Entrepreneur Stanley Dashew shares thoughts for Thanksgiving Day
By April MacIntyre Nov 22, 2011, 5:12 GMT
An American business entrepreneur who grew up during the Great Depression counts his blessings Ė and tells why other should, too, on Thanksgiving Day.
An American business entrepreneur who grew up during the Great Depression counts
his blessings Ė and tells why other should, too, on Thanksgiving Day.
With record unemployment for many and continuing tough economic times for most, Americans may struggle this year for reasons to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day.
At 95 years-old, business entrepreneur, philanthropist and author Stanley Dashew has seen his share of holiday celebrations.
Some of the most memorable he shared with Monsters and Critics were when the times were the toughest, especially when he was a boy growing up during The Great Depression, circa 1930s.
Mr. Dashew and the companies he started hold more than 40 U.S. patents. But heís probably best known for building the machines that automated the credit card industry. If you have a plastic credit card in your wallet, you have him to thank.
Today, he continues to reinvent himself, most recently as a freelance writer. He recently sold an article to the Christian Science Monitor. Earlier this year he published his memoir, ďYou Can Do It! Inspiration and Lessons from An Inventor, Entrepreneur and Sailor.Ē
We caught up with Mr. Dashew to hear his thoughts on finding thanks on Thanksgiving during difficult financial times. His interview follows.
Monsters and Critics: What does being thankful mean to you?
Stanley Dashew: First, I am thankful for being blessed with an optimistic attitude. During my 95 years I have had my share of problems Ė professionally and personally Ė but Iíve always viewed these not as obstacles but stepping stones to something better. With that in mind, Iím looking forward to joining the ď100 clubĒ and living life fruitfully in my 10th decade.
Of course, Iím grateful for my loving family, including my three adult children and my happy brood of grandchildren.
As well, I appreciate every day the opportunity to invent and innovate to my heartís, and mindís, content. And I did! Between myself and the companies that established, we filed more than 40 patents in diverse fields and industries including mass transit, medical equipment and data processing. Perhaps Iím best known for inventing and manufacturing the Databosser, the machine that automated the credit card industry beginning in the Sixties.
I am also thankful for never having been seasick. You see, I love to sail and have ever since I was a young man. Most weekends you can still find me sailing my 72-foot-cutter. How much do I love the sea? Well, when I was 34, I took my young family, complete with a newborn baby, on a 15,000-mile, 15-month transoceanic voyage. It was covered in the day by 50 newspapersin this country and internationally as a modern-day Swiss Family Robinson adventure!
Finally, I appreciate being born in this great country of ours - and for my grandparents who suffered many hardships to immigrate here. Hereís what I told the Los Angeles Times when my family arrived in the port of Long Beach on October 26, 1950 upon completing our voyage: 'Iím thankful I was born an American. This is the only country in the world where a fellow like myself has the opportunity to make enough money to fulfill a lifelong ambition.'
M&C: Did it mean something different when you were younger?
Stanley Dashew: When I was younger, growing up in the Great Depression, I was thankful for very basic things like a place to sleep and food to eat. I recall a Thanksgiving when I was a boy, I was assigned to take a turkey from the chicken coop behind our house in Pomona, New York to the local butcher, who politely declined to have anything to do with it.
Well, I had to take the bird all the way back home because we werenít going to have turkey on Turkey Day without him. So I gave him an extra fancy lunch, and that evening I had no shame in the birdís execution. It tasted great.
M&C: What have your tougher times taught you?
Stanley Dashew: The trouble with success is that it fools you into thinking the only way is up. Thatís rarely the case with business or life in general. The path to success is rarely, if ever, direct or entirely uphill.
The lowest point in my career came 20 years into my career as a entrepreneur when I almost lost the business that I had built from the ground up. Oh, my first marriage was ending, too. But it is in the twists and turn of events, when forced to exercise more endurance and hard work than I thought I had, that Iíve achieve my greatest successes.
Today at age 95, Iíve weathered 15 economic recessions, suffered two broken hips, and Iím living with Parkinsonís disease. Nevertheless, Iíve just embarked on a new career as a freelance writer. I just sold an article to the Christian Science Monitor, and I have the distinction as the oldest writer ever to be hired by that august publication. Being a writer, and getting paid for it, was a life-long dream of mine.
Times are tough now. They have been before. I reminded of that icon of American invention (who predated me by just a few years), Thomas Edison, who once said, 'Many of lifeís failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.' Heed Mr. Edisonís advice: Donít give up before youíve even really begun!