Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History
Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, November 3, 2018

Note: Words appearing in Blue and Underlined are links to their respective web sites

Disclaimer:  I have enjoyed reading and learning from all of the books written by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard in the “Killing” series of books and this one is no exception.

Reading this book is made easier if you have any knowledge of World War II and Nazi Germany.  I am constantly shocked at how little most Americans under the age of 50 (in 2018) actually know about World War II and the crimes committed by then Nazi Germany as governed by Adolph Hitler.  If they did they would not be as loose with their comparisons of people they don’t like to be like Hitler.

This book is NOT about World War II specifically but rather what happened to some of the worst of the Nazi criminals AFTER the war ended.  I was familiar with some of the story lines in the book but still learned a great deal about the details of their capture or eventual demise. 

O’Reilly and Dugan turn the life events into intriguing stories and introduces the reader to players they may have never heard of before as the book did for me.

I like the writing style of the “killing” series of books.  They are easy to follow.  I am reluctant to call reading about the crimes committed against humanity as being an “enjoyable” read but it was, primarily because it was difficult to put the book down; you wanted to read more and that is always a good thing.  If you are not familiar with people like Adolph Eichmann, Dr. Mengele, Martin Boreman and others, the information contained in the book will be enlightening to say the least.  If you are familiar with the histories of these villains, I still think you will find the information enlightening but more like a desert after a meal. 

Who should read the book?  Anyone interested in history.  That should be everyone but I know that is not the case.
Would I read it again?  Most likely not since I already knew most of the story lines.
Would I give the book as a gift?  Possibly.  Why the uncertainty?  It would be a good gift if you knew the receiver of the gift was specifically interested in history and/or World War II.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Another GEM by Jeffrey Gitomer

Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, November 3, 2018
Note: Words appearing in Blue and Underlined are links to their respective web sites

I have been truly blessed when author, speaker and all round great guy Lee Shelton suggested that I read I’m Okay; You’re Okay.  I read it and my life’s direction changed almost instantly.  I became an avid reader.  Since that day in the early 1980s I have read well over 1000 books and watched or listened to even more on video or tapes.  Why do I say this to begin this review of Truthful Living by Jeffrey Gitomer?  Glad you asked.

Without Shelton’s encouragement I would have never been introduced to the works of Napoleon Hill, Orison Swett Marden, Wallace Wattles, Jim Paluch, Joe Tye, Dr. Tom Hill, Jon Gordon, Kieran Revell and especially Jeffrey Gitomer.  I have read every book written by Gitomer as well as several of the other authors mentioned.  In fact I have read many of the books more than once.  I WILL read Truthful Living more than once, of that you can rest assured!

It would be foolish of me to actually write a review of the book.  Instead I would simply suggest that you read it and after you do you will understand why I suggested that first you read it, then you should study it, and then buy a copies for the people you care about, especially the youngest of the people you care about who are only now embarking upon their careers.  You’ve heard the famous saying, you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.  Here is your chance to bring your favorite horses to the fountain of knowledge from which if they partake of the knowledge will absolutely do no harm but almost assuredly help them achieve the success that everyone seeks.

Author Joe Tye asked me if I had a Life’s Mission Statement (Goal) which at the time I did not.  Thanks to Joe I created one and have done my best to live by it over the past 30 plus years and I include it here for a reason:

To help people to do what they do to do it better!

That is one of the reasons I read books, books like Truthful Living.  I weed out the books with little value in favor of the books with tremendous value and then share the recommendation to read a book or books with everyone who would take a minute or two to read my recommendations such as this one.  By encouraging others to read the books I have read IS helping other people to do what they do to do it better. My recommendation/suggestion to YOU the reader would be:


A word of caution.  The book is written in color and if you attempt to read it on a Kindle type reading device in Black and White only as I did, you may have difficulty reading some of the featured material in the book.  The same Kindle version read on your computer’s Kindle or your smart phones Kindle is highly recommended because the color is displayed making it much easier to read.

Truthful Living is NOT just a book for people in sales; it is for people who are still breathing or in other words, EVERYONE!  It would be impossible to read Truthful Living without coming away without many very strong incentives to cause you to “think in a certain way” as Wallace Wattles writes about in his several books.  It clearly points out that everyone should have a mental plan outlining a roadmap to define their future as they wish it to be.  I came across the following poem, author unknown, that explains why you should read Truthful Living.


High in the Sierra Mountains lives an old man
Who from his hermitage looks down in pity
Upon other men of higher mental aspiration.

One day he rescued a little group of Swiss mountaineers
Lost in the mountains’ fastenesses
When told were they were they exclaimed in disbelief,
“But how did we get here?”

To which the old hermit replied,
“If that question ain’t got no answer attached to it,
I ain’t got none that fits.
If you is goin’ anywhere in particular
Up here, yu’d better figger fust how to get thar.
Cuz by jest goin’ afore ya know where yere agoin’
Ya can get to a powerful lotta places ya might not wanta be.”

As usual, I always ask and answer the same questions whenever I finish reading a book.

Who should read it?  EVERYONE
Would I read it again?  ABSOLUTELY
Would I buy it as a gift?  ABSOLUTELY and already have

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Written by Orison Swett Marden in 1913
A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 21, 2018
Note:  Anything appearing in BLUE is a link to a reference on the subject

DISCLAIMER:  I discovered Orison Swett Marden (1850 – 1924) a couple of years ago and have been reading his books ever since.  None of his writings have disappointed me; they are all great!  What surprised me was that they were all written in the late 1890s-1915.  The lessons contained in his writings are truly priceless.

The Joys of Living has to be read with the date it was published kept in mind, 1913.  Marden writes as most people wrote during that period of time and refers quite often to “man” or “men” meaning of course both sexes, men and women. 

What is the book about?  Sadly Marden wrote about what he perceived to be the wrongful paths that so many people in the 1900s and earlier had taken.  His objective was to point out where they had gone astray and what they could and should do to insure they in fact do live a life of joy.  What makes this book doubly sad to me is that the same things apply in 2018 that he wrote about in 1913; it is quite apparent, at least to me, that we as a society have learned very little since he published this wonderful book.

Like all of his books, it would be fruitless of me to think I could write an adequate review of the Joys of Living.  Every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence packs powerful messages that can literally lead someone from the darkness of uncertainty to the light of success.  The lessons apply to everyone.  It is hard to read this book and not be affected in a very positive way.  You can purchase the book as a Kindle read on Amazon for just 99 cents as you can for most of Marden’s books if you purchase them as Kindle reads.  It is hard to imagine a better use of a dollar.

Here is an excerpt from this wonderful book to give you a feel for his style of writing and content.  As you read it, keep in mind how few of us today ever read just one book a year.  When I was active in real estate sales I was shocked at how few real estate agents ever read a book on sales.

The pursuit of education by a soul hungry for knowledge, yearning for intellectual growth, is the highest kind of pleasure, because it gives infinite satisfaction and infinite advantage.

He is the greatest man whose supreme ambition is to make the most of his life, to enrich it by self-education, self-culture, self-development and helpful service, until every fiber of his being becomes responsive to every good and helpful influence in the entire range of his environment.

What a joy people who have had the advantages of education and superior opportunities for culture and refinement may find in helping others who have been deprived of these opportunities, and whose souls hunger for the richer, fuller life to gain them.

One of the grandest sights in the world is that of an adult seizing every opportunity to make up for the loss of early educational advantages, pouring his very soul into his spare moments and evenings, trying to make himself a larger, fuller, completer man.

Another excerpt:

It is of immense importance to teach children to avoid unpleasant, disagreeable, soul harrowing books. Keep them from reading morbid stories, morbid descriptions of crime and misery in the newspapers. Do not let these black pictures etch their hideous forms into their tender, sensitive minds.  (Note: There was no TV, no video games and probably not many violent movies in 1913 like there are now.  You have to be brain dead not to think such things play dirty tricks on the minds of today’s youth yet they persist and the violence becomes the new normal. Studies have shown that very few people in 2018 read a book a year!  That is deplorable!)

Many people who have lived troubled lives have regarded their love for books, their library, as their most precious possession— their Heaven upon earth. In their books they find solace, comfort, peace of mind, which passeth all understanding.

Whenever things go wrong with us and we are weary of life, when everything seems to bore us, when we are too tired and too distressed and too weary to work, we can call to our side the greatest writers that have ever lived and find rest and refreshment. The humblest citizen can summon Shakespeare or Emerson to his hovel, and he will give him his best.

Oliver Goldsmith once said: "The first time I read an interesting book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend; when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting with an old one."

It might be truly said that those who have no friendship for books can live only a half life. One who has but one hundred choice books in his library has one hundred doors each of which opens on prospects of infinite joy.

Who should read it?  Everyone from the age of 8 on up but especially teenagers!  How the world would be different if Marden's wisdom was actually taught in our schools.  As time goes by ageless wisdoms like his books will become lost in time and therein IS the pity!

Would I read it again?  Absolutely
Would I buy it as a gift?  Absolutely

Saturday, September 8, 2018

How To Control Thought and Exercise the Power of Self-Faith Over Others
Written by Orison Swett Marden in 1906
A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 7, 2018
Note:  Anything appearing in BLUE or RED is a link to a reference on the subject

DISCLAIMER:  I discovered Orison Swett Marden (1850 – 1924) a couple of years ago and have been reading his books ever since.  None of his writings have disappointed me; they are all great!  What surprised me was that they were all written in the late 1890s-1915.  The lessons contained in his writings are truly priceless.

Every Man A King has to be read with the date it was published kept in mind, 1906.  King refers to the top and not just a man as do his reference to "man", "men", etc.  The lessons apply to both men and women of all ages.

It would be fruitless of me to think I could write an adequate review of this book.  Every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence packs powerful messages that can literally lead someone from the darkness of uncertainty to the light of success.  The lessons apply to everyone.  It is hard to read this book and not be affected in a very positive way.  You can purchase the book as a Kindle read on Amazon for just 99 cents. Maybe the best $1.00 you will ever spend.

Here is an excerpt from this wonderful book:

“Your thought will carry only the force of your conviction, the weight of your decision, the power of your confidence. If these are weak, your thought will be weak and your work futile. Some people are incapable of strong, deep conviction; they are all surface, and liable to be changed by the opinions of everybody else. If they resolve upon a certain course, their resolution is so superficial that the first obstacle they strike deflects them. They are always at the mercy of the opposition, or of people who do not agree with them. Such people are shifty and unreliable; they lack strength of decision, positiveness of resolution. What is a man good for if he hasn’t strength of resolution? If his convictions are on the surface, he stands for nothing; nobody has confidence in him. He may be a good man, personally, but he does not inspire confidence. No one would think of calling upon him when anything of importance was at stake. Unless conviction takes hold of one’s very being, there will be very little achievement in life. It is the man whose conviction is rooted deep and takes hold of his very life-blood, the man who is strong and persistent in his determination, that can be depended upon. He is the man of influence, who carries weight; he is above the influence of any man who happens to have a different opinion.”

“If young people only knew the power of affirmation, of the habit of holding in the mind persistently and affirming that they are what they wish to be, that they can do what they have attempted, it would revolutionize their whole lives, it would exempt them from most of their ills and troubles, and carry them to heights of which they scarcely dream.”

Who should read it?  Everyone from the age of 8 on up but especially teenagers!  How the world would be different if Marden's wisdom was actually taught in our schools.  As time goes by ageless wisdoms like his books will become lost in time and therein IS the pity!

Would I read it again?  Absolutely
Would I buy it as a gift?  Absolutely

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 4, 2018

DISCLAIMER:  I do not know who wrote this but I almost agree with everything written.  I have included my own thought at the very end.  To whomever wrote it; thank you!  Given that Nike has just contracted with Colin Kaepernick to run an ad campaign is even more fuel for this firestorm the National Football League and Commissioner Goodell has created and allowed to vester

You graduated high school in 2011.  Your teenage years were a struggle.  You grew up on the wrong side of the tracks.  Your mother was the leader of the family and worked tirelessly to keep a roof over your head and food on your plate.  Academics were a struggle for you and your grades were mediocre at best. The only thing that made you stand out is you weighed 225 lbs and could run 40 yards in 4.2 seconds while carrying a football.  

Your best friend was just like you, except he didn’t play football.  Instead of going to football practice after school, he went to work at McDonalds for minimum wage.  You were recruited by all the big colleges and spent every weekend of your senior year making visits to universities where coaches and boosters tried to convince you their school was best.  They laid out the red carpet for you. Your best friend worked double shifts at Mickey D’s.  College was not an option for him. 

On the day you signed with Big State University, your best friend signed paperwork with his Army recruiter.  You went to summer workouts.  He went to basic training.

You spent the next four years living in the athletic dorm, eating at the training table. You spent your Saturdays on the football field, cheered on by adoring fans.  Tutors attended to your every academic need.  You attended class when you felt like it. Sure, you worked hard.  You lifted weights, ran sprints, studied plays, and soon became one of the top football players in the country. 

Your best friend was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. While you were in college, he deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice.  He became a Sergeant and led a squad of 19 year old soldiers who grew up just like he did.  He shed his blood in Afghanistan and watched young American's give their lives, limbs, and innocence for the USA.

You went to the NFL combine and scored off the charts.  You hired an agent and waited for draft day.  You were drafted in the first round and your agent immediately went to work, ensuring that you received the most money possible. You signed for $16 million although you had never played a single down of professional football.  Your best friend re-enlisted in the Army for four more years. As a combat tested sergeant, he will be paid $32,000 per year.

You will drive a Ferrari on the streets of South Beach.  He will ride in the back of a Blackhawk helicopter with 10 other combat loaded soldiers.  You will sleep at the Ritz.  He will dig a hole in the ground and try to sleep.  You will “make it rain” in the club.  He will pray for rain as the temperature reaches 120 degrees.

On Sunday, you will run into a stadium as tens of thousands of fans cheer and yell your name.  For your best friend, there is little difference between Sunday and any other day of the week.  There are no adoring fans.  There are only people trying to kill him and his soldiers. Every now and then, he and his soldiers leave the front lines and “go to the rear” to rest.  He might be lucky enough to catch an NFL game on TV.  When the National Anthem plays and you take a knee, he will jump to his feet and salute the television.  While you protest the unfairness of life in the United States, he will give thanks to God that he has the honor of defending his great country.

To the players of the NFL:  We are the people who buy your tickets, watch you on TV, and wear your jerseys.  We anxiously wait for Sundays so we can cheer for you and marvel at your athleticism. Although we love to watch you play, we care little about your opinions until you offend us. You have the absolute right to express yourselves, but we have the absolute right to boycott you.  We have tolerated your drug use and DUIs, your domestic violence, and your vulgar displays of wealth.  We should be ashamed for putting our admiration of your physical skills before what is morally right.  But now you have gone too far. You have insulted our flag, our country, our soldiers, our police officers, and our veterans. You are living the American dream, yet you disparage our great country.  I encourage all like minded Americans to boycott the NFL.

The National boycott of the NFL is set for Sunday November 12th, Veterans Day Weekend. Boycott all football telecast, all fans, all ticket holders, stay away from attending any games, let them play to empty stadiums. Pass this post along to all your friends and family. Honor our military, some of whom come home with the American Flag draped over their coffin.

Personal Note:  I am not boycotting any individual NFL player.  I am boycotting the NFL in its entirety because of dysfunctional coaches, owners and the Commissioner himself for allowing the disrespect of our country, flag and history to continue without taking any action to stop it.  More importantly it was Commissioner Roger Goodell who refused to allow the Dallas Cowboys from wearing decals on their helmets immediately following the massacre of police officers in Dallas and then permitted Colin Kaepernick to not only kneel during the National Anthem but said nothing about his socks he wore depicting police as pigs.  This is ALL ON YOU MR. GOODELL.  It is shocking to think that he is being paid by the 32 NFL owners over 40 million dollars and then have him disregard the problem as if it were going to just go away on its own.  I am not urging anyone to boycott the NFL.  I am doing so because I personally have had enough of their turning the other cheek to league problems.  I don’t need the NFL, never have.  Their inactions just gave me a wakeup call that ignoring the NFL was the right thing for me and I have not looked back since.  That was two years ago.  Followed the NFL since the early 1950s to put this decision into its proper perspective.

Jim Brown

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Written by Ryan Holiday
A book review By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, August 30, 2018
(Note, everything in underlined is a link to a related Internet site)


I purchased the Summary by mistake; that is what I actually read.  You can easily read it in an hour or less but the lessons could and should last you a lifetime!

It would be impossible to write a review of the book/summary as every page contains words, phrases, quotes, entire paragraphs, and entire chapters worthy of highlighting and mentioning.  Suffice it to say that if you want a better and more successful life, and who doesn't, this book will help you to achieve it. Some who may read the book will say “they knew all this before,” but did they?  Over one’s lifetime you acquire knowledge a lot of which is contained in this book but that takes years to learn when you can read it in a short period of time. If you apply the lessons of this book, you will learn to put obstacles in their proper place and work through them or around them to reach your desired result.  It is a wonderful “how to” book to help you to succeed.

I spent more than 33 years in the real estate business and can only imagine what my career would have looked like had I had material like this book to guide me along the way.  Sadly books like Holiday’s book are readily available and it has been said that fewer than 5% of people in sales ever read a book, not even one book on sales.  Holiday’s book provides a path that is easy to follow that would empower the reader to change little things in the way he or she approaches life and life’s obstacles (problems).  A quote from the book explains it all: 

“Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed.
Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.”
Marcus Aurelius

The real test lies in these questions that I ask myself whenever I finish reading a book:

Will I read it again?  ABSOLUTELY!
Will I give it as a gift?  ABSOLUTELY and in fact I am already looking into ordering quite a few copies for this coming Christmas
Who should read it?  EVERYONE, bar none!  But especially if you are self-employed, an independent contractor or involved in sales in any form.  What I wouldn't have given to have this book in my hands the DAY BEFORE I started my real estate career more than 40 years ago.

Friday, August 24, 2018


By Dinesh D’Souza
A book review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown August 24, 2018

Perspective:  I am 73 years old, went to public schools in the 50’s and 60’s and like most kids of that era we took classes on history and civics.  My history classes consisted mostly of American history, in fact I do not remember ever taking any courses on World History.  Our civics classes dealt mostly with government organization as it was in the 50’s and 60’s, not how it grew to the massive government we now live with.  With that being the case, I can assure you that nowhere in my recollection of my training in history was I ever exposed to some of the details contained in D’Souza’s book(s).  For me it was an eye-opener!  The following paragraphs in quotes are taken directly from the book.  I thought that a direct quote referring to something you the reader may or may not know would be the best example of the facts contained in the book.  The following six paragraphs are as they appear in the book in the order they were presented.  Fact check them if you don’t believe them.

“The magnificent scope of Republican Reconstruction can be seen in three landmark constitutional amendments: the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment extending equal rights under the law to all citizens; and the Fifteenth Amendment granting blacks the right to vote. These amendments went beyond unbinding the slave and making him a freeman; they also made him a U.S. citizen with the right to cast his ballot and to the full and equal protection of the laws.

These amendments represented the most important moment for American constitutionalism since the Constitution was first drafted and ratified. The entire civil rights movement of the 1960s would be impossible without them.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 relied heavily on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on the Fifteenth Amendment.

Yet progressive (those left of the political center) historical accounts as well as progressive textbooks say very little about the debate over the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. The reason becomes obvious when we break down the partisan vote on those amendments. One might have thought that after the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment would be a fait accompli. One might expect that every Democrat—at least every Northern Democrat represented in Congress—would now vote for it. In fact, only sixteen of eighty Democrats did.

 Let’s pause to digest that for a minute. Even in the aftermath of the Civil War, so strong was their attachment to the plantation that an overwhelming majority of Northern Democrats refused to vote to permanently end slavery. Again, we are speaking of Northern Democrats; Southern Democrats who may have been expected to vote against the amendment were not permitted to vote at all. And when the Thirteenth Amendment went to the states for ratification, only Republican states carried by Lincoln voted for it; Democratic states that went for McClellan all voted no.

On the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the Democratic Party’s performance was even more disgraceful. Not a single Democrat, either in the House or the Senate, voted for either amendment. To repeat, these were not Southern Democrats who were excluded from voting; these were Northern Democrats so averse to extending equal rights under law or voting rights to blacks that not a single one of them could bring himself to vote for either measure. So the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments can be considered exclusively Republican achievements, since no Democrats contributed to making them part of the Constitution.”

The book is filled with such FACTS that anyone can fact check.  The Death of a Nation is a history book that I doubt a great many Americans such as me have ever heard before.  I remember the Civil War taking up a short section in our text books and it basically read that there was a war where a lot of people were killed and it involved the North fighting the South and visa versa over the subject of slavery and that the North won the war.   Before you say I am wrong on the brevity of that statement, ask yourself about how much YOU know about the Civil War as it was taught in schools not what you might have later read in books or watched in a documentary?

This is a tremendous read!  It is also a disheartening read.  It shows America as it was as it was being built and molded.  What you read about on almost every page will turn your stomach. 

If you consider yourself left of center you probably will NOT read the book or watch the movie and therein is the problem.  Those who make that decision will continue with a belief system that may be based on flawed and misleading information.  Those to the right of center will read and/or watch the movie and they may be surprised as I was as to how bad American history was “back in the day.”   After all these years, a lot has not gotten much better as D’Souza points out.

I have read many Twitter posts of people who criticize the book/movie claiming that the facts contained in each are lies told by D’Souza.  But in all of their posts, no one has ever given even one example of such a lie contained in the book/movie.  They assume he is lying but provide no proof and that is the worst kind of criticism.  People do not seem to understand that he pendulum swings in both directions.  What people on the Left of Center believe to be permissible behavior by those Left of Center could very easily be on the receiving end of such treatment when the pendulum evenutally swings in the other direction.

Who should read the book?  Every American from the 5th grade and above and especially those who call themselves Democrats.  I grew up in a Democratic city in Ohio.  I actually liked what I saw in JFK but the Democratic Party depicted in this book is NOT the party of JFK but instead has become an extension of Woodrow Wilson, FDR and more recently LBJ and Obama.  If you fact check the book you will understand why that particular legacy is not a good thing.  Would I read the book again?  Probably not; don’t need to read it twice to understand it. I will go see the movie.  Would I give the book as a gift?  That is a great question because someone buying it as a gift may be just wasting their money if the recipient makes no attempt to read it.  Again, anyone left of the political center will most likely choose NOT to read it and some will even criticize it; both definitely their loss.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Most OF What I Now Know, I Did NOT Learn In Schools!

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, August 12, 2018

It was over THIRTY years ago and I remember it as if it were yesterday.  The lesson learned has been so vividly etched in my mind I doubt I will forget it nor will I ever tire of passing the message along to anyone who will listen; hopefully you.

I retired from the U. S. Coast Guard in 1985 after twenty years service.  Most of my Coast Guard duties in my two specialties Personnel Administration and Merchant Marine Safety required a great deal of reading of government prepared instructions and manuals.  I would then teach others the contents of those instructions and manuals.  If you have never been involved with the Federal Government you have no idea how boring and tiresome reading that type of material and language can be. It’s like reading materials written by attorneys.  You have to understand legalize before you can understand what they have written or attempting to convey to the non-legal reader.

I was first licensed as a Real Estate Salesperson in May, 1980 about five years BEFORE I retired from the Coast Guard.  It was clear, at least to me, that if I applied myself to real estate sales, there was no upper limit to my potential income provided I knew what to do and when to do it.  But keep in mind I was a teacher in the Coast Guard; I enjoyed teaching others.  Almost from the first day of becoming licensed, I created a life’s mission statement.  I think it was Sales Trainer Roger Butcher who suggested having one.  Mine was and remains:

To help others do what they do to do it better!

Then I took a page from Joe Tye who created the Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) principle and I put my life’s mission statement to practical use.  I would constantly ask myself the question.  “Is what I am about to say or do consistent with my desire to help others do what they do to do it better?”  If the answer was YES, I would say or do it.  If the answer was NO, I wouldn’t.  It really is that simple.  I have written about this process many times in the past; it never gets old because it never fails to work.

Now the year is 1986.  I was selling real estate for a small independent real estate company in Slidell, Louisiana.  The phone rang.  It was a miracle.  I had set a goal but told no one.  The goal was to manage a full service real estate office where I could put my management skills (from the Coast Guard) and my teaching skills (also from the Coast Guard) to good use by teaching agents new to the real estate business how to list and sell real estate.  Keep in mind, I told no one of this goal.  Yet here was a call from the Vice President of a large franchise real estate company in the New Orleans area asking if I would be interested in managing their office about 25 miles from where I lived and worked.

I jumped at the opportunity.  Gave my current real estate broker a thirty day notice and then sat back and began to think about what I had just accepted.  The new office had about 25 agents and was located in a great residential area in Louisiana where sales were good as were the incomes generated through real estate sales.  Then as I am sure happens to just about everyone, you begin to doubt your own talents as I began to doubt mine.  That is when the second unsolicited miracle happened.

I was thumbing through a magazine while I waited to get the oil changed in my car.  I say “thumbed” through because I rarely if ever actually read anything anymore because that is all I had done for twenty years in the Coast Guard.  I had no desire or intention of reading much of anything.  Yet there it was, an advertisement for a Cassette Tape Instruction entitled Creating Teamwork by Lee Shelton.  And yes you can still get the tapes by clicking on the blue link above.  I don’t remember how much the tapes were but given that I was about to embark on a new position where creating teamwork seemed to be the order of the day, price was not a consideration; I purchased the tapes.

I listened to those tapes over and over and then over again before I started my new management position and it was unquestionably the BEST thing I could have ever done.  The tapes helped me to understand the importance of several tasks required of me to be a successful manager no matter what the line of business.  I can trace all the good things that happened in my real estate sales/management career back to those tapes. Over the years I became a friend of Lee Shelton.  He would often joke to his audiences that I had listened to the tapes so much I could give the presentation to them without notes.  He was close to the truth.  Therefore my advice to you and to anyone who would listen would be to: 


It is impossible to read and/or listen enough or more than you thought you could.  Read smf listen to everything but especially those books, tapes and articles that enable you to do whatever it is you do to do it better each and every day for the rest of your life!  Shelton suggested that everyone should start by FIRST reading I’m Okay; You’re Okay written by Dr. Thomas A. Harris every six months until you fully understand it.  That was the first book I had actually read since graduating high school in 1963.  That is NOT something I am very proud of but given all the mundane and boring federal publications I had read every workday, I was just not interested in reading so I didn’t.  Bad decision!  I can honestly say that most of what I know today I learned AFTER the age of 42 and therefore NOT in schools; more importantly AFTER I read I’m Okay; You’re Okay!  Since then, I have read well over 1200 books; I’m now 73.  That averages over 35 books a year.  I’m not telling you this to brag, I’m telling you this to emphasize that IF you want to be the BEST at whatever it is you do, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN ON ITS OWN VOLITION.   YOU must create a SELF-EDUCATION PLAN because no one will do it for you no matter how good or well intentioned your employer may be.

After you become a constant reader, you will eventually be faced with an issue or a problem in your life or career as I have often been.  Then suddenly I would recall something I had read or listened to yesterday or 35 years ago.  Our brains never forget; mine certainly didn’t.  We unconsciously forget things, I know, I always do.  But when faced with that problem or issue, BINGO!  There’s the answer or the place to get the answer that suddenly appears in your thoughts.  Had you NOT read or listened to anything, this cannot and will not happen for you.

Here is a lesson from one of my favorite authors/speakers, Jeffrey Gitomer:

“To get everything you want in life, just help someone else get what they want – FIRST!”

As Gitomer points out, many, many people have said similar things over hundreds of years and just about everyone has taken credit for it.  The difference between what Gitomer said and most if not all of the others is he added the one word FIRST to it.  Therefore, if YOU become the best YOU can be, you can’t help but help others become the best THEY can be.  Then YOU pay it forward and ask them to do the same!

How do you become the best you can be?  Create your Self-Education Plan and then work your plan and let no one or anything stop you – PERIOD!  “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”  William H. Johnson.