By Lou Goldstein
PEOPLE. WHO ARE THEY? AND WHAT DO WE DO WITH THEM?
This website will be a collection of my views and thoughts as they relate to the situations we face in our lives dealing with people. We will cover a vast amount of issues.
Why am I qualified to be considered a creditable person that you should pay any attention to? That is a great question and I am glad you asked.
First of all , I am a very witty person. My unique sense of humor will constantly keep you entertained.
Then you must consider the fact that I am old. Although, I prefer to think of myself as "rich with experience."
I am also extremely intelligent (college graduate). When you combine all of the wonderful qualities that I possess along with my rather humble, non-boasting and shy personality, how can you NOT want to read what I have to say… about anything?
OK, so you need some proof !
I was born into a poor family (I had no choice) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We didn't have much to speak of in material things. My father at one time, was working at 3 jobs at the same time to put food on the table and pay the rent.
My first job was selling newspapers at the ballpark (Forbes Field) when I was around 9 years old. There were other kids that also sold papers. They were my competition. This was my first experience as a representative of a major corporation. The strategy was two fold. The first three kids who picked up their papers got to go into the ballpark when the game started to continue selling papers (and watch the ball game)... and secondly, there were certain key locations (corners) that you wanted to secure and claim as your territory.
I came to the conclusion that if I was the first one there when the papers were distributed to the kids I could accomplish both goals. My plan of action was to find out what time the newspaper truck got to the distribution location... and get there as early as I had to in order to be one of the first three in line.
After some trial and error (researching and figuring out my competition) I was able (most of the time) to do this. My torn pants and skinny emaciated look enabled me to attract potential buyers (customers) on their way to the ball game and my clumsiness in reaching for change enriched me with above average tips. My one weakness was when a BIG kid would try to muscle me out of my prosperous corner location. I solved that problem by finding another corner. You see, I was a thinker not a fighter. Besides I hadn't learned the lesson my father taught me about how to deal with a bully yet. You'll find that out in the chapter entitled "Bully Me At Your Own Risk." Look for it.
My next job (a couple years later) was when I became a self employed entrepreneur. I thought of a money making idea that was better than selling papers. This idea not only got me into the ballpark... but provided free food while watching the game. I would get to the ballpark a couple hours before the game dressed in my business outfit which consisted of pants with holes in the knees and a rumpled shirt. Coincidently, they were also my everyday clothes.
As people started coming to the game I would approach them and ask if they had any extra tickets. "Hey, mister do you have any extra tickets?" It was somewhat common for some people to have an extra ticket and I would get a response like, "Sure kid I have an extra ticket, come with me into the game." I would let him know how excited I was, "Gee thanks mister !"... and then go on to explain that I had to find my friend ...and let him know I was going to go to the game… I asked if he would please just give me the ticket and I would meet him at the seat.
Sometimes, if he had two extra tickets he would give me both tickets. One for me…and one for my friend. I would then scurry off into the crowd to look for my friend. If you haven't figured it out by now...my friend was fictitious. I hadn't learned yet that it was better to tell the truth rather than lying. That is another chapter in RANDOM THOUGHTS OF GOLD.
After making sure that the person (or people) that gave me the extra ticket made it safely inside the ballpark... I would approach a different person...
"Hey mister, do you have an extra ticket?"
Now here is where the money making idea and free food unfolds. After about an hour and a half of "begging for tickets" ... I found myself with a quantity of tickets. As the crowd began to thicken with people coming to the ballpark I would station myself in the area of where the ticket windows were located and my message changed to, "Who needs a ticket?" The usual remark was, "What do you got, (they usually said "got" not "have") and how much do you want for it?" That started the negotiation. By the way, I think you will really enjoy the chapter about "Closing The Sale." in RANDOM THOUGHTS OF GOLD.
At this point, depending on how many tickets I had and how busy the crowd was (supply and demand) ...I had to make some quick decisions. There were other self employed entrepreneurs at the ballpark (more competitors). After the dust settled …I always made some money (the tickets cost me zero) and I would keep one ticket (usually the best seat)… go into the ballpark and enjoy the game. The free food was automatic. Who could turn down a kid with torn pants and a rumpled shirt? I always wondered what the people thought who gave me the tickets earlier when someone else sat next to them. I'm sure they figured it out quickly and thought highly of me ...respecting my ingenuity. Or not?
So already you know that before I was a teenager I was already a representative of a major corporation, a self employed entrepreneur, an experienced negotiator, understood supply and demand, had a firm understanding of dealing with people, and knew enough to avoid a potentially dangerous situation when being confronted by a BIG kid.
You might ask where were my parents during all this time? I've already told you that my dad was working multiple jobs. My mother was a homemaker and basically stayed home all day taking care of wherever we were living, cooking, and showing us what love was all about. When she gave you a hug it was like entering a new world filled with peace and comfort. I also had a younger sister. She was a girl so I had no time for her.
Times were also different then. We lived in the area of Forbes Field (one mile or less) and it was safe for kids to be on the street (unless they got beat up by other kids). I never missed school and we usually spent Sundays together as a family. We had picnics, played ball, sometimes even went to a circus. Our extended family in Pittsburgh was large and I had aunts, uncles, grand parents and cousins.
If that's not enough proof for you let me continue.
My dad's financial situation began to improve to a point where he found a partner and opened a store selling appliances. He then sold the appliance store (made a profit) and opened a dry cleaning plant in downtown Pittsburgh. All of this happened between 7th grade and my first 2 years of high school.
After my sophomore year in high school my dad sold his dry cleaning store in downtown Pittsburgh (made a profit) and we moved to Erie, PA where he bought a franchise called One Hour Martinizing (yet another dry cleaning plant).
My junior year of high school was spent in Erie. Guess where I spent my senior year of high school? It was in Phoenix, Arizona. It seems that my dad was suffering from a curvature of his spine which caused him to have chronic back pain that was aggravated by dampness...and was advised to move to a dry climate. So he sold his dry cleaning store in Erie, PA (made a profit) bought a furniture truck loaded it with all of our belongings and moved to the wild, wild west. It was OK though because he had the name of a friend of a friend who had a liquor store in Mesa, Arizona. He hired someone to drive the truck and we drove our car. Before I forget...I now had a baby brother.
We landed in Phoenix in August and thought for a moment that we took a wrong turn and landed in Hell. It was a dry heat so I guess it wasn't that bad (an oven is dry heat but you don't put your head in it !) My dad sold the truck (yes, at a profit) then after a hurried registration for school I began my senior year in high school at my third high school in four years making new friends (people) and adapting to yet another situation.
My dad almost immediately opened another business. Another dry cleaning business...right? Wrong ! He bought a corner of land and built a drive in theatre in the boondocks way north of town. He chose the drive-in theatre because of having a previous experience in that business...right? Wrong!
He had absolutely no knowledge at all about that business. What he did have was an inbred understanding of people (which he passed on to me) and a street knowledge of what it takes to recognize opportunities for success. He was also a very independent man with a very dominant personality.
Dad always believed that he was entitled to his opinion and you were entitled to yours. AND... if you agreed with HIS opinion you were OK.
He taught me many lessons of life that you can't find in books (that is, unless you read RANDOM THOUGHTS OF GOLD).
One year later my dad sold the drive-in theatre (at a profit) and he opened another dry cleaning plant selling it in 3 years (yes, at a profit). When I graduated college at Arizona State University, he and I went into the CPA business. That stands for cleaning, pressing and alterations (Yes it was the dry cleaning business). He was the financial and somewhat silent partner. That is, until he had something to say (which was often). My responsibility was to basically run the day to day business and try to stay out of my dad's way.
Let's go back now to my days of being a self employed entrepreneur (begging for tickets and then selling them) and fill you in on the various jobs I had from that point until going into the dry cleaning business with my dad. Most of my jobs were all part time. After school or summer jobs. Here are some of them during high school.
GOING DOOR TO DOOR SELLING COLLIER'S ENCYCLOPEDIAS.
I was paired with a veteran old school salesman who taught me how to sell. I mean really sell !! When a person opens their door to a complete stranger and 2-3 hours later makes a down payment and signs a monthly payment contract to buy an encyclopedia....that's selling. We will discuss how to determine a need or want, build the foundation, handle objections and then...close the sale.... in RANDOM THOUGHTS OF GOLD.
GOING DOOR TO DOOR ... SETTING UP APPOINTMENTS FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER TO GIVE A FREE PHOTO SITTING.
I guess there were a lot of doors in Pittsburgh. My job was to be part of a team that, using an organized system, scouted neighborhoods for signs of homes that had children living in them. We looked for toys, bikes, and sometimes even children playing (Duh). A knock on a door, a cheerful greeting, a gracious introduction and then the offer for an opportunity to take advantage of a FREE sitting with a professional photographer who specialized in children's portraits.
There was absolutely no obligation other than to clean up the kids and dress them in their Sunday best clothes. Sometimes an immediate sitting was arranged. The photographer was following behind and a chalk mark on the sidewalk alerted him to his next appointment. Other times a later appointment was made for the evening and we scheduled them during our dinner break (there were more than one photographer).
Within a couple weeks when the photos were done a salesman delivered the "proofs" and went on to sell the photos (this included albums and every known assortment of shapes and sizes of photographs imaginable). I would sit with the salesman, baby sit the kids if they were up, and observe once again the fine art of selling.
ASSISTANT ATHLETIC DIRECTOR AT A COMMUNITY CENTER.
I played basketball in high school and college (freshman). The summer between graduating high school and starting college I worked in the gymnasium of a community center. I worked along side the athletic director and experienced a couple very interesting and educational events.
One was my experience as a golden gloves boxer. I was tall and skinny and the athletic director convinced me that he could turn me into a champion boxer. The center was the locale of a golden gloves program and he told me that because of my height and weight I would be in a weight class where I would tower over any other boxer. He would teach me how to jab and run and I would win every match by decision without ever being hit by my opponent.
Well, he took me under his wing and I joined the golden gloves program as a boxer. My weight class was "tall and skinny" while all of my opponents were short and muscular. I won my first two fights by decision. My strategy was paying off..."jab and run"..."jab and run" and sometimes it became "run and run".
My coach was beaming. I think he had dreams of taking me up the ladder to becoming a world champion. The third fight started out the same way. I jabbed my opponent about a million times during the first round and he was not able to catch up to me to even come close to laying a glove on me. Midway through the second round my opponent realized that my jabs were not hurting him at all. He looked at me and gave me the most evil look I have ever seen. He said something like, "Say goodnight dude" and proceeded to charge right at me fending off my jabs like they were pieces of popcorn falling out of a bag. He caught up to me and hit me in the stomach. It took the officials about 3 days to clean up the mess and I have never fully recovered from it to this day.
Needless to say, my boxing career ended right then and there. I told my coach that when a boxing ring was extended to the size of a football field… to call me (I was a fast runner). This experience also taught me to never underestimate my opponent. RANDOM THOUGHTS OF GOLD will give you more details about the importance of preparing for the challenges we all face. You will also learn how to prepare and how to stay prepared.
During college I had other jobs and experiences. I sold women's shoes part time for a short while. It was at times a stinky job with occasional interesting views… but I quit when I formed two businesses that helped put me through college (ASU...Arizona State University in Tempe AZ )
CAMPUS COUPON BOOK. THE FORERUNNER TO THE "ENTERTAINMENT BOOK"
I contacted about 20 businesses around the campus of ASU and had them agree to offer a discount or something that would be of value to a potential customer. Some examples were "Buy one meal and get the second free at a restaurant"..."A free boutonniere at a florist"..."A free ring cleaning at a jeweler"... discounts at gas stations, gift shops, car washes,movie theatres, etc.... I then contacted a printer and designed a coupon book to hold all of the coupons securely.I made a deal with the printer to give him the back cover of the coupon book to advertise his business. In turn, he did the printing for free. At this point my cost was time and effort with no financial investment. Which was good because I didn't have much of that financial stuff.
Now I had coupon books to sell that offered an unlimited amount of value and savings to those that purchased them.How much could I charge for them and how could they be marketed? Should I charge $20, $50, $100, thousands ??? I settled on $3 (remember this was a long time ago).
What about marketing? I decided on finding agents (students living in dorms, fraternity and sorority houses. I gave them $1 for every book they sold. I then had flyers printed (using the same printer with the same deal) and posted them on bulletin boards throughout the campus where I found some off campus students looking to pick up some spending money. All of my vendors were given a limited number of coupon books (inventory). Careful records were kept, and when they needed more books they would contact me, pay me for what they sold and get more inventory.
This concept led me to my second business. If you recall, my father was in the dry cleaning business at this time. I approached my dad and asked him if he would be willing to let me start a pick up and delivery business at ASU. My idea was to use the same basic idea (agents living on campus). He knew about my coupon book venture and I laid out a plan where I could use the same people I had for my coupon books... to find the customers for the dry cleaning business. We worked out the details and lo and behold a new business was started.
CAMPUS DRY CLEANING PICK UP AND DELIVERY
I approached all of the on campus agents I had selling coupon books and every single one thought it was a great idea for them to also be agents for finding dry cleaning customers. It actually led to an easy and yet effective system for dealing with both businesses. I would arrange to meet each agent on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at a certain time and a certain place. They would give me the dirty clothes, settle up for the coupon books they sold. On the next visit I would deliver the clean clothes, pick up more dirty clothes, etc. etc.
I was a busy boy. My businesses were run during my sophomore, junior and senior years of college. During this time I also was carrying a full load of classes majoring in business administration with a minor in advertising.
Organizing a business, developing marketing strategies, managing people, basic salesmanship and much more will be found in RANDOM THOUGHTS OF GOLD.
I'm going to leave you now. You will have to wait for some other time to find out about my other life experiences.
Finding the best woman in the world to be my wife... watching her give birth to the three best kids in the world...seeing those kids find the best spouses in the world and having them produce the 6 best grandchildren in the world.
You''ll also have to wait to find out more of my business experiences after I graduated college such as being in the dry cleaning business ...owning and running a novelty business...and others (and on the seventh day I rested).
See you next time