Success Stories By Dick Kazan - Valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
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 October 31, 2006

Have you grown apart from someone you love?

Maybe it’s because you’re too busy or they’re too far away.

If you’d like an easy way to reestablish that close relationship, may I offer a few suggestions as someone who for years has called upon retired senior citizens.

To start, it’s important to be aware that however successful they were, unless they’re married, still active in their careers or have friends, causes or hobbies that keep them busy, they often become lonely.

The reason is many of the people closest to them have died. And younger people seldom call.

So they watch television and if eye sight allows, they read.

But they hunger for people to share stories with them and to discuss important issues of the day. Often, they have real insight to offer but no-one to listen to them.

I’m busy but I set aside time to schedule a weekly phone call or a weekly or every two week visit.

If you do this, your call or visit will be treasured. All week, that person will look forward to it and be so grateful for your time.

My great aunt Zena lived to be 98 and every week when I’d call as scheduled, she’d shut off any distractions and her voice would happily boom out, “What’s news Dickie?”

A century ago in Russia, she graduated from college, unusual for a woman at that time and she became a mid-wife delivering babies, a god-send to numerous people. She was a political activist as well and in person, saw Communist revolutionary Lenin and other Russian leaders.

Jewish people in Russia, including Zena and her husband Jake were regularly under attack from large numbers of anti-Semitic hoodlums. One day some of those hoodlums punched their oldest son, just a child and threatened to kill him. Zena and Jake had had enough and decided to come to America.

This meant saying goodbye to family and friends, most of whom they would never see again and leaving their home, their culture, their language and nearly everything they owned.

In America, Zena and Jake learned English and ran a grocery store. They raised two sons, one a well-known dentist and the other a successful businessman.

Zena was a well-read woman who loved opera and the other arts and what a joy it was to speak with her, even when her hearing declined. She always asked about my family and my business and she was well informed on current events. She died 22 years ago and I miss her to this day.

Then there was a former neighbor of mine who lived to be 97. Her husband had been successful in business and when he died, he left her a big home and money to afford a staff to look after her and to provide a large inheritance to their three children.

None of the children lived in the area and with the exception of one daughter, they seldom called. So every other week, when I would visit this wheel chair bound lady, she made it a big event with plenty of hugs.

She came from a colorful Boston family. Her mother had raised three children by her 1st husband but one night caught him in bed with another woman. She divorced him and later met and married my former neighbor’s father, and had her and another daughter.

The 1st date my ex-neighbor had was as a teenager during World War 1. It was a casual date with a teenage soldier who was about to be shipped off to the battle front. He was lonely and scared and asked if they could write to each other. They did. He wrote regularly until abruptly, his letters stopped coming.

She later learned he had been killed in action.

These are examples of the many interesting stories she shared.

And then suddenly everything changed. When I arrived one day, she asked me to help her with a problem. Her city had view protection rules and her neighbor politely asked her to remove several 40 feet tall pine trees that blocked his view.

To advise us, she asked me to hire at her expense, a landscape expert her husband had always used.

I did and with her neighbor we looked at the trees and took the expert’s advice to remove them. Just before they were to be removed, I got an irate telephone call from her son, who repeatedly screamed, “Who do you think you are!” and “How dare you!”

His mother had told him about the removal of what he saw as his trees and he felt I was reducing the value of his inheritance. He stopped the tree removal, her neighbor complained to the city that then put her through a stressful hearing process.

Her son didn’t participate because he lived in another state.

Ultimately, the city ordered the trees removed or cut down to unsightly living tree stumps. Her son chose the tree stumps.

But because he was so angry at me, she asked that I no longer visit. This meant that for the last several months of her life, other than staff, she had no visitors. One can only guess the sadness and the loneliness she may have felt.

After her death, the house was sold. Ironically one of the first things the buyers did was to remove the unsightly tree stumps.

But for years I enjoyed the company of this lovely lady and I fondly recall many of her stories. And I can still hear the laughter in her voice or the sadness in her heart as she told them to me.

Success Tip of the Week: However busy or distant you are, don’t lose out on a relationship with a loved one. There is always time to schedule at least a brief regular phone call. Life is so short and when that person passes, you’ll be thankful you took that time.

In the next KazanToday: How you can receive the most treasured of all gifts.

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Many of these short 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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