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Use Your Magic

By Steven Gunter


A Message to The Reader Dear Friends, We are now in a new year and like me, this past year, you’ve probably experienced some success and also had your fair share of failure. But this is exactly what makes life so exciting isn’t it? We’re always faced with new challenges that opens doors to new opportunities. In my last manifesto, LEAP, I talked about taking risk and leaping into one’s passion. I’m pleased to report that LEAP was read by over 5,000 people, with 100 people reading and sharing it across the UK and Australia. In this project, Use Your Magic, I take you on a short journey with a young lady named Lilah through Paris, France. It’s a story about focusing on one’s work, being bold, and the business of luxury. I hope you enjoy this manifesto as much as the last one. And if you find it valuable I hope you’d share it with your friends and family. Thanks for reading!

Steve


1.

Lilah was an apprentice to the great Christian Bordeau, French master craftsmen of bespoke furniture. Buyers would travel across the globe to view Christian’s work at art shows and have a piece crafted specially by him. Lilah was one of the lucky ones. Hundreds of artisans came knocking at Christian’s door when he placed an announcement in the newspaper that he was opening an apprenticeship. For years the opportunity had been closed to outsiders. Christian came from a family of master craftsmen who designed and built amazing furniture pieces for the aristocracy. The family business, which was started by his grandfather Arthur Bordeau, had been a family asset for three generations. They shared no design secrets with the outside world and were scrupulous about protecting the integrity of the family name. Lilah grew up in a lower class neighborhood of Paris. Her father worked at a local mill while her mother took care of Lilah and her two brothers. There was always more month than money at Lilah’s home. A loaf of bread would be on the menu for breakfast and dinner with meat that was preserved from the night before. Like her father, Lilah was good with her hands. She related much more to her father than her mother, preferring to go out into the world and build something. Lilah was a creator.

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2.

Lilah’s life was everything other than one of opulence. While her father was at the mill toiling to make ends meet Lilah’s mother worked to make sure the kids kept to their studies, dinner was cooked, and the clothes were clean. Lilah and her brothers often wore the same clothes to school a few days out of the week as they only had one additional change to carry them through the remaining portion. Lilah spent most of her days after school helping her mother with chores, looking after her brothers, then quickly finding something she could create. She would take blocks of wood given to her by the old merchant, who owned the hardware store at the corner. Then she would take one of her father’s knives and start carving the wood into a bird, a tree, or some other object. She would paint it then give it to her brothers as toys to play with and fight over. Lilah began sculpting ornaments for Christmas, birthdays, grieving gifts to widows and other occasions. Creating was her passion, she loved the process, and the look on people’s face when the work was complete. Lilah had a gift. Creating was her magic. Lilah figured that it might be helpful if she started a small business creating ornaments for the people around the neighborhood. If successful, she could help her family bring in a little more money.

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Lilah went to work, carving small pieces of wood making them into little dogs, apples, and other pieces that people would like to have sit on their mantle. Word got around that Lilah was making these small wooden ornaments. Suddenly she found herself with a list of customers. Teachers from her school, members of the clergy where they attended mass, her friend’s parents. They would all ask Lilah to create a beautiful ornament they could place on their coffee table or give to someone as a gift. Lilah was creating and she was having fun. But suddenly the old merchant who supplied Lilah with wood stopped giving it to her for free. He charged Lilah a hefty fee that she simply could not afford. Lilah’s father went to speak with the old merchant in attempt to reason but resulted to no avail. Lilah wasn’t happy when her father told her the news that the merchant recognized the success she was having and didn’t see a reason why he shouldn’t benefit from the materials he had been giving to her. Lilah’s father tried to explain to the old merchant that he understood how the issue could be problematic and that Lilah would gladly pay him for the materials, but they couldn’t understand why the fee was so inflated. With no wood, Lilah didn’t have another medium she could use. It wasn’t just the fact that she couldn’t help out the family anymore financially but she was troubled Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


by not being able to do the work. Her work. About a month later, as Lilah and her family were walking home from morning mass, they noticed a long line stemming from the old merchant’s store. This was unusual. The old merchant always had plenty of business but a long line outside the door was not common. This was something different. Lilah was curious and so was her father. They waited and stood in the line. As they made their way into the store they began to notice replicas of Lilah’s work. Copies. The ornaments she made, the little birds, the wood carved dogs, the apples and the trees. They were all being sold by the old merchant. Tears began to fall down Lilah’s face as her father pulled her head towards his chest. Lilah was so confused and couldn’t understand why someone would take advantage of her and not give her credit for the work she had done. The old merchant did what many other business people would do; he saw something the market wanted, eliminated the competition, and took it to scale. He hired a group of wood craftsmen, showed them some of the work Lilah had done, and paid them to create similar ornaments. The quality and the art wasn’t the same. The work was less detailed, it was more botched, rougher edges, and didn’t have the same character that Lilah’s ornaments had. But the people didn’t seem to care. The ornaments were available when they wanted them, there was more to choose from, and they were cheap.

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Even if Lilah had the materials she could not compete in the same way and she knew it. Lilah was an artist, she wanted her work to have meaning, she wanted each piece to have it’s own unique detail, and she wanted the presentation to matter. It was important that the work be made personal and for there to be an emotional connection between the product and the customer; not just some random placeholder that didn’t mean a thing. Lilah’s father came home that evening with a surprise for Lilah--a huge block of wood. The only problem was it was charred which made it ugly. He told her that he wish he could afford to buy her what she really needed but he found the block placed in the dumpster outside the mill and if there was anyone who could make something out of that charred piece of wood it was her; because she was magic. Lilah was thrilled, but didn’t quite know what she would do with it. So she placed the block underneath her bed, thanked her father for the gift, and tended to her chores.

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3.

It was a Thursday evening and it was getting late. The family was waiting for Lilah’s father to arrive home so they could bless the food and eat dinner. A knock came at the door. Lilah’s mother went to answer as Lilah and her brothers continued setting the table. Suddenly, Lilah heard a loud scream and saw her mother fall to her knees. Lilah ran to the door and immediately wrapped her mother into her arms. Lilah yelled “what happened...what happened!” It was a neighbor who came to the door to deliver the news; and walked away with a saddened look on his face. Lilah asked her mother “what happened Mom! Where’s Dad!” Lilah’s mother looked up at Lilah in total disarray and said that her father would not be coming home for dinner. Not now. Not ever. Lilah’s father had died in a fire that sparked in the mill. Her father happened to be one of the men attempting to put out the fire and got caught in the blaze. Lilah was crushed. She loved her father. She was just like him; courageous and bold. But her father’s boldness and courage would now only live through her. A few days later Lilah’s mother went to the Cathedral to ask for support with Lilah and the boys. There was no way she could do it on her own. Lilah, only 14 years old, wasn’t a male nor at the age where she could truly be a financial help to her mother.

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Lilah mourned the loss of her father for many months. She would write letters to him and leave them on the pillow where he’d once slept. She would go down to the mill and wait outside the gate hoping that just maybe he would come walking out. She would take a flower to his grave and stay there for hours. A piece of Lilah had gone away.

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4.

Lilah’s mother was able to get a small job at the local grocery while Lilah took over the house duties and looked after her brothers. One evening after work Lilah’s mother walked through the door with newspaper in hand as she always had. But this time it was different. Lilah opened the paper and saw an ad which read the famous wood master craftsmen Christian Bourdeau was opening his shop to an apprentice and that he would be holding a contest to see who would be brought under his tutelage. The Bordeau House of bespoke furniture had never done anything like this before. The ad continued by saying that those looking to become his apprentice would meet at his shop the following weekend, create their own piece, with their own tools, using their own wood. Lilah didn’t have a wood block that was acceptable. The only one she had was given to her by her father underneath her bed and it was charred. She couldn’t use that. Lilah and her mother didn’t have enough money to purchase a new wood block. So they tried to raise the funds. They asked friends, neighbors, and their church, but were unsuccessful. An entire week had gone by and between school, homework, and house duties there was no way Lilah would be able to figure out a way to get her hands on a fresh block of wood. That Saturday morning, Lilah did the unthinkable, she showed up to Christian Bordeau’s shop with her tools, an apron, and a charred piece of wood given to her by her father.

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5.

Christian Bordeau was a master craftsmen. A perfectionist. An artist. And for the person who would dare come under his tutelage they had better be someone who was ready to take on the pressure of being in the presence of someone as accomplished as Christian. Royalty, and others in the aristocracy, would commission Christian’s services for an elegant dining room table, a beautifully structured chair, and other pieces that were not only aesthetically captivating but were also functional and comfortable. The Bordeau family was the best in all of France, and everyone knew it. People would travel miles to attend a Bordeau art show to view pieces that weren’t even for sale. Christian took over the family business when he was 30 years old after his father died at the early age of 50. Now it was 30 years later and Christian had taken the family business and brand to a new level of luxury, making it the premiere company in France for bespoke furniture pieces. The Bordeau brand was known for including the most minor detail in their work. Each piece designed in house, carved, painted, bolted, and polished by hand. One piece could take Christian three months to complete. But clients appreciated the care he took and the thought that went into the process. Bordeau was a personal company, as Christian would listen to clients and take their personality and ideas into consideration as he worked on a piece.

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Not only were clients sold an incredible product, they were given gold standard service and special privileges to attend dinners and social events where they had the opportunity to meet other clients of the Bordeau family who had become lifelong friends. Christian wanted an apprentice who was committed to their craft, aimed to please, and held themselves and their work to the highest standard. Just like the Bordeau name. And he was a hard man to please.

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6.

Lilah was nervous when she walked through the door. There were two other craftsman chosen to be a part of the contest. The two men were older and looked more experienced. Lilah grew even more nervous. Christian walked into the shop looking unimpressed. He told the group to take out their materials, their tools, and choose a table. Lilah and the two other contestants reached into their bags and pulled out the items they would need to complete the project. As Lilah took out her tools and placed them on the table she looked to the side watching as her competitors took out there’s. Then they all took out the most important piece, their block of wood. One of the craftsman’s blocks appeared to have come from an oak tree. It was fresh, clean, and showed a beautiful pattern. The other craftsman’s block was a maple. It carried a pleasant aroma and was one of the finest pieces of wood one could find in all of France. And then Lilah, with her head down, pulled out her wood block and sat it on her workman’s table. It was black, ugly, and charred. It was going to be a difficult piece to work with.

Christian walked down the row observing each craftsman’s materials and tools without a smile, a nod, or any show of emotion. When he arrived at Lilah’s table he looked down at her items, took a quick glance at her, then continued to walk away issuing his instructions. Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


They had one shot and one shot only to craft their most elegant ornament creation. At the end of the contest he would decide who would become his apprentice. And with that, Christian went into his office, shut the door, and the work began.

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7.

It was very clear from the start that the other two contestants had a process, a way they went about creating. They seemed to take many of the same steps as though they learned to carve at school. They were like robots. They were technical, exact, and boring. But Lilah was different, she had no steps to follow, she was raw, nimble, and created as she saw it in her mind’s eye. Lilah worked in the moment, she was fully present. But she was also dealing with a much more complicated canvas, charred wood! What could she possibly imagine creating with a charred piece of wood? What would be the piece of work she would create that would ultimately shape her future? When Christian entered back into the shop he walked up to each craftsman’s table and like a hawk watched every little move they made. It was as though he was trying to get a real sense of not only the piece they were creating, but also a peak into their souls to see who really had what it took to be an artisan.

Lilah took her tools and got to work on her block of wood. Cutting, sanding, edging, and detailing her ornament so carefully and so intensely that veins began to pop from her head. She was a girl with a clear sense of what she wanted to create and what she wanted to share with the world. As she worked on her piece she thought about her mother and how much she sacrificed for her, she thought about her brothers, she thought about her father, about how much he loved her, and how he would say “Lilah, use your magic.” Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


When all the craftsman were done with their ornaments Christian went and observed their work. The first craftsman carved a bird that looked very similar to the one Lilah created for the widow back home. The second craftsman carved a dog that looked very similar to the one Lilah made for her teacher. And then it dawned on Lilah, they were the two craftsman who worked for the old merchant and were part of the crew that carved ornaments for the people back at the old merchant’s store. However both contestants had a problem. They weren’t artisans, they were just wood craftsman. They understood how to carve but didn’t understand how to create. On the other hand Lilah had a problem. She had an object that was aesthetically flawed. Who would possibly be able to see wonder and beauty in a charred piece of wood? Furthermore, for a piece so difficult to work with, who would be able to create something that could leave a lasting impression? When Christian arrived at Lilah’s table his eyes and body language never changed. It was the same as it were when he glanced at her the first time after noticing the charred wood. Lilah created a butterfly. The wings fully expanded, a red tint at the tip of each piece, a faded feature at the breast of the wings to give it character, and color in the eyes of the butterfly that looked like crystals. Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


Lilah was not just a craftsman, she was an artist, a visionary. She understood how to imagine, how to create, and with that, Lilah was now officially an apprentice for the great Christian Bordeau.

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8.

“To be scarce. To be rare. That’s our aim” is what Christian said to Lilah as they were putting away their tools and cleaning their workspace one evening. He explained to Lilah, that it’s easy to create furniture, but the work they do is more than that, they manifest dreams for their clients. This lead Christian explaining to Lilah the importance of telling a story that starts well before the client has received their furniture. The story begins with how the customer perceives the shop when they walk through the door. The story expands as the customer begins to interact with the artisan and speak with clients who had experienced working with Bordeau. After that, the story builds with the presentation of the furniture. But then when the customer experiences their table, chair, or some other piece, it should be as though they’re finally realizing the dream that they’ve always pictured in their mind. The piece should be a representation of their inner most thoughts which is more valuable than a piece of furniture. “Lilah, this is the scarcity we are creating which is what makes us valuable. People believe we can make their dreams come true. This is rare.”

Christian had scheduled an art show to present the Bordeau House new pieces to clients. Lilah was happy to bring her mother and two brothers. She was now in a position to help her mother with money in order to take care of many of the expenses at home, but Lilah lived at the Bordeau’s family guest house which was turned into an apprentice living quarters where she could focus more intensely on perfecting her craft. Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


The evening was unlike what Lilah and her family had ever experienced. The store was just an open space, no larger than a small church sanctuary, that housed furniture pieces Christian kept as a visual aid for customers when browsing. That room was suddenly filled with over two hundred people. Many of whom were members of the aristocracy. Waiters gave attendees a glass of the finest wine in France and the great musical genius Bozart Simon played Beethoven’s Sonata 17 on the grand piano. Lilah was nervous. She didn’t want to mingle with the other people who she didn’t know. She was afraid someone would recognize her for who she was, a poor little peasant girl who had no business being among such a prestigious crowd. So Lilah stayed cornered with her mother and brothers. Suddenly, Christian recognized Lilah and walked towards her with a grace and a presence that was difficulty to match. He introduced himself to Lilah’s mother and pulled her hand close to his lips; gently kissing her left index finger. He then shook her brother’s hands and placed his arm around Lilah’s shoulders and said “Lilah, these are our clients. We serve them with our craft but in return they show us their gratitude through monetary expense and introducing us to their family and friends.” “We want them to know us and feel comfortable around us.” Lilah understood what Christian was saying but she was struggling within to see herself as one of them and worthy of interaction. Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


Suddenly, Christian tapped on his glass and called for a toast. He thanked everyone for their attendance and friendship. He talked about the inspiration of his work then pulled Lilah close to his side and asked her to say a few words. Lilah felt as though a frog jumped down her throat. What on God’s earth did she possibly have to say? For a split second she thought about behaving in a manner that wasn’t authentic, to make it appear as though she was part of the crowd. But she knew people would see right through her, and Lilah wasn’t particularly good at deceit. She was an honest person. So Lilah did something Christian expected she would do, she rose to the occasion and said the most memorable words of the night. It was like magic. “Hello, my name is Lilah and I’m so grateful to be among such a distinguished group of people this evening. I’m not exactly sure why I’m so lucky to be here with you tonight, and I’m not sure why someone like Christian Bordeau would choose me to work by his side, but I do know that I’m here and I am afraid. I’m afraid that I would be seen as not being good enough. I’m afraid that my work won’t be noticed. I’m afraid for reasons that I’m not always fully able to articulate. But I’m here. And I’m being strong…. for my family….for the Bordeau brand….and most of all for my father. Who would often say to me ‘You know what to do Lilah. Use your magic.’ And so here I am. I’m here to do my work. I’m here to share it with you. I’m here to make you proud and make our dreams come true.” Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


And with that, the place erupted into a loud applause. Christian smiled and with a father’s twinkle in his eye he looked at Lilah as she looked back at him and at that moment he knew‌..

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9.

Everyday, Lilah worked on her craft, drawing, carving, nailing, sanding, polishing, designing, creating. She would have a lesson with Christian and after it ended she would stay inside her quarters working to perfect the skill. When she didn’t get it right she would try again. Her hands began to callus, her back started to ache, and Lilah would frequently lose track of time. One morning, Christian walked into the shop as Lilah was working. He tapped her on the shoulder and motioned for her to come with him. Lilah put down her tools, threw on her jacket and followed Christian outside. He took Lilah for a walk in a nearby park and said, “You’ve been here for eighteen months and you’ve worked harder than any other craftsman I know. Your work looks better every time you produce a new piece.” “But I want you to remember that this is art. And art is not perfect, it is imperfectly perfect. There is always something you will notice as an artist that could have been done better in your mind but that’s not the point. The point is that you create as well as you know how in the moment, then ship it out to the market and let them decide.” and then he smiled. Christian always knew the right thing to say. But Christian would say something else that would forever change why Lilah thought she came.

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Christian began “Lilah, when I took over the family business I was far from ready. My grandfather had two sons; my dad and my uncle. He passed the business on to my father because my uncle was not interested in being involved. When I became old enough to understand my father taught me everything he knew about crafting and running the business. Although I wasn’t necessarily prepared I had a lot more time and practice then you will.” Lilah was confused. She wasn’t sure where Christian was getting at and this entire time Lilah thought she was here simply to learn the trade, save up enough money, and then go back and possibly start her own business back in her neighborhood. But Christian had bigger plans. Christian continued, “Lilah, I was married once. But my wife was barren. We could not have children, so I never got the chance to pass this information onto someone else.” “My wife and I fought endlessly because I was so concerned with the business that I ignored her and eventually she left.” “So, when I opened up the apprenticeship I wanted to find someone who cared about the work, someone who would give their soul, but also care about their family and still serve our clients well. That’s what makes us better than our competition. We truly want the very best for the people we serve. I found that person in you. You have the ability, you have the drive, you have the magic.”

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Christian continued “Lilah, when I said you wouldn’t have much time, what I meant is, if you decide to take over my family’s business you will only have six months to learn all that you can before I have to leave you. Deadlines are powerful. When we know that something is due at a certain hour it keeps us from wasting time. Lilah our clock has already started and we’re running out of time.” Lilah asked Christian where he was going. He then looked away and said “Lilah, I hope you will consider this. I am asking that your family become my family. Please give it some thought.” And with that they walked back to the shop to start on a new piece.

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10.

Christian had so much he wanted to share with Lilah and very little time. Over dinner one evening, he explained to Lilah that one of the most important parts of running a luxury business is understanding the heritage. The heritage is more important than the product, he would say, because the heritage is what defines the business. People are attracted to the tradition, to the story, it gives them a sense of belonging. The heritage represents the soul of a company. How it was started. How it became what it is today and why the story is important. Christian explained to Lilah that when his grandfather started the business the family did not have the status it maintained today. They weren’t well connected, they weren’t wealthy, and they didn’t have anything special that made them an anomaly except his grandfather’s inner drive to leave a legacy to his children and teach them the value of hard work. His grandfather, Arthur Bordeau, was a master craftsman in the carpentry trade. Arthur started the business by making chairs and tables for their small town outside of Paris. Everyone purchased their chairs and tables from Arthur’s shop. But Arthur was a man of ambition. Just enough was never good enough for Arthur. He wanted to build something great, something significant, something he could leave behind to his children.

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Arthur did something risky that gave his wife concern. He sold the family’s small farm and moved them to the big city near all the action. Arthur rented a small shop with an apartment above it so he could begin crafting tables and chairs for the people around Paris. He put a sign out front that said “BORDEAU Tables and Chairs.” People from the neighborhood started stopped in to purchase furniture. There wasn’t much time for talking and relationship building. Arthur had to continue making chairs and tables. He wasn’t selling to a select few, he was selling to the masses and that meant he needed more inventory. For a while, Arthur was a one man show until his boys grew old enough to help. But something still wasn’t right for Arthur. He wasn’t fulfilled. He wasn’t happy with his work. He didn’t believe that after he was gone his family’s name would be remembered. Some months later another furniture shop opened down the road from BORDEAU’s. They were bigger, they had more employees, and they had better real estate. They were located on the corner of two main intersections, and they were offering far more selections than just tables and chairs. But they were also cheaper than BORDEAU’s, much cheaper. Arthur knew he had a problem.

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Fewer and fewer customers would shop at BORDEAU’s and it was only a matter of time before those loyal customers would turn to the larger, more efficient, and cheaper store down the road. Arthur understood that something needed to be done. The most predictable option would be to lower his prices and offer more variety. But Arthur knew that was only a race to the bottom to see who could become the cheapest in town, and surely Arthur didn’t have enough time or money to enter into a price war with a larger establishment. Furthermore, Arthur knew that no one would truly respect the cheapest place, they’ll only look to the next cheapest if that one cease to deliver on presenting the lowest possible price. Arthur didn’t want that kind of name for his family. He wanted the Bordeau name to be respected and admired, to be one that make dreams come true. And Arthur didn’t kid himself, he understood that there’s always a premium that must be paid for dreams--even his own. Arthur took another risk. He went to the palace of the Royal family and asked to speak directly with the King. No one in their right mind would ever do something like this. Especially if they weren’t part of the aristocracy. Arthur was a mad man on a mission.

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The King’s soldiers aggressively approached Arthur and asked him about his purpose for coming. He explained to the soldiers that he was an artisan in the carpentry trade and he wanted to create a gift for the Royal family. Arthur was hoping he could create a piece for the King and Queen. The soldiers weren’t very nice and they told Arthur that the King was not available and that he should leave at once. Arthur was not happy with the treatment he was receiving, but he was also not a man who would give up easily. He understood that there are always gatekeepers one needs to get through in order to accomplish their dream. As Arthur was leaving the palace he figured that he needed to come up with a better plan if he was going to connect with the King. Arthur decided he would close the shop for a few weeks and devote his time and efforts fully to becoming the artisan of bespoke furniture for the Royal family. Arthur went back to the Royal palace and was once again unpleasantly greeted by the King’s soldiers. However, this time he brought with him a gift, a carving of the Baby Jesus in a manger. Arthur told them that it was theirs to keep and give to their children as Christmas gifts. But Arthur also wanted to know more about the King and the Queen, what mattered to them, and what made them glow.

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The soldier’s defenses came down and they became kinder towards Arthur. They gave him some information that could be useful. Arthur took that information and got to work. He went back to his shop and started what became the most important project in the history of the BORDEAU family.

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11.

With Arthur closing the shop for two straight months his wife was beginning to worry. What was going to happen to their business? How would the family survive? All day and through the late hours of the night Arthur would be in the shop carving, sanding, polishing, and creating his piece for a one shot opportunity. The first of the year was coming and it was the tradition for the Royal family to parade through the streets of Paris in their carriage and hold a festival in the palace courtyard where people would dance, sing, and show the Royal family their most recent creation. This was Arthur’s chance. He was determined to create something significant, something just for them. The day of the festival came and Arthur’s work was complete. Never before had such a moment been as meaningful to the Bordeau family as this. There was a long line that stretched far for artisans, merchants, and magicians. Who were all waiting to demonstrate their work to the King and Queen. Many showed their finest creation but no one stood out. It was Arthur’s turn and the courtyard became his stage. The King and Queen sat unimpressed as the Chancellor asked Arthur to step forward. Arthur complied and before unveiling his masterpiece said a few words, “Hello, my name is Arthur Bordeau and I’m so grateful to be with everyone here this evening.

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I understand how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity to show you my work. But I must also admit that I am afraid. I’m afraid that I would be seen as not being good enough. I’m afraid that my work won’t be noticed. I’m afraid for reasons that I’m not always fully able to articulate. But I’m here. And I’m being strong…. for my family…. and for the company we’re building. This moment for me is a dream come true and I hope this creation is a dream come true for you.” And with that, Arthur pulled the sheet from his finest creation and stepped to the side. The work would do the rest. Suddenly, the Queen rose to her feet and the King sat up in his chair. The courtyard went completely silent and people stared in amazement. The King and Queen had two miscarriages, a boy and a girl, and there stood the most beautiful wood sculpted piece of a boy and girl holding hands and smiling towards them. This was a piece that could go anywhere in the palace. They had been trying to add to their lineage for many years, with no success, and the Queen dreamt of having a representation of her children she could rest her eyes upon and fill a tiny piece of her soul with hope and happiness. This was it. A magnificent gift that was meant just for them.

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The King and Queen invited Arthur and his family to the Royal Palace for dinner that evening. The King commissioned Arthur to create a complete set for the Palace’s outdated dining room. This one project would take Arthur and his sons more than a year to complete and would provide him with more money building this set than he would’ve made selling tables and chairs over the course of five years. Arthur understood that he was not just building tables and chairs. He was manifesting the dreams of both the King and Queen as well as the Bordeau family. From that day forward Arthur only worked with the Royal family and members of the aristocracy. Arthur made a decision to serve only a few, a select few, and ignore the masses. Arthur taught his sons all he could and then eventually passed the business on to Christian’s father. Christian’s father continued the heritage of creating dreams and now it was Christian’s turn to lead. This was the BORDEAU story.

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12.

Christian explained to Lilah that this was important for her to know and if she accepted his offer she would continue that story. But Lilah was still confused about why she was the one to do it and where was Christian going? Christian said, “Lilah, I still have time to be with you and in due time more will be revealed but there is work to be done, and we know who we serve, but I fear that I am too far removed from hardship and ambition to understand how to continue to push the brand forward and keep creating the dreams that we do.” Christian continued, “That’s where you come in Lilah. You’re more like Arthur than I am. You have an edge, a hunger, and a desire that cannot be imitated. It comes from within. It comes from a life that has known disappointment, loss, a lack of resources, and fear. The only fear I live with is the fear of not living up to what my grandfather created. But your fear is different. You fear not having risked it all. You fear not having pleased your family and the people you serve. You fear that you haven’t gone far enough. I cannot match that kind of fear. I know it not. Until I leave, I can continue to teach you all that I know and give you the tools to make your work easier. But you, on the other hand, must embrace the fear. I hope you will.”

There was still so much for Lilah to learn, four months had passed and Lilah had grown as an artist. Her vision was impeccable, but most of all, her determination to create great work continued to push her forward. Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


Christian was pleased with her development as an artist but he also wanted Lilah to understand the luxury business and how it was uniquely different than others. Christian explained to Lilah that what made the furniture enticing to the buyer wasn’t necessarily the tables or chairs, but rather the story told by the brand about the tables and chairs. Christian told Lilah “I want you to understand how to tell stories, and in that story help the client see how that table will add value to their life, and how it will make their dream come true.” Then Christian looked Lilah square in her eyes and said “There’s another story I need you to tell. Your story.” Christian said, “Your story will connect with the customer in a powerful way. Your story will say that there’s a higher place to go and connecting themselves to the BORDEAU brand will help them experience that higher place.” Christian had Lilah to look in a mirror and told her to tell him a story. Lilah laughed at what Christian was proposing. But Christian was far from smiling. He said it again “Lilah, tell me a story.” This time he said it more sternly. Lilah said “Since I was a young girl I always knew I was a creator. I could see things and I understood how to make them come to be. But I wasn’t simply interested in creating in order to have time pass. I wanted to create what I imagined and then bring it into physical form. I started to create for others, and I wanted to Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


make something that connected with the soul of the person. I believed I could do it and today that’s what I do. I create for the soul. This is my magic� Christian smiled, walked into his office, and closed the door.

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13.

“Remember, we sell to a specific market. We don’t look to please everyone only that special someone.” Christian was explaining to Lilah as they walked through the store making sure that everything was in pristine condition for open. “This makes it very difficult for our competitors. The fact that we know who our audience is and understand what they want. Some of our competitors look to satisfy the masses and some try to compete for the same clientele as ours but they fail to understand religion. They haven’t figured out that belief systems are deeply ingrained into one’s subconscious. They try to offer discounts, coupons, and other gimmicks in order to influence people to buy. Consequently devaluing the product before it’s ever purchased. Our clients don’t look for discounts and the like, they want something that’s difficult for the average person to obtain, and part of their religion is the belief that dreams can be obtained and there’s a price that must be paid for those dreams.” Lilah was beginning to understand the ways of luxury. And then she asked Christian a question that had been on her mind “The pieces in our store we do not sell. Why is that so? Doesn’t it make sense to make beautiful pieces and then put them out into the marketplace?” Christian acknowledged her point and then explained “Lilah, there are some things in life that don’t have a price tag. They’re priceless. These pieces carry great significance and while they are beautiful they are not meant to be sold. Our clients are welcome to observe the artistry and admire the work but they should always know there are some things worth more

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than money.” Christian continued the lesson by talking more to Lilah about scarcity. “One of the most powerful forms of branding we have is our ability to ensure scarcity. We do not make the same exact piece more than once. When our clients hire us for our services they can rest assured there’s not another like kind piece in all of the world. Even when customers walk in and tell us they saw a table we made, from one of our client’s homes, and they want a piece just the same as the one they saw, we explain to the customer that BORDEAU does not create duplicates. If that doesn’t satisfy we turn them away and encourage them to buy from someone else. We are artisans, and true artistry understands that the same work cannot be created twice, even if you tried. It is a law of the Muse” Christian sat in his chair and leaned back, “You see Lilah, this does something for us and for our clients we control inventory. We make sure it remains scarce and scarcity produces value. For clients who bring us a dream they want us to create in physical form they know that no one else will ever have that same piece. This gives us the power to always create something new and beautiful. It allows us to take risk and it allows us to charge a premium that would otherwise be impossible make.” Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


14.

Business was picking up even more. Earlier on, Christian and Lilah were only scheduling new business six months out, but now new clients were looking at an eighteen month wait time minimum. This is what Christian wanted to pass along to Lilah and for her to see first hand that people are willing to wait on their dreams. One morning, before sun rise, Lilah was already in the shop working. She wasn’t creating for a client. This one was even more special. She had the image in her mind for weeks and wanted to finally get it out of her head. Christian entered the shop and asked Lilah to follow him. Lilah put down her things and followed Christian outside as they walked along the streets of Paris. “Lilah” Christian began, “my time has come to an end. You are ready. I have taught you all that I know and you are twice the master craftsman that I was when I took over the family business. I will not be working with you today or tomorrow or ever again in the future.” Lilah was shocked as tears began to flow from her eyes.

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“I hope you gave this some thought Lilah. My family’s story, this company, this city could really use your service. If you decide not to take this on I would understand and I would close the doors of BORDEAU. That would be the conclusion of the story and you will be able to take your earnings and your knowledge and start a company of your own. It would be a service to Paris and you will make your family’s name great. But if you decide to take this on, not only will you reach Paris, but you will reach all of Europe and the world. What is your decision?” Lilah anticipated this conversation but never wanted to believe it would ever take place. Lilah said to Christian “You’ve avoided telling me what I’ve wanted to know. You’ve been like a father to me. You’ve taught me, groomed me, and led me in a way that only someone who loves can. Why are you leaving me now? Please tell me. You must!” Lilah’s voice had risen to a high pitch as they stood face to face. Christian said “Lilah, I love you as if you were my own daughter. The amount of happiness and hope you have given me I have not felt in years. I wish I could stay with you but I must go for your sake, and selfishly, mostly for mine.” Christian continued, “Lilah, remember when I told you that I was once married.” Lilah nodded her head. “Well, my wife’s name was Marcia. I haven’t spoken to her in a few years but she sent me a letter telling me that we had a son who is now two years old and Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


I long to be with them. But I want you to concentrate on the work ahead. There’s so much you have to offer and I cannot give this business what it truly needs. I hope you will do this not just for me but for us.” Lilah nodded her head yes, but deep down she knew that Christian wasn’t given her all the news. There was something he wasn’t sharing.

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15.

Christian and Lilah arrived back at the shop and said their goodbyes. Christian made Lilah pledge that she would never seek him out. Lilah agreed. Then he walked out the door and closed it behind him. Lilah never saw Christian again. Now BORDEAU was hers. Lilah’s heart was heavy but she knew that the work needed to continue and it also required some risk. ---Five Years Later.... Lilah assembled a team of advisors and artisans to help her expand the brand through out Europe. Now twenty one years old, Lilah would frequently attend dinners in England, Spain, and Italy with the most elite. Commissions continued to come in and Lilah was intimately involved in the vision and design of each piece. Lilah wasn’t crafting as much as she had in the past. She now had a team of artisans to assist with the workload. It had been years since Lilah worked on that piece in her head when Christian had stopped her to share the news of him leaving that day. So Lilah went to the shop, took out her tools, put on her apron, and got to work.

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Like the old days as an apprentice, every cut was sharp, meticulously carved, sanded, and polished to perfection. This was an incredible work and it was a work that she absolutely had to share with Christian. The only problem was five years had gone by and Lilah had no idea where Christian could possibly be. Lilah began to reach out to clients, store owners, and the postal service to see if anyone knew of his whereabouts, but no one had a clue. Christian had always been a very private person. Lilah went into Christian’s old office inside the shop. She had never made it her own out of respect and thought it should stay the way he left it. Lilah began to look around. Afterwhile, she found an address on a sheet paper with no name associated with it. It was a small town just two hours north in the countryside. Lilah didn’t have a clue who’s home it was but she wanted to take her chances and travel to see who lived there. Lilah took with her the piece she created. It was a gift for Christian and she wanted to give it to him personally. It was a day’s trip by carriage. On the way Lilah started thinking back to all the good times they shared together. She couldn’t wait to see him and was looking forward to surprising Christian with what she thought was her finest piece yet. Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


As the carriage pulled up to the address Lilah couldn’t help but notice the beautiful pastures, the rolling hills, and the little cottage that sat in the middle of all the natural beauty. Lilah’s heart began to race, if this was Christian’s home, she was excited to see him. Lilah leaped from the carriage with her creation in hand and walked to the door with a big smile on her face. She knocked. When the door opened she was greeted by a woman who appeared to be too old to be Christian’s wife. Lilah said, “Bonjour Mademoiselle, I am here seeking a man by the name of Christian Bordeau.” The woman looked at Lilah sympathetically and invited her in. She was the caretaker of the estate and did not speak the same language as Lilah but understood what she was looking for. She prompted Lilah to take a seat at the kitchen table. The woman made Lilah a cup of tea then handed her a letter. “Dear Lilah If you’re reading this it’s because you defied my request to never search for me. But I knew better which is the reason I am writing you this letter. I knew eventually you would come looking for me. First, let me thank you for deciding to commit yourself to the work. So many people stumble through life hoping and wishing but never Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


committing. You’ve done that, even before you became my apprentice. I had long ago heard about how the old merchant tried to put you out of business. I also heard the story of how your father brought you home the charred piece of wood before he died. When I put out the notice that I was in search of an apprentice I knew that you would show up. Everyone told me about the type of person you were but it wasn’t until I witnessed your passion and commitment to the work first hand, as you sculpted that charred piece of wood, that I realized you were everything people said you were, and more. You are the masterpiece. But I also want to apologize because I never told you the full truth. I told you that my wife had sent me a letter that we had a son and I longed to be with them. That is only half truth. Indeed, she had sent me a letter--long ago. In the letter, she asked me to come to this address. When I arrived, I found the home in flames. It was a small fire that got out of control and Marcia and my son were unable to escape. I never got the chance to see them. If there’s anything I regret in this life, it is the time I neglected to spend with my wife and the son I never knew. Maybe if I had been around more she and my son would still be alive today. Prior to sending out the notice of apprenticeship I was given little time to live. The doctors weren’t sure how long I had exactly but they knew that I had only a few short years before the rare form of cancer would overtake me. Therefore, I turned my attention towards finding a successor. Someone who believed and had Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


the magic that my grandfather Arthur Bordeau possessed. I found that in you. I had this home rebuilt and I wanted to rest here during my last days. My body had been fading since I’ve been with you but I kept it hidden. I wanted you to focus on your vision. I wanted you to focus on the work. I knew that in order for you to truly become all that you are I needed to leave. And now here you are. I am no longer with you but know that I’m very proud of you and I love you. Your Friend, Christian

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16.

Lilah was heartbroken but she was also at peace. She understood that Christian only wanted her to focus on what mattered most to accomplish what she set out to achieve. Christian was not only an artisan and a great businessman, he was a teacher, he was a father. Lilah’s second father. As Lilah took it all in she noticed the paintings on the wall resembled the pieces that set on the showroom floor at the store. When she took a closer look they were indeed representations of the bespoke furniture pieces that Christian never sold. At the bottom of each portrait was the name Marcia. Marcia was an artist. She kept a running log of all the pieces Christian had created until her final day. Suddenly, Lilah understood what Christian meant when he said that some things don’t have a price. Those pieces on the showroom floor represented a piece of his heart. Lilah stayed the night at the cottage, thinking about the moments shared with Christian, and the moments she had shared with her father. The men in her life not only loved her but they helped pave the way for her.

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A decade had passed and the business had grown. Not only was BORDEAU the brand of choice in France for bespoke furniture, but the name also stretched throughout Europe and started to breach Asia. Lilah had led the company to new heights, and she did it through the hard work and boldness she learned from her father and sticking to the business principles taught to her by Christian. ---It was a cold winter day and the newspaper hit the doorstep of every home across Paris. The front page read, “Head Master Craftsman Lilah Bordeau In Search of an Apprentice.” The day of the contest came and Lilah would only choose one to teach. After the contest ended and Lilah made her choice of who would be the next BORDEAU apprentice she took him into the front of the store and told him the story of the Bordeau family. The young artisan marveled over the richness of the heritage and was captured by the beauty of the pieces that sat on the showroom floor. As customers and clients walked through the door he noticed that they only observed the furniture and when one person asked about purchasing a table the salesperson explained to the customer that it wasn’t for sale. The boy found this to be odd and asked Lilah why the piece could not be purchased. Thank you for reading! It would mean a lot if you shared this with a friend.


To him it only made sense to give the people what they wanted. Lilah calmly acknowledged the boys thoughts and she replied with great wisdom “While you’ll understand more with time, just know that some things have no price.” The piece was a sculpture of a little girl holding the hands of two men that stood on either side of her. It was the masterpiece Lilah had created in remembrance of her father and Christian.

The End

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info COPYRIGHT INFO The copyright in this work belongs to the author, who is solely responsible for the content. Please direct content feedback or permissions questions to the author: http://www.stevengunter.com/ ABOUT STEVE Steven Gunter is a Husband to Tammy Gunter, Father of three, and a proud REATORŽ. Steve’s work is comprised of the marketing and sales of luxury real estate. He also keeps a daily blog on marketing, luxury, real estate, and art which can be found here http://www.stevengunter.com/blog/ . If you would like to reach out to Steven Gunter you can email him at steven@stevengunter.com.


Use Your Magic  

A Story about Focusing on the Work. Being Bold and the Business of Luxury.

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