Business & Life Lessons from a ‘22-year-old'
Can you imagine only having a birthday once every four years?
Well if you were born on Feb. 29, you know that birthdays are really special because of leap year. I knew a guy who happened to have a leap-year birthday and ended up celebrating only 22 actual birthdays. He passed away in 2009, unfortunately not making it to his 90th birthday celebration.
Ironically, this 89-year-old acted and had the spirit of a 22-year-old. That's probably why he lived so long.
He was orphaned by age 6 and was considered a self-made man. Serving in World War II, he was proud to be part of what some call the "Greatest Generation." He came home after the war to meet his sweetheart.
Their romance lasted through 62 years of marriage and three children.
He was a well-known Northeast Ohio banker for 40 years, was active in the community, and eventually retired on his own terms.
His life was full by most standards, and he had few regrets. The success he enjoyed at work and with family was supported by a number of core beliefs and guiding principles including:
Family is No. 1.
Pay in cash and balance your checkbook each month.
Support your kids' activities, yet don't push them into anything.
Don't give instruction to kids at Little League games – unless you're the coach.
Impatience is the virtue of the highly intelligent.
Create your own luck. Work hard. Play hard. Laugh hard.
It's OK to kiss your kids after age 10.
It's OK to hold hands with your spouse after age 50.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the best.
Make sure you have replacement insurance for your house.
Take an active interest in your grandchildren – get down on the floor to play with them.
Take a family portrait once in while.
Let the neighborhood kids play in your yard.
Be a good neighbor. Don't gossip.
It's OK to show your emotion — people don't know who you are without it.
Believe in something.
Work toward the perfect day.
He also had some strong beliefs about business:
Be honest with yourself and others. Those who cheat in golf or on their spouse will cheat in business.
Stay loyal to people and companies that provide you good service.
Keep your shoes "spit-shined" and your wardrobe up to date.
People want to get paid for performance — until they start getting paid for performance.
Don't employ anyone in your company you wouldn't trust with your kids.
If you want to know about a product ask the service person — not the salesperson.
Read the same books as your boss.
If you want to learn about an organization, spend an hour in their lobby.
The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he/she fills out a job application.
Make friends with the housekeeping staff.
A shortage of skilled labor is good for business — it builds organizational character and stimulates creativity.
It is much better to have people quit and leave than quit and stay.
And always surround yourself with "winners."
When you live to almost 90 years, my guess is that you accumulate plenty of knowledge and wisdom.
His thoughts and beliefs evolved from a combination of experience, hard work and plenty of mistakes. There certainly are some good thoughts here from a guy who made an impact and a difference at work, in his community and at home.
Pat Perry is the president of ERC (www.yourERC.com), a Northeast Ohio-based HR organization that assists companies with the attraction, retention and motivation of employees.