Work Hard or Not At All!

I grew up an only child, raised by a loving Mom & Dad who instilled in me a great work ethic.

Dad worked hard at the local steel mill. Mom worked hard on the home front.

Over the course of my life, I saw Dad go to work on a daily basis, risking his life literally, in a very dangerous environment just to put food on the table and clothes on my back.

“Work hard, or not at all, Son,” Dad would say.

This mantra was ingrained into my subconscious. 

I couldn’t have asked for better parents and role models. They made me the person I am today.

Early Years

As a kid, I remember sitting on Grandpa’s knee every afternoon. We watched the Chicago Cubs on “America’s Station” WGN, and cheered for Ryne Sandberg to hit a home run.

Both of us loved listening to Broadcaster Harry Carey sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. I had my soda or grape juice, Grandpa had his package of Redman chewing tobacco.

I still, to this day, have those memories etched in my mind. Wonderful memories.

Throughout my childhood, I would always have a book in my hands. I loved to read and write, and learned to do both at a very young age.

I used to copy, word for word, the Hardy Boys’ books, and others I had on hand.

It was a good exercise for a kid and it helped me throughout my younger years, not unlike when I learned how to write persuasively by using famous ads from classic copywriters. Everything comes full circle.

Quitting is Never an Option

My childhood was always an adventure when it came to taking trips and vacations. We were still going somewhere, especially in the summer.

One such trip was to the Iowa State Fair. A fun time was had by all, most of the time.

Every summer, in the hottest part of August, millions of people descended upon the Des Moines fairgrounds and surrounding areas, specifically to look at the butter cow, among other things.

And yes, there is such an item on displaya life-size cow made of butter. And we were proud of it, gosh darn it!

We looked forward to riding absurdly old-looking carnival rides, eating fair food until we puked, and trying to avoid heatstroke. It was more or less a sport in Mid-August for Iowans.

So, in August 1994, my folks and I and a friend of mine made our way to Des Moines to have our day in the sun. The hot, hot sun.

At the time, I thought I was just an average fifteen-year-old, immune to everything. It turned out I wasn’t.

On the drive home from the fair, Dad stopped at a truck stop right off Interstate 80. We went inside and stocked up on goodies for the remainder of the ride home.

What happened next, I don’t recall. Mom told me she saw me seated in the back of our van, convulsing and beating my head against the window. I guess it wasn’t a beautiful sight.

I awoke in an ambulance, scared and unsure of what to think. I remember screaming, partly because I was disoriented and unable to gather my thoughts. I also remember being handcuffed to the gurney so I wouldn’t hurt myself. I was very sick to my stomachnauseous times ten. I had had what doctors would call a grand mal seizure.

Tests and a lot of hospital and doctor visits followed over the coming weeks. But throughout these times, I never let something like a seizure disorder get me down. I persevered. It made me a more formidable person.

Learning how to cope with an obstacle and conquer the fear that comes with it helps in life. It makes you stronger. Tough as leather.

Winners don’t use obstacles or any type of difficulty in life as an excuse to give up. A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits! I use that strength today in business and life. You will find that out.

Learning Lessons & Gaining Strength from a Significant Other 

By my mid-thirties, I was finally ready to settle down and have a family. A little later than most, yes, but I was busy and didn’t socialize a lot. I was somewhat of an introvert.

One day someone said, “You need to put a profile up on a dating website.” After I unwrinkled my face and thought about the concept, I decided to do just that.

There must be some lovely people on the interwebs, right? They can’t all be crazy, right? So, in February of 2015, I met the strongest person I’ve ever met in my life.

Tasha, a lovely young woman who would eventually become my wife and the mother to my beautiful daughter, Chloe, walked into my world and changed it forever.

Tasha had been having a rough go of it the previous few years.

At the age of 28, she had been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Failure and had to go through dialysis treatments three times a week. Starting at 5:00 am, no less. It was not easy for her, yet she handled every treatment like a champ.

And I remember, on one of our first phone calls, she said she would understand if I didn’t want to have anything to do with her given her health issues.

When I heard that, it broke my heart because she was so bubbly and uplifting, and you’d never in a million years know anything was wrong.

Tasha never claimed to be a victim or had an “oh, woe is me” attitude. She was inspirational to not only me but to everyone around her. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, only after speaking with her a few times.

And I had been through problems of my own; seizure disorder, lots of anxiety issues, etc. However, I had never met a more positive person in the world than my beautiful Tasha.

I became a better person and a stronger person after meeting Tasha and getting to know her. Seeing someone close to you overcome adversity and punch it right in the face like Rocky Balboa clobbering Ivan Drago in the 15th Round teaches you life lessons and strengthens your character. It’s inspirational.

You think to yourself, “if someone can go through something awful and end up on the other side with a smile on their face, then I can succeed in any aspect of my life.” And I will, for you, my client.