TALK RADIO ….

I’m in a panic. I have to do a radio interview later in the week about the just-released Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject: Tear Down the Walls Holding Back Your Success. The station asked for seven talking points for the 16-minute interview. Here’s what I dashed off this morning:

Talking Point No. 1: What’s the book about?

It’s a 431-page pep talk on improving every aspect of your life. It will show you how to improve your attitude, dream bigger, make better decisions, take swifter action, work harder and smarter, etc. For those out of work, it’s about HIGHERING yourself when the world isn’t hiring. It’s like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, See You at the Top, The Power of Positive Thinking and other classic works – only on steroids!

Talking Point No. 2: What’s the Title All About? What does it have to do with the book?

Let’s clear up one thing right now. I’m not a Harvard graduate. I am a Harvard Reject. The title really addresses the point that I had high aspirations even as a teenager. I didn’t apply to Wichita State. I applied to what I thought was the best school at the time. The admission door at Harvard didn’t open, but fortunately, Stanford’s did. Fellow Harvard Rejects include Warren Buffett, Tom Brokaw and countless others.

Ironically, I was recently talking to Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature (1989), the first book for the general audience on climate change. We were neighbors growing up in the 60s in Altadena, Calif. Anyway, he applied to Stanford and didn’t get in, but he applied to Harvard and got in. That’s why you have to keep knocking on a lot of doors! One will eventually open. In the book, I briefly talk about why I wasn’t Harvard material.

Talking Point No. 3: Nothing is as it appears!

There are always hidden agendas obscuring the truth. That’s why as a journalist I especially appreciate the Latin phrase Nullius in Verba, which basically means, “Take nobody’s word for it; verify your own truth.” It’s actually the motto of the Royal Society of London, that august scientific body whose members included Sir Isaac Newton.

When there’s so much misinformation in circulation, it suppresses real growth. It’s hard to build a life on a lie.

To illustrate my point and to poke fun at Harvard, I talk about the Statue of the 3 Lies in the preface of the book.

Basically, the statue of John Harvard that sits in Harvard Yard is a big phony. In fact, I posed in front of it once, not knowing its notorious history. For example, the sculpted figure by Daniel French, the same guy who carved the Lincoln Memorial, is not John Harvard. Nor was Harvard the founder of the college. Nor was the college founded in 1638. Imagine that: All of that information etched in stone and none of it is true.

The bottom line is we put way too much faith in so-called experts. You have to find your own truth. You have to be comfortable in your own skin. How did Oscar Wilde put it?: “Be yourself, everybody else is taken.”


Talking Point No. 4: Few Things Are Impossible

It was 30-years ago this past summer that Larry “the Lawn Chair” Walters entered our conscious radar. On July 2, 1982, after attaching 45 helium balloons to an ordinary lawn chair, he set sail from his San Pedro backyard, soaring 16,000 feet into Los Angeles International Airport airspace. Can you imagine what it was like for those pilots to look out their cockpit windows and see this guy drifting by? I can only imagine what they radioed in to their air traffic controllers. He finally got tangled up in some telephone wires in Long Beach, but for 45 minutes he was the king of the world. That 45-minute journey was the culmination of his 20-year-long dream to fly. After he was arrested, he said, “It was something I had to do.”

So, from my point of view, few things are impossible. Walt Disney began sketching on toilet paper because his family was so poor it couldn’t afford drawing paper. Kansas Senator Bob Dole was so impoverished growing up that his parents rented out their house while they moved into the home’s basement. Talk about humbling and humiliating!

James Garfield was the last of our U.S. presidents to be born in a log cabin. He was just 17 months old when his father died. To put himself through his first year of college, he worked as a janitor and carpenter. By his second year, he was made assistant professor of Literature and Ancient Languages. By age 26, he was his college’s president. In 1880 at age 49, he was elected president of the United States.

So no excuses! Whether your challenge is gravity or poverty, you can overcome it, but don’t be afraid to seek loads of help.

Talking Point No. 5: You’re Going to Get Beat Up, But That Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You’ll Get Beat!

Pretty much everyone knows Frank Capra or at least his films, including It’s A Wonderful Life. Well, it wasn’t such a wonderful life for Capra at the 1933 Oscars. He had been nominated for Best Director and his good friend Will Rogers was emcee. As he was announcing the winner, Rogers gushed, “Well, well, well, what do you know? I’ve watched this young man for a long time. Saw him come up from the bottom — and I mean the bottom. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Come up and get it, Frank!”

Capra’s table was ecstatic as the jubilant director bounded out of his chair and toward the stage, the spotlight frantically searching for Hollywood’s new De Mille. “Over here,” Capra waved. Then the spotlight just as quickly deserted him for another Frank — Frank Lloyd, director of Cavalcade. When Lloyd reached the stage, Rogers greeted him heartily. Meanwhile, an audience member shouted, “Down in front!” to the stunned Capra, who slinked back to his table. “I felt like a worm,” he said later.

As much as that embarrassing and humiliating moment wounded Capra’s pride, he went on that same decade to win Oscars for It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), and You Can’t Take It With You (1938).

So, the Life Lesson takeaway is expect to take your bumps and lumps before getting over the hump!

Talking Point No. 6: Find Good Mentors: Don’t Discount Books and the Hallowed Pages of History to Find Them

On that note you could start and end with Abraham Lincoln.

It’s no accident that more books have been written about our 16th president than about any other person, at least here in the United States. One friend said of him, “I never saw a sadder face. He was a long, gawky, ugly, shapeless man.” That may be true, but what a man!

On the futility of holding a grudge he said, “You have more of a feeling of personal resentment than I have. Perhaps, I have too little of it, but I never thought it paid.”

On the futility of holding onto bitterness, he said, “Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” He was a healer, not a dealer of division and discord.

Upon hearing that a man had been sentenced to death for desertion, Lincoln reviewed his case. The soldier’s one-page file showed he didn’t have one friend in the world and his entire family had been killed in the war. Lincoln slept on the request for a pardon and announced the next morning that the testimony of a friend had sealed his decision. When an officer reminded the president that the request had come with no letter of reference, Lincoln said, “I will be his friend,” and pardoned the man.

What house of worship did Lincoln regularly attend? “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion,” Lincoln said.

So, Lincoln seems like a worthy mentor to have by your side each day.

Talking Point 7: Life Lessons’ Call to Action Is To Take Action Today!

All the greats realize that Today is the Day. John Wooden said, “Make Today Your Masterpiece.” “Today” was the single word English art critic and social thinker John Ruskin (1819-1900) had etched on a stone, which he kept on his desk. German writer and polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) also expressed his appreciation for the precious gift of being given another 24 hours when he wrote, “Nothing is worth more than this day.”

A lot of your listeners are probably familiar with Rod Serling (1924-1975), creator of The Twilight Zone (1959-64), arguably the most imaginative show ever to air on television. When Serling was in the U.S. Army in World War II, he posed for a photo with his good friend during a lull in the fighting at the Battle of Leyte Gulf (Oct. 23-26, 1944) in the Pacific. At the very moment that Serling reached to put his arm around his friend, an Air Force plane flying overhead accidentally dropped an ammunition box, killing his buddy instantly.

So, never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Start your personal improvement plan today, whether it’s getting out of your chair and walking around the block to launch your fitness program, learning a new dance step or polishing a new skill to make you more marketable to more employers.

Start HIGHERING yourself today!

LIVING THE LESSONS: You Already Know Mickey Mouse, But Have You Tried Mickey’s House

Don’t let the title, Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject, fool you.

At its core, Life Lessons is about achieving success, and no one epitomizes success more than Mickey Rehm, owner of Micky’s Jewelry and Design Studio in La Verne, Calif.

Her pedigree is pure Nordstrom, so you know she delivers ridiculous, over-the-top customer service – a value proposition she’s personified since she first opened her doors five years ago.

Mickey has always been a risk-taker, so her decision to leave Nordstrom to venture into business for herself wasn’t nearly as traumatic as one would think. She was ready to champion a new course. She had the guts to leave the ruts, despite the scary prospects of signing an expensive lease, remodeling the space, and stocking her display cases with eye-catching inventory.

Although the negatives of opening a business in a recession no doubt outweighed the plusses, she still decided to take the plunge, leaving the safe harbor of Nordstrom’s sterling reputation for the choppy waters of small business.

Equally important in Mickey’s mind was starting the right kind of business. She thought she would start a boutique, but her son Jon lobbied for a jewelry business, which had been Mickey’s area of expertise for more than 20 years. After attending a jewelry show, they were convinced that jewelry was the right choice.

“When we went to a show,” Mickey recalled, “Jon said, ‘Oh my gosh, all these people are so nice.’”

Mickey is also “so nice,” not to a mention a person of excellence, another success attribute highlighted in Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject.

“I don’t know that I had a particular dollar goal when I started out five years ago,” Mickey said. “But I definitely wanted the store to be unique and it has been.”

Her tastes and inventory reflects the neighborhood she serves. She carries items that range in price from $50 to $10,000. Again, she took her cue from Nordstrom, where she saw her customers purchasing not only expensive items, but also trendy more affordable costume jewelry.
“So, we’ll always carry both,” Mickey said.

And if you just come in to have Mickey exchange your watch battery for free, she’s not going to scowl, growl or bite your head off. She’ll exchange it for free and with a smile.

At the end of the day, Mickey is a focused business owner. She’s focused 100 percent on serving her customers and producing great customer experiences. When you work like Mickey, there are few risks in business you can’t overcome with hard work.

To learn more about Micky’s, pay her or Jon a visit at 2210 Foothill Blvd. in La Verne or call (909) 593-0748. To learn more about Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject, please visit www.HarvardReject.com.

You can change your life when you decide it’s your time.

Place value ahead of money, and you’ll always be a success. Value your customers the way Mickey Rehm of Micky’s Jewelry and Design Studio in La Verne does.

LIFE LESSONS OF A HARVARD REJECT IS FINALLY HERE! Walled in by a Battery of Books, I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way

Stacked and Stoked: Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject author Peter Bennett is smiling as he holds the three of the boundary-breaking book to come off the press. Owner Ted appears more stunned than joyful, perhaps because he still has more than 3,000 books behind him to load for shipment to La Verne.

Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject is now available in book form at www.HarvardReject.com.

If you don’t believe me, I wish you could see the floor-to-ceiling books now stacked in my office. If you think “new car smell” is great, you should try “new book smell.”

Although it’s been said many times, you should never judge a book by its cover, the Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject jacket is pretty revealing. A large shiny foot is about to crush the grasping, outstretched fingers of a boundary-breaker attempting to scale an ivy-covered wall.

And that’s precisely what Life Lessons is all about: breaching walls and breaking boundaries, while often enduring great pain and personal sacrifice, to gain access to the most important things in life.

The above, of course, is a tall order, but I think Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject is up to the challenge, giving readers both the tools and the motivation and inspiration to aim higher than their reach and achieve their dreams.

Why am I so positive that the contents will resonate with readers? Well, how can you miss when your teachers range from Socrates and Shakespeare, to Milton and Matisse, to Oprah and O. Henry!

Who is the audience for Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject? Anyone who believes in the future! It’s a great teaching tool for parents to share and discuss with their children; it’s a fabulous resource for business owners to improve their products, services and sales; it’s a tremendous guide for leaders, coaches, managers and movers of people.

Ultimately, it’s for anyone who wants to live their life with more passion, purpose and perspective.

Why should you trust me to be your guide? Fair question. I’ve been writing since I was five years old, so well over half a century now. Over the years, I’ve been a writer for the Los Angeles Times and managing editor of American Bungalow magazine. I’ve been a publisher of two newspapers and countless newsletters for various clients over the years. I majored in English at Stanford University.

But mostly, I’ve learned a few things over the years that I believe are worth sharing. Maybe after 57 years, it was just my turn to go on record and say, “This, I believe.” And besides, I was a Harvard Reject, no different from investor Warren Buffett, Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner or newscaster Tom Brokaw, to name but a few. I aspired then to be more than I was, and today I still aspire to be more than I am!

I’ll say no more. I’ll let the book speak the rest of the way, all 431 fast-moving, mind-expanding, adventure-filled pages!

Let the lessons begin!

Drive Your Own Success

Tomorrow I get the book!

That book is Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject: Tear Down the Walls Holding Back Your Success.

I researched it. I wrote it. I self-published it. I’m even rented the damn truck and drove it to San Diego to pick up the book.

Now the hard part starts. I have to sell it.

But I have one secret weapon. I have the bullet-proof script that outlines how to be successful in any hazardous line of work. The script is the book itself. From the first page of Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject to the last, it shows you how to dream, wonder, imagine and innovate, how to develop a purpose and goal, how to overcome fear, rejection and failure, and how to carry out and see your vision through to the end with renewed confidence and self-esteem.

Here’s an example of how it works:

Let’s say, I knock on the door of ABC office and ask for 30 seconds to share why I think my book could really help the staff be more productive and feel more fulfilled. Before I even get my second sentence out, the gatekeeper throws me out on my ear.

Instead of fuming or complaining, I simply turn to the book’s lessons on Adversity, Attitude, Belief, Determination, Desire, Discipline, Persistence, Success, Work, and so forth, which share in vivid detail how people have overcome challenges far greater than having a few doors slammed in their face before connecting with the right people to receive their message, product or service.

To tell you the truth, I’m looking forward to getting up from my desk and leaving my computer behind to get knocked down. I’ll enjoy the getting up even more.

Again, that’s what Life Lessons is all about. It takes you to a higher place. Instead of shrinking from uncomfortable situations, you’ll stand taller in the middle of them, working smarter, focusing sharper and being more confident in responding to them with decision and precision.

Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject is a manual for everyday living. It’s a code of conduct to consult when you need to tear down or blast through any wall holding back your success.

Each of us faces different walls of resistance, but in time they all come down if you believe in your mission and bring the right tools along to assist you in your incredible journey — even if that means driving your own damn truck to get there!

Bill Has Not Only the Golden Touch, But Also the Human One

Some people like Bill Gates are always thinking.

Last week, Forbes magazine came out with its annual list of the 400 Richest People in America, and again my name wasn’t on it, but this Kermit the Frog-like character, Bill Gates, was on the list. Indeed, he was No. 1. His net worth is estimated at $66 billion. His good buddy, Warren Buffett, at No. 2, pales at only $46 billion.

So, I figured that someone with that much money is worth checking out. Here’s what I learned.

Gates was a stubborn 12-year-old kid. When his mother called him to dinner from his basement bedroom, and he didn’t respond, she would yell, “What are you doing?” He shouted back, “I’m thinking.” Very unusual behavior for a kid, let alone, an adult.

The Gateses hired a psychologist to deal with their precocious 12 year old, according to Walter Isaacson who profiled Gates in his book, American Sketches. After working with young Bill for a year, the shrink advised, “You had better adjust to it [his stubbornness] because there’s no use trying to beat him.”

Gates isn’t the button up, nerdy guy you might think he is; sometimes he likes to let it all hang out. When Microsoft was located in Albuquerque, N.M., Gates would unwind and race his Porsche 911 at top speeds in the desert. His Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, had to bail him out of jail on one occasion. Another time, the same cop twice ticketed him for speeding from Albuquerque to Seattle.

Nor did he like computers more than girls. He asked a girl out to the prom; he just got turned down like a lot of other unlucky guys. The guy is human, after all.

He’s a hopeless romantic, too. Leaving Palm Springs with at-the-time girlfriend Melinda, he secretly rerouted the flight to Omaha, home of Warren Buffett, who greeted them at the airport and took them to one of his jewelry stores where Melinda picked out an engagement ring.

Yet the married Gates would spend a long weekend (and still may) once a year with his old girlfriend, Ann Winblad, at her beach house on he outer banks of North Carolina to kick around high-powered ideas. (Hmmm, what’s the name of that movie starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn? Did you say, “Same Time, Next Year”?)

But what I like most about Gates is his compassion for his fellow man, especially for those who didn’t grow up with his same advantages.

“Everyone starts out really capable,” he told Isaacson. “But as you grow and turn curious, either you get positive feedback by finding answers or you don’t, and then this incredible potential you have is discouraged. I was lucky. I always had a family and resources to get more and more answers. Digital tools will allow a lot more people to keep going to the next step rather than hitting a wall where people stop giving them information or tell them to stop asking questions.”

Gates, now 56, has never lost his childlike way of looking at the world. He’s still that stubborn kid in his basement bedroom, yelling out to his mom, “I’m thinking.”

RELATIONSHIPS: Breaking Up Is Easy to Do Unless …

William Gilbert

If you’re in a good relationship right now, enjoy it because it seems even the best friendships and partnerships often end up parting company. What’s most maddening is that many of these breakups occur over the pettiest stuff.

Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject, a new book by Harvard Reject (and Stanford graduate) Peter Bennett, details a few of these historic breakups.

Despite their eight years’ difference in age, brothers John and Will (W.K) Kellogg were tighter than a lid on a pickle jar. John was a doctor who ran a successful health clinic in Battle Creek, Mich. Patients included actress Sara Bernhardt, President William Taft, playwright George Bernard Shaw and other luminaries. The health spa was so successful in fact, that John, who championed colon cleanses and campaigned against consuming meat, coffee and alcohol, hired his brother as his business manager.

It was a good move because in 1894, the brothers accidentally learned how to make wheat flakes. As a physician, John wanted to share the recipe with the world, insisting he only wanted to improve the health of patients, not profit from the health business. “It is exceedingly distasteful to me to have my name associated with the food business or with anything commercial — but we sometimes have to swallow bitter pills,” the good doctor said.

W.K., however, not book-smart like his brother, wanted to safeguard the recipe and make some real money.

While John continued to write best-selling books on holistic health and run the world-famous health spa, Will focused on perfecting the corn flake. When John objected to adding sugar to corn flakes, Will decided to go into business for himself. The brotherly rift became irreparable when a court awarded W.K. sole rights to market products of the Kellogg Toasted Corn Flake Co. W.K. made millions, even buying the land that one day would become Cal Poly Pomona.

If this story of feuding brothers isn’t sad enough (the two duked it out in court for more than a decade), there was another tragic breakup playing out in London about the same time.

Arthur Sullivan

Gilbert and Sullivan, the harmonious partnership that produced such fabulous operettas as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado, and The Pirates of Penzance, saw their long relationship unravel over a carpet: Gilbert thought their business partner had paid too much for one while Sullivan thought the price was appropriate, thus siding with the business partner. Eventually, the disagreement wound up in a nasty court battle.

As a result, the once inseparable pair rarely spoke to each other. When they did collaborate, Sullivan would write the music, then mail it to Gilbert; when Gilbert wrote the words, he mailed them back to Sullivan. At curtain calls, they stood at opposite ends of the stage and bowed in different directions so they wouldn’t see each other.

Ill health found Sullivan before rapprochement ever did. He became addicted to morphine to relieve his pain from recurring kidney disease and died on Nov. 22, 1900 in London. Gilbert read about Sullivan’s death in a newspaper. Sullivan died in 1911 of a swimming accident. If ever a relationship ended on a sour note, this was it.

At least, the Kellogg brothers’ vitriol didn’t kill them off early. Both lived to be 91 — a strong endorsement for following their recommended diet of eating lots of cereal.

In Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject, I share how to build relationships, not bulldoze them.

Start by getting out of your head and putting a 10 on everyone else’s noggin. Make it your first impulse to seek cooperation, not confrontation; seek to connect, not correct, to consult, not contend. Try to be less transactional and more transformational. Engage in conversations, not interrogations. To get your point across, never be cross. To get a friend, first be a friend.

Besides “Relationships,” I tackle dozens of other life issues, providing unique insights and historical perspectives on every page to give readers new ways to tear down the walls holding back their success.

This rich resource is a perfect companion for teachers, business leaders, coaches, parents, speechwriters or anyone in need of a few select words of wisdom to recharge and refocus on what’s most important in their lives.

Some Golden Rules About Achieving Success

In 2007 dollars, his net worth would have been close to $300 billion. He watched his basket of golden eggs very closely before donating most of them to charity.When I’m in the field, especially if I’m wearing my LaVerneOnline shirt that looks like one of those Crime Scene Investigation shirts, I often get asked if writing/publishing/promoting LaVerneOnline.com is all I do.

The answer is Yes and No. Yes, in the sense that whatever endeavor I undertake, I give it my all, and No, because I do many other things and have multiple interests. For example, I have written a book, Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject coming out in September, which you have no doubt heard about if you read this column. I also have the privilege and honor of helping market some of the most successful salespeople, trainers and companies in the world.

Just this week, I interviewed a salesperson whose 2012 sales volume is on pace for $250 million. Next year, he is hiking that goal to $300 million. I especially love these interview sessions because I, like you, want to know their formulas for success. Throughout my book (although not a sales manual by any stretch), I touch on some of these winning attributes.

First off, successful people all seem to be willing to do Whatever It Takes (WIT). They all have a Willing Inner Toughness (WIT). I made up the latter acronym this morning, but can’t take credit for the first.
Each person translates this WIT slightly differently.

“I’m not smarter than anyone else,” the future $300 million man told me. “I mean you’re talking about a guy who just got past high school. That’s all I got. But I’m hungry every day. And I’m probably the most competitive guy that you’ll ever meet in your life. Usually, I’m the first person to turn on the lights in the morning and the last to turn them off at night.”

Another entrepreneur at the top of his game told me that his mental toughness is an acquired skill. “Years of routine have made me mentally tough. I get up early, I exercise, I read something inspirational, I do affirmations, I write my goals, I review my plan, I look at my schedule, and I decide my outcomes for the day. Then I follow my schedule. I just do whatever it says on my calendar and I do it from a state of inspiration and joy.”

He’ll get no argument from me. Anyone repeating the same successful routine for a quarter century is “mentally tough” in my book (and I did write a book).

These tough-minded people aren’t casualists (not a word, so don’t bother looking it up). They’re not part-timers. They get after it, and not much gets in their way. They’re not knocking over little old ladies in crosswalks to chase their dreams, but they are incredibly focused. They certainly limit their distractions.

One mega-successful salesperson told me, “So many people spend hours a day on the internet looking at how bad everything is. I don’t want my mind to ever listen to all that s–t. I don’t care how bad everything is. I don’t want to know. I don’t care about it because there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t make it go away. I didn’t cause it. I didn’t help it.

“I just put my head down and work every day.”

His stick-your-head-in-the-sand-and-just-work admission sounds pretty harsh, but he knows people aren’t paying him to find solutions for world peace. He knows his role, and he does whatever it takes to reach his goal, which, in his case, is staying on top of the heap.

To achieve their elite status, these millionaries long ago reached their point of no return. “From a certain point on there is no longer any turning back,” said novelist Franz Kafka (1883-1924). “That is the point that must be reached.”

Adele, whose “21” was named Grammy Album of the Year, also reached that point in 2012. She said that you have to “set fire to the rain.” When she did, she incinerated the competition.

A century and a half earlier, industrialist Andrew Carnegie pretty much lived by the same philosophy. He said, “Put all your eggs into one basket and then watch the basket.”

In my basket right now is LaVerneOnline.com, Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject (www.HarvardReject.com) and representing some of the most talented, hard-working and talented sale people and sales organizations anywhere on the planet.

I wake up every morning ready to do whatever it takes to make them successful. I also give gratitude every day for a family and a community that supports my insanity.

THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS: Turn the Putrid into Perfume

Hmmm, I wonder whether there’s electricity in those clouds there yonder!

In Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject, I talk a lot about creativity, flexibility, imagination, and innovation –- applying your God-given genius to take on even the most intractable problems.

Indeed I show how great, inquisitive and precocious minds relentlessly ask questions — how they turn everything inside out and upside down in search of solutions. They may have learned that a mighty whale once swallowed Jonah, but that doesn’t keep them from asking, what if Jonah swallowed that same whale?

Few things escape their realm of wonder and exploration. For example, when Ben Franklin plied the seas between Philadelphia and London, he charted the ocean currents; when he looked up at the sky, he wondered whether lightning contained electricity; when he required two pairs of glasses to correct his near- and farsightedness, he entertained the possibility of combining two different kinds of lenses in the same frame (bifocals). Genius!

So, when his stomach gurgled or became flatulent at inopportune moments, he wondered again if some enlightened solution couldn’t be found to relieve his and mankind’s embarrassing problem.

Here is the remedy he proposed to the Royal Academy of Brussels:

It is universally well known that in digesting our common food, there is created or produced in the bowels of human creatures a great quantity of wind. That the permitting this air to escape and mix with the atmosphere is usually offensive to the company from the fetid smell that accompanies it. That all well-bred people therefore, to avoid giving such offense, forcibly restrain the efforts of nature to discharge that wind. That so retained contrary to nature, it not only gives frequently great present pain, but occasions future diseases …

Were it not for the odiously offensive smell accompanying such escapes, polite people would probably be under no more restraint in discharging such wind in company than they are in spitting or blowing their noses. My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some drug wholesome and not disagreeable, to be mixed with our common food or sauces, that shall render the natural discharges of wind from our bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as perfumes.

Life Lesson: Great minds welcome the challenges of turning life’s disadvantages into advantages — human compost into cologne, fertilizer into fragrance, manure into magic! As Emerson told us, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Big Ben Is on the $100 Bill Because His Advice Was Priceless

In Life Lessons I talk a lot about Leadership. Indeed, I call out a dozen qualities that I believe every leader must possess.

Interestingly enough, early in Ben Franklin’s life, he listed 12 virtues by which he wanted to live his life before a friend told him that he was missing one: humility. Franklin laughed and then added it.

Funny, in Life Lessons, I’m already regretting that I too needed to add one more. That quality is tolerance, which I can best explain with the following parable:

Alas, a 198-year-old man one evening came knocking on Abraham’s door, looking for food and shelter. He had knocked on the right door because Abraham fed the man and provided him a hot bath and fresh clothes.

But after learning that the very old man did not believe in Abraham’s God, Abraham threw him out of his house.

Just after midnight, God himself called upon Abraham. “Where is the stranger I sent you?” He asked.

Abraham said, “Lord, he would not worship thee; neither would he call upon thy name. Therefore I have driven him out before my face into the wilderness.”

God just stood there shaking his head:

“Have I not put up with this same man for 198 years, nourishing him and clothing him, despite his rebellion against me?” He asked. “Yet you could not bear with him one night!”

Life Lesson: You may not like another person’s views, politics or religion, but you should never stop showing another human being respect; you should never stoop so low that you humiliate another human being. When you do, you only lower yourself.

You want to be in the HIGHERING business!

Don’t Be An Ass About Facing Criticism

Whether you run a newspaper, a restaurant, or a dry cleaners, you’ll never please everyone.

So, I implore you, the next the time you receive some stinging criticism, receive it openly, smile, and move on. Don’t take it into your heart and lungs and let it cause anxiety.

To help you keep this resolve, recall the fable about a father and son traveling with a donkey. When the father rode and made his son walk, people criticized the father. When the son rode and father walked, they criticized the son. When both rode the donkey, people criticized them for over-burdening the animal. When they both walked, they were called idiots for not using the donkey for transportation.

So, the father and son, to stop the criticism, threw the donkey off a bridge

Their problem was finally solved. Without their donkey, they no longer had to endure withering criticism. But without their donkey, they also no longer had any ass-ets. They were indeed poorer for yielding to the criticism.

So again, I beg of you, as you begin your week, don’t despair over trying to please everyone.

If you are a good person, your hands will be full enough trying to please yourself.