An offer from MTV

It was a Tuesday around 10:00 AM, when my phone at my desk rang. I work at the dojo around 10 hours a day, so it is not unusual for me to receive phone-calls from several sales people trying to sell us everything from credit card processing to water dispensers. Over the years, I have grown very good at firing in and saying “No” to just about everyone who cold-calls me. I am too old for joking around and wasting time with phone solicitors. The caller was someone claiming to be a producer/casting director for MTV studios in New York. (Of course, my skepticism kicked in immediately; although I remained polite and listened. She told me her name and that she was calling to offer me a part on an upcoming MTV reality series. I thought she was joking. She was not. Apparently, I was given her name from someone in New York who had one of my CD’s and was a big fan of my music and martial arts videos. She informed me that this new MTV reality show would focus on a few dojos across the country. They would focus on the sensei, staff, and day to day issues of running a successful, full-time school. She said my “cool ninja martial arts background, combined with my musical background” was too good to pass by. She asked if I could call back in a few days to continue the process and talk with another producer. I reluctantly agreed, but told no one. Later on, I used my training and contacts to gather intelligence on the people involved. To my surprise, they seemed to all check out as legit. After the second phone meeting, I was given more details about the pitched idea and also about the series requirements. I continued to listen, and asked a few questions of my own. The money offered to me was quite generous, enough for me to weigh the pros and cons if I signed on. I had forgotten how wealthy - and still influential - MTV studios is around the world. I haven’t had cable television in over 8 years, and hadn’t seen MTV since the nineties. So, I had no real connection to the channel or its constituency. I had to have an answer by the next Monday. I had five days to think things over. I contacted one my respected martial art teachers to get his opinion on the subject. He was kind enough to offer his experiences and fatherly advice. He was the only person I told of the deal. Other people knowing would have complicated my thoughts. I pondered several other concerns of my own over the next weekend. (This is the difference between someone in his forties and someone in his twenties. A twenty year old would have jumped at the idea to be on MTV in a heartbeat.) Wouldn’t the cameras be a huge distraction for employees and students who do not necessarily want publicity? Aren’t the producers well-known for scripting and enticing inner drama for ratings? Haven’t we all seen many other ‘reality TV stars’ end up in dire-straights after the sudden fame poisoned their egos? Are “Honey Boo Boo” and “Snookie” really examples of how I want to portray the 21st century warrior/ninja lifestyle to be? Is the money worth losing friends and family over, just for a bit of media-hype? Would I embarrass my teachers as a sell-out? I woke up that next Monday with a definitive answer. I called MTV and respectfully declined, with very little nervousness, and zero regret. I was always a VH1 kind of guy, anyway. What blows me away is the fact that I am always excited to learn how unpredictable life is. You just never know who might be calling you? Every moment is full of opportunities to say “yes” or “no”, having sometimes unseen vast consequences, either way we choose. Todd Ryotoshi Norcross - April 2013

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