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The Achiever Newsletter

When the Going Gets Tough
Part 6

By Harry K. Jones

It's very easy to find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated with a simple glance at your newspaper or a sampling of the evening news. We're bombarded with news of terrorism, inflation, political unrest, Katrina, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Hezbollah, oil prices, trade deficit, al-Qaeda, education, unemployment, and apathy day in and day out.

We sometimes need to pause to realize that there have always been "tough times," and inspired individuals have always managed to cope and overcome obstacles. Reflecting on those people may inspire us to seek the same determination and inspiration to deal with our personal challenges. Please enjoy each of the following anecdotes and pass them on to others in that same spirit.

Marilyn Monroe

In 1944, Emmeline Snively, director of the Blue Book Modeling Agency, told modeling hopeful Norma Jean Baker, "You'd better learn secretarial work or else get married." She went on to become Marilyn Monroe.

Elvis Presley

In 1954, Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired a singer after one performance. He told him, "You ain't goin' nowhere son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck." He went on to become the most popular singer in America, named Elvis Presley.

Alexander Graham Bell

When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, it did not ring off the hook with calls from potential backers. After making a demonstration call, President Rutherford Hayes said, "That's an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?"

Thomas Edison

When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over 2,000 experiments before he got it to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, "I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000-step process."

Chester Carlson

In the 1940s, another young inventor named Chester Carlson took his idea to 20 corporations, including some of the biggest in the country. They all turned him down. In 1947 - after seven long years of rejections - he finally got a tiny company in Rochester, New York, the Haloid Company, to purchase the rights to his invention, an electrostatic paper-copying process. Haloid became the Xerox Corporation we know today.

Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph was the twentieth of 22 children. She was born prematurely, and her survival was doubtful. When she was 4 years old, she contracted double pneumonia and scarlet fever, which left her with a paralyzed left leg. At age 9, she removed the metal leg brace she had been dependent on and began to walk without it. By 13 she had developed rhythmic walk, which doctors said was a miracle. That same year she decided to become a runner. She entered a race and came in last. For the next few years every race she entered, she came in last. Everyone told her to quit, but she kept on running. One day she actually won a race. And then another. From then on she won every race she entered. Eventually this little girl, who was told she would never walk again, went on to win three Olympic gold medals.

H. Ross Perot

H. Ross Perot, a proud Texan, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1953. After serving his tour of duty, he became a salesperson for IBM . Wanting his own business, he borrowed money from his father-in-law to establish Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Dallas in 1962. The company, employing 70,000 people, made Perot a multimillionaire, then a billionaire when he took the company public in 1968.

He began a crusade to lobby for the release of American POWs in Vietnam in 1969. In 1979, two EDS employees were taken hostage by the Iranian government. When U.S. government efforts to rescue the employees slowed to a crawl due to "red tape" and politics, Perot financed and arranged for a commando raid of EDS employees led by retired Green Beret Colonel Arthur "Bull" Simons. Perot himself went to Iran and entered the prison where his men were held. Ken Follett wrote a best selling novel, On Wings of Eagles, about the rescue. An NBC TV miniseries was later made from the book.

Perot sold EDS in 1984 to General Motors for $2.5 billion. He retained ownership in the company, which made him GM's largest individual stockholder and a member of the board of directors. From the start, Perot and GM head Roger Smith quarreled, and Perot criticized the quality of GM automobiles and made many "radical" suggestions such as moving the CEO's office from high atop the golden towers of the GM building to a local plant location where he could get a better feel for the business and communicate with his employees. Perot also suggested that Smith actually drive to work in a GM vehicle rather than being chauffeured to work every day in a corporate limousine, thus getting an actual feel for his product. GM employees soon had more respect for and rapport with Perot than they did the majority of the corporate leadership team.

In 1986, GM bought out Perot's stock for $700 million. Two years later, he started a new computer service company, Perot Systems, which operates in the United States and Europe.

Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca, a proud Italian born in Allentown, PA, in 1924, was hired by the Ford Motor Company as an engineer in 1946. He soon proved that he was better suited as a manager. Dubbed "Father of the Mustang" in 1964, Iacocca accumulated a long list of accomplishments leading to his appointment of president from 1970-78.

Working for 21 years at Ford Motor Company, he was fired in July of 1978 because of the personal differences and a power struggle with Henry Ford II.

Financially, Iacocca was in a position to easily retire after a very successful career. However, mad, discouraged, but not beaten, Iacocca demonstrated his urge to fight back by joining a failing competitor, Chrysler, as the president and CEO in November of that same year, 1978. Chrysler had just reported its worst earnings in its history and was on the road to bankruptcy. He quickly rallied frustrated employees and the American public. He restored Chrysler through shrewd financial policies, a $1.2 billion government loan, and tax concessions granted by Congress. Like most governmental bail-outs, no one expected the loan to be repaid. Not only did Chrysler repay the loan but did so well ahead of schedule.

He also engineered Chrysler's $1.5 billion acquisition of American Motors and became a television icon, becoming one of the few Corporate CEOs to appear in commercials urging viewers to test the new Chrysler quality. Lee Iacocca made history announcing a $2,400,000,000 profit in 1984, became a national hero pulling Chrysler out of bankruptcy in less than three years, and becoming the leading seller in the industry. He also became a very competitive "pain-in-the-armpit" to his previous employee at GM. He also served as chairman of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

The moral of the above stories: Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. You gain strength, experience and confidence by every experience where you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you cannot do. And remember, the finest steel gets sent through the hottest furnace. A winner is not one who never fails but one who NEVER QUITS! In LIFE, remember that you pass this way only once! Let's live life to the fullest and give it our best.

Publication Date: Fall 2006

motivational speaker Harry K. JonesHarry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services.

Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management

For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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