You May Have Loved Dick
The fat man from across the hallway caught me in the vestibule waiting for the elevator one day.
Pointing from his hip, he said: “Hey, you’re the new guy on the floor. What’s your name?”
“Breuk Iversen,” I replied.
“Dick Raboy,” he said, extending his hand.
Where are you off to?”
“What kind of client?”
“Financial,” not wanting to talk with him. He was standing way too close and in my personal space and still holding my hand firmly.
“Well, you should tell them about me,” he said. “I’m the most successful financial copywriter in NYC ever.”
His office was completely covered with paper all over the floor. The papers started at the front door about an inch high and extended to two feet high by the rear.
It was a mess. He was a mess, I thought.
We shared a rented floor. It was really the 13th Floor although the elevator and signage read: 12A. This was at 149 5th Ave. at East 21st Street.
The elevator arrived and we entered.
“You don’t believe me, do you?” Honestly, I didn’t. “No,” I said with a half sneer, smiling.
“I’ll tell you a little story.
In 1960, I moved to New York City and lived out in Trump Village in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn paying $160. per month for rent. A year later, I was living on Central Park West paying $8,000. a month.”
I paused and stared at the floor. ‘That’s impossible’, I thought and was frankly, shocked. I peered up at his shit-eating grin and managed to muster: “How?”
He said: “Stop by my office when you get back and I’ll tell you”.
You know I did. I couldn’t get this amazing financial leap out of my mind. If this man was bullshitting me, it was going to be worth hearing the bullshit story, all the way through, to the end. “Who says something like that?” I thought.
His claims were true. HE WAS ‘the most successful financial copywriter in NYC ever’. No one I’ve ever heard of or met has ever had this happen to them. This was later confirmed by my many Ad friends, industry ad folk and prestigious advertising and design teachers I studied with at SVA. They all knew him personally or in the rare exception, knew of him.
He asked one day:
“Do you know what the number one motivating factor for people making a purchase is?”
“Greed?” I asked.
“No… Fear.” He said. “Fear motivates people to do and buy things.”
We spoke nearly every day, somedays for hours. Sometimes he’d just pop his head in and yell: “Good Mornng!” Other times he’d just walk right in to my design firm and tell everyone a great joke. The stories and lessons were always concise, poignant and somehow relevant. He had a way with words.
Needless to say, Dick became my mentor and advisor. He started calling me a genius after I designed his résumé and when we started working together. We became good friends. He was the master and I was his student.
Most people don’t know that he was at the original meeting with Milton Glaser and Clay when they decided to start NY Magazine. In fact, he wrote most of the copy that was used in their initial Direct Mail campaign to solicit interest. It worked.
Dick was an avid poker and bridge player—a die hard Knicks fan and he would sit at his computer monitor, in his office, playing 1000s of games of solitaire every week on his little Mac II.
I popped into his paper carpeted office one day and said: “You are always playing solitaire. When do you do work?”
“My boy, I get paid $20,000 per month to NOT do work for my client’s competition.”
He was under contract with one of his financial clients to NOT write for any of the competition. I think the client was Nathan & Lewis Securities. That’s how good of a copywriter he was. You have to be some sort of luminary to get paid to NOT work for the competition, unleashing your skill as a writer onto an open marketplace.
The year I met Dick Raboy was in 1996. He died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2004.
Oh, and the papers all over the floor in his office? Those were 1000s of ads.
Dick also had an 8.5″ X 11″ piece of paper framed and prominently displayed on his wall. It read:
THE GOLDEN RULE:
He Who Has The Gold,
Makes All The Rules.
Here are two of the 1000s of ads he’s done over a lifetime.
Thank you for reading this,
Neurochemical Publicity in the Aquarian Age.