Tag Archives: Chubby Rule

No Sense in Strong Without a . . .

by Greg Hague

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


Weak?  Play Strong.  Convincingly…

I was a poker veteran by now.

At 12 years old, I had already sat in on some of Chubby’s Friday night games.

Tonight, I would use a lesson Chubby taught me:

“In poker, and in life, when you are weak – play strong.

He explained,

“Life is like poker in so many ways.  Lenders make loans to those who they believe are not much in need.  People don’t ask you to lead unless they perceive you are a person of strength.  The world pities the weak, but follows the strong.”

So, back to the game.

I had a junk hand – weak.  But the pot was heavy.  Time to play strong.

“I’m all in,” I said, in my deepest, manlike tone.

I could feel my lip quiver a little.  A bit of sweat on my brow.

The men looked at each other, smiling.

“I’ll call you,” Chubby said.

My head snapped back in horror.  Chubby had tricked me!  I watched him scoop my allowance off the table with the rest of the pot!

I stormed out of the room.

Later, Chubby came into my room.

“I did exactly what you said – I played strong when I was weak and you cleaned me out!” I explained.

“No, Greg, I said, ‘when you’re weak, play strong CONVINCINGLY.’  No sense in strong without a straight face,” he laughed.

What did I learn that night?

The weaker you are the stronger you act. No sense in strong without a straight face.

Looking Forward to Lunch . . . Too Much?

by Greg Hague


Chubby used to say, “Greg, when short term pleasures become your focus, your true happiness might be in jeopardy.”

It happened to me.  Only once in my life – and long after Chubby had passed.

Ten years ago, I owned a successful real estate company.  It was lucrative.  I was respected in the community.  But . . .

I started looking forward to lunch . . . too much.

“No bueno,” as my son Corey would say.

The thrill was gone.  The challenges were few.  My spirit was getting “soft.”

No bueno indeed.  It was time for a change.  And change I did!

The lesson today?

Do you finish breakfast thinking of lunch?

Side Effects

by Greg Hague

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

side effects

Continued from yesterday’s story, The Cruelty in Passion:

“Greg,” Chubby said, “even with talent, hard work, passion, and some luck . . . you still might hate where you end up.”

“Why?” I asked with a puzzled look.

“You don’t see the side effects.” Chubby replied.  “It’s like eating fudge every day for a year. You know you’ll gain weight.  But you may not think about the other side effects, like the cost of buying bigger clothes, the heart attack risk, the tooth decay, and the strain on your knees.” 

Dad had a good point. Think in advance –

each plus and minus with all that I do.

Chubby continued,

“Greg, if your dream is to become a schoolteacher, that’s fine, but make sure you consider that you might not make big money doing it. 

Or, if your heart is set on becoming a commercial airline pilot, consider that it may not allow much time with your family.”

That last example really hit home. I absolutely loved to fly.  I was pretty darn good at it, and was fortunate enough to obtain my pilot’s license at 16. And, while a career in the air had seemed exciting and tempting to me, there were side effects I hadn’t considered that didn’t appeal.

The lesson I learned from Chubby that day?

Side effects . . . think pluses and minuses all the way through.


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

Over Changed

Story contributed by Bruce Helmer.


“Excuse me, ma’am, but I think you over-changed me,” I confessed, placing four dollars back on the counter.

My two kids looked at me like I was crazy.  The lady at the counter did too.

I’d just bought four corn dogs at four bucks apiece.  Change from a $20 should be four dollars; she gave me back eight.

“Oh, thank you sir!  Sorry about that,” she replied.

On the way back to our seats, my kids asked why I gave back the “free money.”

“After the game tonight,” I said, “the cashier will total her drawer. If it doesn’t match sales, it might be deducted from her paycheck. Also, it’s stealing.”

My kids were 10 and 13 at the time, but they got the message.

Recently, my daughter (now grown) was over-changed at a convenience store on her way to work. She was in a hurry, it wasn’t much money, and the line of customers was long.

Still, she got back in line to give back the extra change.

Later she proudly called me to relay what happened. She recalled that corn dog “concession lesson” at that Twins’ game years before.

Our team didn’t win that night, but it was certainly a victory for me as a dad.

The “concession lesson” for today?

Our kids become a reflection of all that we do.

Our actions – good and bad – are like ripples in their pond.

multiple ripples


In addition to being a very savvy dad to his two kids, BrBruceHelmeruce Helmer has been in the financial services industry since 1983 and co-founded the financial advisory firm Wealth Enhancement Group in 1997. His new book, Real Wealth, is receiving great reviews.  You can check it out here:




The Ripple Effect

by Greg Hague

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


Perkins Pancake House . . . a sunny, Saturday morning.

“Dad,” I asked. “Why did you do that?”

“Do what?” Chubby replied.

“Buy those people breakfast,” I answered. “We don’t know them.”

“The ripple effect,” Chubby explained.

“The ripple effect?” I asked. “What’s that?”

“Greg, everything you do creates ripples. Every word. Every act. When people see you do good things, they’re more likely to do the same. It works the other way too . . . bad ripples spread.”

The best ripples come from doing what others don’t expect. The surprise factor adds to the size of the ripple. Today, I started a ripple of good.”

“Never thought about that,” I said. “So if I do surprising good things, people who see me are more likely to do the same?”

“Exactly!” Chubby exclaimed.

“The more good people see, the more they do. You have little to lose. At worst, you make someone feel good, yourself too. At best, you just might make a tidal wave.”

My lesson from Chubby that day?

Surprise someone. Make ripples. If everyone did?  A tidal wave!

tidal wave

Bully the Billy

by Greg Hague

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

stop being afraid

“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”

– Christian Nestell Bovee

The fear was beyond comprehension. I could hardly breathe. Why was Dad making me do this? Life was already bad enough. He was being incredibly mean.

The past few months had been utter misery. Billy Rogers, a kid in my class, made it his life’s mission to torture, taunt, insult, injure and embarrass me every day. I was his prey. A bully extraordinaire, he made my life hell in every way. He recruited other kids to join in.

I dreaded weekday mornings. I knew Billy was waiting for me at school. YOU probably used to look forward to recess. Not ME! Back then teachers rarely supervised the playground. Billy had full reign over me. He never let up.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”

-Harvey Fierstein

So there we were. A gray, icy cold winter morning in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dad and I had left the house early.

We sat in the car, ice on the hood, engine idling, parked in the circular drive in front of Miami Hills Elementary School.

This was Dad’s plan, not mine. We’d wait for the bus with Billy on board. When the door swung open, I’d be standing on the curb, poised and ready to beat him up bad.

Chubby had given me strict instructions. When Billy stepped off that bus I’d punch him in the face as hard as I could. I’d knock him to the ground, jump on top, and keep flailing until I was dragged off.

Have you ever been so afraid that your body seemed to act on its own? Where you felt like you were looking at yourself from afar – wondering what would happen, how bad it would be?

That was me! It was surreal. I felt a combination of fear, numbness and mental fog as I sat next to Dad in the car that morning. I’d never known terror like this.

I remember hoping Billy missed the bus, had gotten up late, was home in bed sick . . . anything to prevent what was about to be.

Then my nightmare appeared. Bus number 12, Billy’s. I quickly climbed out of Dad’s car and hurried over to the bus door.

The kids started to file out. Then Billy appeared, looking down on me from the top of the steps. His face turned ugly and mean. He paused, looked with scorn into my eyes, and said something like, “Hey fat boy, what did ya’ eat so much breakfast you couldn’t waddle fast enough to make the bus?”

Little did Billy know, he had just made an egregious mistake. My fear disappeared. Billy stepped off the bus right into my fist. He hit the ground. I jumped on, flailing as hard as I could. The rest is a blur.

I remember kids gathered ‘round, cheering . . . for me? Go Hague, get him! Within seconds the bus driver jumped down and pulled me off. It was over in a flash.

As promised, Dad was right there. He grabbed my hand, ignoring the bus driver. He seemed oblivious to the commotion as he walked me to the principal’s office.

I sat outside for probably an hour while Dad and the principal had a rather aggressive exchange. When Chubby walked out, he told me I would be staying at school that day.

The principal apologized for what I’d been through.  He walked me to class to let my teacher know it was OK that I was late.

As I walked to my desk, a girl smiled; I remember a boy gave me a “good for you” nod. When I sat down, the kid at the next desk whispered, “Way to go, Hague!”  And one more thing . . . Billy never bothered me again.

Did Chubby do the right thing? Politically correct? Not today.

But that was over 45 years ago. My father could see how devastated I was, the terrible effect bullying had on his son.

This story isn’t meant to be just about the horribleness of bullying. And, it’s certainly not an endorsement of violence as a problem solver. Heck, I’m a lawyer who even discourages lawsuits. I believe sensible people should be sensible enough to solve problems in sensible ways.

So what’s the point, the big lesson I learned that icy cold day?

I need to take responsibility for anything that affects ME.

Not Dad. Not school. Not society. If it affects me, I’m responsible.

And one other thing.

Don’t let fear keep me from doing what needs to be done. Billy needed a fist in the face. He deserved it 10X. That’s what he got.

bullying stops here