I have been blessed to have had many excellent teachers. The further I get away from school, though, the more I realize that the greatest teachers in my life have come from outside of academia. One of my favorites was my first employer, Tom Whowell of Fontana, WI. I pumped gas at the lakeside marina that Tom owns, but not before I earned that position by demonstrating I was responsible and hardworking.
I didn’t realize it until I was older, but Tom mirrored the values and principles of success that I was learning at home. Tom taught me that success came in no small part from how well you treated your customers and how much you paid attention to detail. You sweat the small stuff so your customers don’t have to.
When I returned years later to visit, I was proud to see that Tom had lined his pier with flags proclaiming his love of America and his love of liberty. Success isn’t a mystery. It leaves clues – whether by a business or a nation. In that moment, I saw yet again all that was good and right about America and capitalism. Only by embodying what he does can Tom’s business and America be successful. I strive to live up to his example every day.
3. If you could be paid to do anything besides your current job, what would it be?
I am living my dream. I love what I do. There is absolutely no other job I want.
4. What hidden talent would be your best way into getting into the Guinness Book of World Records?
I am the only man “stupid” enough to have kicked a future Bond Girl (name withheld) out of his college apartment because she wasn’t paying rent. Even back then, I believed productive people shouldn’t have to support those who chose not to work.
5. What’s your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
The Walking Dead
6. What’s the best present you ever received as a child?
A fantastic blue Schwinn bicycle when I was eight years old.
7. What’s the best present you ever gave?
When we were living in Park City, Utah, I surprised my beautiful wife for her 40th birthday. I invited her closest friends from across the country in for the weekend. On that Friday night, I took her to dinner at her favorite restaurant and they were all there. It was a terrific surprise, but that wasn’t the big present.
She spent the next day with her friends and I suggested we all meet up for drinks at a local ski hill that night. When she arrived, I had the bar filled with all of our friends from Utah as well. Outside it was snowing and a string of sleighs was waiting to take us up the mountain for a very special dinner. I had rented out a mountain yurt for a private dinner to celebrate her birthday. There was a piano there, which friends took turns playing and everyone sang. The food was fantastic and the company even better. It is a night Trish and I will never forget.
8. What advice do you remember your mother or father giving you? Did you take it?
Both of my parents are entrepreneurs. The best advice they ever gave me (which I definitely took) was to never take ‘no’ for an answer and to never give up.
9. Who would be on the perfect “Red Eye” panel?
Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and Christopher Hitchens.
10. What books are on your reading list?
Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt, To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story by Dr. Mary Neal, Control: Exposing The Truth About Guns by Glenn Beck, The Panther by Nelson DeMille, and Inferno by Dan Brown.
11. What would you like tomorrow’s headline to say?
America Returns to Founding Principles – Prosperity and Personal Liberty Soar!
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to become more vocal about your political beliefs.
It was election night 2008. I kept waiting for McCain to pull away. We were hiring someone for the most important position in our nation. On résumés alone, it should have been obvious to everyone which candidate was most qualified for the job.
When McCain lost, I was reminded that we, as citizens, are the stewards of our republic. It is our duty to hand a stronger, freer, more prosperous America to the next generation.
That night, I was reminded of a quote from Ronald Reagan that has shaped my commitment to America ever since:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
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