“Everybody’s a self-made man; but only the successful ones are ever willing to admit it.”- unknown
Contemplating that quote.
And thinking about my father-in-law.
He was the first person I ever heard refer to himself as a “self-made man.” He was also one of the most successful men I ever met.
He told me once that he had always lived “by his wits.” I understood what he meant. He went his own way. Took his own path. Chose his own course. And MADE life happen!
Now, that didn’t mean he didn’t do certain things to empower himself. He did. He was educated. (Ohio State) He was flexible enough to move his family when he saw opportunity. He surrounded himself with other successful people, ever expanding his network.
And in the course of his life, he became president of a very large manufacturing corporation. At a fairly young age.
Then came the ’80’s. The decade of mega-mergers. The company that he had built and devoted his life to was sold to a larger conglomerate. They brought in their “own” people. He was out. Bam. No company. No job.
My father-in-law was in his mid-5o’s at the time. You get the picture. Somewhat gloomy. Or so it seemed. He could have just sat around the rest of his life with his compensation package and moaned about corporate downsizing.
That never happened.
Within days, he was back up, using his now well-developed and highly-successful network of business associates to propel him into the next opportunity. He formed a consulting firm. Yes, there were many who would gladly pay for him to sit on their boards and give advice. He honed that business. And in the process, expanded his wealth beyond his wildest expectations.
If he had never said another word, his example would have been enough.
But we were lucky. Business advice was freely given around the dinner table. And on family vacations. He was always eager to answer questions, listen to ideas, and offer help if needed. Although I couldn’t see it at the time, his suggestions and encouragement were helping young adults in the family make choices of their own.
All of his sons became business owners and entrepreneurs. As far as I can tell, they never give up. And they are cautious. Nobody jumps at the first passing shiny object. Possibly thinking, “What would Dad do?”
Family mentors always leave a legacy of some sort. Today, I realized who left us the legacy of wanting to be business owners.
“Everybody’s a self-made man, but only the successful ones are ever willing to admit it.” -unknown
I was mentored by a self-made man. And he freely admitted it.
Oh, that we would all be like that.
p.s. Blog post in loving memory of David K. Giffen (1926-2003)
p.s.s. Inspiring business mentors are everywhere. Pay attention!