The first inspirational speech I ever got in the corporate world concluded when my old friend Kirill Sheynkman removed his gold watch and put it on the desk between us. “This watch,” he said. “Costs more than your car.”
I was moved and terrified by this strange comparison. “But I don’t even have a car,” I said.
“My G**,” Kirill murmured. “That’s even worse.”
I had no idea that Kirill was citing the iconic play of the real estate industry, Glengarry Glen Ross, or that I would spend the next ten years of my life hearing software salesmen repeating the lines that its playwright, David Mamet, added as an afterthought for Alec Baldwin in the movie version: “coffee is for closers,” “always be closing,” and, my favorite, “third place: you’re fired.”
Like Paradise Lost’s Satan or “Wall Street’s” Gordon Gekko, Alec Baldwin’s charismatic monster seemed unfettered by the claustrophobia of the tragedy in which he had been set, enjoying a long after-life in the imagination of the salesmen that the play was trying to doom.
The speech has had an afterlife with many of us here at Redfin, too. As you have probably already surmised, Glengarry Glen Ross has been the inspiration for everything Redfin is against. To this day, we are still arguing with Alec Baldwin, and it’s unclear who will win the argument.
Now you can hear it for yourself. The Seattle Rep is staging Glengarry Glen Ross. Some of the insights about the business are uncanny; David Mamet is the son of a real estate attorney. And the dialog has its own strange rhythm, of American profanity set to the meter of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Redfin is buying a block of seats for the 7:30 p.m. showing on Thursday, February 25. Thirty employees are coming, and we’re also inviting Redfin’s Seattle fans to join us. We got primo tickets on the main floor at a 20% discount, for $32 each. We’ll try to meet the cast members before or after the play, and we’re also hosting a happy hour — free drinks and snacks! — in Belltown for everyone who comes.
If you’d like to come and you can spring for the seats, sign up in the comments and we’ll add you to the list. We have room for 10 folks, first come, first served — and we’re ordering the tickets at noon on Thursday, February 18, so don’t dilly-dally.
And for those of you who can’t make it, here is the essential Mamet dialog, snatched from a note-card a journalist once found taped to Mamet’s desk. I think about it all the time:
A: Life, maaan…
A: It is so crazy — let me tell you: If you saw it in a movie, you would not believe it. Do you know why? BECAUSE IT HAS NO PLOT.
(Photo credit courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)