How it all started
It’s hard for me to open-up and share my deepest feelings and thoughts, but my goal is to give to you as many ideas as I can to help you succeed in business and in life. This book is loaded with stories I hope you can enjoy and learn from. I tried not to give you a boring business book, or a text book. My goal is to entertain you, give you an exciting memoir full of ideas and solutions, and give you a laugh or two while providing you with information that I hope impacts your life.
I’m an average guy in every way, and when I do excel, it’s because I give my everything to what I’m trying to accomplish.
We all learn our first life lessons from our parents. My dad was a foreman in a printing company and my ma was a housewife. As a small child, I experienced the continuation of World War II, watching my parents fight it out. My sister Ilene and I would hide in the closet during the times the war raged. It had a big effect on me. I never liked to fight and always looked for conflict resolution, but when that failed, I was prepared in the words of the Godfather, “take it to the mattresses.” The lessons of my childhood toughened me up for what was to come.
My mother taught by example: what not to do. I learned to handle money, never break my promises, and be totally honest in my dealings with other people.
My dad was honest, never lied to me, and told me what was to become my mantra, “What you put into something is what you’ll get out of it.” I never forgot it, and it was responsible for many future successes.
My dad put limits on himself. Once he thought about buying a small printing company, but changed his mind. Instead, he worked for Brooks Printing for 30 years. When he got cancer and was out of work for six months, he lost his foreman’s job. It was then that I started to think about not working for someone else, and most of my life I haven’t.
My dad gave me the gift of hard work, and because he never achieved his full potential, I swore I would push myself to the limits of my capacity – and beyond.
In January of 1961, Philadelphia endured the darkest and coldest month of the year. Outside it was freezing; my face felt like the surface of an ice skating rink. Worse, inside our house we had no hot water or heat. My parents had split up and my mother didn’t have the money to pay bills. I attempted to attendTempleUniversitywhile earning enough money to cover our basic necessities. I searched for a job, which was difficult to find. I was desperate and needed money quickly.
They say that, when asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton said, “Because that’s where the money was.” Willie had it easy. I took a job as a collector for a finance company. I was 18 and assigned the collectionterritoryofNorth Philadelphia, known for crime, prostitution and drugs. That was my beat: Deadbeat. My job’s mission was to collect money from people who were way behind in their payments.
Principle: It’s not how much you bill out, it’s how much you collect.
The company didn’t allow you to use your own surname, so I looked for the nearest street sign--Diamond Street. I became Ron Diamond. At America Finance, the company measured your job performance on IR’s—immediate results. If you collected a payment, you were credited with an IR. I had a 97% IR rating, the highest in the office and I was told the highest in the country. So how did a naïve inexperienced kid succeed?
Principle: If you don’t know you can’t succeed, you very well might.
I was determined, honest and empathetic. I devised a strategy: I cared about the plight of the people I was assigned to collect from. I couldn’t afford to see these folks as “reluctant customers.” It wasn’t “them versus us.” The healthier perspective in sales is to realize “It’s all us.” So I approached each of them, not as a collector, but as someone who was interested in their problems. Why were they having trouble paying their bills? How much of a payment could they afford to make? If they couldn’t make a payment, when could they pay? (When they paid, it turned into an IR). I was riveted listening to them tell me about their problems.
Principle: Listen and care about others. Your success depends on it.
I genuinely cared. After all, I was poor too. My clients perceived me as someone who listened to them and suggested ways to handle their financial problems. Perception’s important. And when it matches reality it’s called integrity. My approach may have been “unorthodox” but my results were right on the money, literally. Of course, nothing is perfect. I had a client who promised a small payment when I returned the following week. The day arrived and Ms. Jones was in an ornery mood. She pulled out a nine-inch kitchen knife, chased me out of her house and followed me down the street. Luckily, I ran track in high school. She ran fast, I ran faster. She was one of the three percent from whom I never collected money owed. But at least I was breathing, and ready to continue my journey from poverty to riches.
Principle: Always be on your toes, ready to make your move at a moment’s notice.
The title of my book: How I Turned $15,000 Into $10,000,000 only pertains to the $15,000 I used to start Cutler Productions and doesn’t include the money I made from the other businesses mentioned in this book. Many of you don’t have $15,000, but don’t let that stop you. I started my first business venture with $25 given to me by my Aunt Betty. Aunt Betty never had any children; I was like the son she never had. Aunt Betty’s nickname was Bingo Betty because she played bingo eight nights a week. Years later I treated Aunt Betty to many Las Vegas trips. The casinos loved her—she always lost. It didn’t bother Aunt Betty; she enjoyed the thrill of gambling and never lost more than she could afford. Loving and generous, she was always special to me. I used the $25 she gave me to start my first teenage dance. It was a one- night success and I used the profits from that dance to start another dance. It seemed every time I had a successful dance, problems and obstacles beyond my control closed the dances. These obstacles never stopped me --and you shouldn’t let them stop you. After two years of one dance after another, I finally struck gold. In the next chapter you’ll follow my teenage dances (called record hops at the time) and see me get knocked down many times, get up again, and eventually overcome many obstacles on my road to riches.
I chose to start my first business venture--teenage dances, because I was a dancer, had a passion for music, and loved the idea of being a disc jockey. When the door of opportunity opened; I took advantage of it.
Principle: When the door of Opportunity opens for you, make sure you go through it.
I hadn’t started my first business yet, but I was already learning some important lessons.
On the Road to Success:
1. You must have a burning desire to succeed. It’s essential to overcoming obstacles. How do you get a burning desire? Do what you love.
2. Motivation is one of the major keys to success. Find your motivation and use it to take action. What’s your motivation?
3. Make sure you have a passion for your business choice and love doing it. Be certain your choice is based on a skill or talent you possess.
4. You must have a plan and strategy. (I’ll have more information and ideas about this in later chapters.)
5. No matter what business you choose to enter or start, remember that success starts with good communication between people. Work on your communication skills and remember--your goal should be to enrich the lives of the people you encounter.
6. Genuinely care about your customers and employees. Make sure you put them first; your road to success will be easier.