UJU ONYECHERE LIVE: NEGATIVE SITUATIONS GENERATE POSITIVE IDEAS
Some stories cannot be ignored. I have in the past done a story on John Johnson. But I stumbled on another motivating story of his and trust me; I can’t imagine keeping it away from you. That’s why we have formed a formidable partnership, being there for each other. My covenant with you is to always strive against all odds to give you the best. Sacrifices of how I do it, is immaterial. Can you feel me? Then, let’s roll.
Born as a black man in 1919 when being black was really a problem in the United States, John Johnson attended high school during the Depression. He lived with his widowed mother in the Chicago slums and they were poor. Because he was black, one of the few professional opportunities open to him was with a black-owned insurance company.
After working successfully with the company for six years, Johnson talked the owners into allowing him to utilize their 20,000-name mailing list, borrowed $500 from his mother, and mailed out offers for discount subscriptions to his first, and as yet unpublished, magazine, Negro Digest. The idea for the magazine was generated by Johnson’s awareness of his problems of being black. Most times our best ideas come out of our frustrations. There were 3, 000 returns to the mailing, each with $2 enclosed, providing the funds for printing the magazine. In order to get a news distributor to take the magazine, he got his friends to ask for Negro Digest at newsstands and then bought the magazine back from them, convincing the dealers that there was a demand for the publication. The re-purchased copies were then re-sold. This operation was repeated in New York, Detroit and Philadelphia. Within one year, Johnson was selling 50, 000 copies a month. In 1945, three years after starting Negro Digest, the more popular Ebony was launched, followed by Jet. It is estimated that half of the adult black population is reached by Johnson’s publications. It is virtually impossible to sell to the black consumer market without him. After successfully expanding into broadcasting with radio stations in Chicago and Louisville, Johnson ran into problems. For 25 years, Ebony sponsored the world’s largest touring fashion show, Fashion Fair. Johnson was having trouble finding cosmetics in shades dark enough for some of his models. After unsuccessfully approaching both Estee Lauder and Revlon to produce black cosmetics, Johnson decided to produce his own. Johnson’s Fashion Fair cosmetics became a huge success which collectively made him one of the richest and most powerful black businessmen in America. How did he do it? Johnson allowed the negatives of his situation to generate positive ideas. There is always a better way to do it, find it and you will be smiling to the bank.
C. B. Vaughan knew a lot about skiing. In 1963, he set a world downhill speed record, traveling at 106 miles per hour. During the next five years, Vaughan thought about ways to turn his skills at skiing into a business of his own. Vaughan finally decided to go into business of designing and making ski clothing. The young entrepreneur had never studied design or clothing manufacturing, so he read a book on making patterns. Soon, he bought a pair of ski pants, took them apart to see how they were made, and made his first pair of insulated ski pants.
They were awful! It took him ten tries to come up with a wearable pair of pants, but today, clothing from Vaughan’s CB Sports, Inc., is being worn and it’s one of the most sought-after ski wears in the world. Change, we have come to agree, is something that must take place. It’s a must, no one can stop it. It will be at your own disadvantage if you are not ready for it when it occurs. How will you be ready? By being prepared. By acquiring different skills and knowledge. You see, dear reader, things will not always work the way we want then to. When such times come, how do we react to it? The same happens even in our jobs. I remember the story of Ted. Ted Carter was 37 years of age when he decided to make a change in his life. He was the owner of a successful investment firm when he suddenly realized how bored he was with his work and the people who went with it. Ted loved to entertain interesting people at his New York lake country home, so he sold his business and turned his home into a retreat for high-paying guests. We should be wise to know when a switch is necessary. That we have been told to maintain focus, concentrate on one thing until we are very good at it does not mean one will stick to what is not working. If what you are doing is not working out as expected and after careful evaluation there seems to be no need to hang in there, just take the courage and move on to something else. But please, don’t start jumping from one job, profession or business to another. It makes no sense and will leave you out in the cold. Another area people hardly think of is that one day by God’s grace we will retire. Now, how ready will you be when that retirement comes? In life, there must be three R’s that must take place. First is Resignation. There are times we need to move on from one point to the other. Then, Retrenchment! Companies and organizations once in a while make changes. And finally, Retirement. No matter how good you are, someday the soul will be willing, but the body will be weak.
One of the R’s must happen. These are changes that must take place sometime in our life. The reason why so many people retire poor is because they don’t prepare for it. How ready will you be?
The key is in your hands. Use it!