Tag Archives: lesson from dad

How Did You Know?

by Greg Hague


How did you know?

In 1959, my friend, Harvey Mackay, purchased a struggling envelope firm in Minneapolis. Today it is one of the largest in the world, with 500+ employees selling over 25 million envelopes a day.

How did he do it?  Four simple words:

How did you know?

Let me explain.

After he purchased the business, Harvey made a list of 66 things to know about each customer…  their customer profile.

It worked so well he started using it to learn about everyone he met… and then he began using it to learn about the people he was likely to meet.

Harvey now calls it his Mackay 66. I call it:  How did you know?”

The point is to get people to say, ”How did you know?”

It’s smart business and life advice, too.

Whether you are in school or working a job or building a business you better know this… you cannot succeed alone.

Whatever you want, someone else has.

You need a network of people who like you, trust you and want to help you. People like ME!

Show me you care. Get me to say, ”How did you know?”

Go online. Check out my sons… and Tanner and Chubby, my dogs. Learn about my beautiful wife, my hobbies, the organizations I support, the books I read, the music I like and the blogs I write.

Then, the next time we chat, shock me with something you know about me. Get me to ask,

“How did you know?”

I’ll be impressed. And, I’ll want to get to know you.

The takeaway? Before you…

* Meet with a friend.

* Interview for a job.

* Go to a meeting.

* Attend a social event.

Be prepared to make someone ask, “How did you know?”

Four simple words. Four nuggets of gold.



Coach Crosby

by Greg Hague


Crosby and Brandon

Have you ever witnessed a full moon appear while the sun is still shining?  Or a rainbow emerge in the fury of a thunderstorm?

Sometimes things aren’t what we naturally expect. It’s true in science.

It’s also the case with fathers and sons.

Dads are supposed to mentor their sons. But when dads do it well, sons often become the guiding light for their dads.

That has certainly been the case with my boys. These days I learn as much from them as they do from me.  My friend, Brandon, is enjoying a similar experience.

Brandon Steiner is a brilliant, successful entrepreneur. His New York-based Steiner Sports is the largest sports memorabilia company in the world.

In a recent blog, Brandon shared some words of wisdom from his son, Crosby. I asked Brandon if I might share some of “Coach Crosby’s” insightful son-to-father wisdom with my Savvy Dad readers.

Enjoy . . .

High School

Pick where you go to college for the “wrong” reasons. Sports, weather, social scene, etc.  If those things are important to you now, they will still matter when you’re there.

Savor your fleeting moments. There are a lot of experiences you’ll have that you just won’t ever be able to recreate.



Freshman Year

Meeting people should be your number one priority.

Classes are easy…a lot easier than upper level classes. Set the bar high for your GPA.

Effectively manage your time. If you don’t go to class, your grade suffers. Period. But, just being in class doesn’t mean you’re going to learn (especially if you spend the entire time playing snake on your phone).


Sophomore Year

Write a resume: You might not think you have enough to put on there now, but you will. Use what you do have as a base to start with. Always ask someone to review it.

Recruiters have great memories: Go to career fairs, corporate events and presentations. They’ll be calling you when you do need an internship/job. Besides, you get free food.

Join a club. Become president of said club. Fill formerly empty resume.


Junior Year

The people you choose to spend the most time with will have the greatest effect on your happiness. Choose wisely, and don’t be afraid to re-evaluate who you’re hanging out with every so often

See the value in any experience: I passed up the chance to spend three months roaming around Europe so I could take an internship and add another line on my resume. I quickly learned the true value of those two options.


Senior Year

Enjoy yourself: Reap the rewards of your hard work by taking every opportunity to enjoy time with friends and family.

Go on a road trip: There is nothing more exciting than getting in a car and seeing the country.  Stop anywhere and everywhere you can south of the mason dixon line for BBQ and/or Chik-fil-A.

Savor your fleeting moments. There are a lot of experiences you’ll have that you just won’t ever be able to recreate. (Sound familiar?).



Get a job: Take the process seriously, but don’t get caught up in what opportunities your friends are getting. Run your own race.

Seize the moment: I once got a call from a buddy during class. He said he had a ticket to the Michigan-OSU basketball game in Columbus. Tip-off was in six hours and we were 200 miles away…it was a great game.


Final Thought

At an event for students in my five-year program, I had a conversation with the program’s benefactor and namesake, an extremely successful real estate developer. As he discussed his houses in Vail, Florida and New York, I exclaimed how exciting that must be. I’ll never forget his reply:

“Yeah, having houses across the globe gives my wife something to do, but it’s all B.S. I couldn’t care less about them. The only thing that matters in life is relationships with friends and family. That’s it.”

Here is the link to Brandon’s Full Blog.

Writing Killer Emails

by Greg Hague

This is part one of a three part series.




I often feel like a deletion machine. Bang, bang, bang . . . how fast can I dump all those unwanted emails?  Bet you do too.

But then you hesitate. An email subject line grabs your eye. You think, I don’t want to take the time to read this – but you do.

You don’t know the sender, but you’re compelled to open the darn thing anyway. The subject line is so intriguing, you have to take a quick peek.

Emails from people you know?  When I see a killer subject line from family or friends, I think, Wow, my son, wife or buddy really came up with a good one.

Pretty cool . . . always impressive.

What about when looking for a job?  Right now I am interviewing candidates to find a top-notch executive assistant. I won’t bother to meet with an applicant until I assess their communication skills through a few emails.

What do I look for first?

An engaging subject line.



There are two general subject line strategies depending upon the impression you want to make.


A “CUT TO THE CHASE” SUBJECT LINE . . . it’s the essence of your email.

* Use it to ask a key question.

* Use it to summarize what you want them to do.

* Use it to make a key point.


A “DON’T BE BORING” SUBJECT LINE . . . it appeals to an emotional trigger.

*  The fear-invoking line:

Don’t let your child be embarrassed on the first day of school.

*  The newspaper headline:

Savvy Dad discovers secret to eternal happiness.

*  The curiosity line:

How to identify when people lie.

*  The benefits line:

Earn $1000 a day while you travel and play.

*  The question line:

Do you know how to make people like you in 90 seconds or less?


The bottom line on the subject line?  It’s the gist of your email.


Savvy Says . . .

The subject line is your first impression – and you know what is said about first impressions.


3 Ways To Make People Like You

by Greg Hague

People are attracted to people who look like, act like, and have interests similar to theirs.

Want to hit it off instantly with the people you meet?

1. Reflect their look. 

2. Mirror their actions. 

3. Know their interests. 





* Dress slightly upscale of those you’re likely to meet.

* Each day presume you’ll run into someone who can open a life-changing door. You might.

* Don’t be boring! I have a few handmade ties with tiny Swarovski crystals embedded in the material. They elicit compliments and help me stand out in a positive way.   

I know we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but we do.





* When you first meet people, adjust to their vibe.

* Be sensitive to their handshake and squeeze back with a similar grip.

* Be more animated with an enthusiastic person and tone it down with a somber type.

* Speak with a similar rhythm and speed.





* Research people you’re going to meet. It’s easy with Google, Facebook and LinkedIn.

* When you are invited to small parties, call the host in advance for the scoop on the guests.

* Before attending large events ask for the seating chart. Identify the people you want to meet. Keep notes tucked away in your pocket for a quick glance before you wander over to their table.


Savvy Says . . .

“If you work at making friends you may never have to work again.”


Showing Up As They’re Growing Up

This story contributed by Melissa Ahearn

me and dad

When I was young, my dad worked at a downtown law firm.  They had every color pen and fun drinks in the fridge.  My dad even had his own office with pictures of my brother, my mom and me.

I remember thinking what a cool job he had!

Dressed in suit and tie, briefcase in hand, he would get in his Volvo with his coffee spilling everywhere and drive off – only after sending my brother and me off on the school bus, of course.  READ MORE 

Mario Andretti – Exclusive Interview

This story was contributed by racing legend, Mario Andretti.

bio_01Nothing for Granted

Part 1 of a 2-part exclusive interview

He is considered by most to be the greatest race car driver of all time.  It’s no wonder.  Mario Andretti is one of only two drivers in history to win races in Formula One, NASCAR, Indycar, and the World Sportscar Championship.  He is the only driver to be dubbed United States Driver of the Year in three different decades. READ MORE 

The Cruelty in Passion

by Greg Hague

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

shooting hoops

My hands were blistered and bleeding, my back screamed in pain. I was utterly exhausted, but it was OK . . . until Chubby dumped on my dream.

“But Dad,” I pleaded. “I can do it. I will make the team. I’ll shine on the court. No one will work harder than me.”

“Greg,” Chubby said. “I’ve watched you jump, dribble and shoot. Yes, you’re busting your butt. But you don’t have what it takes.

Face it now. Face it later. But face it, you will.”

I lied in bed crying that night. It was unfair. How did he know? I would prove Dad was wrong.

And I did. I made the high school basketball team.

But I hated that season. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.

The coach never put me in a game we hadn’t already won, and then only right at the end. Every practice. Every game. I watched kids who worked less play better than me.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t dribble, move, or shoot like them. It was my first real dose of “hard work alone isn’t enough.”

I remember talking with Dad after the season. He explained,

“Greg, people often let passion lead to a life of frustration. It’s demoralizing to strive for what you can’t have. Smart people assess their abilities up front. They ‘go for it’ where the going looks good.”

With four boys, this is a hard story to write. As a Dad, I want to encourage my kids to “go for your dreams, whatever they are.”

In my heart I want to tell them that nothing is out of their reach. Unfortunately, that’s simply not true. It’s not real.

So what do I say?

Identify your talents – your greatest gifts; mentally, physically, artistically and emotionally. Then, “go for it there.” If you love basketball, strive to own the team if you can’t be a star on the court.


“Greg,” he said, “you can have natural talent, work extremely hard, possess intense passion, and even with a little bit of luck, it’s still not enough.  There is a secret ingredient that many overlook…”

Natural Talent + Hard Work + Intense Passion + Luck + ???

Tomorrow, the secret ingredient to finding life’s path.

Can you guess?

Secret ingredient