Archive for October, 2011


occupy your own street

Everything man has ever thought of or laid a finger on is corrupt. It’s just a reflection of our nature. And I’m sorry Star Trek: The Next Generation, I love you but we are not evolving to a higher social consciousness where everyone, regardless of gender, is called “Sir”. The laws of human nature just aren’t set up like that. Every company, organization, or bureaucracy I’ve ever worked for had illegal, immoral or unethical elements. That’s because they are made up of people and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That never stopped me from doing my best and working in all different kinds of industries where I learned a great deal. When they got to a point where I felt I could no longer give my 110% support due to some kind of ethical, financial, or legal lapse I witnessed, I left.

A great many people are fuming about the lack of work. Growing up in my house, the lack of a job was never any excuse not to work. In his Key to Excellence speech, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones had this to say: “You say, “What if I don’t have a job?” You work anyway. You say you can’t work without a job. Don’t you tell me that!  My father raised five of us in the depression with no mother years ago when there was no work. He worked. And you know you can’t live without breathing. Well, you can’t live right without working. It’s life. Work.”

I’m an independent publisher who’s made the business decision to partner with other small businesses worldwide and give all profits away as part of our Foundation. They go to scholarships, homeless shelters and missions groups. That’s just how I do it because that’s where our convictions lie, not because someone protested that I do so. And I don’t concern myself with other business owners who don’t see things through my philanthropic-colored glasses. It’s their business, their life, their conscience, and even if I could prove them “wrong” in some way, what good does that do?

Norman Vincent Peale said it best: “Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” And of course I wouldn’t be worth a hill of beans unless I recommended two books that illustrate that giving something to someone for free condemns them to a life of insatiable want. 8 Attributes of Great Achievers , by Cameron C. Taylor, has an amazing chapter on wealth and whether it can be created or if there is a finite amount which must constantly be redistributed. And then there’s our best seller, “The Ultimate Gift”, where a poor man works tirelessly to gain tremendous wealth, bestows it all freely on his family, and ruins them in the process.

I found an old book published in 1914 on my father’s bookshelf the other week by Maurice Switzer titled, “Letters of a Self-Made Failure.” The opening illustration shows a man at a deli counter with the inscription, “You can take it from me that a ham sandwich paid for out of your hard-earned cash is a lot more enjoyable than a free ten-course banquet at the swellest hotel in town.”  So quit stressing about who did what to whom and focus on yourself. Corruption is a fact of life; all you can do is make sure you refuse to be any part of it and that your own street is spic-and-span and accessible to all.


wipe that smile off your face, jack

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, especially orange. Our office has a spritely ceramic jack-o’-lantern on the counter. A guest recently stopped in and commented on how much he loved jack-o’-lanterns. He said he’s collected them for years and every Oct 1st he gets them all out and displays them until Halloween, after which he puts them all away until next year.

Fancying myself somewhat of a decorating maven, I immediately recommended that he just “turn” the jack-o’-lantern faces to the rear and then he could enjoy the majesty of the pumpkin all throughout November in celebration of Thanksgiving! He was amazed. “So simple”, he said, “Yet so brilliant”. Just one change in position and a whole new use was born. Sometimes in life, just looking at something from a different angle gives it a whole new life.

I’ve used this simple juxtaposition several times over the years. Once in a corporate setting where we had difficulty finding the right fit for a key managerial vacancy, I reassessed the current personnel hand I was holding, and decided that a shuffle of the existing deck was in order. By placing new faces in new places, we gave managers the chance to broaden their resumes and bringa fresh perspective.

When I was entrusted with carrying on a second generation, legacy business, my job was to stabilize and then grow the existing company after our founder passed. We didn’t need to reinvent the wheel; we just needed to make some slight shifts. We rebranded in such a manner that we kept the base of what made us tremendous and added a new face to our corporate identity.

But perhaps the greatest repurposing in life is within us. Are you tired of the same old pumpkin head staring at you in the mirror? You can remake yourself as often as the changing of the seasons! Make sure you are constantly scooping out the mush in your head and putting some real sustenance inside. You are a wonderful work in progress who is already of great value to many. But relish the opportunity to make slight adjustments to your life that can give you a whole new use and purpose.


well read is well fed

Growing up, I had the pleasure of traveling with my father to many of his speaking engagements. He was one of the most animated, pragmatic and energetic individuals ever. I would interact with the crowds after his speeches and would repeatedly get asked the same question: “Is he always like that?” We seem to disbelieve that anyone can be that up ALL the time. Life is tough at times so how can anyone be that consistently happy?

The answer was “yes”. His stage presence was not an act. Thank God he had that outlet so he could vent some of his enthusiasm into the atmosphere. There was only so much positivity we could take at home! The source of this unbridled enthusiasm was a healthy diet of reading great books and interacting with great people. It also was the direct result of his constant pouring out. When you pour it out, you will be replenished. The more he gave, the more he got. He would shovel out books, smiles, hugs and witticisms like it was his last day on Earth.

Do you look at “upbeat” people who seem to “have it all together” and think, “I wish I could be more like them!” You can. Want to exude more positivity and energy? Ingest more of it. Be sure you make healthy choices about what and who you watch, read, hear and say. What comes out of you is a direct reflection of what’s going in. If you want to be confident in whatever life throws your way, you’ve got to be in a constant state of learning. If you want to be calm when great losses happen to you, you’ve got to feed your heart and soul. Just like the old 60’s song, “what goes up, must come down”, never forget that what goes in, must come out. What’s coming out of you and are you always like that?


what’s your sign?

During my dog, Mr. Blue’s, recent book tour, we set up tents and tables at each city to display his book and other marketing pieces. We had a banner with our logo on it which we hung on the back of one of the tents. At the one-year anniversary of my father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones’, home going, we rebranded the company to include what we affectionately call the “kicking-man logo”. This outline was symbolic of my father’s classic stance where he would declare “Life Is Tremendous!” and “I’m so tired of being happy it’s wearing me out!”

In St. Louis, a woman ran up to our booth exclaiming that she almost got in a car wreck when she saw the logo and whipped a U-turn to come and see if we were who she thought we were. Turns out she had heard my father speak many times throughout her young career. In Austin, the local fire marshal came into the facility where we were holding our event to do a cursory check for emergency exits, looked at the logo, and exclaimed, “Hey, I know who that is! I read that book 25 years ago!”

So what’s the sign you’ll be recognized by long after you’re gone? Is it the cross, love, or heroism? Or is it the mighty dollar, a fabulous sports car, or a business empire? We are what we focus on, where we decide to dedicate our resources during our time on this Earth. Some of the signs we invest in will last throughout eternity and will be honored for generations to come. Pericles said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” So what’s your sign?

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

Join Me On:

October 2011

%d bloggers like this: