One day last spring, a luncheon companion, after commenting on one of my daily “Thought For The Day” features on Facebook and Twitter, suggested that I explain, as he put it, “the genesis of your aphorisms,” which I thought was a nice turn of phrase.
I told him that I had already explained, at least a couple of times, that it all started back in the late-50s when I took the Dale Carnegie Course. I learned a tremendous amount during the first session, but the course was so fast-moving that there was no opportunity to take notes. As soon as I got home that evening I jotted down, in epigrammatic form, what I remembered, and I did this after all fourteen sessions of the course. From that time on whenever I saw, heard, or read something that I found instructive, at the first opportunity I’d jot down, still in epigrammatic form, my take on it. I kept these jottings in a binder labelled “Stuff.” Now, of course, they reside on my computer. When I joined Facebook and Twitter over a decade ago those jottings became the source for “Thoughts.”
“That’s not what I mean,” he explained. “What I mean is give us a sense of the environment, circumstances, experiences, people, and particulars that spawned them.” I said that he was asking for my life history. “Just the highlights,” he chuckled. Having thought about this over the summer, I think the following may be what he had in mind.
I worked for fifty years and three months, from July 1953 until October 2003. During that time I engaged in many diverse business, professional, extra-curricular, and personal activities. The latter continue to this day In my corporate life I spent four years with a major railroad company, seven years with one of the world’s largest pipeline companies, and four years in the sports and entertainment business. My positions ranged from office boy to chief executive and just about everything in between.
I spent thirty-four years with accounting firms in roles ranging from student to senior partner, and one year as a consultant on my own. I’ve dealt with every size of operation from start-up entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. I’ve guided the business and financial affairs of senior executives and world-renowned athletes and entertainers. I’ve served on nineteen boards, ranging from non-profit organizations to public companies, and chaired two of the largest professional organizations in Canada.
In the media world, I’ve been a radio and television commentator, guest host, and executive producer; have written about eight hundred articles and ten books; have co-authored another six books; and, have given over a thousand speeches. I’ve visited thirty-two countries.
I come from a large family and have children and grandchildren of my own. I’ve been blessed with many friends and cursed with a few dedicated enemies. I’ve played, coached, and officiated hockey and baseball. I’ve played rhythm guitar in a rock band. I was an egg-grader for three months.
The point is that I’ve dealt with hundreds of organizations, thousands of people and situations, and picked up a lot of things along the way. I hope this sufficiently meets my friend’s request.
I’m often asked if there is a compendium of the “Thoughts” anywhere. There are actually two.
One day back in the mid-90s an executive from the publishing firm Prentice Hall was in my office discussing possible book projects when she noticed the “Stuff” binder on a shelf and asked what it was. I took it down and showed it to her. “There’s a book here,” she said. The result was the 1997 book “Life is Like a Taxi Ride,” a collection of the epigrams, categorized in ninety-eight chapters with each chapter accompanied by a relevant anecdote. A sequel, “Simple Realities,” was published in 2011.
Unfortunately (for me), “Taxi” is out of print, but “Realities” is still available on Amazon. None of the epigrams in either book has ever been used as a “Thought For The Day.” That, combined with the fact that I’m still learning things and writing them down, means I’ll never run out of “Thoughts.”