 Gordie is asked by his sister Dani to see if he can help a friend of hers from university, Marcella Barrington, find a new job around the View Port / Carmel area. Her parents aren't well and she'd like to move closer to them in View Port. She's a well-regarded business manager with an MBA and a good work record in Berana, the capital city. But there's not much demand for MBAs outside of the capital. He passes her resume around all the businesses, but no one needs anyone of her qualifications.
His plans require him to hire a business manager, he'd been thinking of a less qualified person, but is happy to hire her if she'll take the job. Right now he only needs an office manager. But if she's prepared to start as the manager of the first office he'll hire her because it will have her in place and handy when the business expands enough to use all her skills. She can then hire a replacement office manager when she takes over as the corporate manager. He arranges an interview with her. The interview is arranged for a Saturday morning. He sends a vehicle with driver to collect her from her current work place on the Friday afternoon, and the driver will return her to her home on Sunday night. She'll have the rest of the weekend visiting with her parents. He also pays her for Saturday morning.
Before the interview he sends her his draft business plan, the results of a market survey, and comparisons with similar operations in other countries. She has two weeks to study them before the interview. All the contacts have been by mail or phone calls through Dani. Neither wants her current boss to know she's looking about, so they don't want any new or strange contacts going through her work office. She and Dani regularly speak on the phone, so her calls aren't suspicious.
Marcella is very impressed with the draft business plan. Gordie had hired a good firm to conduct the market survey so its results are easy to verify, so are the comparisons with other businesses. The draft plan is obviously done by someone not used to doing them, but it's very well thought out and put together. There's little she can do to improve on it, but she can fine tune it a bit and present it better. The only concern is the initial growth figures, because they seem very excessive at first, but they're well backed up in the attached details.
The pay being offered is a little above what she currently gets and much more than what's required for what she'll be doing for the first few years. She can tell the man behind the project, Gordon Mannheim, is planning for the long term and intends for her to expand the job with the business. She also recognises part of the extra salary is for taking the risks with this new venture. He's an unknown entering what's a wide open field of business in this country with no local evidence the business will do well. A lot of risks; but, in her estimate, low risks. She, like Mr Mannheim, expects the business to flourish, because they both see a large demand for the service. All she knows about her prospective new boss is he's Dani's brother and Dani thinks highly of him. She's just made him her heir. Dani also says he's almost qualified as a doctor.
The interview is for late July, just after Gordon passes the Manhood Rites. He's legally an adult and now able to enter into binding contracts.
Marcella arrives at the Clan Residence at 9:00 a.m. and is shown into one of the official clan offices for the interview. Gordon has hired it for the morning. He's making every effort to keep the clan distanced from his private ventures. He knows his father and grandfather, this is his venture and he wants full control. He doesn't want their help at all.
She's very surprised to be greeted by a young boy. He leads her to the discussion corner with lounge chairs and offers her refreshments. She accepts a cup of hot chocolate and a selection of very delicious biscuits. She doesn't know it, but Gordie spent a few hours cooking them last night. He went to great pains to get them right. They're three of his clan's most ancient recipes, but difficult ones to get right. He spent the last week making trial batches, to the great enjoyment of the other members of the residence, because they took much delight in disposing of the trial batches he made. The failures were delicious, and enjoyed by people of all ages. Some even turned up being eaten by well-liked dignitaries at Highcliff while they visited the King.
After a few minutes of small talk to allow her time to get settled, Gordie asks, "First, are the employment terms acceptable?" She nods, because they're perfect and better than she'd hoped to get moving out this way. "No doubt you've some ideas about improving the business plan. I know, from your letters, you're happy with the content and it shows everything is well supported. I'll leave the final presentation formatting up to you, because you're much more experienced at that than I am." She smiles her agreement. "The big issue is going to be the approach to the banks. Neither of us has a business track record and the only two financial organisations I've an inside track with aren't acceptable for that very reason." She nods, she's beginning to like this young man, because he's thought through and anticipated most of her comments. He places some papers on the table beside them, "Here's the legal evidence proving I'm able to enter into valid contracts as a legal adult. I'm sure you'll want to check them. Anything else you wish to discuss that I haven't anticipated?"
Munching another delicious biscuit she picks up and examines the paperwork. Nodding when she puts it back down. She looks at him, "I'm surprised you're so young. But it's clear you know what you're about. Much more so than some people four times your age. It's going to be hard to convince the banks to take you seriously. The biggest problem is going to be to get them to accept the growth figures, two hundred and fifty percent per annum is big."
He nods, and pulls out some folders and discs. He hands them over, "Here's some plans with amended growth figures. Amended down. Choose which you think they're most likely to accept."
She nods, "I think one hundred percent per annum growth for the first five years will be best. Now I've met you I want time to think over the job offer. If I accept the contract will do perfectly as is. What worries me is: I have to burn my bridges to accept this. If it doesn't float I'm dead in the water! I feel it'll work, if we can get the senior funding. My concern is that financing." He nods. "In either case, I'll work on this over the weekend and prepare a final business plan. I'll give you an answer by Monday lunchtime."
Standing up, they shake hands and she leaves, taking the new drafts with her. He also gives her the remaining cookies to take with her.
Returning home she gives the cookies to her mother. After lunch they sit down to have coffee and cookies. Tasting the first one, Mrs Barrington asks, "Marcella, where did you get these cookies?"
"Left overs from my job interview this morning. My prospective boss told me to take them. Why, is there something wrong with them?"
Her mother says, "No, nothing wrong. I'd love it if you can get hold of the recipe for these for me. I haven't tasted these cookies for many years. I know they happen to be a closely kept clan secret. They're only made for special occasions, and then the rules are only their maker can offer them to you to take away."
Marcella sits up, "What's that, mother? The person who offers them to you to take away has to have made them?" Her mother nods. "But he's only a boy, about nine or ten years old!"
Her father sits up, saying, "A ten year old boy's offering you a job?" She nods. He gives his wife a serious look, stands, walks over, and helps himself to a cookie. Eating it he gives a big smile, and sits down, while saying "If he can organise a business as well as he can make these cookies, I'd take the job."
She laughs, "Yes, he can! His draft business plan is almost perfect for presentation. Much better than ones I've seen done by business executives four times his age. But this is really a case of 'all the eggs in one basket' and in a 'sink or swim' situation. I have to quit my job to take a run at this. If we don't get the senior financing we're dead."
Her mother looks up, "You think about it and do what you think is best. But this boy is not your average boy, not if he can cook these biscuits this well. They're a very difficult recipe; that, I know."
Marcella is very worried about this. It's a once in a lifetime chance, but the financing is very risky. She decides to speak to Dani-girl; after all, she must know her brother well because she's made him her heir.
Getting Dani on the phone, she says, "Dani, I've a job offer from your brother, Gordie. It's a very good offer. But I'm worried if we can get the business off the ground. Getting the initial loan is the only real problem. Neither of us has a good enough track record to get a half million dollar loan."
.... There is more of this story ...