Saying goodbye to a legend is difficult, but we can move forward living by the principles they teach us and the lessons we learn.
One of the best selling business books of all times is Think and Grow Rich; it changed my life. It transformed the way I think about money and about the opportunities I could create.
The person I received the book from is also important to me. It was from someone who was like a father to me. He came into my life when I was 14 years old and helped mold me into the person I am today.
Dennis, Denny, Dad…I learned a lot from him. He was a true hustler, a real entrepreneur – always looking for something. He grew up the youngest of five kids in a poor family but always had a determination to make something of himself and for his family.
As an X-ray technician, Denny went into the business of providing mobile x-ray machines. The company grew from scratch into a multi-million dollar organization, employing and helping hundreds of people.
His son, Andrew, currently runs the organization and has been a best friend of mine since we were kids.
Principle One: See people as people
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, your race or your color.
Denny had a heart of gold. Treating everyone equally was his strong suit. He came from a poor background and moved into a position where he could afford to take care of himself and his family.
Regardless of where he was in his life, he was kind to everyone. He just connected with people. He reached out to those who were different. He was always humble and eager to learn.
I remember a time when I was 16. My family was going through some financial difficulties to the point where we were evicted from our home.
My mom and brother moved in with one relative but because of the location of my school bus stop, I moved in with another relative. I slept on a bunk bed in their laundry room.
When Andrew found out, he talked to his Dad. Denny, without even thinking about it, invited me to move in. Both my Mom and I remain super grateful for their guidance and assistance. I was loved and cared for and welcomed into the family.
It was a lesson in learning to look at other people as individuals and to help them and to care for them. I think it is a lesson that can apply to how we, as sales reps, entrepreneurs, and business owners conduct ourselves as well.
Principle Two: Be willing to give
Sometimes we don’t give to others because we don’t see anything for us in return. Denny didn’t think that way. He would give regardless.
He once gave his car to a woman at his church who had five grandkids and an unreliable car. He had the means to do so, of course, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he gave without expecting anything in return.
He gave without any desire for compensation but received so much in return just the same.
Give willingly. Give without expectation or strings attached. Give from the heart.
Principle Three: Dream big
After high school, I moved back in with my family for a few months before leaving to serve on two-year mission trip. When I returned home from that trip, Denny took me out to dinner and gave me a book.
It was his testimonial – how he started his business, the vision he had for his life and for his family, and his experiences. He wrote it all down and he shared it with me because he had faith that I could have the same success.
It is also when he gave me the, now very tattered, Think and Grow Rich book.
Denny taught me that I needed to plan and that I needed to have vision; a higher vision for my life.
We often have a low level of thinking where we doubt our ability to achieve bigger things in life. But Denny, and that book, helped me see otherwise.
It helped me in college, and it helped me in my performance. Then, it helped me run for student body president, helped me in my business career, and it helped me in sales.
It helped me have a higher level of thinking. I realized that I could be successful too. It helped me to think and grow rich.
I saw where Denny had come from and how much he achieved. I wanted a life and a family like his. I want to be be able to help others the way he did and to see people for who they are.
Principle Four: Work Hard
Denny taught me to work hard. He taught me about business. He hustled and he worked and he stayed up late and took the odd shifts as his company grew.
Denny passed away this weekend and I know his spirit will remain in the many things he has taught us all, the individuals he has touched, and the legacy he has left behind for his family.
At the time, I encourage all of you to think about the legacy you will someday leave behind. I hope the principles I learned from Dennis can help guide you along your path.
“Say Goodbye to a Legend” episode resources
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