The following story is chapter 18 in George Walther's book
What You Say Is What You Get
How to Master Power Talking, The Language of Success
Copyright 1991 George Walther

Does Your History Repeat Itself?

How would you feel if, after 20 years of abundant business success, you had to call your father and ask him to loan you $400... so you could afford to file for personal bankruptcy?

In the mid 1970's, Michael McCafferty left his position as a successful salesman at IBM in order to start his own business. He did very well with the Philadelphia-based computer service bureau he founded, and operated it profitably for seven years. It was acquired by a larger firm, and the President of the new parent company reached a handshake agreement with Michael that would make him a very rich man.

But first, the President died. It was then that Michael realized his agreement had never been put in writing. The new corporate officers decided not to honor it, and Michael was cheated out of his promised stock.

Humiliated, he packed up and left for Chicago, where he successfully ran another service bureau three times larger and "cashed out" after two years. Chicago's winters were just too much for him, so Michael, in his mid-30's, headed for San Diego, got a place at the beach , bought a vintage Ferrari, and lived a wonderful, carefree life. It got boring. That's when an old business associate approached him about starting a new venture.

Michael was intrigued. He coupled his mastery of computers with a recognition that people will always want convenient access to more information. He created the first Electronic Yellow Pages system and perfected the technology that is today still the basis for a growing industry.

Then his partner got cold feet and pulled out. Michael had no doubt that the business would be a big success and decided to invest further, on his own. He sold the Ferrari and bought a battered 1972 Vega. Then he gave up his place at the beach. And before long, every dime he had was invested in the failing business.

While Michael was reeking of desperation, a shark caught his scent. A fast-talking money man offered to rescue the company and get Michael back on his feet... for a 51% share of the company. Other partners were brought in and Michael's business crumbled.

Michael McCafferty quit working and sank into a deep depression. He had no income and lived off his credit cards. Bankruptcy was his only way out, but he couldn't afford the court filing charge. So his dad bailed him out one last time.

For a full year Michael repeatedly said to himself, "Why me? What happened to my money, my Ferrari, my carefree early retirement? How come that fast-talking money man wound up with everything?"

His all-consuming thought was, "Why did this happen to me?" After a year of destitution, desperation, and depression, the answer dawned on him: "Because I let it." It was that simple. The world hadn't victimized him, he had invited his misfortune. He had trusted the wrong people, he'd behaved naively, he didn't get important agreements in writing, and he gave up authority.

He had conceded control. Not just financial ownership of the company, but control of his fate, too. He gave up control of everything by thinking that things were "happening to him."

Once he realized what the lesson was, he got to work. He read Og Mandino's classic, "The Greatest Salesman in the World", and wrote out its affirmations on a 3 x 5 card:

"Today I begin a new life.
I will persist until I succeed.
I will live this day as if it is my last
I will act now."

He read them aloud first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, and several times during the day.

Michael looked back on his "failures" and drew lessons from them. He distilled them into "The Ten Commandments for Managing a Young Growing Business", and he made a commitment to obey them. On St. Patrick's Day, 1983, he founded a new company and named it Remote Control (of course). As I write this book, Michael's company has grown at an average annual rate of 133% over the last seven years. Based on the lessons he learned from his multiple "failures," he created the top-selling software package in its category, "TeleMagic." It helps hundreds of thousands of sales professionals around the world become more organized, more profitable, and maintain control. Finally, Michael McCafferty is the multimillionaire he deserves to be. From his perch at the edge of the ocean in Del Mar, California, he watches the dolphins and pelicans and is grateful that he learned his lessons.

Power Talkers consciously recognize that failing is a vital part of succeeding. When they say "I failed!" it has an exclamation mark after it, and is closely followed by, "And here's what I learned." Losers just say, "I failed." It's followed by a period. As Vince Lombardi said, "It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up again."

Michael McCafferty got up again and drew invaluable lessons from his mistakes.

Don't fear failures, welcome them. May you have many, and learn important lessons from them all.

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