Have You Looked in Your Backyard Lately?


This is the 12th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the original ad.

Dr. Russell Cornwell of
Temple University
once delivered a
lecture in which he 
told of a man in
Titusville, Pennsylvania,
who sold his farm
for $833 to look for
oil in Canada.
The fellow who left
Titusville never
found oil, but
the man who 
bought his farm did – 
and launched a billion
dollar industry.
Today, with faster
communications and 
it’s not so important
where you are, or that
the grass might be
greener in the
next field.
What counts is that 
piece of real estate
between your ears.
Is it rich, fertile,
Or is it a wasteland?
If it’s either, 
a change in
won’t matter.
Unpack, and take
a closer look at your
own backyard.

The ad tells the story of a man who sold his farm in Titusville, PA for $833 and moved to Canada to look for oil. As fate would have it, the man who bought his farm found oil, and thus was started a billion dollar industry. At one point in its history, it was said that Titusville had more millionaires per 1,000 people than anywhere else in the world.

The farmer who moved to Canada apparently never found oil.

The ad points out that given the advances in transportation and communication, it’s not so important where you are; the most important piece of real estate is right between your own two ears.

Harry Gray could have never predicted the advances that we have today in telecommunication, but it just makes his words even wiser today than they were 35 years ago.

And the best way to create a rich, fertile, productive brain?

I’d suggest this quote from Jim Rohn, “The difference between where you are today and where you’ll be five years from now will be found in the quality of books you’ve read.”

Happy reading; and don’t be a NIMBY…


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