Financial Health Tip – Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

January 3, 2010 by Michael McCurdy · Comments Off
Filed under: Commentary, Health, Public Service, entreprenuer, financial health, financial success 

He was the worst client the company had. He was abusive, insulting, and arrogant. Two of our company’s salesmen refused to do business with him. An unsigned contract for his business was sitting on his desk for over a month. As the junior salesman, I was next in line to be assigned to his account. The president of the company called me into his office. He gave me advice that forever changed my outlook on life.(I was 26 years old and a bachelor)

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I was instructed to call “John Smith” and make an appointment with him. After doing so, I was to go to the president’s office for a pep talk.

“Mike” the president began, “Mr. Smith has been a client of this company for almost 5 years. He has always been a really nice guy until this past year, which tells me that he’s having personal problems. So, instead of talking your way into a sale, why not spend the time listening to him. Draw him out.”

From what I’ve heard about this guy, the thought was repulsive, and it showed.

“Mike, tell me something. How long do you think you will spend in Mr.Smith’s office?

I looked skyward and then replied “No more than a half-hour.”

The look on my face prompted another question from the president.

“Tell me Mike, how much commission will you earn for spending just one half-hour with him.”

I looked skyward again. When I realized how much was at stake, I sat straight up in my chair. “Three-thousand dollars!”

“Tell me Mike, what are you going to do with that money?”

An instant vision of a pretty girl I had wanted to date, but thought was out of my reach came into my mind. I saw myself taking her to an expensive French restaurant in my brand new “killer” suit. I had transformed into another person, totally focused, totally fearless. Yell at me all you want!

The president began to speak, but I held up my hand, “Sir,no need for another word. You just did me a big favor…a great lesson…thank you Sir.” I couldn’t wait for my appointment with Mr. Smith.

I now had a goal, mixed with incentive and passion to succeed.

When I walked into Mr.Smith’s office, he greeted me with “So, another new salesman to waste my time.”

As I sat down I gratefully acknowledged a family picture sitting on the window sill behind his desk. “You have a good looking family Mr. Smith.” It was a picture of him, his wife and three young girls. “Yeah, and they’re all a pain in the ass!”

“How’s that, what are they doing to you?” I said with a chuckle and a look of empathy. For the next twenty-minutes I listened to a man who was just seeking a little respect. One of his daughters was chronically ill, and his wife never greeted him with hugs and kisses, but rather taunts on why he wasn’t making more money. I found out that he was indeed a nice guy…if just someone would listen to him, for a change.

“Mike, thanks for listening,” he said with a big smile. “I guess you want me to sign this,” referring to the contract sitting on his desk.

As I was walking down the hall with the signed contract in my brief case, I kept thinking how easy that was. I didn’t say a single word that referred to sales, or the contract. I just listened…and kept that picture in my mind.

When the elevator reached the ground floor, I hit the street running. I rushed unannounced into the president’s office with a huge grin on my face and bowed before him, tossing the signed contract on his desk, “Oh Mighty One, When do I get my commission?” I don’t know who was happier.

So, how does this little story help you pay the mortgage, or the car payment, or get a better job?

Scan your mind for that ideal picture that makes you feel good about yourself. Stir in passion. When you smile…you’ll know you’ve got the right one. You will automatically start to focus on it’s accomplishment. Faith and Willpower are installed as a bonus!

On Dealing with Adversity: Try to find humor in every situation. Prior to going to college, I joined the Marine Corps to fulfill my military obligation. One day in boot camp, a Drill Instructor walked up to me as I stood at attention, and shouted in my face, “Private McCurdy, you’re not good enough to be a pimple on a dog’s ass!”

I bit down on my tongue as hard as I could to prevent myself from busting out laughing!

Here’s to Your Success in 2010!

Michael J. McCurdy, Founder/Publisher,

Eunice Kennedy Shriver – An American Saint

“In the 1950’s, the mentally retarded were among the most scorned, isolated and neglected groups in American Society. Mental retardation was viewed as a hopeless, shameful disease, and those afflicted with it were shunted from sight as soon as possible.”1 

What began as a summer camp at her Maryland farm in 1968, developed into the first Special Olympics which attracted 1,000 athletes from 26 states and Canada for competition. 

The idea was born when a mother telephoned Eunice Kennedy Shriver and complained that she could not find a summer camp for her child. Mrs. Shriver recalled the telephone conversation this way in an interview with NPR: “I said: You don’t have to talk about it anymore. You come here a month from today. I’ll start my own camp. No charge to go into the camp, but you have to come and pick your kid up.”

“She set out to change the world and to change us” her family said, when she died, “and she did that and more.”

At the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghi,China, a crowd of 80,000 cheered and welcomed 7,000 athletes, a country with a history of severe discrimination against anyone born with disablities.

The program has now grown to three million athletes in 180 countries.

Eunice Kenndy Shriver (puni-Euni, her family nick name)died on August 11, 2009 at age 88.

Eunice, the middle child in a family of nine, grew up with a sister Rosemary, who was mildly retarted. She detested the practice of keeping people with mental disabilities sedentary lest they injure themselves, or of keeping their existence a secret.

“When the full judgement of the Kennedy legacy is made – including J.F.K.’s Peace Corp and Alliance for Progress, Robert Kennedy’s passion for civil rights and Ted Kennedy’s efforts on health care, workplace reform and refugees – the changes made by Eunice Shriver may well be seen as the most consequential.” U.S. News and World Report said in its cover story of Nov. 15, 1993.

So, should Eunice Kennedy Shriver be considered for Sainthood? Consider this:

    In the Catholic Church the formal process of sainthood involves a complicated process taking time, money, testimonies, and miracles, and the church follows a strict set of rules in the process.

    First, to determine who qualifies, the Vatican looks to its Congregation for the “Causes of Saints”. Typically, a would-be candidate’s “cause” is presented to the local bishop by his or her admirers who persuade him that the life of the candidate was a model of holiness.   

     Once the applicant is approved as a candidate, an appointed postulator interviews those who knew the individual. Personal testimonies, letters, and writings of the candidate’s are put together. A relater then sifts through this information and prepares a position paper. If the volumes of evidence prove a life of “heroic virtue”,  the person is given the title “venerable” by the Pope.  

        The next title, beatified (blessed), is attained if it can be proven that a miracle occurred after the death of the candidate, the result of someone praying to that person for help.

       To finalize a canonization, it must be established that a second miracle occurred.  (Martyrs are the exception. The pope can reduce their miracle requirement to one or waive it altogether.)  Most often prayer requests are for a physical healing. 

Verifying a miracle is considered the most difficult hurdle in the process. Just deciding what constitutes one causes debate. A life of heroic virtue is obviously easier to establish than a healing that results from prayers.

Editors note: I’d like to cast the first vote for her as “An American Saint.”

1. The Kennedy Family, and the Story of Mental Retardation…Edward Shorter

By Michael J. McCurdy, Founder/Publisher

At 17 a Quadriplegic – And Now a World Class Artist!

March 1, 2009 by Michael McCurdy · 2 Comments
Filed under: Health, Public Service, Science, entreprenuer 
Dennis painting

Dennis painting

“When I arrived at the hospital I thought all they were going to do is some chiropractic work. Little did I know I would remain a quadriplegic for life!”, so said Dennis Francesconi, who at 17 years old, flew 31 feet in the air after his waterskiing boat hit sand, and propelled him head-first onto the beach.

In August 1980, Dennis went water skiing for just the seventh time. At 5′10″ and self-described as lean, Dennis enjoyed athletics, specially soccer and baseball. He also tried out for the football team, but his thin frame didn’t enjoy the pounding, nor did he enjoy watching his friend’s wind up with broken legs and arms. “This just ain’t for me,” he said. So when someone suggested water skiing – “it sounded perfect.”

Dennis remembers his Mother’s screams for an ambulance, and his father helping the paramedics load him into an ambulance. He had no pain, and could feel his arms, and wondered why everyone was so concerned. By the time they reached the hospital, feeling from the chest down soon left him. “I honestly thought that a chiropractor would be waiting for me, and adjust everything back into place.”

The diagnosis: A broken neck with the 5th vertabrae literally shattered, and the 4th and 6th dislocated. Dennis has no use of any of his limbs.

For the next 19 years Dennis lived on Social Security Insurance of $600.00 per month and lots of odd jobs: salesman of herbal supplements, real estate salesman to farmers (in an electric wheelchair), and, as he describes it, “I was just grabbing at straws.”

“It was a huge loss” was how Dennis described his life after the accident. “There is no huge settlement. I didn’t get hit by a beer truck!”.

In 1986, on a suggestion from his wife Kristi, Dennis enrolled in a program called “Help Them Walk Again,” which was headquartered in Las Vegas. Exercise programs, electronic stimulation and weight lifting were part of the curriculum, with the hope that someday the scientists may find a cure.

More pushing from Kristi, family and friends led Dennis to enroll in MFPA (Mouth and Foot Painting Artists)

Now approaching its 50th Anniversary, the MFPA enables mouth and foot painters to achieve self-fulfillment through their art. By selling reproductions of their original artwork as greeting cards, calendars and other printed materials, the organization helps the artists achieve
financial independence.

“Didn’t you feel ridiculous with a paint brush in your mouth?”, I asked Dennis. “It was just the opposite! It was the first time in years that I felt in charge! I also started to notice how objects were shaded – the lighting at dusk – the beauty in nature. There were also some amusing discoveries, I could only paint by holding the paint brush on the right side of my mouth.”

The organization’s founder, polio-stricken Erich Stegmann, was an early practitioner of mouth painting and sculpting. His vision was to create a worldwide organization of like-minded artists facing physical disabilities and provide them with the opportunity to achieve financial security.

The original organization was comprised of 16 European artists. Today, it has expanded into 70 countries, including the United States, which is home to more than 60 MFPA artists who paint for pleasure and to make a living. Working under the organization’s motto, “Self help – not charity,” the artists don’t let their disabilities stand in the way of benefiting from their hard work.

There are an estimated 180,000 physically challenged people in the United States who could possibly benefit by becoming aware of MFPA.

“After being on public support for 19 years, I was finally able to come off it and regain my independence as a direct result of joining the MFPA,” said Dennis, an MFPA member who has participated in about 70 exhibitions and is presently working on a rose painting for a wine label – his second to date – at an award-winning California vineyard. “I would do anything this organization asked me to because they returned my life to normalcy.”

Francesconi isn’t alone in his optimism. Many other MFPA members have a similar outlook on life and appreciate the opportunity to share their art with the world.

To purchase greeting cards for all occasions, a beautiful full color annual art calendar, stationery, gift wrap, puzzles, books and more, contact:

Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, Worldwide. — manages/oversees the artists and the publishing houses in approximately 43 countries.

In the USA, the publishing house is: Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Inc., Atlanta, GA. [toll free] 1-877 MFPA-USA [1-877 6372-872]

Dennis Francesconi is 45 years old and lives in Madera, California with his best friend and wife Kristi. To view some breathtaking works of art, visit his website:

A Billionaire Ignores My Advice

A Billionaire Ignores My Advice

I had just returned from a whirl-wind tour of Europe. Six cities in 14 days. As a young American man in his twenties, I didn’t appreciate how old everything looked. Rome (ancient), Paris (Eiffel tower-so what?) Berlin (grim), London (too proper), Amsterdam (where does all the water go?), Copenhagen (beautiful blond girls with blue/green eyes – don’t remember anything else :) Why didn’t I stay?

I got on the bus in New Jersey on my way to what I expected to be a very exciting job – salesman for a television program distribution company, on Park Avenue, New York City. Once in the city, I proceeded on two more buses until I reached Park Avenue and 59th street. Standing on the corner looking south, I had to inhale as my breath was taken from my chest. Park Avenue was split in the middle by a series of grass islands between each numbered street, all the way to 43rd street, where  the view was blocked by the old Pan Am building strattled across the avenue. Both sides of the islands had canals laid with black asphalt – one going south, the other north. As my eyes were drawn south they were pulled up from the street to reveal each side of the avenue’s glass sky scrapers standing proudly, glistening in the sun.

“My God – this is America!”  I said to myself. In one moment, I realized what a great country I lived in. I wanted to run to my new job which was in a 38 story sky scraper on the left-hand, or east side of this great throughoufare, on fifty-third street. It was one of the great new buildings – The Seagrams building.

I took my time walking down the avenue and as I looked up at all of the sky scrapers. I couldn’t believe how may sales opportunities awaited me. I imagined myself spending a month alone making calls on just one street.

As I approached my new place of employment, I marveled at the steps leading up to a plaza with dual water fountains welcoming me to revolving doors and marble floors in an expansive lobby. A sign pointed to the entrance of one of the city’s Power restaurants: “The Four Seasons.”  I would later be mildly scolded for entertaining potential clients at my “Power Luncheons.” On any given day, you were lunching with the city’s power brokers, celebrities and sports stars. I decided quite quickly that I liked this life.

Much copied but not matched, the Seagram Building is generally recognized as the finest example of skyscrapers in the International Style.

The elevator whisked me up to the 36th floor and my new office. I loved it. It looked out over the entire city. The man who owned Sterling Communications, Inc., also owned Sterling Movies. He was known to everyone as “Chuck”,  or Charles Dolan. Before I was hired, I had to pass a screening test by a sales psychologist, something unheard of at this time. Two weeks later I received a call that I had passed, and could report to work the following Monday.

Sterling Communications also owned Manhattan Cable (now Warner Cable) and Chuck was in the process of laying millions of feet of cable underneath Manhattan’s sidewalks and streets. It was an enormous task, frought with political backlash, not to mention kazillions of dollars in financing. In these early days, I could sense that it was a touch-and-go undertaking. I can still vividly remember my first comments, “What is this guy crazy?”

Manhattan cable went to hotel rooms in those early days, and the company had a difficult time getting anyone in a hotel room to watch what was essentially a news ticker. And then came along Michael J. McCurdy with an idea that would transform the world of cable. I am sure that with this idea alone, Chuck Dolan would make me a vice president. After spending several days flirting with his secretary, I gave her a note for Mr. Dolan…would she please pass it on to him. She smiled, and said yes!

Weeks went by before I got the courage to ask her if he had seen it. Yes, he had.

That was it – nothing else. How could he not see the benefit of having “Live Burlesque” on his channel in hotel rooms! Surely every man visiting New York could not wait until he registered at his hotel. The press would have a field day. I consoled myself by rationalizing that he was just too busy to get back to me. :)

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:  In 1972, Mr. Dolan founded Home Box Office Inc (HBO) the first premium programming service in the cable television industry. After selling Home Box Office to Time-Life, Inc. (now Time Warner), he organized Cablevision Systems Corporation on Long Island, and has spearheaded many of the company’s advancements. In 1986 he took the company public, and since 1992 the stock has risen by 400%. Estimated worth is 2.3 billon dollars.

Oh yeah, he also owns Madison Square Garden, the NY Knicks, NY Rangers, and Radio City Music Hall. Me? I was wooed away a year later to a television production company as a producer. I loved every minute in a long career. Now?  I’m writing this blog :) If only Chuck had read my note :)

Mike McCurdy, Founder/Publisher