How did we do it? I get asked that often. Here is one of the main messages in this whole book: It is not fancy. It is as fundamental as blocking and tackling. I just did it. I just went to work every day and did everything that needed to be done.
I have a three-legged milk stool in my office perched on top of a cabinet. It is a great symbol for how to succeed in business. There are three legs: Take care of the customer, have a little fun, make a little money. If you don't do that, it doesn't work, but if you do, it comes together easily....
I learned that too many people who become bosses don't understand the market or work as hard as they should.
Here's a classic trap: A businessman is successful with one business, so he thinks two or three or four would be even better. This changes the equation dramatically. With one operation, you can be there yourself and use the sheer force of your personality to drive it, but as soon as you get two you're dividing your time; you need someone who is strong and good enough to run the other business. It's going to be more difficult to make a profit. Other people don't care about it as much as you do. There are some who work hard, but they are few....
Good people are hard to find, but they're there. We've got many good people in our organization. The trick is to find them jobs that keep them interested and match their talents and what they want to do (not everyone is a boss). Then you have a happy, motivated work force. In our company, we give our general managers the opportunity to buy 10 percent of the dealerships they manage. We prefer that they do this-obviously, someone who has a financial stake in the business is motivated to work hard and make the business a success.
INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE Spend it — time and money — together. Go on dates. “What that does is enliven the marital foundation,” said Gary S. Shunk, a Chicago therapist who specializes in wealth issues. “It’s a kind of investment into the heart and soul of the relationship.”
Think of it as dollar-cost averaging your marriage, where you make small investments over time. If you wait until retirement, it could be too late.
Melanie Schnoll-Begun, a managing director in the Citigroup Family Office, worked with a couple that waited too long. The husband had amassed great wealth for the family, and his wife kept a beautiful home. But once the husband retired, “they found out that over the years they grew so far apart that they didn’t have enough in common,” she said.
“They had this magnificent wealth, and it was the building of this wealth that ultimately led to their divorce.”
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