Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Joe Girard - FROM Humble Beginnings PART 2

The Detroit Free Press can probably be credited with the first insight given to Joe with regard to exceptional progress.

A contest was proclaimed for the solicitation of new readers. The grand prize was to be a new, sparkling two-wheeler bicycle. Now 12 years of age, this driven youngster had never possessed a bike. Joe knew the secret that could win the bike. He would spend every unused, waking moment knocking on doors and asking for business. This had always been his secret. He knew that it worked - what he could not comprehend was why the other newsboys did not see the obvious. Joe won more than the bicycle. He won the knowledge that if he planned his work and worked his plan, he could succeed. He learned that most people were not willing to make this sacrifice. As he once said, "any one of those kids could have beat me, but they weren't willing to work. They didn't want it badly enough."

Joe's teen years were difficult and bitter, especially at home. His natural spirit and pride brought him, time after time, into direct conflict with an increasingly bitter and vengeful father. Almost regularly he ordered Joe from the Gerard home. From the age of 14, Joe spent many of his nights sleeping in boxcars at the Grand Trunk Railroad yards, located directly across the street from his home. In bad weather, he used 25¢ a night flop houses. At this age he was now able to seek more rewarding employment after school, such as dishwasher, dock loader at the produce terminal, delivery boy, and pageboy at the Book-Cadillac Hotel. He also devoted some evenings to the neighborhood pool hall, trying to hustle additional dollars. He lived with the constant fear that if he didn't bring home sufficient money he would have to face his father's anger.
Formal education for Joe ended during the eleventh grade.

He was talking during a study period and was addressed by the school principal, but not by his name. Well aware of the existence of bigotry, but not willing to bow to it, Joe advised the man that he would not respond until he was called by his proper name. The principal stated "you people don't seem to understand how society will be run" and then called Joe a derogatory name reflecting upon his Sicilian ancestry. Joe's heated reaction resulted in his permanent dismissal from school.

At the age of 16, Joe obtained full-time employment at the Michigan Stove Company as a stove assembler. He earned $75 weekly, his greatest earnings thus far, even though it required 12-hour days, six days a week.

He then went to work as an assistant to a fruit and vegetable vendor who merchandised his goods on the east side of Detroit from the back of a truck. He enjoyed the outdoor work and was proud of his sales ability, but he realized one day that there was no future in this pursuit.
Dispirited and aimless, Joe joined the United States Army Infantry at the age of 18. Ninety seven days later, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Joe fell from the rear of a speeding military vehicle and badly injured his back. He was given an honorable discharge after admitting to previously injuring his back diving for the school swimming team.

During the next two years, Joe would move from one unsatisfactory job to another, constantly frustrated with the belief that his lack of education kept him from all but manual labor.
He was often discouraged, but never gave up hope. He felt that somewhere in the world there was a place for him. He had the good fortune to meet Mr. Abraham Saperstein, a building contractor. Mr. Saperstein, a warm, generous, and understanding man, became his father surrogate when he invited Joe to enter the building business with the pledge that he would teach Joe everything he knew. He'd finally found his niche in life. The relationship between Joe and Mr. Saperstein grew over the years until his dear old friend retired and turned over the business to Joe.
Joe contracted to build a number of private homes in a Detroit subdivision. He accepted the word of a real estate speculator that the area was to have a sewer system installed, but this was not true. Individual septic tanks would have to be installed, greatly reducing the value of the homes. As a result, Joe lost his business. Joe Girard found himself without a job, without savings, and in debt to the tune of $60,000. It was the lowest moment in his life.

The next year Joe would find himself in an endless struggle trying to recover his losses and his ego. Things would finally hit rock bottom when June Girard tearfully told her husband that there was no food in the house and that their kids were begging for something to eat.

Joe had been job hunting without success, but on that day he pleaded with the sales manager of a Chevrolet dealership to hire him as a salesman. The manager was reluctant because of his lack of experience and traditionally slow sales in the month of January, but Joe stated that he would only take a desk somewhere in the rear of the dealership and count on the telephone to provide prospects. That evening he sold his first car and borrowed $10 from the manager to bring a bag of groceries home to his family. In his second month he would sell eighteen cars and trucks and was beginning to feel he had a secure breath. Much to his amazement, the owner of the dealership fired him for being too aggressive. Some of the other salesmen had complained.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


If you sometimes feel you will never be able to accomplish your dream, due to never having enough capital, the right connections or all the skills required, you need not worry anymore as many just like you, who found themselves in the same situation, were able to achieve their dreams with great success, despite the challenges they faced. Following are five inspiring stories of people who started from practically nothing, and yet achieved what seemed to be impossible. You mightn’t have heard of them, but they’ve overcome huge obstacles…just like you and I can.

Oprah Winfrey was born poor in the woods of Mississippi to a poor single teenage mother; she grew up without the many things we take for granted everyday: no shoes, no flushing toilets or new clothes. Despite these circumstances Oprah was named as the first black woman billionaire.

John Mackey and his girlfriend Renee would drop out of college to start their first health food store named Safer Way in Mackey's garage in Austin, Texas. Mackey would borrow $10,000 and raised an extra $35,000 to open the first vegetarian store in all of Texas. Safer Way would merge with another health food store and become known as Whole Foods. Whole Foods now has over 270 stores and is growing.

Madonna Louise Ciccone at 5 would see her mother die of breast cancer, her father would remarry and she would have a difficult time accepting her step mother and her new family. Madonna had little money when she dropped out of college to pursue dance and would work at Dunkin Donuts to survive. Since, her struggles she has sold more than 200Million albums.

Richard Branson suffered from dyslexia, as a result Branson performed poorly in school. He would buy crates of discounted records and sell them out of the trunk of his car to retail outlets and through mail orders under the name "Virgin". He made enough money to open his own retail store in London, which would lead to creating a record label known as Virgin Records. Branson now has over 360 companies under the Virgin brand including Virgin Airlines. As of 2008 Branson has an estimated net worth of $2.5Billion.

Les Wexner grew up in a working class family; he worked hard to get the things other children got for free. He would cut grass in the summers and shovel snow in the winters to make an allowance. Les always had a love for retail architecture and would drop out of college to start his own clothing store with a $5000 loan from his aunt. In five years he built enough stores to go public. What started as one small store grew to become Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Express Men and Limited Too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Joe Girard - FROM Humble Beginnings

Joe Girard is one of those rare creatures: a highly motivated man who can
communicate his inspiration and attitudes to others.

Joe refers to it as"spark." In his own words, "sparks create fires." His first
sparks would come painfully at an early age. He was born on the east side of Detroit, Michigan,
in one of the city's most deplorable ghettos. He lived about one mile from one
of his earliest heroes, Joe Louis, who escaped from poverty and became
heavyweight champion boxer of the world while Joe was still a struggling

The initial struggle beganwith his own father, Antonino Gerard, an extremely poor man of Sicilian birth who found no success in his new country and vented his bitterness, both
physically and emotionally, upon his younger son. Joe often speculates as to
whether his father's behavior was the carefully planned campaign of a man who
desperately wished to challenge his son. Whatever the truth, the senior Gerard
chose to constantly berate his son with the message that Joe would never amount
to anything worthwhile. This was Joe's first spark: the determination to prove
that his father had been wrong.

At the same time, Joe's mother fed him her constant love and belief that, indeed, Joe was capable of succeeding in life. This was Joe's second spark: to show his mother that her
love and judgment had not been misplaced.

These two sparks led to Joe's first revelation: that smart work and persistence could
work wonders.

At the age of 9, after school and a hurried dinner, Joe patrolled the neighborhood bars for some shoe shine customers. He would not have thought of it in these terms, but after
examining the market he decided that the best source for business was a place
of leisure where people were relaxed and inclined to be generous. Bars had another
advantage in bad weather: they were warm. To this day, Joe's two most precious
possessions are his original shoe shine box, sitting proudly upon the one file
cabinet of his office, along with a photograph of Joe shining shoes in a
saloon. The experience taught him another valuable lesson: a fear of alcohol.

Joe is willing to have an occasional drink, but he has never forgotten what he
saw in those bars.

His joy with this success lead to his next enterprise as a newscarrier.
At the age of 11, he took his second job as a newscarrier for the Detroit Free Press.
Because it was, and still is, a morning paper, it was necessary to be up at 5:30 a.m. to complete
his route before school. The Free Press, he quickly learned, also offered
bonuses for enterprising newsboys who where willing to solicit and gain new
business. For each new customer, the reward was a case of Pepsi-Cola. The old
barn behind the Gerard house was soon stacked high with the rewards of Joe's
efforts. Although it provided the four Gerard children with a huge supply of
soda pop, something their parents couldn't possibly afford, Joe soon realized
that he had a growing inventory of value and soon began his third business
venture as soda pop supplier to the neighborhood children at a price no ordinary
vendor could meet.

His proudest moments were on those days when he brought his
earning to his mother; no childish gesture as his pennies helped to put badly
needed food on the Gerard table.

MORE to come..