Tomorrow may never come

Jan 15, 2023

None of us knows how much time we have, so don’t put off making the changes you need to make in your life.

On January 6, my wife and I spent about an hour and a half in the office of our friend and insurance agent, Brant Barnes, talking about flying (he became a pilot at a very young age and loved it), what makes for a good pilot, a crash he was in eight years before and survived, problems with the alternator on his plane (and how it could function even if it wasn’t working), life, death, life insurance, business, cars, and his plans for this year, which included sailing a boat and going to the Bahamas among other things, and how this was the year he was going to spend less time working and more time with his family.

Brant and I were going to go down to South Fayetteville so he could show me his new business he had just launched. The business is going to provide reconditioned cars to Papa John’s, Domino’s, and other pizza business owners who offer delivery as part of their offerings. He thought he could do as many as 1,500 cars a year for them. I thought, if my wife didn’t go along, I could maybe catch a ride back to town from him when we were done. But we had to change our plans. A new area representative from Papa John’s was in town (Brant is a co-owner of eight Papa John’s franchises), and Brant had to fly him back to Stuttgart (Arkansas), so we rescheduled for another day.

Shortly after 6 p.m., another friend of mine, Burt Hanna, owner of Hanna’s Candle Company and an avid flyer himself (he has his own landing strip at his house), sent out a group text message that read, “The plane crash tonight by my house wasn’t me, thank God!” Our first thoughts were those of gratitude, but then my wife said, “Oh no. What about Brant?” Well, a few short minutes later another person on the list chimed in and said, “It was Brant Barnes. I don’t think he made it.”

We were both sick. It was Brant, and he was killed in the crash. The Bonanza plane he was flying was a new one to him. He was a couple miles from Drake Field, had been cleared to land, and then dropped off the radar. Reports from witnesses said the plane was sputtering at about 500 feet, and he hit some trees and went down. We think he was trying to switch to another fuel tank when he crashed. It was dark and he was in an unfamiliar airplane.

At the age of 43, one of the most entrepreneurial people I know – a guy who ran seven miles a day, who spoke to my students every year, who gave away hundreds of pizzas during COVID, who spent hours with his people teaching them about business and life, who gave former addicts a chance to redeem themselves, who was a leader in The Salvation Army’s quest to feed the poor and homeless – was gone. For Brant, there was no tomorrow – no more time to spend with the people he loved.

The moral of the story? Don’t put off making the changes you need to make in your life. Don’t let the trivial stuff preoccupy your mind and upset you. Do help other people and do some good. Don’t put off making things right with people you care about. You never know when your time is up. Sonya and I sure didn’t think we would be going to Brant’s funeral when we were sitting in his office, laughing that morning. Today is the day that could be your last. Get the most out of it!  

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.