Why I told the story: It’s Not What I Know…It’s How I Learned It
I started my first business when I was 8 years old. I could buy model airplane kits for 10 cents each. If I bought 10, I would get two extra kits free.
Business Plan: Sell the two extra kits for 50 cents each and I would have my 10 kits for free. No takers!
Plan B: Build the 12 airplanes and sell them for 25 cents each. 300% profit. Sold 4.
From building airplanes, to raising pigs, corn and cows, I was developing a taste for business. I learned to make mechanical drawings of equipment that we were able to build for the farm. It was a combination of survival and education.
My dad said, “Get an education, get a good job, then, find a way to work for yourself.” That was my motivation. He said, “Once you learn something, no one can take it away from you. It’s yours.”
I took it to heart and over the years I have continued to learn. After high school, Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh Dental school, USAF internship, 5 year Residency Oral Maxillofacial Surgery at University of Pittsburgh Medical School, I was finally ready to begin my professional career as a surgeon.
Thirteen years after high school and I was finally starting to make a living. Did I mention that by then we had four young daughters. Also during that time, I invented and had four patents for a valve used in general anesthesia and owned one of the largest farming facilities at that time in western Pennsylvania.
If you asked me, I would gladly tell you that there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do, figure out how to do, or make it work. Yes. I didn’t know that I didn’t know.
Somewhere along the way, I forgot what my dad said about education. “Never stop learning. When you think you know, you probably don’t.” When I stepped back and looked at how busy I was with all my projects, I thought there had to be some answers out there.
First, I dedicated time every day to learning business principles. Second, I focused on the wisdom of successful people from past and present generations. Third, I learned that I didn’t have to repeat the mistakes of others in order to learn how to start, grow and sustain a successful business.
My motivation to tell my story was to help the next generation start, grow and sustain their businesses without making the same mistakes that I “enjoyed.” I consider my mistakes as learning experiences. I learned a lot.
I cheated death on the battlefield, in the jungles of Honduras, and even doing stupid things. But I made it and now I can share those experiences with others. My wish is that someone will come to me some day and say, “Thank you. Your story helped me.”
Dad said, “Son, your not a failure unless you quit. Don’t give up on yourself.”