Get to Know Hall of Fame Member Richard Bryant, Bryant Associates, Inc. (#4794), Chicago, IL, USA

What was your favorite NPAworldwide meeting?It was also my most memorable one. I was previously a 20-year member of NPC, a competing network purchased by NPA in 1989. During my last 10 years with that group, I performed a routine that was a parody of Johnny Carson’s soothsayer, Carnac the Magnificent, which I dubbed Norcrap The Magnificent.

With a sidekick, we entertained members at regional meetings and national conventions. One of my assistants was Jim Brackin, a fellow member before his defection, previously serving as your president. As many will recall, Carson’s gambit was to receive a sealed envelope with the answer written on it. With much fanfare, he would press the envelope to his forehead, pretending to be deep in thought, mystically proclaim the answer to an unknown question, engage in banter with the audience, open the envelope and read the question. It was usually a play on words or a pun which usually evoked peals of laughter. In our gig, I added a bottle of wine which I would imbibe while Jim and I would trade comedic barbs. On the occasions when the question fell a bit flat, a chorus of boos from the audience would ensue, which would permit me to cast a curse on the hecklers. Since I knew or was friends with all of the members, everyone was fair game to be pilloried. “May the Bird of Paradise build a nest on your head and leave a deposit.” Most members enjoyed the reverie and felt slighted if they were not signaled out. At our NPA performance, I quickly found that poking fun at people I knew vs those whom I had not met was vastly different. The rollicking laughter was replaced by intermittent silence, forced smiles, chuckles, head shakes and only occasional laughter. It was a memorable occasion despite the chilly reception, because the forum provided me the visibility to meet a lot of members, and was instrumental in my smooth transition into the group. I proceeded to put Norcrap down for a loong NPA nap.

How did you get into recruiting?

I was employed in my initial job following college in St. Louis as an insurance sales rep. I had been “promoted” to Chicago but felt I was treading water. A co-worker I had befriended one day told me that she was dating a guy who was opening a nightclub called The Rising Moon and was looking for a manager. He had finagled a 4 AM license whereas the other clubs closed at 2 AM. I applied and landed the job, undoubtedly due to my friend’s relationship with the owner, because I did not have the slightest inkling of how to run a speakeasy. It was an era when folk songs had just burst on the scene and groups like Peter, Paul & Mary (remember them?) and other top entertainers would visit the club after their other gigs had ended and performed a “hootenanny.” I quickly got up to speed, I was able to see the top acts in the country, and it was a fun job. Every night we drew standing room only crowds and the joint was jumpin’. One night when I was tending bar, I was chatting with a member of The Kingston Trio (Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley). When I mentioned that I had a day job, but was unhappy with it, he said that he had a cousin who had trouble finding a job, got into recruiting, and was going gangbusters. That morning I visited the employment agency with the biggest ad in the newspaper, was hired and never looked back.

Do you have a favorite split placement?

It was a National Sales Management role. The process was lengthy, and after a lot of “weeding out,” the employer conducted 8 in-person interviews. My candidate was the last person standing, and he was scheduled to fly to the corporate office to meet the brass. While driving to the airport, he was involved in an accident in which he was injured rather badly. He didn’t want to risk losing the opportunity, so he managed to board the plane. Realizing that he had sustained a concussion, and if he fell asleep he probably would not be able to function or even awaken, he therefore, was able to stay awake all night, dazzled the group, accepted their offer, flew home and checked himself into a hospital.

What is your specialty?

Marketing & Sales, exporter