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From Homeless to Millionaire – 3 Success Lessons from Chris Gardner
Today we’re going to look at how a high school dropout and homeless man would go from living on the streets and bathing in public restrooms to building one of the most successful stock brokerage firms in America. This is the story of multi-millionaire Chris Gardner and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Find something that you love. Something that gets you so excited you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning. Forget about money. Be happy.” – Chris Gardner
Chris Gardner (born on February 9, 1954) was the only son of 12 children that was being raised by a single mother. His single mother was trained as a schoolteacher, but wound up taking on numerous part-time jobs in order to provide for her family. Gardner and his siblings were transferred back and forth between relatives and foster homes. His mother had been imprisoned twice; once, for allegedly receiving welfare while working, and the second time for attempting to burn down the house of Gardner’s abusive stepfather. Gardner’s prospects were narrow coming from an environment such as this.
While on a sales call, Gardner met a man who was impeccably dressed and drove a red Ferrari. As fate would have it, the driver of the Ferrari was a stockbroker. When Gardner heard that the man was earning over $80,000 a month, he decided that his future lied in investments. He had no education, no experience, and no connections, but that was not about to stop Gardner from achieving his new dream. Once he had decided to become a stockbroker, Gardner immediately set out to find an investment firm that would give him a chance. In one brokerage firm, Gardner finally found a manager of a training program who was willing to give him a shot. However, when Gardner showed up for his first day of work, the manager who had hired him had been fired and no one else had ever heard of Gardner or his new position. He left with his hopes disappointed.
Nevertheless, Gardner didn’t give up on his dreams. He continued to seek out investment firms, taking odd jobs to pay the bills in the meantime. Dean Witter, a San Francisco-based brokerage firm was interested in Gardner but refused to bring him on board before putting him through ten months of interviews. It would be a grueling ten months. Gardner showed up for his interview in a T-shirt and dirty jeans. He could have fabricated some heroic story to explain his appearance. Instead, Gardner decided to tell the truth. In plain terms, Gardner told his interviewer that the mother of his son had ran off with his child, that he was broke, and that he has just gotten out of jail the day before. As luck would have it, the interviewer had recently been through a nasty divorce and could sympathize with Gardner. He was immediately given a position in the company’s training program. In 1987, Gardner launched his own brokerage firm in Chicago, Gardner Rich. Gardner quickly began to land major clients for his new company, including the pension fund of the Chicago Teacher’s Union. Since then, his business has continued to take off and Gardner hasn’t looked back.
Action Item #1: Get Excited About Something
Action Item #2: Be the Best You Can Be
Action Item #3: Remember Your Roots
“Baby steps count, as long as you are going forward. You add them all up, and one day you look back and you’ll be surprised at where you might get to.”
“That’s when I learned in this business, it’s not a black thing, it’s not a white thing, it’s a green thing. If you can make me money, I don’t care what color you are. So that’s how I deal with that to this day.”
“I was Chris Gardner, father of a son who deserved better than what my daddy could do for me, son of Betty Jean Gardner who said that if I wanted to win I could win.”
Business Ideas – How to Master the Art of Selling Anything like John Johnson (Ebony)
Today we’re going to look at how a man went from living on welfare to becoming the first African American to make it onto the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the world. By the time he died he was worth an estimated $600 million.
“When I see a barrier, I cry and I curse, and then I get a ladder and climb over it… Failure is a word I don’t accept.” – John Johnson
John Harold Johnson (January 19, 1918 — August 8, 2005) was an American businessman and publisher. He was the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, and in 1982, the first African-American to appear on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the world.
Action Item #1: Don’t Get Mad, Get Even
Until you prove yourself as an entrepreneur you’re going to have a lot of people doubt your ability to succeed. They’ll tell you to “play it safe” and get a job. They might also tell you that your product or service idea has been done before or is too crazy to do well. Part of your entrepreneurial journey will be using criticism as a counsellor but not as a jailor – listen to what can help you and don’t let harsh words prevent you from moving forward on your dreams.
All his life, Johnson had been told that he would not amount to much. He was a victim of the racism that was so prevalent in the U.S. at the time. Time after time, Johnson was discouraged from thinking he could one day be great and was blocked every time he tried. In addition to being denied bank loans because he was black, Johnson found it impossible to even purchase an office for his new company once he had obtained the money. When Johnson went to purchase a building in Chicago’s downtown area to be his company’s headquarters, he couldn’t make the deal – he was refused the purchase because he was black.
But, like at so many other times in his life, Johnson refused to give up. He wasn’t going to let a racist property manager stand in the way of his success. His advice: “It’s better to get smart than to get mad… Long shots do come in and hard work, dedication and perseverance will overcome almost any prejudice and open almost any door.”
Action Item #2: Master the Art of the Sale
In his best-selling autobiography, Succeeding Against the Odds, Johnson wrote a chapter entitled, “How to Sell Anybody Anything in Five Minutes or Less.” Johnson’s elementary rule to making a sale was that your pitch “be based not on your self-interest but on their self-interest… When I go in to see I never say, ‘Help me because I am black’ or ‘Help me because I am a minority.’ I always talk about what we can do for them.”
Johnson had three rules for successful selling. First, he would grab the client’s attention in the first few seconds of a meeting with an emotional statement that “hits him where he lives or does business.” Second, Johnson would try to find his client’s vulnerable spot. He felt that “everybody has something that will make him or her move or says yes.”
Johnson’s final step was to find a similarity with his client. According to Johnson: “Successful selling is a matter of finding common ground, no matter how narrow it might be, on which you and your client can stand together… Whether I had five or thirty-five minutes, I always based my presentation on these three tried-and-tested rules.”
Action Item #3: Communicate Success
If you’re going to build a business beyond yourself you’re also going to have to work on your communication skills so your staff understand where you’re trying to take the company and how they can help you get there.
Johnson believed that if he couldn’t communicate effectively with his staff, it didn’t matter how good his product was, his company was not going to prosper. Developing this talent was something that Johnson took great pride in and he ensured his senior staff was equally trained in the art.
Here’s Johnson’s advice: “I was born in poverty and spent two years on the welfare rolls, and I learned early that I had to communicate or die. And so I talked my way out of poverty — I communicated my way to the top… I’m a hands-on, hands-in, hands-wrapped-around manager, and I believe it’s impossible to separate good management from good communication. For the best manager is the best communicator.“
Business Ideas – 3 Business Lessons From William Wrigley Jr by Evan Carmichael
Today we’re going to look at how a young man started his business with his life savings of $32, moved to a new city, changed his business twice, and eventually found his winning ticket and built a multi-billion company. This is the story of William Wrigley Jr. and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“I have sometimes been asked what single policy has been most profitable in our business. I have always unhesitatingly answered, restraint in regard to immediate profits. That has not only been our most profitable policy, it has been pretty nearly our only profitable one.” – William Wrigley Jr.
William Wrigley Jr. (September 30, 1861–January 26, 1932) was a U.S. chewing gum entrepreneur and founder of the William Wrigley Jr. Company in 1891. He was 29 years old when he used his life savings of $32 to move to Chicago and start up his own soap manufacturing business. He started manufacturing and selling soap but with poor sales, Wrigley began offering a can of baking powder for free with each soap purchase.
Soon, Wrigley realized that his baking powder was more popular than his soap, so he switched to manufacturing baking powder full time, and instead offered free chewing gum as a bonus. And, in an all-too familiar pattern, Wrigley quickly saw his chewing gum bonus become more popular than the baking powder so he switched businesses again.
Wrigley passed away in 1932 at the age of 70. The company he founded went on to become the number one maker of chewing gum products in the world, with over 16,000 employees and revenues in excess of $5 billion in 2007. In 2008, Wrigley was acquired by Mars, Inc. for $23 billion.
Action Item #1: Give Something Extra
Action Item #2: Don’t Focus on Immediate Profits
Action Item #3: Believe in Yourself
“Everybody likes something extra, for nothing.”
“Even in a little thing like a stick of gum, quality is important.”
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Introducing the concept of a Collaborative Will
by Tom Deans
At a farm convention in Chicago, I was approached by an audience member who explained that gifting a working farm to her children was preferable to selling and leaving them each $5 million. When I pressed her for more details – such as – “what do your children think of your plan?” She snapped her head back and proclaimed, “why would I tell them?”
I have to confess it wasn’t the first time that I had heard someone say that silence was going to be the key ingredient of their estate plan. It got me thinking how many beneficiaries – children especially — truly know the contents of their parent’s wills?
When I put the question to my audiences, “how many people hold a copy of their parents’ wills?” Only 10% on average acknowledge they do. The more interesting question is: “how many in the audience will play a lead or significant role in providing care for an aging parent?” The response — an average of 75% — agreed they would. I find the disparity between these two pieces of data, striking.
The relationship between inheriting money and the provision of health care is an issue moving into the media and cultural spotlight for two major reasons – we’re living longer (a lot longer) and the cost of health care and assisted living are rising faster than inflation and saving rates.
For some who live much longer than the average age of 76 for men and 81 for woman, many will turn to family for financial support and care when their savings are fully depleted – the same family from whom secrets were kept when a surplus seemed assured.
Why do so many people keep secrets from those who will likely be providing them with late in life care? How do secrets serve beneficiaries or add to relationships before we become old and dependant? Talk to enough estate planning professionals and they’ll tell you it almost always comes down to a lack of trust and a debilitating fear of death.
For those who view their money as an absolute source of power and control you can see how the aging process and the concomitant relinquishing of power and control makes dying and death such a wretched, fearful experience. Compare that to individuals who seriously prepare family, friends and charitable organizations to receive not just their wealth but their wisdom and you’ll find some extraordinary relationships built purposefully over a lifetime – even when years outstrip savings.
Sharing the contents of a will requires judgment – some might call it wisdom nurtured over time. A wisdom both taught and harvested through conversations with intended beneficiaries not in the last year of life, when death seems imminent, but precisely the opposite, when death is a distant abstraction.
A will doesn’t need to be seen as a solo “end of life document” but rather a collaborative work of art monumentally improved by living in relationship with our intended beneficiaries.
It is the act of collaboration, supported through frequent and deliberate conversation about the future that we leave something more valuable than just our money. This is, in part, how our fear of death recedes when we know with confidence that our beneficiaries—our emissaries — will take our ideas and perhaps our surplus assets at death and live purposeful lives themselves.
Have you shared the contents of your will with your intended beneficiaries – the ones likely to be providing late in life care for you?
World’s Tallest Luxury Housing: Rise of The Super Towers
In the past, most of the world’s tallest buildings were erected to provide office space, like Chicago’s Willis Tower and the Empire State Building. The shift toward high-rise dwelling started about 15 years ago, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, as interest revived in living in city centers. The 9/11 attacks dampened the nascent trend — but only for a time. As the housing bubble inflated, dozens of residential high rises began popping up in major U.S. cities. New construction ground to a near-halt as the bubble burst and recession ensued, but now, as developers begin to bring projects back online, their buildings — commonly luxury and super luxury condo towers geared toward cash-flush global buyers — are getting even taller.
Shelly Lazarus – Ogilvy & Mather – A Board’s Role and Philanthropy
A great Board will help your organization grow and prosper. The Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather discusses the keys to building a great Board, and how Philanthropy today can drive your business forward in the future.
My parents won’t listen to my money advice!
Even if your parents don’t trust your judgment, you can still steer them in the right financial direction.
Jeff Hancock: The future of lying
Who hasn’t sent a text message saying “I’m on my way” when it wasn’t true or fudged the truth a touch in their online dating profile? But Jeff Hancock doesn’t believe that the anonymity of the internet encourages dishonesty. In fact, he says the searchability and permanence of information online may even keep us honest.
Jeff Hancock studies how we interact by email, text message and social media blips, seeking to understand how technology mediates communication.
Why you should listen to him:
Jeff Hancock is fascinated by the words we choose when sending text messages, composing emails and writing online profiles. An Associate Professor of Cognitive Science and Communications at Cornell University, his research has focused on how people use deception and irony when communicating through cell phones and online platforms. His idea: that while the impersonality of online interaction can encourage mild fibbing, the fact that it leaves a permanent record of verifiable facts actually keeps us on the straight and narrow.
Hancock has also studied how we form impressions of others online, how we manage others’ impressions of ourselves, and how individual personalities interact with online groups.
“[Hancock and his fellow Cornell researchers] tackled what they call deceptive opinion spam by commissioning freelance writers on Mechanical Turk, an Amazon-owned marketplace for workers, to produce 400 positive but fake reviews of Chicago hotels.” The New York Times
Working with a Multi-Family Office?
Dignitas is a Chicago-based multi-family office and wealth management firm. We provide clients with independent and objective advice and solutions beyond the traditional investment management and financial planning model. Our full-service life management platform orchestrates a collection of business and personal services to support our clients’ whole life needs. Dignitas Chief Wealth Officer Nicholas Delgado discusses when individuals decide to work with a multi-family office and the value-added services they receive that benefit them and their family.
Nov. 5, 2012 (Bloomberg) – Bloomberg’s Scarlet Fu reports that United Continental passengers heaped praise on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner after the craft’s inaugural flight. She speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”