I admire John the Beloved and Abraham Lincoln. These were quietly determined and reliable men, full of love and compassion, unwilling to leave anyone behind. But if I am honest, I must admit that I’m actually more similar to Simon Peter and Teddy Roosevelt; blustering and thundering, quick toward combat, often causing more pain than I realize.
There are few Lincolns in America but the spirit of Teddy is everywhere you look.
Teddy Roosevelt would have liked Hockey and Football.
“It is always dangerous to generalize, but the American people, while infinitely generous, are a hard and strong race and, but for the few cemeteries I have seen, I am inclined to think they never die.”
– Margot Asquith
Margot Asquith was an English socialite, author and wit.
Dorothy Parker was an American socialite, author and wit.
In 1927, Dorothy reviewed The Autobiography of Margot Asquith for the Oct. 22 edition of The New Yorker:
“The affair between Margot Asquith and Margot Asquith will live as one of the prettiest love stories of all literature.”
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what is known in wrestling as a take-down. In soccer and hockey, a body check. In football, spearing. In the hood, a bitch slap.
Americans are generally better at it than Europeans. This is an observation that’s been made many times.
“I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago, that somber city – and go at things as I have taught myself, freestyle, and will make a record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted: sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.”
– Saul Bellow, opening line, The Adventures of Augie March
I was born in Texas and raised with rough boys in Oklahoma, so I understand what Saul Bellow meant when he said, “I am an American…” Humorist Will Rogers also knew what Bellow meant. He wrote a letter from Europe to President Calvin Coolidge in 1926:
“We, unfortunately, don’t make a good impression collectively… There ought to be a law prohibiting over three Americans going anywhere abroad together.”
Comedian Fred Allen likewise looked into our cultural mirror with amusement and chagrin.
“The American arrives in Paris with a few French phrases he has culled from a conversational guide or picked up from a friend who owns a beret.”
Another comedian, Paul Rodriguez, said in 1987,
“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”
But the most devastating criticism came from the pen of John Steinbeck:
“Americans are remarkably kind and hospitable and open with both guests and strangers; and yet they will make a wide circle around the man dying on the pavement. Fortunes are spent getting cats out of trees and dogs out of sewer pipes; but a girl screaming for help in the street draws only slammed doors, closed windows, and silence….”
– John Steinbeck, Paradox and Dream, (1966)
That these criticisms come from within our own circle gives me hope and a sense of pride. I am not advocating negativity. Continual self-criticism is a slow, unwinding spiral into darkness as our self-confidence unravels to nothing. This is dangerously self-destructive.
But even more dangerous is to deny that we make mistakes.
The vital passage in my book, Pendulum, is a quote from David Farland:
“Men who believe themselves to be good, who do not search their own souls, often commit the worst atrocities. A man who sees himself as evil will restrain himself. It is only when we do evil in the belief that we do good that we pursue it wholeheartedly.”
I believe it is wise to “search our own souls” as we approach New Year’s Day. It is essential to our wellbeing that we remember all the good things that happened in 2013. Celebrate these happy moments and be grateful. And then contemplate what you might do differently in 2014, because not everything happened last year as you had hoped or planned. Am I right?
I’m talking about looking back and looking forward with an open heart and an open mind.
Do you own a business? Might you benefit from the outside perspective of someone who has been studying American small business for more than 30 years? I’m talking about you and me spending an hour and a half together. I’m willing to do this for free.
Here’s what’s up: some of my Wizard of Ads partners have asked that I videotape a few Uncovery sessions so they can better understand some of the techniques I use to uncover the opportunities that often hide in a business owner’s blind spot. The Uncovery is where great marketing plans begin. It is an assessment, a taking of inventory, a calculation of possibilities and probabilities that ends with a clear understanding of how you – the business owner – might better play the cards you’ve been dealt.
Do you remember how Dorothy finally makes it in to see the Wizard only to learn that she’s had what she needed all along? She’s been wearing the Ruby Red Slippers since the beginning of the movie! The only thing Dorothy needed was someone who would recognize the power of those slippers and say, “Click your heels together.”
That’s what happens in an Uncovery.
I do a number of them every year and I’ve always charged $7,500 for an 8-hour day. My partners and my staff are telling me that I must raise this to $12,500 or $10,000 at the very least, but that’s not what’s on my mind right now.
I’m looking for exactly 4 business owners who would be willing to let me perform an accelerated Uncovery for free. Each of these 4 will be given an hour and a half in my private conference room in February. These sessions will be videotaped for study and evaluation by the Wizard of Ads partners. They will not be made public.
If this opportunity appeals to you, here are the details.
My end-of-the-year introspection has been more protracted this year than usual. This is the 5th week in a row that I’ve talked about motives rather than methods. Please accept my apologies and allow me to explain.
Constructing this last bit of the Wizard Academy campus has been like finishing a good book. I plunged into this project 10 years ago and could hardly wait to get to the end. But now that I’m at the end of the book, I sort of wish I wasn’t. I’m dumbstruck that 10 years has passed. Yet I’m also very excited to get started on a couple of novels and a screenplay that I haven’t had time to work on until now.
You can expect to see new classes announced at Wizard Academy in 2014 as our energy will be focused on developing the intellectual property of the academy rather than its physical facilities.
2014 is going to be a fabulous year. Not just for me and Wizard Academy, but for you and your efforts as well.
Trust me on this. The signs are all around us.
Roy H. Williams
Based loosely on ABC TV’s popular program, The Shark Tank, The Guppy Tank is a group of investors who conduct regional competitions among small business owners across America. Entrepreneurs compete for an equity investment, a cash flow business loan, or a combination of both. Dean Rotbart’s guest this week is Darrin Ginsberg, founder and creator of The Guppy Tank. Joining Darrin is David Bowen, whose toy company, BeginAgain, recently won a $150,000 investment. Learn what investors are looking for at MondayMorningRadio.com