Time to take a minute and be thankful for friends. During my short 66 years on this planet I had always considered myself the master of my universe. Going from bankruptcy to not so much so, I always thought I had made the fortunes I accumulated alone. I felt my destiny was self-imposed. Thinking you are a “self-made” man might be good for your ego, but I can tell you it was bull shit. I had help from friends the whole way. At many points I have needed Shelter from the Storm.
I always considered my financial bottom as the time I sold my gold wedding band at Sears for $43.00 in order to buy baby formula for my first daughter over 40 years ago. Then I had my first home foreclosed on, that was before any financial collapse. I had done that all myself. Indeed I did accomplish both of these feats, amongst others, by myself with help from no one. I’m not sure how low a credit rating can go, but I am pretty sure I was close to the bottom.
Then a friend gave me a company car to drive as a hand up. (My only duty was to drive the company car.) I went out and bought a couple of cheap folding tables, a couple of cheap phones and went back to what I had done in high school. I became a magazine salesman. Another friend loaned me a basement office in his office building to telemarket from.
Since my credit rating was so low, I didn’t have anything to do except telemarketing. Each subscription I sold was for $2.88 a week for a package of magazines. I worked from around 8:00am every morning until around 7:00pm each night, with Sunday nights off. Listening to an endless cassette tape of Tom Petty music I felt I had reached my station in life. I’m pretty certain I would have abused drugs, but I didn’t have enough money to buy any! By the way, that $2.88 a week came out to $149.76 a year and the agreements I sold were for four years each totaling $599.04 a year. My calculator told me that if I did that for 52 weeks a year I would reach around $6,230,016.00 a year in sales. After around 5 years, holy crap. All I had to do was collect those receivables.
After having over 5000 employees, the telemarketing business does have quite a turnover. I finally realized something, I had help all along the way.
I was in the basement so long I didn’t even realize what was happening until I got a phone call one day and a woman asked me if I had time to have lunch with the president of a bank. As I had become quite a smart ass, considering all I had been through, I did agree to have lunch. During that lunch, when the guy asked me if I could use a line of credit, I told him that when I needed money nobody was home. I was more interested in accumulating money, as opposed to borrowing it. I then realized that banks are only going to offer you money when you don’t need it. My credit rating was so low, I couldn’t even get a credit card.
The rest of my story was that I ended up purchasing a few old buildings and, with more friends, fixed them up. Taking worthless buildings and restoring them became my hobby since I never was much of a country club guy. Besides I was a magazine salesman, at that time I was almost embarrassed to tell people what I did for a living; however, since I wasn’t trying to win any popularity contests it didn’t make much difference.
It was ironic that being a magazine salesman was the answer I had been looking for and didn’t even realize that until, again holy crap. Those 5000 plus employees helped me achieve whatever success I had attained, I didn’t do it by myself. My best friend Dave Barto is the guy who got me pointed in the right direction, we had first met when I was 15 years old working as a collection agent in a magazine agency. After that I left for college I didn’t see Dave for around 30 years. Then for quite some time we would pool our money together to buy a couple of blue plate specials for dinner at a place called the Dixie Cafe in Peoria, Illinois. Those might have been the most enjoyable blue plate specials I ever ate. Funny how you can befriend someone, take off for 30 years and pickup right where you left off.
Making friends is the most valuable part of my trip. Remember, when you get to the pearly gates they don’t let you take jewelry, cars, other material bullshit with you because you leave that all behind.
Packing my bags for a trip back to Las Vegas this week. It was great to visit with friends, but that said, give me Las Vegas.
After being thankful for friends, I’m ready to get back to 85 degree temps in Las Vegas. Weather forecast for Illinois tonight is 1-3 inches of snow. Since I’ve been back for a week or so I did get to put my truck into four-wheel drive for a little snow driving.
Moral of this story, first thank God and then thank your friends. We do very little ourselves in this life, thank your partner, your wife and God for all you have (or don’t have). That emotion pride a sin we could all do without. Try to replace pride with gratefulness, fear with faith and be thankful for everyday living it as if it were your last day on the planet.