Last week, I attended the funeral services for my grandpa, Donald J. Nutter, whom I knew as ‘Gawky’ (long story). He passed away earlier last week, rather unexpectedly. While Gawky wasn’t a very technological man, he still managed to teach me things that I use almost daily, and I wanted to share some of those with you.
Anything and everything I know about entrepreneurship, I owe to my grandpa. Gawky was a funny man. No matter what his financial position, he refused to utter the word ‘job’. He insisted upon spelling it, if absolutely necessary, and avoided it if at all possible. He believed more in hobbies that happened to pay well.
He was also an adventurer. Over the years of his life, Gawky was a pilot, flying small planes all over the world (even hitting a bird once that broke his windshield mid-flight), and loved to travel. He had friends everywhere he went, from all walks of life, and loved to play tennis, even in his later years. He used to always travel to Illinois every year for the 100 Mile Trail Ride, which his dad used to ride in, too.
Gawky was also a salesman and master networker till the day he died (quite literally). Unfortunately, for the majority of the last part of his life, he insisted on selling Usana, which has become a dirty word in our family. Usana is a multilevel marketing setup. You can just buy the products, but they’d rather you recruit other salespeople, to build your ‘leg’, etc.
Going through Gawky’s stuff last week at his duplex, we discovered stacks and stacks of business cards from people in every business imaginable – contacts he’d made that he hoped to recruit for Usana. He also had boxes upon boxes of Usana products and brochures and whatnot – all at the ready for a curious ear, and he didn’t have the slightest hesitation to try to sell it to anyone, including family.
While it was really annoying, it’s also really a cool memory. The man was an entrepreneur who didn’t have the words ‘give up’ in his vocabulary. Every interaction was an opportunity, in his mind, and that’s something that I can definitely appreciate. He never missed an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of his products to you, offer a ‘free sample’, or any other common sales techniques.
Gawky was also very firm in his beliefs, and very active. He believed vehemently that ice cream was always a healthy food option, regardless of the situation or time of day. He believed that children (of any age) who misbehaved should promptly receive a swift kick in the pants, and he wasn’t afraid to administer that punishment, should the need arise. He maintained that his product was awesome, and that it had helped him so much, surely it would help you, too.
Gawky was always joyful, and never one to let life’s troubles get him down. He had a stroke several years ago that left him with a condition where his brain knew what words he wanted to use, but his mouth simply wouldn’t form them. It was extremely frustrating to deal with, both for him and for his family. However, he insisted on attending rehab classes and therapy so that he could function again, and he made tremendous progress over the last few years at being able to form the words properly – no small task when your body isn’t 100% cooperating.
Gawky taught me never to give up on my dreams, to never ‘settle’ , and to never miss an opportunity. He taught me to persevere, and to stand firm in my beliefs, however insignificant they may seem. He’ll be missed, that’s for sure.