Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Lucky Thirteen by Ken Wiley


A book review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 22, 2019
Reader Note:  Words appearing in BLUE mean they are links to web sites

Disclaimer:  I retired from the U. S. Coast Guard so my opinion of this book may be a bit biased but even having said that, I do not believe for a second my Coast Guard career influenced my review of this book.

There are two titles for the same book.  The first one is Lucky Thirteen.  If you search for it on Amazon it will appear as a very expensive book but you can purchase a good used one for less than $6.00.  The second title is D-Days in the Pacific with the US Coast Guard and it is available as a book or a Kindle Read.  For the record I purchased both the book and the Kindle version.

Also, before I provide you with a review of the book, I did a little research to discover Coast Guard involvement during World War II.  The numbers surprised me.  From the Internet:

241,093 personnel served in World War 2, including 12,846 women. There were 574 deaths in action including 1 POW,  wounded not known, and 1,343 deaths from other causes, e.g. crashes, accidents, disease or drowning etc., and 4 POW of whom 1 died

Links to the books on Amazon:

Lucky Thirteen, U. S. Coast Guard LSTs in the Pacific

D-Days in the Pacific with the US Coast Guard; the Story of Lucky Thirteen

This book reads like a Hollywood fictional thriller.  It is NOT Hollywood but it IS a thriller and it reads like a thriller.  This is one very exciting book to read.  I rarely spend so much time dedicated to reading a book as I did Lucky Thirteen.  I could not put it down and I didn’t.

As I read the book I could not help but examine my own convictions when I was a boy of just 17 had I been thrust into a World War.  How would I have reacted?  How would I have been able to handle the rigors of war?  How would I have been able to handle the death of war?

This book reads like a history book thriller.  Any one of the stories author Ken Wiley describes unto itself would be a great read.  But when you realize how many “close encounters” Wiley and his boat crew were involved in is just beyond belief. By war’s end Wiley was still only 20 years old and most of his stories occurred when he was just 17 to 19 years old.

I cannot do this book justice by trying to explain how overwhelmed I was reading it and proud to have served in the same branch of the military as Ken Wiley.  Suffice it to say I think it is very well written.  It puts you right in the middle of the action.  Why it has never been made into a movie is beyond me; it should be a movie and it would be a big hit at the box office once the word got out about its content.

Who should read this book?  Anyone interested in World War II, especially the War in the Pacific.  Anyone interested in reading about courage and determination literally “under fire!”  Anyone who enjoys reading about growing up and doing so under tremendous stress.  EVERYONE IN THE COAST GUARD!
Would I give this book as a gift?  Probably not because the subject may not be of interest to everyone.  It would nonetheless still make a great gift IF they would read it.
Would I read the book again?  Probably not but only because it was so compelling the first read I don’t think I could possibly gain any further insight into what Wiley and he crew experienced.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Be Good To Yourself

A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 15, 2019
Reader Note:  Words appearing in BLUE mean they are links to web sites

Disclaimer:  I have read most if not all of Marden’s books.  They were all written in the late 1890s and 1900s.  The most surprising feature of all of his books involves when they were written.  The reader if unaware as to when they were written would or could think they were written about America in 2019.  The lessons throughout all of his books are probably more applicable today than when he wrote them.  The overall lesson, at least for me, is that in the past 100 plus years we as a country have learned nothing during that time.  The clues have already been spelled out for our success if only we would take advantage of them.  Apparently “history does repeat itself” otherwise how can you explain that we have accomplished so little in the field of personal development and improvement when the clues have been known for over 100 years?

I have a difficult time reading any of Marden’s books.  Not because of a writing style but because like the author most likely intended, his words cause you to pause and think about how those words apply to you or in my case me.  I oftentimes feel as if he were talking directly to me, other times talking about me but most of the time he is talking with me.

This book identifies the ideal self; the ideal man or the ideal woman.  With that thought in mind you must remember as you read it, it was written in the 1900s and as such Marden did not differentiate that much between man and woman and referred to “man” as meaning both men and women.

What do I mean when I say his words cause me to stop reading and just sit and think about what he wrote?  Here is an excerpt from the book that exemplifies what I mean:

“One reason why the majority of people have such poor judgment, especially employees, is because they do not depend upon it.  Unused faculties never develop any more than do unused muscles.  The habit of using good judgment in everything, no matter how trifling, will multiply efficiency a thousandfold.”

How could you read that and NOT think about how it may or may not apply to you?  Remember he started by saying “the majority of people” and in most cases that WOULD mean you or me.  The question then becomes do I exhibit good judgment or do I exhibit poor judgment. A better question would be what am I doing to improve my judgment?  This is why it takes me so long to read any of Marden’s books.  I stop to take a personal inventory of what he has written, something most authors can only dream about doing.

Marden writes about what has taken place within his environment in the 1890s through the early 1900s.  What makes his books so sad is that the basic principles he writes about in his time sill apply today if not more so.  We have learned so little as a society in those 100 plus years and people, certainly not you, continue to reinvent the wheel when the instructions for the wheel were given to those who would just listen or in this case just read what was written so long ago.

I can only imagine what a world would look like if Marden’s teachings were taught to the youngest people cable of understanding and more importantly what happens when they apply those lessons to improving their life and their chance at success.

If you can’t tell, I think this book, like all of his books, is OUTSTANDING!  If you happen to be one of the millions of people who already believe they know it all, then there is no sense or value in you reading this or any of Marden’s books.  But if you are a learning based person it would be impossible to read his books, especially this one, and NOT come away with a lot of Ahas as you read it.  Hopefully you can check off some of what he writes about as already having applied them in your life.  Then making a list of items that need more or specific attention in your life.

Who should read the book?  Everyone!  Difficult for me to imagine people NOT taking away valuable life lessons by reading not only this book but all of Marden’s writings.
Would I read it again?  Sections of the book, absolutely!
Would I refer the books to my friends and family?  Absolutely, already have
Would I buy the book as a gift?  This book would make for a great gift especially for high school and college graduates but ONLY if they read it.  If you want to give the student the best opportunity for success, start them reading anything written by Marden.  The best part is that some of his books are actually FREE on and the rest are typically only 99 cents.  What a bargain!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Being Responsible

Accepting Responsibility
Being Responsible
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 2, 2019
NOTE:  Anything in BLUE and Underlined is an active link to an Internet Web Site

You have seen the social media posts that ask the question what would YOU tell your 15 year old self if you could.  I learned a lesson from the famous trainer Zig Ziglar that I have NEVER forgotten from the first moment he told the story.  I remember the story word-for-word.  Found it on the Internet as well.  Read it and you decide.  Is this a life lesson that should be taught to everyone or not?  Is this something you would tell your 15 year old self?

In the 1950s, an incident took place on a sweltering summer afternoon alongside a railroad track where a crew of workers was doing some repair work. A train came chugging down the track and pulled off on a side rail. A window opened and a voice—a man’s voice—shouted out, “Dave! Dave Anderson, is that you?”

It was; in fact, Dave Anderson was in charge of the crew. “Yeah, Jim, it’s me,” he shouted back.

The man on the train, Jim Murphy, yelled out, “Well, come on over here and let’s chat a while.”

So Dave stopped what he’d been doing and joined Jim Murphy in his private air-conditioned railroad car for almost an hour, no doubt happy to get out of the broiling sun. When the conversation ended, he made his way back to his crew working on the track. The flabbergasted crew stared at him in utter shock and said something to the effect of, “That was Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad.”

“Yup, it sure was,” Anderson said.

They all gathered around and excitedly wanted to know how Dave knew Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad, for God sakes, to say nothing about he got to be such good buddies with the man and on a first-name basis to boot!

Dave explained: “Well, it’s quite simple—when I started with the railroad over 20 years ago, Jim Murphy started at the same time; we’ve been pals ever since.”

Now the crew is astonished as much as they are confused. They want to know how it is that Dave and Jim Murphy started working for the railroad at the same time and Murphy rose to such dizzying heights while old Dave is still working on the track in the hot sun. How in God’s name did that happen?

Dave looked wistfully up into the sky and said, “A little over 20 years ago Jim Murphy went to work for the railroad; I went to work for a $1.75 an hour.”

I don’t think I even have to ask the question as to whether you have witnessed someone like Dave Anderson who went to work for the money instead of going to work for the company.  Hopefully that someone is NOT you. We both know they exist by the thousands; probably millions.  It is all about BEING RESONSIBLE. 

In today’s world we see politicians and celebrities being caught at doing something they shouldn’t have done oftentimes illegal activities.  What do they all say?  “I take full responsibility for what I have done.”  What exactly does “taking full responsibility” mean?  Can anyone answer that question?  To me it means, “Okay, you caught me, I’ll say what you expect me to say and then we will all move on” and then NOTHING happens - NOTHING!  If a person were to practice BEING RESPONSIBLE, there would never be an illegal activity that you would be caught as having done. 

The Zig Ziglar story has several meanings and the difference between BEING RESPONSIBLE and ACCEPTING RESPONIBILITY is one of them.  Jim Murphy was BEING RESPONSIBLE not only to the company but to himself and his family.  Dave Anderson was simply collecting a pay check nothing more, nothing less.

The best questions are those that you ask yourself.  Here’s one that could mean the difference between being a great success as compared to just surviving.  Whether you are self-employed or you work for a company, answer the question, why do I go to work?  The difference could be the difference between becoming president of the railroad and laying track in the hot sun.

If I could really talk to my 15 year old self this is the lesson I would love to teach.  When a 15 year old makes the decisions as a 15 year old, especially the “right decisions”. they WILL be the difference between becoming president of the railroad and living pay check to pay check as so many Americans do.  Are you one of them?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Advertising and/or Marketing

Advertising and/or Marketing

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 2, 2019
NOTE:  Anything in BLUE and Underlined is an active link to an Internet Web Site

I have always been amazed at how few people understand the difference between Advertising and Marketing.  Simply put, you ADVERTISE to people you DON’T KNOW.  You MARKET to people you DO KNOW.  The rest of this Nugget is based on my over 33 years in the real estate business.

With that said, where should you put MOST of your money that you designate to increase/grow your business?  Before you answer, let me explain.

Advertising is a “shotgun” approach to attracting business to you.  You spend whatever it takes to run advertisements in the paper, on television, in magazines and on the radio that target a very wide audience in hope that someone in that audience at that particular time has a need for your product and/or service and you hit them right at that moment. If you think by advertising to the general public they will remember your name or how to get in touch with you, you are sorely mistaken and probably wasting a great deal of money.

Marketing on the other hand involves contacting (marketing) to the people who already know you.  Study after study has shown that the majority of new customers to almost any business come from personal referrals made by people WHO ALREADY KNOW YOU AND MORE IMPORTANTLY TRUST YOU.  Of all the people you know, your past customers are the best source of new business unless of course you did not provide those customers with first class service or a first class product.  Word of mouth is the BEST ADVERTISING/MARKETING! 

Want proof?  Look at your own life and the last time you needed the name of someone to handle an issue for you.  That issue could be a new roof, yard care, dental work, back surgery, the list is endless.  You can do as people have done since the beginning time and select someone by pure chance that you will get a reliable resource or you can ask a friend or family member if they know of anyone who could help you.  Given the two options, which one would you select?  Hopefully the personal referral but then that is just the way I think. 

The purpose behind this Nugget was pure frustration that I have been experiencing in the New Orleans area.  If you watch any television or drive down any street in the New Orleans area, you can’t help but see advertisements for attorneys.  During one commercial break I counted four different attorneys advertising within the space of 2 minutes.  The only other businesses that do this are car dealers.  More importantly I am shocked at several of the attorney’s advertisements.  I have never seen commercials as dumb and insulting as these several are.  First lesson.  If you are going to spend the kind of money it takes to get your name out by using television advertisements to do it, BEFORE you air your first commercial, you should get a group of independent potential buyers and have them review your ad to ascertain its effectiveness and then weigh the cost versus the effectiveness.  This would be a two step process whereby you first run your IDEA or CONCEPT of what the commercial would look like to get their okay.  Then you would run by the proposed actual video advertisement to get their approval.  Let’s be honest here.  As much as you might think you are the EXPERT in all things relating to sales, you are NOT!  No one is.  Besides, times and beliefs change; are you changing with them?  In one commercial the attorney appears to be advertising jazz and local bars; not legal services.  In another I have no idea what the ad is selling, it certainly is NOT legal services, it IS that bad.  The problem with both of these ads and many more is YES I remember the name of the individual but would I ever select him or her to take care of my business?  Absolutely not!  I could be wrong in judging these ads.  It is possible they are in fact targeting the audience they wish to target but that audience does NOT include me.  So why would you intentionally disregard a large segment of your source of potential customers?

A lot of national advertisers now use Rap Music to promote their products.  Dare I say it?  At my age I can assure you that I do not like rap music.  Besides just not liking it, I seriously object to some of the lyrics that a lot of rappers have used in their songs.  Maybe you feel differently maybe not.  Here is the deal.  If you KNOW that some people and I would think that it would actually be a LOT of people dislikes rap music, why would you ever include rap music in your ads?  There are so many other types of music available to reach your targeted audience.

Whether it is advertising or marketing you want the viewer of your advertisement or marketing piece to first remember your name, then what you do or sell and then how to contact you.  Finally you want YOUR commercial to have shelf life meaning it stays with the potential buyer of your product or service for a very long time.  For example, I can still see the little man in the row boat inside the tank of my toilet – that’s shelf life!  Watch television but this time watch and judge the advertisements.  How do they measure up to these four requirements needed to be effective?    More importantly get someone you don’t know to look at YOUR advertising and marketing pieces to see how THEY measure up.

Back to Advertising and Marketing accepting them to be different from each other.  You have seen car commercials on television and in the newspaper.  They are targeting thousands upon thousands of people they do not know in hopes that some will have a need to buy a car.  I have bought a lot of cars over my lifetime and I can tell you for a fact that NO ONE has ever called or written to see if I like my purchase or ask if I know of anyone who would be in need of a new car.  NO ONE!  The last car I purchased I was more than pleased with the company and the salesman but two years into the sale; no contact with them.  To prove my point, I don’t even remember the salesman’s name.  Your satisfied customers are your best resource for new customers and just maybe also be in the market for a new car themselves. 

Look at the real estate business.  Real estate agents for as long as I can remember have advertised their properties they have on the market for sale.  But only a few of the advertisements emphasize why a potential buyer or more importantly seller should absolutely want to do business with YOU!  They simply show a photo of the listing and include a small description of the property.  In fact, the descriptions are typically so small it is difficult for people to read them.
In this age of electronics and social media, I would strongly recommend incorporating your contact info BOLDLY in all of your ads.  But look at them!  The agent’s email address is so small you can’t even read it. The easiest way BOLDLY include pertinent information into your ad is to create a web address that no one would ever forget.  Remember, TV viewers and Radio listeners are interested in watching or listening to THEIR shows not remembering something they hear on the TV or radio as ads. Therefore if you want them to remember your name, what you do, how to contact you and hopefully be able to remember it for a long time to come, what are you going to do to make that happen.  Otherwise you are probably just throwing your money away and then complain about the high cost of doing business.

Again, look at your advertisements, how do they measure up.  Will people remember YOUR name, YOUR company name, YOUR phone number and web address and finally will any of it be remembered very long?

Here is my own story.  I had customer after customer tell me when they heard my name Jim Brown that Jim Brown is an easy name to remember.  But in reality it was a very easy name to forget, not remember.  On the spur of the moment at a real estate convention when asked what name did I want to use on my name badge, I created my own nickname – GYMBEAUX.  It is a Cajun spelling of JIMBO.  From that point on (it was the early 90s), I used Gymbeaux in everything I did.  My web site was  My email is  It was unquestionably the best marketing idea I had ever had.  I still use the name and people still remember it.  In fact, people remember Gymbeaux but are uncertain of my real name.  That should tell you everything you need to know about both advertising and marketing. But I also learned another lesson, whatever you use, make it easy to spell and remember.  Gymbeaux does not fit that requirement.  Still, I am grateful that I used it.

Want more proof?  Answer these questions without thinking:

Name a real estate agent
Name a car salesman
Name an insurance salesman
Name a plumber
Name an attorney (one that you would actually want to use)

Get the idea?  If you can answer any of these questions, can you also remember their phone number and/or web site address?  Why would you WANT to remember them?  You must give your potential and previous customers REASON to WANT remember your name, what you do, how to contact you and why they should remember you literally FOREVER!  Are you doing that?

Final Lesson:  Never spend a dime on Advertising or Marketing without knowing if it has a chance of being effective.  HOPING someone will call your ads is NOT an effective strategy!