My Dad, Fred Zweig, died on August 16. He was born in 1920 – lived a long and, for the most part, happy life. He grew up poor in St. Louis. His mom was married five times, so he was bounced around from place-to-place as a kid. But he was smart and curious. Read everything he could get his hands on. Taught himself to do everything.
His first “real” job was taking cars apart in a junkyard. Later he worked in a stove factory. He eventually became a shop steward there. When WWII broke out he tried to enlist. They wouldn’t let him in because of his eyesight. By early ‘43 they changed their mind. He enlisted and then went to Officer’s Candidate school. Became a 1st Lt. in the 6th Armored Division under Patton. He fought in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and elsewhere in Europe. Barely survived some terrible battles and got his Silver Star for gallantry in action.
After the war he married my Mom, started selling advertising and quickly became a real life “mad man” of advertising. We had a modern architect-designed house my parents built in the late ‘40s. He had a white ‘56 Jaguar with red leather. We got a new Country Squire Wagon in ‘57 and a new “wide track” Pontiac Catalina convertible in 1960. By the mid-‘60s my Dad had grown disillusioned with advertising and moved into broader-based management consulting.
“You can’t solve all their problems with just marketing,” he used to tell me.
He then devoted more time to his other passion – helping people unleash their full potential to live their lives to the fullest. He believed that a repressed fear of death held people back more than any other thing, and that the fear had to be confronted for them to be able to make decisions and act. He preached this gospel up until the very end.
While this is probably all more than any of you need to know about my Dad, he served as a great example for me on how to live life. “Critics be damned,” he never worried about money (even when he should have!), and instead followed his passions and instincts to live according to his own standard. My brothers and sister and I all benefited from that example. We are his legacy.
So the moral of the story is this: Whose hero are you? What are you doing to further mankind? How are you giving back? What kind of example are you setting? Whether it’s your children – or your employees – the bottom line is the same. You CAN make a difference in the lives of others. The choices you make – how you spend your time and who you spend it with – will determine your ultimate success or failure as a professional – and as a person. We all have to do something – make it something great, something worth doing – and you’re bound to create a wake of goodwill behind you.
MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is from issue 1167 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here to subscribe or get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.