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 September 21, 2010

Today: How Jon "Jack" Douglas through hard work and a positive attitude willed himself to sports and business stardom.

Can a positive state of mind lead you to success as it did Jack? His remarkable story will help you to answer that question.

Jack loved football and despite being too small to play, being just 5ft 9, but even smaller at first, and maybe 165 or 170 pounds, he refused to allow being too little to stop him.

In the early 1950’s at Santa Monica High School, Jack believed he could succeed in one of the most brutal of games.

In a sport dominated by giants, most over 6 feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds and in some cases 300 pounds, little Jack quarterbacked Santa Monica to championships and himself to top honors.

How hard was that? Picture Jack as quarterback behind huge linemen he can only see over while they are down in their stance before the ball is snapped. Once the play begins, he can’t even see the receivers to throw the ball to without dropping back and moving quickly from side to side.

Meanwhile, the other team’s giant linemen and some of their huge linebackers are trying to tackle him in a bone jarring collision. They occasionally knocked him silly.

Jack would pick himself up, instantly assess the results of the last play and call the next play. He became such an outstanding quarterback, that not only did he dominate local high school football at that position but won a football scholarship to Stanford University, where he quarterbacked that team against even bigger and faster players.

But football was not Jack’s only sport. At Santa Monica High School, he played tennis and believe it or not was on the basketball team, another sport giants usually dominate.

At Stanford, he played tennis so well, that he won All-American honors twice, making him one of the top amateur players in the nation.

Jack then represented the U.S. in international competition, three times playing for the Davis Cup, the peak of men’s team tennis competition (1958, 1960-61).

But there was more to Jack than sports. He became a superb student and graduated with highest honors from Stanford, with a degree in history.

How did he attain all this success? He was intelligent and he was also a talented athlete. But the key to his success academically and as a sports star, was to get organized, learn what aspects of sports and academia would make him successful and then outwork everyone else.

Yet there was something more important. The world is filled with smart, talented, hard working people who never attain their potential. To accomplish the extraordinary required Jack to believe in himself, convinced he could achieve what he put his mind to, for the mind is the most powerful tool any of us have.

Or to paraphrase Henry Ford, “Think you can or think you can’t, either way, you’re right.”

If you believe you can achieve the extraordinary, and if you fully apply yourself as Jack did, you may amaze yourself at what you accomplish.

After college, Jack spent three years in the U.S. Marines and was then ready to start his career. Eventually he decided to sell Los Angeles area real estate, got his real estate license and joined a large firm to thoroughly learn the business.

In 1971, 35 year old Jack and a business partner Dan Emmett boldly determined to make their fortune by building apartment buildings. But neither had much money and each invested $7,500 to start a company, anticipating they would borrow the rest of the money they would need from banks when they found the right opportunity.

It was a wonderful dream, but by now Jack had a wife and children to support and he needed to find a way to pay the bills. While he and Dan were looking for the right building opportunity, Jack started Jon Douglas Co., a sideline real estate brokerage firm to sell homes.

Jack didn’t know it then but this sideline firm would eventually make him a very wealthy man. He persuaded people to list their homes for sale with him and part of that sales pitch was to illustrate the creative ways he would use to attract buyers and the rest was based upon how hard he would work to sell their homes.

And work hard he did. Jack put in long hours and he became very effective over the telephone as he earned a wonderful reputation for always returning his calls, something many people don’t do.

Being a well organized, self disciplined man had helped make him successful in sports and now it also did the same in business.

Soon Jack built his number of listings and his sales. To attract even more business, he recruited others to join him and over the years that growth never stopped, as Jon Douglas Co. became a household name across the greater Los Angeles area.

In 1995, he merged his firm into Prudential and by 1997; he had nearly 70 offices and employed or had associated with his firm as independent agents, over 2,000 people. His firm later became part of Coldwell Banker.

Despite the firm’s size, Jack avoided the ivory tower and got to know many of the people within his company. Whether in celebrating victories or in offering kind words in defeat, Jack was there.

From Jack’s sports days, he encouraged people to do as he did, join a health club and work out regularly. He felt good health was irreplaceable, sustained one’s energy and built self-esteem. To those who would use a health club, he paid their start-up fees and half their monthly dues.

His firm brought him tremendous joy, but everything in life comes to an end, and it did for Jack. On July 27th, 2010 he passed away in his sleep at the age of 73 in his Los Angeles home. He is survived by his divorced wife and by their four sons and six grandchildren.

Jack is also survived by the tens of thousands of clients he and his agents helped to buy or sell homes and by the thousands of agents he trained and uplifted. And as a result of today’s column perhaps he helped to make your life a little nicer as well.

Success Tip of the Week: “There are so many people out there who will tell you that you can’t. What you’ve got to do is turn around and say watch me.” (Author unknown).

Editor’s Note: The above quote comes to us from Kristin Taliaferro, as a “Thought Of The Day” from her motivational “Morning Mantra” website, http://www.MorningMantra.com.

In the next KazanToday: A tinkerer whose machines revolutionized heart surgery and made him a fortune, much of which he then donated to help others.

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Many of these short, inspirational success 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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