- THE MAGAZINE
Everyone wants to have a phenomenal life. No one wants an average existence, but you may be settling for that. And that’s a shame because if you live in America, you live in the greatest country on Earth where you can have whatever you want, do whatever you want and be the person you want to be.
If you own a business, I’m sure you want that business to be phenomenally successful. You may not know it yet, but owning a business in the United States puts you in a position of incredible influence. You can have more impact on your community than almost any other institution.
My good friend Zig Ziglar says that in order to have something different, you’ve got to do something different. For example, if I want to have more money, I’ve got to do something different than I am doing now. It won’t just fall in my lap. If I want to have better relationships, I have to do something toward working on those relationships. If I want to have a stronger, healthier body, I’ve got to do something about it.
I think we get that, but…
What we may not understand is this…
In order to consistently do something different, you’ve got to be something different. You’ve got to change. You’ve got to “be”-come a different person than you are today.
That may sound a little scary to you, but I can tell you from personal experience that being willing to change is the key to having a phenomenal life.
I’m a different person than I was 20 years ago. I’m a different person than I was five years ago. I’m a different person than I was yesterday! Why? Because I have built a habit of learning. I have created the habit of change. Being willing to change has helped me live a life I only imagined. Becoming a different person has helped me to do different things, which have allowed me to have things in life that I never had before.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. On the contrary, I’m learning who I really am. Being aware of my habits, and what’s working and what’s not, and being willing to change, helps me grow, so that I can be a better person. I hope to be a different (better) person tomorrow based on what I learn today. I am learning who Howard Partridge is, what his purpose is, and what he was created to be – and more importantly – what he is called to do with his time on this planet.
If you are willing to become a different person than you are now, you will be able to consistently do different things than you are doing now, so that you can have the things you want out of life.
Here's the challenge: You won’t consistently do things that are inconsistent with how you see yourself. I believe I learned this from Zig Ziglar, who gives Dr. Joyce Brothers the credit.
Zig talks a lot about self image. He says, “You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by what goes into your mind.”
You are a phenomenal product, created to do phenomenal things, so that you can have the phenomenal life you were created to have.
From Welfare Throwaway Kid to Living the American Dream
I’m originally from “L.A.” (Lower Alabama!). I grew up on welfare in Mobile, Alabama. There were seven kids crammed into a little 600 square-foot shack. The roof on that house was so bad that every time it rained we had to get out the pots and pans to catch the leaks!
The house was on concrete blocks so there was no slab. It had a teeny-tiny shower (no bathtub) with barely enough room to turn around. One day my stepdad got in and it fell through to the ground! We propped it up with tree stumps, which created a gap between the shower floor and the rotten sheetrock. If the soap was dropped and bounced the wrong way, it would be in the dirt, under the house!
We Invented Soap-on-a-Rope!
My little mama somehow fed us on $100 a month from the welfare department, and I still remember getting Christmas presents from the social workers. My real dad left when I was only a year old and I didn’t get to meet him until I was 15. The only time I recall seeing him was at my grandfather’s funeral. I must have been about five years old at the time. Little did I know that he would become a significant part of my life later.
When I was 18, I got in a fight with my stepdad (who took on 7 kids and got us off of welfare). This event turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I had no money. At the time, my sister was visiting my biological dad in Houston (whom I had met only twice at this point). My friend and I scraped up $39.95 for a bus ticket to Houston. I wasn’t really sure my dad would actually take me in, but I knew my sister would find a way.
When I stepped off that bus in downtown Houston, I literally had 25 cents in my pocket. No bank account. No credit card. That’s all I had to my name. My dad was there to pick me up and I lived with him and his new family (who I became very close with) for about a year. I made sure to patch things up back home in Alabama, too. Although both daddies are gone, I have a great relationship with both of my families today, for which I am very grateful.
After a few odd jobs in Houston, I became a professional waiter and worked in high-end restaurants where we did flaming tableside cooking. I learned how to make a lot of great dishes at the table - steak Diane, pepper steak, Caesar salad dressing from scratch, hot spinach salad, bananas Foster, cherries jubilee, and many more.
During my years as a waiter, I learned a great deal about the customer service experience, but I always wanted my own business. I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. As a kid, I cut grass, picked up pine cones, sold stuff door-to-door, and did anything I could to make money.
As I waited for the last table to leave each night, I scratched out business ideas on my waiter’s pad. But I still had no money to speak of. I made just enough to pay the bills.
That’s when I met my future wife - Denise Concetta Antoinette Pennella. Now, that’s Italian! I went to New Jersey to get married to Denise and when you marry into an Italian family, you don’t get wedding presents like dishes, toasters and blenders. Instead, you get cash!
We got wedding money and while we were in New Jersey there was a friend of the family who was my age (23 at the time), tooling around in a little red Mercedes convertible. I said to myself “I want to know what that guy does, and I want to know if it’s legal!”
Turns out he owned a carpet cleaning business. So, as soon as I got back to Houston, I spent all of our wedding money on a carpet cleaning machine and a vacuum cleaner to start a business. My wife was really thrilled about that, let me tell you!
So, I started my carpet cleaning business out of the trunk of my car. I still own that business today. Over 13 long years, I got it up to about $30K per month. I was making good money, but I had become a slave to the business. Everything revolved around me. I couldn’t go on vacation without the appointment book or spending much of the vacation solving problems over the phone.
If you’re a small business owner and you have been in business for awhile, you know what I mean.
Two Big Secrets that Changed My Life Forever…
My mentor Bill Beckham would come to my office about once a week. As he observed how involved I had to be in every little detail of the business, and how dependent it was on me, he recommended I read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.
That book changed my business and my life forever.
After reading The E-Myth, I took a week off and went to my favorite place in the world, Destin, FL, and sat on the beach and re-created my future. The first secret I learned was how to build a turnkey business – one that operates just as well without you as it does with you. I learned how to work on the business instead of just in it as The E-Myth says.
The second secret I learned (also from The E-Myth) is that the only reason your business exists is to help you achieve your life goals. You went into business for yourself because you had a dream of having more time for your family – a dream of doing what you want when you want. Instead, you sometimes feel like a slave to the business.
That’s what I felt like. I was literally a prisoner of my own making. Don’t get me wrong, I loved serving my customers and doing the technical work of the business, but now I saw a different picture. I saw that I could have a turnkey business.
I recruited two friendly competitors to join my team and we began working on our systems. My cleaning business skyrocketed to almost $3 million per year! And the best part is that it is turnkey, which means I don’t have to be involved in the day-to-day. I have a staff of 40 that run my companies for me.
In 1998, I began teaching my systems to other cleaners through information products, seminars and coaching. As it turns out, I was speaking at the same convention as Michael Gerber (author of The E-Myth Revisited). Larry Cooper arranged for us to meet over breakfast.
Since that breakfast meeting in Las Vegas, Michael has not only presented at my live events, he has become a great friend and mentor to me. I talk to him several times a year and I will always be grateful to him for changing my business life. I love Michael and he is a brilliant, incredibly gifted man.
I have had partners, bought and sold businesses, and even started a franchise operation. My live events have included world famous American legend Zig Ziglar, best-selling authors Tamara Lowe (who runs “Get Motivated!,” the largest business seminars in the world with her husband Peter), Bob Burg (author of Endless Referrals and The Go-Giver), Dr. Joseph A. Michelli (author of The Starbucks Experience) and others.
And I have been recognized by Dr. John C. Maxwell, the No. 1 leadership expert in the world.
I am especially grateful for my relationship with the Ziglar Corporation. I have been blessed to not only share the stage with Zig, and to be featured on their live webcasts, but to enjoy a close personal relationship with the entire Ziglar family and team. And I recently launched their very first coaching program for business owners.
Some years ago, when I still had a very small business and a very small staff, I was part of a local industry group that met every week to talk about ways to improve our businesses. There were about a dozen people that met every Monday morning. They complained about the economy and how customers wouldn’t pay their price. They had what Zig calls “stinkin'-thinkin'” and they needed a “check-up from the neck up!”
Some of them were wearing cut-off blue jeans, flip-flops and hadn’t shaved, and they wondered why they didn’t have much business. I strolled in carrying a briefcase, in a sport coat and tie, wearing a positive attitude.
Who you think you are and what you think is possible is incredibly important. You can have a phenomenal life, if you are willing to do the things you need to do. In order to do those things consistently, you will have to change. You will have to become a different person than you are today.
How do you do that? Get around people who are already doing what you want to do. Get a mentor that can encourage you to be the person you were created to be. Learn the things you need to learn and don't listen to people who laugh at you.