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 4th, 2012

Michael Delees: You don’t have to be rich to be wealthy.

Michael is not rich in money yet lives a life many people would envy. In his youth Michael, now 65 years of age, struggled in school because being severely dyslexic, he could barely read. And he had so little self-confidence, he was afraid to speak in front of a class.

Michael barely graduated from high school, lasted just two months at a community college and dropped out to join the Navy for two years during the Vietnam War. Afterward, at his mother’s insistence, he re-enrolled at a community college and persevered to earn a two year degree.

In his career, Michael was directionless until he met a young female hairdresser, and fell in love. She and her dad convinced him to pursue that profession, and he did, breezing through the nine month class.

Michael now knew what he wanted to do with his life and at last everything was going well, as he married this young lady. Their dream was to own a salon and they slashed their expenses and saved their money in pursuit of that dream.

By 1972, they had saved $8,000 and used it to open a tiny four chair salon, in a space about the size of a small Subway sandwich shop. With their overhead so low, and their client base in place, they began making money.

But their success led to their downfall. Michael loved this business and began holding nationwide shows for such famous beauty firms as L’Oreal Paris and Redken International, as he spoke to audiences as large as 1,000 people.

This man, who years earlier had been afraid to speak in public, was now dazzling audiences, for he was speaking from passion and his self-confidence was no longer an issue.

But being on the road so often cost Michael his nine year marriage, which ended in divorce.

To deal with the painful feelings that followed his divorce, Michael focused on his salon, and added a business partner, Robert Allen. Together, they built a very successful salon. And Michael eventually began what is now a 20 year loving relationship with Melody McClain, a hairdresser who is also a mother and grandmother.

Michael had found happiness with Melody and was now also at the top of his profession.

But in 2000, nearing his 53rd birthday, Michael made a stunning decision. Despite having been a business owner for 28 years, he gifted his salon ownership to his partner Robert and instead just rented a chair there.

Michael politely told his client base, me included, that from then on, all his appointments would be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday only, so he could find greater “balance” in his life.

He then focused on a problem that had haunted him throughout his life: his poor reading skills. “I bought a comfortable chair and a reading lamp and I began reading magazines. Gradually I advanced to reading books. I learned to read with a pencil and I'd underline key passages to help me absorb them, as I went over them a second time.”

Michael had finally triumphed over his dyslexia and he became a voracious reader. He also made exercise and better eating habits an important part of his life.

Today, he is in top physical condition and on varied topics such as economics, politics, history, health care, and business, he is one of the best read people this side of a university.

To relax, Michael also cruises peacefully alongside the Pacific Ocean in a classic 1956 Chevrolet convertible, a car he bought in 1964, when he was just 17.

In demeanor, Michael is personable and easy going and enjoys the company of his clients.

“One of the real big things I like in my job is listening to stories from my clients. I find it interesting and I learn from each of them." His clients include physicists, multi-millionaire entrepreneurs, a Rabbi, a Priest, a Pastor and a furniture manufacturer, as well as people who work every day for a living. "I get paid to be a good listener and I learn from them.”

In a world where people often sacrifice their lives in pursuit of money, Michael is wealthy without being rich, for he has enough money to live life on his own terms, is healthy and he has a sense of peace and fulfillment.

Success Tip of the Week: As Michael did, if you are dissatisfied with your life, find the courage to change it into one that brings you happiness.

Editor’s Notes: Michael had purchased that comfortable chair and reading lamp and was already reading magazines and occasional books at the time he made the dramatic change in his career.

In the next KazanToday: The 10 words that could lead you to great success.

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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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