Something for Nothingby Al Susoeff
I am reading a book right now called “How Capitalism Will Save Us” by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames and it reminded me of something that happened in the early 80’s when I was fresh out of High School and full of naive enthusiasm, endless energy, and not a lick of business sense , was attempting to work on my first million. Back then I had dreams of grandeur to say the least. I had read a book called “Megatrends” by John Naisbitt and another called “Nothing Down” by Robert Allen. I thought for sure I was going to be a Real Estate Tycoon. My first brush with reality happened when I went down to the Savings and Loan where I had a bank account and told the loan officer there my fantastic idea. She was very nice and patient with me, in fact she complimented my “go get ‘em” attitude, suggested I attend college and dismissed me. I talked with a few more folks and figured out pretty darn fast that I pretty much knew absolutely NOTHING about business, money, or anything having to do with investing. Any of you who actually have met me and especially those who know me personally know that I am not the type of guy to give up easily. Truth is, that “fight or flight” mechanism we all have is in my case largely all fight. A couple of people had suggested that I take a minute to learn about business, and although most told me to find a four year university, one buddy told me about a project he was working on called Amway. So, I watched a bunch of circles one night, forked over I think about $100 bucks (big money for an 18 year old in 1984) and started on the road to riches Don’t laugh guys, Amway is one of the oldest and most well known MLMs out there. Many well known money gurus today including Robert Kiosaki absolutely recommend MLMs as an awesome way to learn the basic ideas, principles and practices necessary to be successful in your own business. Well, the way things turned out a bunch of people quit in my up line, and Jeff (my buddy) and I found ourselves taking our financial counsel from three VERY successful men. The first was a Vice President for General Motors named Jeff. Next was a financial planner whose clients were some of the mega rich in the San Francisco Bay Area. His name was Tom. Above him was a Triple Diamond in Amway, a guy worth many millions who was from Tulsa, Oklahoma. His name was Keith. One night during a convention I got the opportunity to have dinner with this man Keith, Tom, and a group of highly successful “Amway-ers”. My friend Jeff and I were probably the only non-millionaires at this table of 15 or so men. For that matter, we were probably the only ones under 40 as well. Honestly, I was a wee bit intimidated, and did not say much but this turned out to be a good thing. I got more info that one night on how to really network, communicate, and conduct business than any other single night in my adult life. Keith said only a few things directly to me that night. All have shaped the way I do business. However, one stands out above everything else, and it has become one of the main codes I use in my own businesses daily. He looked at me and in his Midwestern country twang he said, “Son, If I could give you one piece of advice it would be this: Never accept ‘somethin for nothin’. In fact beware when somebody offers you ‘somethin for nothin’. See here’s the problem; when you get ‘somethin for nothin’; that means somebody else got ‘nothing for havin’ done something and that just ain’t fair”. Think about that for a minute guys. Let it soak in. When our government taxes us to pay for social programs the American people, largely the middle class, get ‘nothin for having done somethin”, and the recipients of the program, whether it be Section 8 housing, Medicaid, or welfare get ‘somethin for nothin’. When a black man, or a vet, or a woman with less qualifications is hired over anybody who was more qualified in the spirit of “Equal Opportunity” then they got ‘somethin for nothin’ and the fella who worked his butt off to get a degree and build his resume just got ‘nothin for havin done somethin’. Right now, the government and the media would have you believe that business is bad, businessmen are greedy and evil, and this whole mess just proves that capitalism doesn’t work. Well, if you want to believe the government or the media, I suppose you can; they both have a GREAT track record of never lying to us. See, the way I look at it entrepreneurs and businessmen have built this country. They build businesses that allow those who do not have that “creative spark” to work and make a living too. In this hierarchy everybody prospers because everybody produces something. The only problem occurs when government officials want to “help us all out” and get in the way. They want us to give them some of our hard earned cash so they can “help out the less fortunate”; oh and of course keep the ever growing government paid as well…..yeah right. Perhaps if or fearless leaders would stop printing money, and start producing results we might be able to climb out of this financial mess we are in as a country. Perhaps if instead of social programs that hand out money we had social programs that handed out garbage bags and told the check recipients, “you get your check when you bring back two bags of garbage from the side of the road and pass a drug screen”, we might find a few less willing participants in the welfare programs. Perhaps if we decided to make something free it would be the state funded Universities so that those who want to learn can; rather than paying people to be unemployed and remain unemployable, we might find that we gain a couple more productive citizens. See, perhaps if we started requiring that nobody is allowed to get ‘somthin for nothin’, we might, just maybe find that most people would rise to the occasion and start being impressive rather than impotent. I have been rich and I have been poor, (rich is way better by the way); I have lost numerous times with numerous business ventures; but one thing is clear. I have always been able to rebuild, even from scratch, and I really believe it is because of a very rich and successful man who once told me that I did not deserve ‘somethin for nothin’.
Al Susoeff, Jr. is a Real Estate Investor, Trainer, Coach, Author and Civil Engineer from Central Arkansas. You can read more of his articles at www.ASusoeff.com