Do You Remember Who Gave You Your First Break?


This is the third in a collection of newspaper ads from United Technologies that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the original ad.

Someone saw
something in you once.
That’s partly why you are
where you are today.
It could have been
a thoughtful parent,
a perceptive teacher,
a demanding drill sergeant,
an appreciative employer,
or just a friend who
dug down in his pocket
and came up with
a few bucks.
Whoever it was,
had the kindness
and the foresight
to bet on your future.
Those are two beautiful
qualities that separate
the human being
from the orangutan.
In the next 24 hours, take
10 minutes to write
a grateful note to the
person who helped you.
You’ll keep a wonderful
friendship alive.
Matter of fact, take another 
10 minutes to give
somebody else a break.
Who knows?
Someday you might
get a nice letter.
It could be one of
the most gratifying
messages you ever read.

I have been blessed that I have many people to thank for where I am today; teachers, friends, neighbors, coaches, and employers to name a few. But the people who have contributed the most to whatever success I have had are the members of my family. And if I had to answer who gave me my first break, it would undoubtedly be my parents.

My mom and dad were completely supportive of whatever I got involved with, from school, to swimming, to bowling, to just letting me be me. And they were completely committed to the value of education, so when it was time to go to college, they paid 100% of the cost. It was during those four years that I met some of my best friends, including my wife to be.

And the same thing happened when I decided to go to grad school. I still remember my dad selling part of his beloved coin collection to help with some of the costs. That type of support enabled me to start my career debt free and with a strong educational background.

My parents continued to provide support emotionally and financially as I got married, started a family, changed careers, and my wife and I bought our first house. My dad passed away over 20 years ago at a relatively young age, but his impact on my life continues to this day. And my mom is still my biggest fan.

And so to paraphrase Isaac Newton, if I have accomplished anything in life, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of my parents.

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