By Dave Ramsey
A couple of weeks ago, I worked late like I sometimes need to do to run my business. It was a nice Tennessee summer evening, and I was enjoying the drive home. About 7:30, as I pulled to a stop light a few blocks from my office, I noticed a light on in the corner office of a friend's office building. Through the twilight I could make out my friend's silhouette as he bent over his desk. Being a fellow entrepreneur, I knew what he was doing.
He was looking over some receivables. Some turkey hadn't paid him, and he was trying to make his accounts balance so he would have the cash to make it another day. In that instant, I had a flashback to some of the ridiculous statements I've been hearing on the talking-head news channels and from some individuals during this political year. And I'll be honest I instantly felt the heat of anger flow through my body.
Let me tell you why. You see, my friend who I saw working late—we'll call him Henry—is a great guy. He's what you want your son to grow up to be. He loves God, his country, his wife, and his kids. He didn't have the academic advantage of attending a big-name university. Instead, he started installing heating and air systems as a grunt laborer after he graduated from high school. He was and is a very hard and diligent worker, and before long, the boss taught him the trade. But when he was 24, after six years of service, the company he was working for got into financial trouble and laid him off.
Henry still had his tools, so he bought an old pickup to haul around his materials and tools, and suddenly he was in business. He knew about heating and air-conditioning, but not about business, so he made a lot of mistakes.
He persisted. He took accounting and management at the community college to learn about business. He started reading books on business, HVAC, marriage, kids, God, and anything else someone he respected recommended. Today he is one of the best-read men I know. Soon, because of his fabulous service and fair prices, he developed a great reputation, and his little business began to grow.
Henry started 15 years ago, and now he has 17 employees whose families are fed because he does a great job. He is in church on Sunday and seldom misses his kids' Little League games. Sometimes he has to miss a game because some poor soul has their AC go out in the 96-degree Tennessee summer heat, but Henry makes sure they are served. He is, by all standards, a good man. He is, by all standards, what makes America great. Henry and I are friends, and so he asked me some financial questions last year. I learned in the process that his personal taxable income last year was $328,000. I smiled with pride for this 70-hour a week guy because he is living the dream. At the stop light that evening, I also thought of another guy I know and that is where the anger flash came from. We will call him John. While John does not have the same drive Henry has, I can say that he, too, is a good man.
John also graduated from high school and did not attend a big-name university. He went to work at a local factory 15 years ago. When 5:00 p.m. comes around, John has probably already made it to his car in the parking lot. He comes in five minutes late, takes frequent breaks, and leaves five minutes early. However, to his credit, he is steady and works hard.
Over the years, due to his steadiness and seniority, he has worked his way up to about $75,000 per year in that same factory. He seldom misses his kid's ballgames, but ... Continue to Page 2