Secret To My Success

Disclaimer: My kids think I am perpetually stuck in the 80s. This post may confirm it.

One of my favorite movies growing up as a kid was The Secret to My Success staring a young Michael J. Fox. I credit that movie and a book by Harvey Mackay called Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive as the sole reasons I wanted to become an entrepreneur. Both inspired me in but in different ways.

The movie was about a young college kid who moves to the Big Apple, ready to make a name for himself in the business world. However when he arrives for his first day at work he finds the job he had waiting on him is suddenly gone. The company has been bought out and he’s out on the street. Our young hero, Brantley Foster (who names their kid Brantley?), finds himself having to eat crow and beg for a job at a company his distant uncle now runs. Hilarity and shenanigans ensue as young Brantley morphs into a fictitious young executive Cartlon Whitfield and eventually saves the company from a corporate takeover.

Far fetched I know but I loved every minute of it. You will too I bet if you look for it on Netflix.

Despite the hokey plot the movie really struck a cord with me as a young sophomore in high school. It sparked my interest in wanting to be the hustle and bustle world of business. There was something mesmerizing about the concept of working hard to make something happen even if a few hilarities must take place to make it happen.

To be a young deal maker and a hot shot executive, hell sign me up! I was sure that if young Michael J. Fox could do it, I could do it.

It showed me that determination, hard work and sometimes having to change/bend the rules of the game can pay off in business and in life. I mean he did end up with Helen Slater who later became Billie Jean and Supergirl. I’d call that a success.

Around the same time that I found this great movie I started reading like a mad man. My dad, noticing my new found interest in all things business started bringing home the Wallstreet Journal for me to read at night. I read it but honestly didn’t understand a lot of it. That didn’t matter, I just pretended I was comprehending it just like young Brantley would. Some of it had to stick right?

Then he brought home a book that changed everything! It was a book by Harvey Mackay called book Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and boy did a light bulb go off then!

Very much removed from the comedic portrayal that the movie had inspired, this book captured my imagination in a whole new way. Hearing Mr. Mackay’s story of building a company from scratch and his approach to entrepreneurship was far more relatable and realistic to my young mind. I could feel the burning desire Mr. Mackay had in his belly as a youth that led him to build one of the most successful business enterprises in Minnesota. I knew that desire because I had that very same feeling in the pit of my stomach.

If the movie had inspired me to want to be in business one day, Mr. Mackay’s book motivated me to want to be the one calling the shots. For me that meant being the boss, the head enchilada, the entrepreneur, el numero uno! That idea stuck in my head and never left. As a young sophomore I knew right then and there, I was going to find a way to be an entrepreneur so help me God.

It wasn’t easy but I did make it. I am proud to say I am celebrating my 23rd year as an entrepreneur! I didn’t have to manufacture some made up executive name to make it to my own executive bathroom like Brantley did in the movie but there were plenty of shenanigans in those early years let me tell you. A lot of sleepless and stressful nights too as my success was certainly not assured. But I worked hard and today I live a life that is absolutely amazing thanks to being an entrepreneur.

From both the book and movie I took many following lessons to heart and they continue to serve me to this day. I figured maybe I would share a few of them with you. Call them my own Secrets to My Success:

  • There is no excuse for not working hard. Ever.
  • People may not believe in you so you better believe enough in yourself to persevere.
  • You may own the company but you better be damn sure you are the company’s best sales person.
  • Success leaves clues. Find people who are successful and learn as much as you can from them.
  • Leaders are readers.
  • Being the boss means you have a major responsibility in supporting the people who work for you.
  • You are only a failure if you don’t try. You better try damn it.
  • Sometimes you have to be willing to take risks no one else is comfortable taking. Do it anyway.
  • Don’t forget where you came from and stay true to who you are.

I would highly recommend you check out both the book and the movie. Maybe they both will stir something in you and motivate you to want to become an entrepreneur. Or maybe it will just rekindle that flame you only thought had gone out long ago. I know it works for me. I re-watch the movie once a year and revisit Mr. Mackay’s many books often.

Now queue the awesome Night Ranger video from the movie (after a brief YouTube commercial):

Damn I love that song…

Ripple On!!!

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