Success Stories By Dick Kazan - Valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable
lessons on how to succeed in business and in life.
The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on January 16, 2006

Have you ever felt the crushing blow of being fired?

It’s an awful feeling and if it’s one you’ve experienced, you’ll easily relate to today’s story, which will also offer you some beneficial advice.

When I was 29, I started a one person computer leasing company, Capital Associates. I was an entrepreneur doing what I loved and I invested my time and risked my money to do it.

After an initial struggle, the company began to grow as very talented people came on board. Over the next 15 years, we worked hard and we built one of the largest computer leasing companies in the United States.

What began as one person in a tiny office grew into 300 employees in offices across the U.S. and two offices in Japan and the company accumulated over $2 billion in equipment.

Then after 15 successful years of record sales and record profits, the company hit the wall. We were large, but we had not created an automated back office to allow us to effectively manage or accurately account for the vast amount of equipment in a business where values can fall quickly.

Our headquarters was a thousand miles from my home and for the next year, I was often apart from my family as I worked with a dedicated group of employees to create that back office and to save the company.

Capital Associates owed a group of large banks over $100 million. The banks feared we might go bankrupt and formed a committee to work with us. The head of the committee seemed very bright and was someone I thought had a skill set we needed.

He claimed it was his dream to become an entrepreneur, strongly assured us of his allegiance to our company and with his employer’s permission, we hired him. Meanwhile, our employees did a great job turning the company around.

Then the day after my 46th birthday, the Board of Directors abruptly told me he was now the CEO. I was stunned.

How could this happen? I was founder, still Chairman and the biggest shareholder (although not the majority shareholder). I was told to go home, he was now in charge.

For many years, Capital Associates and its employees had been the professional focus of my life. This was devastating. I was heart-broken and felt as if a part of me had just died. It was a terribly depressing day.

As gently as I could, I broke the news to my wife Anne and I saw the tears roll down her cheeks.

The first flight home wasn’t scheduled to leave for several hours and we didn’t know how to pass the time. So we went to a gigantic book store and I wandered around in a daze.

And then suddenly the next chapter of my life began. For many years I focused on business and had neglected my humanitarian side. As if by Devine guidance I found Gandhi’s writings.

My first reaction was to shrug it off but I was hurting inside and I had no place to go. What began as casually flipping through pages turned into reading so intense, I lost track of time.

If Anne hadn’t been there, I might have missed my flight. I bought his autobiography to read on the plane and had other Gandhi books shipped home. I absorbed those books and began reading others by Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass.

The intense daily responsibilities of Capital Associates had been lifted from my shoulders and now I was free to make a new life for myself.

In the years to come I became a talk show host on major Los Angeles radio stations, became a newspaper columnist for a national publication and a nationally syndicated columnist with a local newspaper.

I also tackled a variety of other interesting projects. Among them, I got involved on behalf of the Vietnamese Boat People to help them resettle in America, advised the head of an inner-city youth center, and assisted a community leader to help gang members make new lives for themselves.

As for Capital Associates, I remained Chairman for three years until just before I sold my shares and left the Board. Sadly, it never returned to its prior glory and was bought by another company.

Meanwhile, Anne and I invested well in real estate. But for the past 15 years, although I’ve had business goals, my highest priorities have been “public work” (Gandhi’s term) because I saw how meaningful helping others could be.

And as a result, today you have this website available to you for free; with my hope that it uplifts your life and that it encourages you to willingly help others.

And if you would like to discuss controversial issues, we offer another free website:

None of this would have happened without that painful day at Capital Associates. I just couldn’t see the wonderful things that would come as a result.

If you’ve been fired, as hurtful as it is for you, it’s an opportunity to make a new life for yourself. For you are not the person you were when you got that job. So ask yourself who you are today and what you’d like to do to make your life more meaningful.

Then take that next step to make it happen and the doors that may open could amaze you.

Success Tip of the Week: If you haven’t yet found what you love, don’t despair. It could come at anytime including as it did for me, at a time and place where you least expect it.

In the next KazanToday: If you’re “horrible with names,” you’ll learn a simple way to remember them.

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Many of these short, inspirational success stories are about people from all walks of life who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve remarkable results. These stories contain practical advice and a recipe for success for each of these renowned individuals. Some of their stories may help you to avoid some of the costly and time consuming mistakes that many of us make in life and at work. Learn from some of history's greatest winners on how to become a winner yourself, no matter what the obstacle, and no matter how daunting the task before you may seem. Good luck!