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Saturday, 28 March, 2009 1:26 AM

Holding It Together When Times Are Tough

Prospering Through Recessions and Depressions From One Who Has Done Both

Photo credit: www.dickgunther.com

"How High is Up: The Tale of a Restless Spirit"

 

Dick Gunther’s voice is strong and calm as he talks about his odyssey through modern history.

“One of my only memories of the Great Depression was when I was five years old,” Gunther, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, recalled. “I remember several well-dressed men coming to the door and asking my mother if she could give them something to eat, as they were hungry and had no money. She asked them to come around to the back of the house, and she fixed them something in the kitchen. I remember wondering how it could be that men who looked wealthy could be hungry. I was young, and lacked the frame of reference to understand that the economy had tanked, and that the rich had become the poor practically overnight.”

Gunther’s recollections are collected in his memoir, How High is Up: The Tale of a Restless Spirit (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009), written as a love letter about life for his sons. His message is simple – times may be tough now, but they’ve been tough before, and if we can manage to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on things that truly matter, we can defeat fear and anxiety – and live well.

In Gunther’s 83 years, he has made millions in real estate and other businesses, helped untold thousands through charity organizations and programs he either founded or steered, and raised a family in between.

His tips for getting through tough times apply to business as well as your personal life:

Take reasonable risks – “When the economy is bad, everyone tries to mitigate their risks, and it’s contrary to the way life should be lived,” he said. “I’ve lived my life as an adventure, and I learned early on that if we are to get anything out of life worth sharing with others, we have to take reasonable risks.”

Ignore failure – He added that people who resist taking risks, because they are afraid of failure, lose out on life’s richness. Whether it’s in business, personal or somewhere in between, being proactive is a philosophy that still stands. No good judgment was ever borne out of fear and anxiety.

Learn from mistakes – “One thing to remember is that there is no such thing as failure,” he said. “If we attempt something in life or business, and it doesn’t work, we don’t have to consider it a failure. When we do, it’s a crime of ego, because we automatically assume that if we failed, then it was because of some deficiency within ourselves. It’s better for us to leave ego out of the equation and simply say, ‘That didn’t work, so what have I learned from it?’ We have to be open to learning and that learning can come from the most unlikely of places.”

Solve problems – “More important than anything I learned in business, I learned from my children,” he said. “With children, just as in business, it’s not always as important to be right as it is to solve problems. You can be right in your opinions or actions, but it may not always help the situation. Today’s economy is fraught with injustice, and many feel they are in the right to take punitive action against those who have caused it. But that doesn’t always solve the problem. My children taught me that being right isn’t of any real importance. Solving problems is.”

At 83, Gunther shows no signs of slowing down in his philanthropic work, which is his most important message. “Always have something to do that involves helping others,” he said. “One of the secrets of a happy and serene life is that enriching the lives of others also enriches yours.”

About Richard S. Gunther

A successful entrepreneur who made a fortune by age 34, Dick Gunther is an investor, writer, husband, father and grandfather; he is a man who learned to give. His charitable efforts have earned many awards and much recognition – to name a few: Founder AARP Legacy Award, Chairman of Operation Exodus, Co-President, Americans for Peace Now, Member California Governor’s Council on Wellness and Fitness and California State Commission on Aging, and he was a delegate to the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and honored by being named on President Richard M. Nixon’s Enemy List. He was given the UCLA award for Community Services and also serves on the Board, the Executive and other Committees of the Grameen Foundation USA, supporting major micro-enterprise loan programs, which are involved in millions of small loans around the world. (www.dickgunther.com)

Source: News and Experts

 

 

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