Tag Archives: lesson

The Worst Decision I Ever Made

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

Chubby was perturbed. Restless, cranky it seemed.

“Dad,” I said, “What’s wrong?”

I made a terrible decision, he said.

A sales agent named Joyce just left our firm. She took several agents with her, customers too. It’s going to cost me a lot.”

Chubby Rules Decision
I’m sorry,” I said. “Can I do anything?

Yes” Chubby responded. “Don’t make the same mistake.”

What mistake? I replied.

I didn’t.” Dad answered.

Didn’t what? I asked.

Greg,” Dad said. “I knew Joyce was a troublemaker. Late for sales meetings. Complained incessantly. Criticized the company. I should have fired her a long time ago.”

Why didn’t you?” I asked.

“I violated my own rule.” Chubby answered. “I didn’t decide.”

I could see that Dad was angrier with himself than with Joyce.

Years ago when I started the company,” Dad said.

I decided that the worst decisions I’d make would be not to decide. That’s what I did with Joyce. I kept putting it off, hoping she’d change but knowing she wouldn’t.

I’m sorry.” I said. And I was. I felt bad for Dad.

Chubby Rules DecisionGreg,” Chubby instructed, “With every decision, there are only four options:

  1. Decide “yes.”
  2. Decide “no.”
  3. Decide it’s best to delay.
  4. Don’t decide.

Don’t confuse #3 with #4. It’s a critical mistake. That’s what I did with Joyce.

I didn’t decide it was best to delay. I knew better. Every day she was hurting the firm. I put it off . . .  I pulled a #4 wimp-out. And that, Greg, was the worst decision of all.”

The lesson I learned from Chubby that day?

Don’t pull #4 wimp-outs. 
The worst decisions are those you don’t make.

The Worst $10 I Ever Spent

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

ten dollar bill in hand

“Dad,” I said. “Can I borrow $10? I need to print flyers for my new grass cutting business.”

What’s the plan?” Chubby asked.

“I’m going to drop them off around the neighborhood this Saturday.”

Do you think that’s smart?” Chubby asked.

“Absolutely!” I exclaimed.

Dad reached in his pocket, pulled out his silver money clip and slid out a ten. “You’ll pay it back a dollar a week,” he said.

“Perfect” I answered.

I handed out the flyers that Saturday, just like I said. And waited. And waited. A day. A week.

The phone was stone dead.

Chubby Rule


More advertising, perhaps?  I asked Dad for another ten bucks. I’d do it again.

NO.” Chubby said “no.” “But why?” I asked.

“Because, Greg, you should have asked how to spend the ten bucks.”

I had to admit Dad might have a point. My plan didn’t work. Maybe, I should have asked first.

“OK,” I said with a dose of humility (not my strong suit at that age). “Dad, what did I do wrong?”

Greg, you had a choice. You could have distributed flyers to lots of people once or fewer people lots. You were too anxious. You chose wrong.”

Chubby continued,

“Never forget the 6X6 Rule. It’s better to hit 1/6th the people six times than six times the people just one time.”

He explained, “Spread out your advertising dollars so you have enough to put the same message in front of the same people six consecutive times. People need to see a message over and over again – as many as six times – before they’re likely to respond.”

“But Dad,” I said. “That would take too long. I’d be handing out flyers for weeks. I want to make money now.”

Chubby smiled. I remember him looking over at the lonely, silent telephone. I understood.

The lesson I learned from Chubby that day?

The 6X6 Rule – It’s better to market to 1/6th the people six times than six times the people just once.

Talk To Many. Speak To Few.

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

key to selling

Chubby knew life is about selling.

Your product. Your service. Your point of view. Yourself.
Winning an election. Building a business. Finding or keeping a job.
Convincing someone to go out on a date, or in the extreme, “I do.”

Chubby said over and over again, “Greg, the better you sell, the better you’ll do.”

Obviously, I had to ask, “Dad, how do you sell?”

“Why do you ask?” he replied.

“I want to be rich,” I said. “A nice car…big house. I want it all.” Chubby smiled.

“Well,” he answered, “The first step is ‘talking to many, but speaking to few.'”

Strange I thought, talking to many but speaking to few?
Sounded like eating a lot, but not gaining a pound. How is that done?

Chubby explained,

“Greg, others will tell you the key to sales is talking to more people…a numbers game. That’s only half true. The real key is speaking to whomever you talk.”

I was still in the dark. Speak to whomever I talk?
How do you talk to someone without speaking to them?

What Chubby said next turned on a life-changing light,

“Greg, you just turned 14 and you love to bike. What if you saw an ad for a new bicycle designed specifically and only for 14-year-old boys, just like you. The size, the color, the graphics; the company marketed the bike like it was made custom for you.  Would you want to look?”

“Absolutely,” I replied. “I’d want to go see it today.”

“You see,” Dad said. “That bike manufacturer was speaking to you.”

Chubby continued, “What’s fascinating is that this exact bike might also be marketed to 15-year-old girls after a quick change of color and graphics. Same bike. New color. Different market.

The key to selling a lot is to talk to many, one group at a time.”

I was starting to see what Dad meant. This would be great in expanding my neighborhood grass cutting business. Mrs. Bales loved her flowerbed. So when I talked with her about mowing her lawn, I’d speak to my care of her flowers. Mr. Mackay was always sweeping his walk and front porch. So when I talked with him about mowing his lawn, I’d speak to ensuring his walk and front porch were sparkling clean.

The lesson I learned from Chubby that day?

Sliver marketing.

Craft what you say to one like-minded group at a time.
That’s how you talk to many but speak to few.

key to selling

The Successful Bethel

“Never fret for an only son, the idea of failure will never occur to him.”

—George Bernard Shaw

Today’s story is contributed by Dr. Klee Bethel.

When Savvy Dad asked me to share my dad’s best lesson, only one person came to mind — my son.

life success

Klee with David, his son, and grandsons Caden (age 13) and Brenner (age 8)

Growing up, I was taught that success was defined in terms of wealth and influence. A “successful” man had a tailor-fit wardrobe, a lavish home, and enough cars to fill an oversized garage.

As an ambitious young man, I saw my path to success in the medical field. In time I became a prominent doctor. A success, I thought. I tried to pass on my idea of success to my son, David. It was my duty, right?

But David didn’t see it my way. We were close in his adolescent years — best friends, I would say. But in his teenage years, we started to grow apart. I didn’t approve of his GPA in school. He didn’t approve of my second wife.

By the time David turned 20, and had his first son, we were estranged. I didn’t approve. His choices were all wrong. No college? Working as a waiter? His new wife merely a receptionist?

As a physician, I had made a good living, but eventually went bankrupt when the economy fell. I also divorced my second wife. As it turned out, I was not the portrait of success I had envisioned as a youth.

But my son… Today, at 33 years old, he is the most talented food server in the restaurant. He is deeply in love with his lovely wife, Sedina. They have two wonderful boys, Caden and Brenner, now 13 and 8. My son and his family live a remarkably happy life.

My son’s prescription for success is simple — being an amazing husband and a fantastic father to my grandsons.


David, Sedina, Caden, and Brenner.

After my second divorce, I finally “woke up.” I realized that my formula for success was shortsighted and wrong. My son was more successful than I had ever been. So, I decided to adopt his vision for success as my own!

Today, I am dedicated to being the best dad and granddad I can possibly be. I visit my son at his restaurant frequently. I attend my grandson’s football games. My daughter-in-law works with me in my medical practice.

As parents, David and Sedina have structured their lives to revolve around their kids. As a granddad, I now structure my life to revolve around them.

I always felt it was my paternal duty to show my son the path to happiness in life. Now, I look to him to show me the way. I consider it an honor to be part of his life.

Of the two of us, my son is The Successful Bethel.


Klee with grandson, Caden

Klee Bethel practices Interventional Pain Management in Mesa, AZ at the Beth-El Clinic. He is a board certified MD anesthesiologist who has focused on pain intervention for the past 12 years. Dr. Bethel has been an Emeritus member of the Board of Trustees at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine since retiring as its Chairman in 2009. He practices the art of medicine in both a traditional and non-traditional fashion. Dr. Bethel is also an associate medical school professor teaching a class in plant-based nutrition.

Best at Last

“Our best successes often come after our greatest disappointments.”

—Henry Ward Beecher

Today’s story is contributed by William Homeier.

May 31, 1954
Lap 74 — The Indianapolis 500

wrong way

Homeier “swimming upstream” at Indy 500, 1954.

Dad pulled into the pit. The clutch had been giving him trouble all day.

Before his crew could finish, the clutch engaged.

The car spun around, slammed into the sidewall, and careened down the track in the opposite direction!

Not a good day for my dad.

My father still holds an Indy world record — the most laps ever completed by a last place finisher. Not the notoriety he was hoping for.

Did that set him back? Not MY dad! He was Texas-born and raised. When you got bucked off the bull, you got up, dusted off, and did it again.

midget car race

Midget car racing

After breaking his arm midget car racing in ’56, Dad bounced back to qualify for Indy again in ’58. However, like in ’54, it didn’t work out. Mechanical issues kept him out of the race.

Finally, in 1960, Dad’s luck changed — he finished 13th in the Indianapolis 500! While he didn’t win the race, it was more of a victory for Dad than it was for the guy who finished first.

Years later, in 1990, my father was interviewed in a special “Where Are They Now” article for The Star newspaper.

The headline?
“Homeier was best at being last.”

He laughed it off. That was my dad. Resilient. Loaded with get up and try again grit.

The lesson I learned from my Best at Last dad?

Winners don’t always cross the line first… but they never stop running the race.

Bill Homeier — my dad — A winner in every sense of the word.

Best at last

Truckin’ with Dad

“It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

—E.L. Doctorow

Today’s story is contributed by Marchell Mascheck

just being with dad

Sometimes, just being with dad is the lesson.

My father — a truck driver back in Kansas City, where we grew up.

My first driving lesson — a dark, deserted highway. It was very late at night.

Back then, cars didn’t have seat belts. They were giant, clunky vehicles with massive, oversized steering wheels. This was not exactly the most conducive configuration for a driving lesson, especially since I was three years old!

Yes, that’s right. A toddler. Daddy let me stand on the bench seat next to him. I was just tall enough to wrap my tiny arm around his large neck.

It was a simple and quiet experience, yet it remains one of the most profoundly memorable moments of my life. I can still remember standing on the leather seat, my feet faintly bouncing on the hard, uncushioned springs beneath.

Resting my head on Daddy’s shoulder, we just cruised down that black, empty highway for miles.

It was the best driving lesson of all time. Just being with dad. Sometimes it’s the only lesson in life — just being with those you love.

just being with dad

Family Portrait with Marchell (front right)

Marchell was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. She attended University of Houston and St. Thomas University. She has been married to her husband, Carl, for 28 years and counting. She is a recruiter for The Alexander Group, and spends her leisure time traveling and honing her photography skills. She is also an avid motorcycle racing fan.

Driving Miss Janie

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”

—Ray Kroc

This story is contributed by Jane Howze.

My father, a banker, taught me the value of client relationships.

customer relations

Jane (far right) and her father (behind)

One of his customers ran a filling station on the other side of town. I remember every Saturday as a child, driving across town with my dad to get gas from this customer of his. We probably burned up half a tank of gas to go get gas so we could give his customer the business. My dad said his customers deserved nothing less.

Dad not only taught me the value of taking care of your customers, he also taught me the value in taking care of my finances. How serious was he about this? He would almost make the postman wait for him to write checks for the bills he received that day!