Categorized | Business


Make Some Waves

By Tom Irmen

You’ll discover that the theme of this month’s entrepreneur article is very much the same as last month’s. It is because I feel so strongly about this subject that I felt it deserved repeating.

As a youth growing up in the ’50s, I was surrounded by a group of loving, encouraging, and supporting parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who all felt invested in the future success of not only their own children, but the success of their nieces and nephews as well. However, they all shared one common experience that shaped the advice they afforded to each of us, and that was that they had all lived through one of the most devastating economic catastrophes in U.S. history: The Great Depression.

The Great Depression saw my mother’s father, my grandfather, after the death of his wife, placing his five children with relatives on family farms while he traveled to Alaska to seek work as a tree cutter. My late father once shared with me that he and his brother used to go into the family basement to turn on the gas, which had been shut off for non-payment, so that their mother could warm a meal for her eight children. And my wife Judy’s grandmother, and my friend, once saved all of the aluminum foil that our restaurant served baked potatoes in, rather than see it disposed of – a lesson she had learned 50 years earlier. Waste not, want not.

Each of us is comprised of lifetime experiences – ours and those who were responsible for raising us. And despite the economic boom and the prosperity that occurred after World War II, a great many people avoided taking risks, fearing the future as seen through the prism of their past.

Almost to a person, the advice I received was to get a good education, go to work for a Fortune 500 company, and not to make waves. Basically, choose security over the uncertainty of making waves.

I won’t risk predicting what the future holds for you. And it’s ok to learn from the past unless it defines your future. Many people sense a resurgence of the American dream. I guess I share their optimism. Maybe it’s time for you to make some waves and to reignite your hope for the future.

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