“Have Gun-Will Travel” was a Western radio and TV series starring Richard Boone that was broadcast from 1957 to 1963. The lead character was named Paladin; he was a gunfighter who traveled around the old west while working for people who needed his help solving their problems. Paladin charged a lot of money for his services, however, he provided services for free to people who needed his help, but could not afford to pay him. While sitting in a courthouse, endlessly waiting, during a recent jury selection, I reflected on the similarities between Paladin and myself. Unlike Paladin, I am a social psychologist who works as a jury/trial consultant; I am not a gunfighter by any stretch of the imagination. But, similar to him, I perform work all across the United States for people who need my help. I come to each city or town as secretly as possible, so as not to let anyone except my clients know I am there. I perform my job with precision and, as soon as I am finished, I leave just as quietly as I came, without raising any awareness of my presence. Just as Paladin had only his gun with which to help his clients, I travel with few accouterments; my brain is what I use to help my clients. Also like Paladin, I charge what some people consider a lot of money to help my clients, but when there is a pro bono case involving an injustice I would like to help resolve, I charge nothing for my services. Some people might consider me a “hired gun,” but I believe the services my company and I provide are far more valuable than those of a mere hired gun. Many occupations include tools of the trade. In my occupation, my primary tool is one I am thankful for: my brain. Have brain-will travel, to a city perhaps, near you.
Many jobs require a lot of “stuff.” The tools of many professions such as Melissa’s, however, require a sharp, focused mind, and little else. A pen and paper for note taking are probably the minimum in these occupations. However, despite the fact that Magnus is essentially paid for brainpower, certain aspects of the work we do involve tools of the trade. These include equipment for video and audio recording, surveys, a way to scan the surveys, software to analyze the data, computers, printers, copiers, video projectors, tripods, and more. And, even note taking has evolved from paper and pen to tech tools like an iPad and iPencil. Some of these tools are luxuries, perhaps, like the iPad, while others are more fundamental. Video and audio recording, for example, are required for data collection, but in reality, if the power went out, the show could go on. Lawyers have stood up and presented their cases without visual aids for decades. Is the presentation better with visuals? Absolutely. But if the visual fails, the primary presentation tool is the speaker’s voice. Sometimes, people try to use the accouterments as flash, as sizzle. We’ve always been careful to not let the sizzle get in the way of solid work – something that has lead to Melissa’s mindset of have brain, will travel.