My brother, Randolph, was charismatic, enthusiastic and adventurous; whatever he undertook he did so with wholehearted zeal. He was twelve years older than me, more of a second father than brother and I loved spending time with him; and oh, I remember those times.
I was 5 and he was 17 when I accompanied him to pick out a Christmas tree. For most people that would mean going to a Christmas tree lot, choosing a tree and taking it home. Not in my family and certainly not my brother. He loaded me and the family dog into the car and headed to the 80 acres my dad owned at the edge of the Ocala National Forest. His plan to find, cut and bring home the perfect tree worked until the dog decided that a free-range bull needed herding. The dog, my brother and I spent an hour or so in a tree until the bull got over his mad and wandered off.
An attorney, my brother believed that he could talk his way out of any situation. We were driving through South Carolina when I was pulled over by a highway patrolman. The car had hardly rolled to a stop when my brother jumped out and exclaimed to the cop, “I told him he was speeding. If you will give the SOB a warning, I won’t let him drive until we are out of South Carolina.” The officer stared at him, grimaced and then laughed. Sure enough, I got a warning and my brother drove until as far as the Georgia border.
With his charisma and enthusiasm my brother was a great salesman. Listening to him it was easy to believe that anything was possible. Heck, in the 1960’s, when the most popular eating place in town was a “meat and two” diner, he convinced a group of friends that small town Ocala, Florida would support a Mexican restaurant. Later, he gave up practicing law to dabble in other ventures: developing RV resorts; restoring historic buildings and smart-card technology.
My brother, could have depended upon his charisma; but he knew integrity was essential for success. He understood an unprincipled salesperson is bound to fail. Good character means doing things right. Doing so requires integrity; taking responsibility; knowing the limitations of your products; and doing what you say—treating people as you want to be treated.
“Property may be destroyed and money may lose its purchasing power; but, character, health, knowledge and good judgment will always be in demand under all conditions.” – Roger Babson