I’m just a regular straight-talking guy who worked hard, took risks, and built an insurance business from nothing into a huge success. It didn’t happen overnight and he came close to failure many times.
I achieved success by doing certain things I learned on the streets and I’d like to share a few of those ideas. Some of these little nuggets may hold the key to solving problems small and large all across the nation. Here are just some of the little gems I discovered along the way about the importance of accidental goals.
Throughout history, thousands of people have had goals they never reached. They got sidetracked, but because they had goals, they changed their lives and, in some cases, the lives of all of us living today. Success stories abound; there are many examples of famous people who became famous by accident, and many examples of those not so famous.
Christopher Columbus is best known for discovering America, and thank God he did, but that wasn’t his goal.
His goal was to find a faster route to the rich trade goods of the Indies by sailing westward around the world. He never accomplished that, but in the process of aiming for his goal, he discovered America. That was his accidental goal. On our diagonal line, Columbus wound up at Point L. If Columbus hadn’t had a goal, and if he’d never tried, we might all be living in Europe right now.
Alexander Graham Bell set out to invent a hearing aid to help his deaf mother. In the process, he accidentally invented the telephone. In the case of Mr. Bell, his goal was a hearing aid, and his accidental goal was the telephone.
Eventually, however, he did reach his original goal and developed the hearing aid, but good thing there was an accident. How would we text today if there wasn’t?
In the mid-nineties, my friend, Clim, opened up a beauty supply store for a friend of his to run and operate. I insured the store for him. The business didn’t do well, and failed after two years. Clim called to tell me he was shutting down and that I should cancel the insurance. Of course I told him that I was sorry to hear the business didn’t make it, and I asked him what he was going to do with all the merchandise he had left. He explained he was filling boxes with all the items he thought barbers might be able to use, like combs, powders, scissors, etc., and was going to drive down the street, stop at every barbershop he saw, and try to unload the stuff.
An incredible thing happened when he walked into the first shop: The barber said, ‘Where have you been all these years? You see, the only suppliers of barber products at that time were located in downtown Chicago. They had no competition, so all the barbers had to go to them. This meant that almost every week, barbers on their off day had to travel downtown to buy their supplies. If you know anything about downtown Chicago, you know that this takes anywhere from half a day to all day.
Clim was like a breath of fresh air to these barbers. They asked him if he had this or that, or if he could get this or that. When he called me the next day to tell me what happened, I was elated for him, and I knew he struck gold.
Clim saw the potential immediately. Before long he got himself a truck, loaded it with barber supplies, and drove from barber to barber selling his goods. He developed a barber supply store on wheels. Soon he had two trucks, employees, and an established route consisting of over 200 barbershops. His original goal was to unload his merchandise, even at a loss if need be. That goal accidentally turned into a full-fledged successful business. Clim has since sold his barber supply business and has very successfully moved on to the manufacturing side of the barber supply business, concentrating on newer and better razors, blades, and clippers. All this happened because he wanted to unload some merchandise.
About twelve years ago, another client of mine, Rick, called to tell me he was going to be late making his insurance payment because he’d lost his job at the hardware store. He said he was looking for work but was having a hard time finding a job because the economy at that time was down. He asked me if I had any suggestions for him to make some money until he found a job.
I pointed out that since he worked in a hardware store, he must have gained some knowledge that he could put to use. I asked him if he knew how to seal coat a driveway, paint a bedroom or garage, put up outside Christmas decorations on homes, mow a lawn, or one of many other everyday things that the average homeowner might use him for. His answer was yes to all of them.
I suggested he make up a flyer listing all the things he was capable of doing, and blanket the neighborhood with them. I said that every home needs something to be done or fixed, and if he presented himself, people might just call on him for his services. The response to his flyers was astounding. After a while, he scaled down to just painting, and today runs a successful painting and decorating business with employees. His goal was to find some fill-in work until he could find a job. That goal accidentally turned into a successful business.
Since then, I have made that same suggestion to several others who were out of work, and today, after finding their own niches, run successful businesses.
Some time back, one of my customers was in my office paying his insurance premium, and in conversation told me an incredible success story. He had a son who didn’t like school, didn’t like homework, and didn’t like to study. All the kid wanted to do was play video games. His father said that every night he would holler at his son, but to no avail. The boy would ditch school to sit home and play video games while his parents were at work. He was addicted to them.
His father was pulling his hair out, concerned as to what his son would do in life.
Somehow the boy did manage to graduate high school, and, to his father’s great surprise, made a connection with a video game manufacturer who hired him to play video games. His job was to play, test, and analyze the new games being developed, for market appeal. They started him at $80,000 a year.
I can’t say what his goal was, if he had one, or even understood the meaning of a goal, let alone what his accidental goal was, but this story was so good I just had to tell it.
I have many success stories, but this is by far one of my favorites.
I originally saw it on the Biography Channel, and it impressed me so much, and it’s such a feel-good story, that I thought I would include it here.
Back in 1969 an aspiring author was living in New York and striving to be successful. He was married and had several children. He was of Italian descent and he believed that his name and fame would be secured if he wrote a definitive book consisting of several volumes on the history of Italy from the time the world began to the current day. He thought this would put him in the Who’s Who of Authors and Writers.
To make ends meet, he wrote short stories and mediocre books for a local publisher. He had to guarantee them a certain amount of publishable work in certain time frames to keep his contract. As time went by he became so obsessed with writing his history of Italy, and spent so much time doing it, that he fell way behind on his obligation to the publishing company. Before long, they were on his back, threatening to end the arrangement. He asked for time, and promised he would get them something.
He couldn’t afford to lose the income because he still had bills to pay and a family to support, and was barely scraping by as it was. Very grudgingly he set aside his history work, sat down at his typewriter, and started composing a story so he could get the publisher off his back. He worked diligently day after day, and after about six weeks finally finished a book. He was so anxious to get back to his history volumes that he didn’t even want to take the time to deliver his work to the publisher. His brother in-law happened to stop by, so he gave him the book and asked him to deliver it for him. The brother-in-law delivered the book, and a couple of days later the author learned that the publisher had really liked it.
The name of the book was The Godfather, and the author was Mario Puzo. I don’t have to elaborate on what his accidental goal was, because the rest is history.
It’s always helpful and enjoyable to hear stories of success. I hope these few examples will serve to excite and encourage you.
There are hundreds and thousands more. You yourself probably know of several, and may even know the people involved.
Remember, none of the people I have talked about, and none of the people in the success stories you know, would have ever achieved their success if they weren’t out there swinging and working every day, and if they hadn’t had some type of goal. A goal is the one thread they all have in common.
Do not procrastinate. Many people go through life as failures because they are waiting for the time to be right to start doing something. The time will never be just right, so start now to achieve your goals and work with whatever tools and whatever knowledge you have at your disposal.
I have told you to set goals, believe in them, believe in yourself, work hard, and you can achieve a greater place than where you are now. I believe this, and I hope you do also. Goals work.
Remember: when you have goals and work hard, good things will happen.
This guest post is courtesy of John Tassone. He is the author of the book Go For It! He was born and raised in Chicago. In 1976 he opened his own agency, Associated General Insurance Agency of Illinois.