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 May 18, 2010

The death of a business, the birth of a successful entrepreneur.

Dear Reader, This powerful story is based on real life events and is meant to help you overcome your fears and succeed in whatever objectives you have in life.

“Oh God,” Benny cried out. “I’m ruined! My business can’t pay its bills and I’m broke. I borrowed against everything I own to start it and now I’ve got to close it. I’ll lose my home, my car and my self-respect. People already thought I was insane to risk so much and now they’ll laugh at me for being such a fool.”

With tears in his eyes, Benny locked his business’s plate glass front door behind him and stepped on to the sidewalk. Staring at his shoe tops, he hung his head and began walking down the busy street, unaware of all the traffic noise or of the people walking by him.

When his legs could carry him no further, he found himself in front of a small old Jewish Temple and wandered in to sit down and rest. As he sat on a brown folding chair, he buried his head in his hands and began to weep.

“What is the matter,” asked an 85 ish silver haired man who witnessed this scene, and sat down next to him.

“I’m ruined,” Benny said, his tears trickling down his cheeks. “There’s no future for me,” he added as he told this man about his failed business.

“Let me tell you a story,” the older man replied. “And then we’ll see if you’re ruined.”

“In 1939, my family and I were living in a lovely home in Poland, when the Nazis invaded, their troops killing everyone who resisted them. Poland surrendered and in our city, the Nazis set-up a Jewish ghetto and ordered all the Jews into it.

“By the thousands Jews were packed tight into a few blocks, in a barbed wired prison, where they were hardly fed, many of them dropping dead from hunger or disease, while the Nazis planned to ship the survivors off to death camps.

“But my family was among the Jews who refused to go, and we hid in the basement of our home as some other families hid in their basements or attics. We all knew this couldn’t last for long and one day we heard the roar of engines and smelled diesel exhaust and as we heard orders being barked in German, we knew the storm troopers were coming for us.

My parents were ready and had sewn gold pieces into my clothing and that of my little 10 year old brother. As we heard the troopers yelling and kicking in doors, their attack dogs barking, people screaming and shots being fired, my father said with a quiver in his voice, ‘Quickly you must run! Go through the forest and join our family in Hungary. We’ll join you later.’ “

“But poppa,” I cried, “I’m just 14,” and I pleaded not to go. “But they shoved us out the door, and the last thing I recall is my mother sobbing, her eyes reddened from all her tears. We never saw them again.

“We ran for the forest and it took us four frightening days to get to Hungary and sneak across the border. All we had to eat was the food our parents had hastily packed and our only possessions were the clothes on our backs, with the little gold pieces sewn in.

“We reached the family home in Hungary. But with the looming threat of a Nazi invasion, they got my brother and me to the Jewish underground and they shipped us to Palestine. It was a rugged experience but we had survived! There were so many kids like us that youth hostels were started and we slept on cots. We helped to grow our own food, and schools were set-up for us.

“As my brother and I grew up, he settled in what became Israel and he built a good life there.

“But that was not for me. I came to America in search of work and a college education. But I was broke and took whatever job I could find. Sometimes I couldn’t find work and I went hungry. Often however, I got janitorial work and that kept a roof over my head and usually I got enough to eat.

“After awhile, I decided to start my own janitorial company. I thought it would be a great success but it failed miserably because I didn’t know how to sell my services.”

“Didn’t that discourage you from ever trying again,” Benny asked. “Not at all,” came the reply. The failed company had taught me a lot about business, and when I worked again for others, I learned how to sell my services. It is as simple as taking a sincere interest in your customers and listening to what they want and figuring out how to provide it at a profit.”

“But when your business failed,” said Benny, What about all the criticism from others?” “I wasn’t concerned about what they thought,” the older man replied.

“Those who care about you are supportive, and those who criticize haven’t had the courage to do what you did, so they mock you for trying. I didn’t have time to listen to the critics,

“All of that aside, once you’ve been confronted by death and destruction, you realize thoughts of a failed business mean nothing. Soon I was back in business and this time, built a giant janitorial firm and it made me a very wealthy man.

“But I’m a humble man. I come here to pray for my parents and for all the people who perished from the blood stained hands of the Nazis, and to thank God for sparing people like my brother and me. I also pray for the well-being of all mankind.

“Where do I go from here,” asked Benny. “I’m broke!” “No you’re not,” boomed the older man’s voice. “You’re a young man with most of your life ahead of you. You had the courage to start a business once and you’ll find the courage to do it again, this time wiser from the experience.

“In the meantime, go get a job and rebuild your savings.” “What about my debts,” asked Benny? “Talk to your creditors, the older man answered. “They don’t want to seize what you have, they just want to know when they’ll get paid and some of them will work out a payment schedule with you, a car being a fine example because it doesn’t hold value well.

“But in the worst case, you’ll downsize at least for awhile,” the older man continued. “That’s what many a great entrepreneur has done, and they came back stronger than ever.”

Benny rose from the chair, standing taller than he had in a very long time. “Thank you for taking the time sir,” he said, looking the older man squarely in the eyes. “I will take your advice, for you have lit an entrepreneurial fire and I am determined to become successful in business.

“Good,” said the older man while shaking Benny’s hand. “You are never defeated as long as you believe in yourself and you find the courage to commit yourself again. When you do, I’m confident you will succeed.”

Success Tip of the Week: If fear has stopped you from pursuing your dreams, make this the week you take action. The worst that can happen is but a brief set-back on your road to success.

In the next KazanToday: A woman who rose from San Francisco’s government housing projects to become a bold leader and Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

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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!
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