My Dad passed away in June of 2013 at the age of 91. He was an exceptional man. We learned at the wake, from an old friend, that my Dad was the youngest Sergeant in the Army during World War II. We also learned that my father was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the same year he was also drafted by the Army. During the 1960’s my father was viewed by most on Staten Island as the head of the Democratic Party, although he never held any public office. His unpaid side job, as a campaign manager, was getting politicians elected to Congress, Mayor (NYC) and Borough President. We learned at his wake that he even ran the Staten Island Presidential campaign for Robert F. Kennedy.
In 1968 my family was worth 3 million dollars. To put this in perspective, that 3 million would be approximately 20 million in today’s dollars. Then, one night in 1970, my Dad’s warehouse burnt to the ground. In a stroke of random bad luck, my father lost his entire business and his livelihood in one night. We never lost our house. My Dad managed, somehow, to keep us all together as a family in our home.
In 2004 I embarked on a five-year study of the daily habits of the rich and poor. When I look back upon the events of my childhood I now realize how, in spite of losing his entire wealth to random bad luck, my Dad was able to survive and recover from that financial catastrophe. Some of the Rich Habits I discovered in my research, were the very Rich Habits that helped my Dad recover financially. Let me share them with you:
- Never Quit – My Dad never stopped trying. He never quit. He never surrendered.
- Never Lose Hope – My Dad never lost his eternal optimism. He believed in himself.
- Build Strong, Powerful Relationships in Life – My Dad built up many relationship credits during his life with wealthy, successful people. When he lost everything, those relationships stepped up to the plate and helped pull him out of the abyss. They helped him get back on his feet. They helped him survive. And there were many who helped.
- Never Complain – Despite the financial anguish, I never heard my Dad complain. He would not play the poor, poor me victim card.
- Everything in Moderation – My Dad never sought refuge in alcohol, food, gambling or any of the vices that lesser men might seek out in times of great difficulty.
- Exude Confidence – The loss of his financial empire never seemed to affect my Dad’s confidence in himself. My Dad told me, many years later, that inside he always believed he would recover financially. It was just a matter of time.
- Confront Your Problems in Life – My Dad never filed for personal bankruptcy, despite being insolvent. He paid everyone he owed money to. He never dodged his responsibilities. He confronted each and every one of his problems like a pit bull.
- Help Others – My Dad never let his financial problems stop him from helping others. Though he did not have money, he had human capital in the form of powerful relationships that he used to help others. I remember, later in life, our Parish Priest telling me a story about a homeless family with two young kids who came to his rectory because they had just been evicted from their home. They were desperate, so they came to his church in the hopes of finding shelter. The first person the priest called was my Dad. In less than an hour my Dad found a place for that family to stay until they got back on their feet.
- Control Your Emotions – My Dad never allowed his financial difficulties to affect his emotions. He never allowed fear, anger, or any negative emotion to take root. He stayed positive and upbeat and kept moving forward.
- Lead By Example and Actions Speak Louder Than Words – My Dad did not talk much. He just did. His actions spoke so loud during his life that he did not have to talk. We all bore witness to a great man rising above all of the obstacles life could through in his path. He never stopped trying, living, fighting. He was a survivor. His greatness roared loudest only when his back was against the wall.