Our work habits and ethic may have arguably declined throughout the years. People seem less dedicated than before, usually only to achieve some short gratification, and not pining for being the best consistently. In this episode, host Ken Courtright reminds us that sometimes, you have to do what you are unwilling to do, read, and practice on your craft all the time to achieve greatness and success.
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Knowing what you want is one thing. Knowing what you’re willing to give up to get it is everything. Christopher Columbus says, “We live life in three phases. First, we learn, then we earn, then we ambassador.” Our homeowner’s association had a block party. We live on a private ski lake. There are some beautiful homes around here. All of the families, including mine, are about two blocks away on the public beach did have a blast. I watched boats pulling skiers and tubers. They did have a great time. My carnal body wanted to be out there so bad, but the reality is first you learn, then you earn, then you ambassador.
Our country has gotten soft and forgotten what work habit and work ethic is. In 1975, my father at 25 years old, started a restaurant. For the first seven years, I saw my dad at my house four times because he would leave while I was at school. He would get back at 2:00 in the morning. He’d leave at 10:00 AM. He’d come back for a two-minute nap and then he’d go back to work and come back at 2:00 in the morning. For seven years, I never saw him. In the eighth year of the restaurant, we began watching on Monday nights, The Million Dollar Man. It was cool. I’d sit on his lap. It was awesome. My dad paid the price for a long time and then he was able to retire early. He amassed a large pile of money and he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
Knowing what you want is one thing. Knowing what you’re willing to give up to get it is everything. In 1936, a famous individual released a book and one of the paragraphs of this famous book starts out, “Isn’t it amazing that a man with definiteness of purpose goes through life, watches how the world steps aside and then comes beside and helps him with his aims.” It is from Think and Grow Rich. Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are right,” before you even begin. What Napoleon Hill also said, “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Many people can see things, but how deeply do they believe it and believe it for themselves? Some of you know that I read a lot of billionaires’ biographies and autobiographies.
I can’t remember if I’ve ever told the story of Fred Smith. If you can get ahold of Fred Smith’s biography, it’s quite fascinating. He’s the man behind FedEx. He was the son of the founder of the Greyhound Bus Company. After bankrupting his family’s Greyhound Bus Company, there were only $3 million left in the Greyhound Bus Company. Fred talked his attorney into going to his sister’s home. She was having a big party in the backyard. There were senators there and the daughter came to the front door. Fred and the attorney asked her to sign something and she goes, “Fred, tell me I’m not signing over the last $3 million of our Greyhound Bus Company.”Knowing what you want is one thing, knowing what you're willing to give up to get it is everything. Click To Tweet
Fred’s like, “Of course not.” Sure enough, she was. She has never spoken to Fred again, even though she’s now worth $2 billion from that $3 million. At the point of attack, Fred did steal that last $3 million from his family’s fund, but that wasn’t enough. Fred only had enough money to buy nine Falcon jets and he needed 27. As a matter of fact, he started running a commercial. Some of you might have heard it back in the day. It says, “When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.” That commercial was considered one of the greatest marketing commercials of all time. What few people in the world know is that Fred Smith could not deliver on that commercial.
Fred Smith only had nine jets, he needed 27. One time, Fred Smith was walking through O’Hare Airport. He had $10,000 to $40,000 left in the bank. He had payroll to meet for tens of thousands of people. He had no money for payroll, but he was in O’Hare and he saw a sign that said, “Las Vegas.” It was an ad for Blackjack. All of a sudden, he took that as a sign. He jumped on the other conveyor belt, went back to the ticket counter, bought a ticket to Vegas and won enough money that day to pay payroll. He was out of payroll two weeks later because he was out of money.
A buddy of his says, “Fred, why don’t you stop whining about your problem? Stop crying about your situation and go find somebody that can help you.” Fred’s like, “I don’t have anybody I can call. I bankrupted my family. I borrowed money from everybody I know.” The guy says, “Fred, I didn’t say talk to people you know. Reach out to somebody that can help you.” He’s like, “Who do you have in mind?” He goes, “I read in Time magazine or some newspaper that there’s a billionaire that just retired. He’s physically cleaning out his desk this week. Why don’t you go see him?” Fred’s like, “I don’t know that guy.” His mentor and coach were like, “You’re not listening to what I’m saying. Get on a plane, go to Chicago where this billionaire’s at and talk to him.”
If the story is correct, Fred Smith left that stranger’s office with a check for $600 million. It was some absurdly large number that covered the next series of jets, payroll for six months and it put FedEx on the map. Knowing what you want is one thing. Knowing what you’re willing to give up to get it is everything. In 1998 and 1999, my wife spent nineteen months married to me, who was in dark times. We had a consulting business, a sign company and a chain of video stores. What the world didn’t know but my wife knew is that our three bank accounts, even though we were doing millions of dollars a year, our average bank balance was a negative $3,000. It was under $3,000. We never knew if a debit card or credit card would put gas in the car. We never knew if we could get groceries any week. It was nineteen months of absolute hell. Kerri, my wife, had a miscarriage during this time. One of our sales reps in a sales meeting had a heart attack and at 44 years old, died in my arms. It was awful.
I spent the next 7 to 8 years under a vow that I would never let one main source of income corrupt me again. At that time, we had a massive revenue stream from a video store chain. We were making $10,000 net money per month per store. All my eggs were in the video store industry. I don’t know if you know anybody that still renting VHS tapes. It doesn’t exist. The Law of Entropy annihilated us. In nineteen months, we barely survived, but we did survive. I spent six years hunting what exactly I can do as a father, as a husband and as a business owner to diversify my income again. How can I never allow this to happen to my family again? As many of you that follow us and follow IncomeStore.com or DigitalFootprint.net, you know that I’ve spent six years plus another five partnering up with hundreds of people, hundreds of business and even private equity firms. Now, Kerri and I have hundreds of revenue streams. Conrad Hilton asked the world in his autobiography, “Is it an accident that our company started every day in corporate prayer and we were the only hotel chain to survive the great depression?”
Michael Jordan has a famous story in Chicago, but it’s not famous worldwide. Mark Giangreco, one of the biggest sports anchors in Chicago, was honored to have the final interview with Michael Jordan. This is game seven. This is the second time he played basketball. He retired once, then he came back to the sport and he’s retiring again for what is the final retirement in game. It’s game seven of the finals and Mark Giangreco has this idea, “I’m going to go and I’m going to interview Michael. I’m going to set up four hours early. I’m going to gather my thoughts in the darkroom of the auditorium of the United Center. I’m going to gather my thoughts and script out the perfect interview for Michael Jordan.” Mark Giangreco and his cameraman get there many hours early. They’re upset that at 1:00 PM, the game is at 7:00 PM, six hours early and there’s noise in the gymnasium. Mark Giangreco wanted to sit quietly and script his thoughts. Somebody’s playing basketball and bouncing balls all over the place. When he gets into the gym, it’s a dark gym and only a couple of lights are on, Michael Jordan is in the middle sweating bullets. He’s shooting layups. He’s shooting three-pointers and free throws.
Mark slowly walks up to him because he doesn’t want to interrupt him. He can tell that it looks like this a purposeful workout. It’s almost like Michael is trying to work some bugs out of something. Finally, Michael comes over to Mark Giangreco. He’s got his hands on his knees. He’s bent over. He’s gasping for air, sweat dripping on the floor. He looks up and says, “Mark, what’s up? I thought our interview wasn’t until 5:00.” Mark was taken aback that Michael even remembered that there was a big interview this afternoon. Mark goes, “I’m dumbfounded. It’s game seven of the finals and you’re never going to play another game. Statistically, you’re the greatest basketball player that’s ever lived. I don’t think you’re going to get any better right before the game. Why would you run around shooting layups and shooting free throws? Why would you risk injury in game seven? I don’t understand.”
Michael Jordan looks up, laughs and he says, “It’s you that don’t understand. I’ve done this for every game, not just the playoffs and the finals. Since the first game that I entered the pros, every game that I played in college and every game since senior year in high school, I’ve always told myself that I have to deserve the game-winning shot. I have to do what the other professionals are unwilling to do. Mark, every professional practice. All of us pros practice. We’re good before we get to the pros. I practice outside of practice because I believe that I have to deserve to hit the game-winning shot.” Our country has gotten soft. In the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, our country had a group of entrepreneurs that practiced outside of practice. We’ve lost the concept that you have to deserve to hit the game-winning shot. The concept of practicing outside of practice has been lost. Even practicing has a little bit gotten pushed to the side a little bit.
People show up and they assume the sale’s going to happen and their product’s fantastic. Because they trusted somebody with their website, it’s going to garner the views and the traffic. I don’t think there’s split testing. I don’t think they’re trying different marketing. They’re going through the motions, not for all of them. I’m in a powerful men’s group and we fly into LA once a month. We fly out the same day and we talk. This isn’t for everybody. There are some great business owners out there that are killing it and they’re still working their teeth to the bone. The country’s gotten soft and we need to bring back the concept that knowing what you want is one thing, but knowing what you’re willing to give up to get it is everything. I don’t know anything that happens without sacrificing. I don’t know a single person that has rub-a-dub their way to the top. I don’t know a single entrepreneur that just magically wins.
I know a lot of entrepreneurs that, like me, are killing it nights and weekends. They are still reading a book a week. They’re still studying. They’re voracious readers, but they’re few and far between. I see a lot of wannabe entrepreneurs out there. I would love to see us get a focus back on the fundamentals of growth, life and success. I even like Conrad Hilton’s question, “Is it by accident that our company started every day in corporate prayer and we were the only one that survived the great depression?” Is that an accident? Is that just happenstance? There’s so much out there and there are many fundamental laws of success in business. We’ve lost sight of the sacrificed piece of business. I’m going to end with this, knowing what you want is one thing, knowing what you’re willing to give up to get it is everything.