1950-1951 Cemetery Yearbook
In the past, I have given a lot of talks all over the country to sales groups, trade associations, and many other organizations, but this is the first time that I have ever had the pleasure of addressing a cemetery group. It reminds me of the story about the young lad who requested a military funeral. Permit me to tell you about it. This happened not so long ago, but as President Truman was taking one of his famous dips along the coast of the West Indies, he ventured out just a little too far and almost drowned. As he experienced this "too close for comfort" catastrophe, the three young men who were watching him along the shoreline jumped in to save him. They quickly brought him to shore and then revived him. The President, feeling obligated, turned to the first chap and said, "What can I do for you, young man? You've saved my life and I feel indebted to you. The lad replied, Well, I have tried for a long time to get into Annapolis, but somehow or other I just don't have the right connections." "Consider it handled; I will see that you get in," said the President. Then he turned to the next boy, "Now, what can I do for you?" "Well, just like my buddy who's trying to get in Annapolis, I would like to get in West Point." The President again said, "Oh, I think that can be handled. Let me try and see what I can do for you." So then he turned to the third chap and said, "What can I do for you, young man?" "Mr. President, you can arrange a military funeral for me." "A military funeral – that’s a very odd request; why do you want a military funeral?" "When my old man finds out that I saved you, he's going to kill me." (Laughter) Thank you, Republicans!
Now that we've had a little fun, let's get down to business. In this maze of uncertainty that confronts most of us! In this feeling of restlessness, not knowing which road to follow in order to achieve success! In this terrific turmoil of nations! In the tremendous effect it has had upon the minds of all of us - the don't care attitude - the warped thinking of so many, "Well, I can't do anything about it anyway, so why try?" The one question that is still in the mind of many of us, and thank God it is, is "How can I become more productive? How can I do a better job than I'm doing at the present time? How can I become a better employee or a better employer, whichever the case may be? How can I help my family enjoy a higher standard of living? Or how can I contribute more to the trade or civic association that I belong to? There are a lot of answers to those questions and no doubt you have often asked those same questions of yourselves and then tried to solve them with little progress. One of the best answers I have to that question is to become a little more enthusiastic about everything that is worth while doing. Become excited! You have nothing to fear! Just let yourself go and literally burn with enthusiasm! I don't know why, but a lot of us have grown lackadaisical. We've lost our spirit, our zip, our pep and our steam and unfortunately too many of us have taken things for granted. Nothing ever accomplished in this nation was ever accomplished without en¬thusiasm. If we want to get ahead in our own business, if we want to become a better employee, if we want to become a better head of the family or if we want to win this war at a faster rate than we're winning it at the present time, let's begin to do something about it. Let's become all wrapped up in the issue! Let's find out why! Let's inject a little enthusiasm into our efforts and note the difference in the results.
I know of a minister-you probably say a minister doesn't sell. This gentleman's name is Dr. Bill Alexander. Maybe some of you know him. He is pastor of the First Christian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is one of the most enthusiastic speakers and enthusiastic men that I know of. Let me tell you about him. I had the occasion to meet the man in Tulsa some time ago and didn't realize why he got such large crowds in his church, so I asked him. These people literally stood outside to hear him, so I asked him why. He said, "I don't know, Jim, but I think it is this: I set myself afire and I think people come to see me burn." More of us right here in this room and all around the entire country can do that same thing and do a better job. It's easy to set yourself afire to burn with enthusiasm. Before the morning session is over with, I hope to show you how to do it. Dr. Alexander has a story and with the kind permission of Mr. Donaldson, I would like to tell it to you. There is a little naughty word; it isn't too bad, so-o-o. May I have your permission, Mr. Donaldson? Thank you.
This story goes back to the time of the war where this young aviator was granted a few days furlough; he was dog tired and I mean dog tired. He boarded a crowded train and tried to get a seat, but to no avail. He wearily walked through the train, car by car, and couldn't find a seat, but he spied an old lady in the last coach who apparently had her pet poodle dog on the seat next to her. Well, he thought he could persuade her to have the dog get off the seat and let him sit down and be comfortable, so he approached her and said, "Madam, I wonder if you would mind taking that dog off the seat and putting it in the aisle and letting me sit down?" She said, "No, I won't." She said, "I bought a first-class ticket for that dog and that dog is going to remain on that seat." So the boy went back through the train a little dejected and thought he could per¬suade the porter to let him lie down in the aisle, but the porter said, "It's against the rules, I can't do that, I'm sorry, but probably you can use this pillow so the old lady can set the dog on the pillow and maybe she'll then give you the seat," so the boy went back once more and approached the lady with tears running down his cheeks and said, "Madam, you don't know how tired I am. I flew fifty-nine combat missions and came back in a bucket ship and can hardly stand; if you will put the dog on the pillow and then put the pillow in the aisle, I promise you I will be dead asleep in five minutes and everybody will be happy." "Who do you think you are, young man? Just because you've got an American uniform on, you think you own this train. I've got a first-class ticket and I am going to keep it for this dog," so the little boy very dejectedly once more turned away thinking maybe he could find another seat somewhere on the train, but he wound up with no seat, so he thought he would take one more desperate crack at it. With the tears rolling down his cheeks, he got down on bended knees and said to the woman, "You don't know how tired I am and what I've done for my country, for you, and all I ask is that you give me the seat; I just want to get a little sleep; I haven't slept in four days and four nights, so please give up that seat." "No, I won't give it up; I've paid for the seat and the dog stays there." With that, the young chap took the dog by the back of the neck and swish, right through the window; he didn't even bother to open the window. A little old Englishman, sitting in the seat in front, turned around and said, "You Americans are funny people; you mispronounce the English language by placing the inflection upon the wrong syllable; you drive along on the wrong side of the street; and now, by George, you've thrown the wrong bitch out of the window." (Laughter)
Dr. Alexander is an enthusiastic speaker and has done an excellent job in furthering the cause of religion, but let me give you an example of what has happened in my own business through enthusiasm. As you know, I am in the oil business. Some time ago one of our truck drivers who was employed by our company over a period of ten years decided to quit. He told his boss, who incidentally is my boss too, "I'm through." Then he came down to my office and said, "Jim, I want to work for you." I said, "Joe, I understand you just quit." He said, "That's right, but I think I can solve some of your problems; I've been watching and studying service station operations for some time and I'm sure from the experience I've had that I can do a job for you; I know how to meet people, and I know your problems. All I want is an opportunity; just give me a chance," and while he was saying that, his eyes sparkled; his face was burning with enthusiasm. All he wanted was an opportunity and because of the spirit in which he told me that, I said, "Joe, come with me." I grabbed him by the hand and we again saw the boss and rehired Joe, who by now was more enthusiastic than ever.
In the last three years he has proven to be the best salesman I have ever had, and he's only done it through enthusiasm, through letting himself go. The man hasn't had a single bit of education other than the eighth grade; he murders the English language, but I defy anybody to listen to him for just a few minutes and not be sold on our company's product or our company. His success can only be attributed to the amount of enthusiasm he expresses in his message. That is why I am a firm believer in the power of enthusiasm.
You know, the longer I live, the more I believe that that little recognized feature of success is enthusiasm. The difference in actual skill, intelligence and ability on the part of those who fail and the part of those who succeed is neither wide nor striking. If you ever have a choice of selecting a salesman or any person in your organization, select the man with first rate enthusiasm, instead of the man with first rate ability and second rate enthusiasm. He will always tip the scales in your favor. Every time that has proven to be a fact, and I know it will continue to do so.
While waiting for a bus to take you home at 5 P.M. have you ever noticed the monotonous blur of dull defeated faces coming at you as you are waiting for this bus? Now, as you look at these people, there doesn't seem to be a sparkle in a whole block load. Why? These people don't appear to be poverty stricken, they don't appear to be hungry; they appear to have fairly good jobs. What makes them that way?
Too many of them, including you and me, take too many things for granted. Automatically we take things for granted. We no longer have curiosity in ourselves. We no longer expect great accomplishments from ourselves. We have even lost interest in ourselves. Go back several years, ladies and gentlemen, to the time that you were nineteen. It's probably a long time in some cases, but let's go back to the age of nineteen when you got your first job, when you were endlessly excited about yourself and your opportunity, when you were just full of wondrous dreams, a burning fire of ambition, and you had an implicit faith in your power, when every experience was a new adventure, when every day was a new challenge, when no job was too big for you and miracles literally seemed to be a push over. You didn't take things for granted then.
But what happened? Here's what happened to most of us. We have grown satisfied with ourselves. Maybe the work we have been doing has been a little too hard, maybe a little too easy, maybe some of us have become lazy, maybe we have grown complacent. We do not know, but generally speaking, we have grown satisfied with ourselves and have taken too many things for granted: We have lost our edge. We have ceased to rebel, to crusade, to continue to promote. We do not let ourselves go.
Many of us feel that life has failed us. Don't kid yourselves, ladies and gentlemen life hasn't failed us; we have failed life. Life is only what you make it, and if you act enthusiastically about everything that you do, you will find out that your job will be a lot easier and more productive than it has ever been in the past. You know, some of us have grown so satisfied and taken so many things for granted, that we get into a rut. Now, they tell me there is a difference between a rut and a grave and that is the dimensions. I can't even believe there is a difference between a rut and a grave. In fact, a grave is a rut with the ends knocked out.
Let's get out of the rut. Don't be like the old solemn-faced lady of the Salvation Army who was the drummer in this particular band, and when the band leader asked who would get up and tell about being converted, one fine evening after they got through with one of their religious renditions, she got up to give testimony about the Salvation Army. As proud as a peacock she stood upon the platform and faced the audience. She said, "You know, there was a time that I used to smoke one cigarette after another, but I was saved and I don't smoke any more. There was a time I used to drink a pint of whiskey a day, but then I was saved and I don't drink any more. There was a time I used to wallow in sin. I used to carouse around and tear around with men, but now I don't sin any more. In fact, I don't do a darn thing but beat this damn drum all day long." (Laughter)
Let's not get into that rut. According to William James in his address on the "Energies of Men," he makes the statement that the average person habitually doesn’t use anywhere near the capacity of his brainpower. In fact, you might be interested to know that the average person only uses twenty percent of his brainpower, and sometimes I think that is optimistic. Now, imagine what you and I can do if we begin to utilize about fifty percent of that brain power. You know the average person has a tremendous reservoir of unutilized power in his personality, but the trouble is most of us let only a small trickle of that power go from our mind out to the public, and consequently we live on that amount of power.
The secret is to find the key to the sluice gates, open the gates wide, and let that power just pass out from your minds into a large powerful stream. It is bound to make you a more effective person. Let yourself go and note the difference in your results.
You know in your business it isn't like in our business, and I mean this: You have merchandise to sell. A lot of people don't have merchandise to sell. We in the oil business still have some to sell, but we don't know how long it will last. Gasoline might again be rationed. From what I have heard this morning from Mr. Young, I think maybe I would like to be in the cemetery business instead of the oil business, because you people really have an opportunity. There are a lot of people who are faced with the problem of not having the merchandise to sell, and if there is anyone in this room who feels he doesn't have anything to sell, let him keep his wits on edge by selling our country, because the time is coming when he again will have to sell to survive. There, selling our country ladies and gentlemen is a very sad and neglected fact.
It is surprising how many people know what the American system really is. You might have your own definitions, but to me it is liberty, opportunity, in¬centive, inspiration, competition and morale. It is a free speech, free press and free worship. It is all these and a lot more. It is a bona fide written constitution. It's a government of limited authority whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed. It is a freedom to live as one wants to live. It is a freedom of government oppression. It is a freedom from want far greater than any nation or society has ever known. It is a freedom to work as one wants to work without paying tribute for a privilege to serve as a slave. It is a freedom to build, to create and develop. It is a freedom to grow and continue to grow and grow far beyond the imagination of anybody in this room.
You and I should be thankful for that freedom, and we should get down on bended knees and pray to Almighty God that we live in a country that foists that freedom. We are in the midst of plenty, but unfortunately a lot of us can't see the forest because of the trees, so we don't talk. I am not a Communist but I admire the burning passion of a Communist who really lets himself go on a doctrine that he knows nothing about.
I had the occasion of not so long ago being in San Francisco, and I got one of the surprises of my life. They have a park out there known as Spit & Argue Park, and I will defy anybody to sit on the park bench and talk about economic conditions and not have the man next to you get up on his hind feet and tell you about Communism and what it really means. Isn't it funny, ladies and gentlemen, here these people believe they have got something to sell, and they do a good job of selling, and they have an inferior product. You know the day of the better mousetrap is gone. At one time all you had to do was build a better mousetrap and the world would beat a path to your door. That isn't true now, but we know of inferior products that have been coaxed through billboards, newspapers, radio advertisers to a point where they led the parade. Why? Because people talk about it; because people become enthused about their company and their product and consequently they have done a job.
Let's us begin to do a job about a country that we know has a lot to offer. Some of you probably might feel, "Well, that's all well and good, but I've got my problems." You feel that you can't do anything about the Korean situation, so why bother; why get excited. In fact, you become discouraged and disgusted and wonder when it is going to end and start over again. You can, however, come back to one consolation, ladies and gentlemen, and that is this: It could be worse. It can be a lot worse, a lot worse than you and I think right now.
Speaking of it could be worse, I don't know if you have ever heard Carl Taylor. He is president of the Waukesha State Bank, and he has a story about the philosophy of "it could be worse" that I think you would like to hear. This happened with an old little pot-bellied stove philosopher known by the name of Elmer Hutkins who lived in a country village and believed, regardless of how bad or tragic the accident was that it could have been worse. So the natives used to gather at the country store around the pot-bellied stove, and they used to tell him about some of these terrible happenings. For example-one day they told Elmer Hutkins about the terrific rainfall they had; it rained for days and days, flooding the entire area, ruining every bit of vegetation within a radius of miles and farmers in that community lost practically everything they had from the standpoint of crops and income. Elmer got the old cud of tobacco rolling around in his mouth and then hit the old pot-bellied stove ten feet away and said, "Well, it could have been worse; the old dam could have burst up the creek and flooded the entire area, killing people and cattle by the thousands” or they'd probably say, "You remember the severe dust storm we had five years ago, the drought era when the entire county hadn't seen rain for years and then the dust came and the insects and locusts ate every bit of vegetation in existence, stripping the countryside clean as a whistle, and Elmer would say then, "Yes, but it could have been worse; you could have had a wind storm similar to what they had in Nebraska years ago and Arkansas and Kansas and it could have taken the top soil and blown it into huge drifts, removing every possible piece of fertile soil so that nothing could have grown there any more for years; it could have been worse.
Well, one day they carne in and thought they had Elmer Hutkins. "Elmer do you know what happened last night?" and Elmer said no. They said, "Well old horse trader Jones, who used to go on trips for two to three weeks at a time never knowing when he would be back, carne back unexpectedly. Jones would trade cattle; buy and sell. They had a large family, eight children ... and when he came home and went into the house, he found Mrs. Jones kissing another man, so the old horse trader Jones didn't hesitate, but got out his old six-shooter and killed him, every one of his children, himself and his wife and it was just one bloody mess." Old Elmer Hutkins got that cud of tobacco from the side of his mouth and let go at the old pot-bellied stove, then sat back in his chair and said, "It could have been worse; it could have happened the night before and then it would have been me." (Laughter)
Now that you have heard about some of the benefits of enthusiasm let me give you four easy ways to acquire the habit of being, enthusiastic. They are simple and they will help everybody in this room; I don’t care if you are selling a cemetery lot, Motorola, peanuts or what. It will help you.
1. Know your product and know your people, because by gaining knowledge of your product and knowledge of your people, you will gain confidence in yourself and consequently nobody can stop you even though you are probably murdering the English language.
I was in the market for a television set not so long ago, and I made up my mind I wouldn’t buy that television set unless somebody told me enough about the product. You might believe this or not, but it is the truth; I went to twenty-six stores and never bought a television set until I hit the twenty-seventh one, because the clerks told me very little about the product . . . greeted me in a manner that I don't think I should have been greeted in, for I am a believer in salesmanship, and I thought, "Why should I part with $1,000 ... " I wanted to buy a Stromberg-Carlson Chinese classic set, and I finally hit this one store. That man was one of the few salesmen I have met in the last ten years that did a beautiful job of salesmanship, enthusiastic salesmanship.
For example, I went to the store and there they had one of these Chinese classic sets well displayed; I was standing in front of it admiring it. The young man came up to me ... he didn’t say, “May I help you”, because that is as old as Methuselah. He said, “Isn’t that a beautiful piece of furniture?” I said, "Yes, it is." Then he went on to tell me about its construction, about its fine mahogany finish. I am not going to give you all of the conversation, because I am limited for time. He said, in the course of the conversation, “Are you a businessman?" And I said, "Yes, I'm in the oil business." He asked, "Did you ever enjoy the relaxation of good music?" And I said, "No, I've never had time; I've been selling all the time and I haven’t had time to appreciate it. If you have a moment's time" ... mind you, he told me this with all the sparkle and expression in his face, that I just couldn't resist, so I said, "Yes, I have got a few minutes time.” He said, “Come on in this room.” So we went into another room and this room was beautifully draped, just all set for the killing, like leading the calf to slaughter, but brother, did I love it.
Here was a large chair, overstuffed leather chair with an ottoman similar to the one I had at home and beside it was an end table with up-to-date magazines, not magazines from three years ago, but up-to-date magazines just like I had at home on an end table, deep plush carpets on the floor, and here was this beautiful Chinese classic set at the other end of the room. You could sink more than an inch in the carpets. “Now, here’s something I want you to notice” and he pulled aside one of the drawers and there was the phonograph arrangement. "It's an automatic record changer and I am going to put on a record that I know you will enjoy, and then you watch the way this unit changes the record-so smooth", so I sat there and watched. I couldn't help it. I sat down in the chair and listened to this music. It was a selection by Beethoven, and I'm telling you right here that good music isn't as bad as it sounds-good music. (Laughter)
Here's the thing-he left the room, ladies and gentlemen, and that record went on playing in all its beauty, and I sat there with my eyes closed and just loved it. Then the record changed. The thing that he pointed out when he said, "Watch how easily and quickly it will change without you getting up from your favorite chair." It switched over so smoothly and do you know what the next record was? "It's Later Than You Think." (Laughter) I bought the television set and it's the finest investment that I have made. I have enjoyed it. That fellow knew his product and his people. He didn't have to go out of his way, and he made a sale.
You can do likewise.
2. Act it and you will feel it. You have got to act enthusiastic in order to feel it. For example, who are the people you like to be with? Aren’t they enthusiastic people? Why do you like to be with enthusiastic people? Because it's contagious and sets you afire. That’s the reason you like to be with them. When you develop the trick of enthusiasm, you stand out like a bright star against a dark sky and nobody, hell or high water can stop you in getting your point across, but you have got to act it before you feel it. Sales psychologists tell us we are afraid, therefore we run. By the same token we run because we are afraid. If you act enthusiastic, you will feel it the same way. Our inner emotions spring from our outward actions. Try it some time. Become enthusiastic about some idea, some plan, some product, some thing, and express it to somebody else and find out the world of difference that it makes in your presentation.
I don't know how many of you know Frank Bettger. He wrote a book recently and if you didn't read it, get it. It's "How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling." Anybody who starts reading that book at 7 o'clock at night won't let 'go until he's finished.
Frank Bettger was a man like you and me at one time or other. He was a baseball player at $175 a month. He played on the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, team and was fired by his boss, and when he asked why he was fired, he said, "Listen, you are acting like a veteran with twenty years of baseball experience; you have no pep; you have no inspiration. I am going to give you a tip. If you get another job be sure you put life and enthusiasm in your work and you will go places." He took it to heart and went to New Haven, Connecticut; that's the team he joined at about the same salary. He followed that man's advice and within a few weeks he had that whole team and whole city literally electrified. He was so enthusiastic that they began to call him "Pep Bettger" and within one year, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, but then an unfortunate accident happened to him and he was out of baseball for life. Again he went down trying to hold jobs here and there, but failed. Finally a fellow got hold of him and said, "Listen, Frank, you can make yourself some money if you will become enthusiastic and I am going to ask you to do something-become connected with an insurance company, and if you can sell it, you can make yourself some money."
Here's what Frank Bettger did. He studied for nine months straight. Didn't go out to sell, just studied, absorbed his product from every possible angle that you could think of and then went out to sell. The first policy he sold was a $15,000 life policy. Today he is the highest paid life insurance commission salesman in the world. He was a millionaire at the age of forty. He did his job with enthusiasm. Mind you, he had no education, not a single bit of it. Read his book. You will like it.
3. Pep-talk yourself daily. That probably sounds like a "Hooey" to you. Pep-talk myself daily! How can that help me? I don't know how many of you believe in Mary Baker Eddy. She was a Christian Scientist. I am not a Christian Scientist, but Mary Baker Eddy, in my opinion, had a greater influence upon people walking on this earth than any other woman known. Her philosophy was this: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so he go." That is why I say pep-talk yourself daily.
Here is how to do it. Every one of us, for example, gets up in the morning and shaves. I am speaking about the men naturally. Here is something you can do to help yourself. You don't have to do a lot of studying, but this will help you. As you get through with all your contortions to shave and look in your mirror, take both your hands and brace yourself on the edge of the sink, look in the mirror and say this - "Boy am I enthusiastic!" You know what is going to happen? Your wife is going to drop what she has in her hands, the kids are going to scatter in all directions and the dog is going to run like Hell under the sink and you will be a new man. Now, just try it and see how it works. Everybody get up. (Audience arose and chorused.) Now, I want you to shake hands with the man to the right of you and say "Boy am I enthusiastic!" You don't know how silly you looked, but nevertheless it does a job.
Seriously, try it. I have had many people meet me on the street later and tell me, "I laughed like the Devil when you told me about that, but by God the funny thing is, it works."
When you are meeting a tough prospect, and you are going to have them, just get hold of a mirror, get into a bathroom where no one can hear you and look into the mirror and say, "Boy, am I enthusiastic!" It's remarkable how it works.
One more point, the last one. Learn to modulate your voice, Boy, I cannot overemphasize that. I have salesmen come in to me every day, and when you speak about modulation of voice, they don't know anything about it. I had one man trying to sell me some lubrication equipment for my service stations, and mind you, he was only in that office about five minutes and in his introduction he used the word "I" twenty-six times in a monotone. "I have a beautiful piece of equipment; I think you will like this equipment; I know you will like this equipment." He didn't give a damn about me.
Put the spotlight on the other man. Magnify the "you" and minimize the "I". Turn the telescope around the other way, and let him look through his end and then modulate your voice. Let me show how it works. I had a class one time in salesmanship. I was an instructor for two years. In this class, something, happened that I will never forget, so let me tell you about it. I had approximately twenty-six students, and their salaries ranged from $2,400 to $24,000 a year learning to become a better salesman. During one of these sessions which, inci¬dentally, were divided into two parts, where the students got up in front of the class and told the group something of their interests or hobbies, in order to lose the fear that you sometimes get while facing a group of people. One man got up ... we will call him John ... but he got up in front of this class and told how he raised a creeping bent lawn, one of the most beautiful in the neighborhood, without one single seed of creeping bent, without a single plug; all he used was good fertilizer, good topsoil, peat-moss and a system of watering.
When he got finished, I said, "John, do you mean to tell me none of your neighbor's creeping bent crept over in your lawn?" He said, "No sir." "You know and I know it can't be done because I have a creeping bent lawn myself and I put a lot of seed and aches and pains into it." He said, "No sir, I didn't." "Do you mean to tell me no seed probably drifted over from other lawns in the neighborhood?" He said, "No, it didn't." "Well" I said, "If what you say is true, you will be the first man in science to take something inorganic and make it organic; it can't be done." With that, this man got up and told this class the same story of how he did that job, so when he finished, I turned to the class and said, "How many of you believe this man can raise a creeping bent lawn without any seed?" and here's the strange thing-sixteen of the twenty-six raised their hands, all because of the power of enthusiasm. That's all that man had.
Now I will go one step further. I said, "John, I will tell you what I am going to do. I will write to the Department of Agriculture in Madison and if they tell me you can do this I will give you a $10 bill." He said, "OK, it's a deal", so the next day I apologetically wrote to the Department of Agriculture. I knew it couldn't be done. A few days later I got a letter back confirming my statement. "Yes, it can't be done, that's right," but they added another paragraph. The funny thing is they said that four other people wrote about the same thing, wondering if it could be done. (Laughter) Just imagine what the power of enthusiasm can do. Imagine what miracles you can perform if a man like that can do it when we know it can't be done. Imagine what you and I can do, who know that our product has the quality and benefits and everything else that goes with it, to do the things we claim it will do. Do you know that you can say the same thing three different ways just through modulation of voice? One more example and I will close. If I were to say to you, "Do you know that this country has a national debt of two hundred seventy million dollars? I wonder who is going to pay it and when it is going to be paid, etc." You wouldn't be interested because I made an ordinary statement without feeling, but let's assume I told it to you in this manner: "Do you know that this country has accumulated a national debt of over two hundred seventy million dollars? (enthusiastically) That, my friends, is a lot of money. Now what I want to know is, who is going to pay it, how is it going to be paid, and when is it going to be paid?"
You were a little more interested, weren't you? Let me take my coat off and go to work. Mind holding this for me as I roll up my sleeves? If I said to you, “Do you know since the time George Washington was elected President up until the outbreak of the first World War in 1914, during those 126 years, this country had accumulated a national debt of approximately one billion dollars, but during the last ten years we accumulated a national debt ten times as great as we'd accumulated during the first 120 years of our existence? Do you know what that means? That means we owe eighteen hundred dollars for every man, woman and child that has ever lived in the United States." Now, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Only thirty billion people have ever lived on this earth-not the United States, on the earth; and if that is correct, and it is, that means we owe nine dollars for every man, woman and child that has ever lived on this earth. Do you know that just a little better than a billion minutes have passed since the time Jesus Christ was born up until now? You can take a pencil and figure it out if you want to. If that is true, all of us owe two hundred seventy dollars for every minute that has passed since the time that Jesus Christ has been born up until now. Do you know if we were to pay our national debt tomorrow and it is a terrific mortgage around our necks we would have to cash in every insurance policy in existence in the United States, plus, that we would have to sell every city dwelling in the United States, plus, we would have to sell every farm in the United States, plus, we would have to liquidate all the working capital of every corporation in this country, and we still couldn't pay the debt?" Are you interested?
Boy, you better be, because if you aren't, your children and my children and our great grandchildren will have a much lower standard of living than you and I have ever dreamed of. Now, what did I do? I said the same thing only in a different way. That's all I did. You might not get that enthusiastic about cemetery lots, but you had better begin, because it is going to get tough to sell, and you can build up a story just as well.
You know, there is something about enthusiasm. To me, ladies and gentle¬men, it is one of the greatest inspirations known to man. It is the very spirit in which we do anything worthwhile. It is actually our own soul and just like a proud peacock and singing lark, take what he has and throw it out to the world, so do you when you are enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm is almighty and unfailing. It is one of the most contagious fevers known to man and the moment that fever breaks out within you, it spreads instantly to all those within the range of your voice or your personality. It refuses to acknowledge any restrictions, it disregards past failures, it is totally blind all opposition; in fact, it is the one quality that never fails. When you are full of enthusiasm you are full of magic, you are alive, you feel the full spirit and force of your aspirations, and you let the whole world see your pride, your faith, the very fire in your blood.
Have you ever watched a child at Christmas time? There is nothing listless or indifferent about his emotions. He is all for Christmas. Why? He is excited, he is enthusiastic. It isn't the child, but it is the child's enthusiasm that makes Christmas the greatest time of all. Now, you and I have a job to do, a job that probably at the moment is beyond the realm of your realization, but a job that we can do without one iota of fear if we begin to glow with enthusiasm, a job that is going to require courage, tolerance and fortitude.
Always remember this-that anybody can learn to do a job, but it takes enthusiasm to put it over. You have been a grand audience. Thank you!
From the publication:
“1950-1951 Cemetery Yearbook”
NCA 21st Annual Meeting
Hotel Schroeder, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
October 18, 19, 20 and 21, 1950