Lamblet O’Lamblet owns a small, online business that she has built up over the years. Based on her weight-loss inventions (supplements and topical creams), it grew organically to where it comfortably supported herself and two employees, Rosie Krantz and Gilda Stern. All is well until one of the company’s products gets mentioned in the local news. The wolves of Main Street, that is, the small-town con artists who prey on tiny, Mom and Pop-run businesses, catch her scent on the wind and all of a sudden Lamblet is in danger.
The story revolves around the next five years of gradual lupine take over. In Phase One Wolf #1 sweeps in to become CEO, spending far more money than the company brings in, meanwhile demanding more “perks” like a company Scorpion because she is doing such a great job, replacing key employees with her own hand-picked toadies, and generally making life miserable for the ovine founder and her two colleagues. In Phase Two, emboldened by Lamblet’s obliviousness, Wolf #1 hires Wolf #2, a financial guru who will “take the business to the next level.” They present Lamblet with a business plan promising spectacular growth, based on financial projections short on details but long on optimism. Even Lamblet notices that the numbers don’t add up. Projected sales revenue doubles and then triples in a very short time without explanation, but in the meantime massive salary hikes to the top managers don’t wait for these, or any, projections to be realized. Instead payouts are earmarked to begin immediately, with the money to come out of cash infusions from outside investors. When Lamblet asks timidly why she is not included in the generous pay hike, she is told it's because she is only the inventor and doesn’t work nearly as hard as the other two. “But when we start printing money,” Wolf #2 reassures her, “you will be rewarded with incentive bonuses for innovative contributions that exceed financial targets.”
Well-wishers want to scream at Lamblet “don’t sign,” but she is about to anyway. Then unexpectedly her beloved husband dies and everything changes. Instead of taking a decent interval to allow her to mourn, the wolves do the unspeakable, stepping up their hostile takeover attempt with a new plan that shuts Lamblet out of the business altogether. With this final indignity the wool drops from Lamblet’s eyes. The Sheep turns on her predators, and her struggles to escape make for riveting reading. Especially when you consider that it’s all true, even the hard to believe bits.
Small business owners are taken to the cleaners by con artists/sociopaths every day. In fact, the numbers of fleeced victims are becoming legion. And why not? Would-be con artists need only look around them to see that larceny and fraud don’t put you in the Big House, they put you in the White House. The moral of Lamblet’s Tale is this: don’t let this happen to you, but if it does happen to you, fight back. Don’t give up. When you tire, and you will, use the mantra below to spur you on:
The more they get away with it, the more they get away with. Resist!
Behind the Story
Millionaire Valley: Doing Business with Sociopaths and Surviving is a roman à clef, or a novel with a key. It is a true story shrouded in a discreet veil of fiction. In this type of novel the reader has a part to play and it’s great fun for everyone—with the possible exception of the people being written about. The reader is tasked with figuring out who’s who, and is helped along by plot points that resemble real life events. In the roman à clef Primary Colors the political characters were easy to identify in context; the hard part was guessing who the writer “Anonymous” was. In Millionaire Valley it’s slightly more complex in that the reader is asked to solve for two unknowns. The challenge is to a) identify the person who attempted to take credit for the author’s inventions, in addition to stealing the profits that flowed from the inventions, and b) name the author. However, just as in math class where you learn that solving for one variable is the key to solving for the remaining variable, once you have identified the thief you will almost certainly be able to identify the wronged party. Or vice versa. To make the challenge even easier the author has sprinkled clues all over the book, in the form of puns and such (of which she is very fond).
Joke: The sheep dog reports to the farmer that all forty sheep are accounted for. “Wait,” says the farmer, “I only have 36 sheep.” “Yes, I know,” the dog explains, “I rounded them up.”