Saturday, April 29, 2006

What's Next?

PO and his partners sold their business to FedEx in year 2000. Out of 127 partners, 100 are millionaires. Some are double digit and a few are triple digit millionaires.

The closest store to me is at Thruway Shopping Center on Stratford Road.

What do you think PO is doing after selling the business that took thirty years to build?

Some people who accumulate lots of money from a successful career, inheritance, lottery winnings, or the unbelievable executive pay, buy homes in exotic places, move to a gated community, write a book, and hire wealth managers.

Some people go to extremes in shielding their money from the government. This seems odd to me. The government that was so good to them seems to become the enemy, as expressed in attitudes of some people, when it comes to paying their share of taxes.

As for PO, he is his own wealth manager. While in school, he entered a stock picking contest and traded an imagery stock portfolio for a time period. His portfolio came in first out of 500 entrants. (He said this was the only time he received praise from his extended family while in school.) PO has always been a saver and investor in real estate and stocks. Remember, one of his criterion in selecting partners was that they be "savers".

PO has returned to the classroom where he sometimes teaches at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of California. (He has unorthodox teaching methods as his book explains.)

He has established foundations to fund initiatives to help people. He plans to give away most of his wealth over the next twenty years. PO said "I've already warned my sons not to expect a huge inheritance". I'm not that familiar with his foundations, but if you watch PBS and NOW, one foundation will be on the list of sponsors at the beginning of the program.

Return here on Monday when this person and his book will be revealed. I'll also identify the winners of the contest at that time.

Have a good day!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Matter of Trust

PO says "Trusting people is very emancipating. If you don't, you ought to give it a try. You'll find your life will work better and be more fun if you do."

He still loves learning about the U. S. Constitution, the U. S. Government, and democracy. The whole system is based, in large part, on trust.

Over the past thirty years, PO added partners, stores, and employees. The organization eventually reached 127 partners, 1200 stores, and 23,000 employees. The management structure was flat, not the usual pyramid with the boss on top. PO used the democratic way of voting and majority-rule as the guideline for making company wide decisions. His partners voted; PO abstained from voting but participated in discussion and debate.

The companies growth pace was frantic during some years and even with all the work to do, PO would get bored. That's the way it is with dyslexic, ADHD, ADD personalities. Repetitive busywork drives them to anger as it did with PO. "His anger was obvious to people around him. In his late forties he felt he had created a monster. The monster wasn't his company, it was him. It was hard to live in his skin" is the way he described it.

He guided his partners to offer employee benefits beyond normal. Subsidized daycare and contributions to first-time home purchases are examples of benefits beyond the normal extended by companies. PO believes that the store employees are the most important people in the organization and he fought for them.

Return here Saturday for the next to last posting about this person.

Send me an email at if you know this person's name.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Matter of Respect

While at college, Brillopad, Pubehead was labeled with a new nickname because of his hair. He didn't like this new nickname any better than the previous ones, but he decided to use it to name the business. His mother assisted in this decision because she said words with heavy consonants were easy for people to remember. Words like Xerox, Costco, Kodak, and Google are easy to recall.

From here forward I'll refer to this person as PO as in Post Office because it's easier to type and easier to read.

PO has a knack for understanding people and selecting ones that fit his personality test.
Here are just some of his criteria:

Are they honest? Have they saved money? Do they speak clearly? Do they arrive on time?

Punctuality is very important to PO. He believes that showing up late for an appointment, a meeting, or a scheduled gathering is disrespectful to other people and he doesn't tolerate it.
He says "there is no worse way to disrespect another person than by making them wait for you".

He believes "integrity is like virginity- you only lose it once".

As for honesty and paying taxes, PO says "I've always been diligent about rendering the government its due".

"He remembered one time a partner put a quarter in a paper machine and then removed two copies instead of one". "It makes my hair stand on end!", he said. "I still worked with this partner, but I let him know what I thought about that".

PO had an experience early in life that destroys some people. He was kidnapped and sexually molested by a man who was later caught and imprisoned.
The way PO coped with this incident and lived with this nightmare was by forgiving this man. (Again, an example of internalizing the concept from the Bible, Sunday School, or church)

PO's business grew and he expanded as he hired many partners. He let the managers and employees run the business as he stayed on "top of the business not in it". His philosophy is to "manage the environment not the people". Although he was the founder and company head, he hated attending board meetings. His short attention span and sometimes temper (from having ADD) caused him to be disruptive in meetings like these. He much preferred dinner meetings in restaurants or the frequent picnics where partners and employees met to relax and really get to know each other.

Return here on Thursday for continuation of this man's story.

Clarification: Earlier I said his high school class rank was 8th out of 1200. I meant 8th from the bottom. I corrected that on the original.

I expect to get a flurry of emails with the clues offered in this posting.

Have a good day!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Lesson from Life

Brillopad, Pubehead had a difficult time throughout school. One assistant principal along the way commented that the best his parents could hope for that he grow up to become a carpet layer.

Brillopad, Pubehead had some friends who helped him with school work and even assisted in helping him get the right answers - if you get my drift. Brillopad, Pubehead didn't take notes, but listened carefully especially when they studied the U. S. Constitution and Democracy. The straight-A students would study hard and make A's and then forget the material about which they were tested. Brillopad, Pubehead would make D's on the test but took pride in retaining the concepts about the subject taught like one-person, one-vote and majority rule. There is a difference between yielding the right answer on a test compared to internalizing the concepts.

The above notion reminds me of an article in the New York Times on April 2 this year by Karen W. Arenson. The title was "Nobody's Perfect. Neither is the Test." The article was about the scoring errors on 5000 exams from the College Board's October SAT. The article's title is what resonated with me and should be a truism. Nobody's perfect, neither is the test.

Brillopad, Pubehead questions the wisdom of the education system and the straight-A students. To him, these students study hard to excel on tests. The schools emphasize grades so strongly, and the straight-A types don't experience failure until they enter the real world after graduation. These type students are "not resilient" according to Brillopad, Pubehead.

While growing up, he tried work as a paper delivery boy, a door-to-door Fuller Brush salesperson, and he ran his own produce stand. He learned the pros and cons of each job type and discovered he was good at interacting with people directly. He came to believe his learning ability shortcoming caused him to empathize with people. He learned about inventory when he bought produce from distribution points and then discovered the effects on cost and profit when it didn't sell while fresh.

Somehow Brillopad, Pubehead got into college and struggled there just as he did in high school. He couldn't read well, write well or test well. He had ideas about a business, but knew he wouldn't be able to manage the details of operating a business. He decided to hire good people and pay them well in order for his business to be successful. That's what he did in one location as he continued his college studies and distributed fliers about his business.

By this time he acquired another nickname that he didn't appreciate any more than the previous ones, but he learned a powerful lesson that many people never learn and that is to accept who you are, defects and all, and leverage your strengths.

If you know who I'm writing about, then email me at

Return here on Tuesday for continued story.

Have a good day!

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Book Report

Some children are cruel to each other. Remember the scene in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks. When young Forrest boarded the school bus wearing leg braces, nobody on the bus would let him sit with them. Everyone prevented him from taking a seat as he moved down the aisle. The bus started to pull away when Jenny offer him a seat with her. She asked him "what's wrong with your legs". Forrest explained that his spine was crooked like a "question mark". Then she asked him "are you stupid or something"?

I'm going to tell you a true story about a young boy who grew up with similar treatment as Forrest Gump received. I'll tell you some lessons he learned from the experiences and explain how his adult life evolved.

This person is in his mid-fifties now and has written a book about his life. Well, let me clarify the previous statement, he really didn't write the book. His co-author did most of the writing because this person doesn't read or write well. He did poorly in school, spent much time in principals' offices, made terrible grades, spent lots of time in wood shop, and graduated 8th from the bottom out of 1200 in his California high school.

He didn't enjoy being called nicknames throughout his youth like Mohair, Brillopad, Pubehead, and Carpethead. Some of his friends were also called nicknames that described their physical appearance like Treadface, who survived a car wreck and looked it, and Pixiehand, whose hands were different sizes. Another friend was called Noodlearm because one arm was shriveled from a polio vaccine gone wrong. Then there was Craterface who had a bad case of acne, and Brute looked like the comic strip character.

Brillopad. Pubehead, or whatever you want to call him had supportive parents who wanted the best for him even though he had dyslexia and other learning disabilities we now call ADHD or ADD. We know them as "attention deficit disorders". His brother and sister teased him "mercilessly". Brillopad, Pubehead loved to go on picnics and went on lots of them throughout his life.

I'll pick up on the story on Sunday. If you know the real name of this person, please email me his name to and be the first one to identify him. At the end of this series I'll report the first person who emailed me the correct name and send the individual the $15.00 cash prize. Even if you don't know this person, I think you'll find him interesting and worthy of your attention. Read the next posting early Sunday.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pfafftown, Final Post

As goes Winston-Salem, so goes Pfafftown. The city has been the place where good jobs are found. Factory jobs with R. J. Reynolds and Hanes have been there for a hundred years. The 1950's brought the beginning of progressive change for this area. Western Electric Company and Wake Forest College moved to Winston-Salem and brought into this area many new people such as engineers, educators, managers, executives, and additional skilled labor. Some native residents grew up to become these same professionals. Later, other companies located here like Westinghouse, Amp, and Sara Lee. New people moved here to meld with locals. Many put down roots and contributed much to our growth. This continues today with more companies and people coming here with the hospitals, universities, and medical research. Pfafftown has grown with housing developments, golf course, park and recreation facilities, new high school, and a clean water treatment plant on the Yadkin River.

I hope this posting series reflects favorably on the area of Pfafftown where many of us call home. This place is not a town with a main street or even a significant crossroad. It's a spread out rural suburb with a post office.

Have a good day and look for the upcoming contest.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Watch for Upcoming Contest

After one more posting about Pfafftown, I plan to start a contest with a cash prize for the winner. Here is the way it will work:

I'm going to write about a certain person's life history. The first person (only one winner) who sends me an email with the correct name of the person for whom I'm describing will receive $15.00.

If you win, I'll send you the $15.00 into your PayPal account. If you don't have such an account, I'll send you a check.

The person about whom I'll write is a nationally known individual and I think you'll find him interesting if you don't know much about him now. I expect it will take three to five postings to complete the presentation of this person so visit this blog regularly. I plan to update in the mornings every two days. So, this Wednesday will be the last one on Pfafftown and Friday will be the contest start day. I normally update this blog around 5:00 to 6:00 AM.

Some family members may not be eligible if I've already told you the name of this person. I'll post the winner at the end and let you know the time and date of the correctly submitted answer.

Be the first to recognize this person and send me an email. The email address will be at the end of each day's posting.

Have a good day!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Wildlife, Environment in Pfafftown, Part V

Until now, I've focused on people life in Pfafftown.

As for wildlife, today is different compared to the 1950's and 60's for which I can attest. During those decades, there wasn't one deer or wild turkey anywhere in this area. There were no Canada geese. Foxes and raccoons were rare and the ones here were being chased all hours of some weekend nights by hunters using trained dogs.

Hawks would have been shot at the first sighting.

Rabbits were trapped or chased by hunting dogs while squirrels were stalked by young hunters like me.

A person could not get within a thousand feet of crows. Crows would post a sentry in a tree to alert the others of approaching humans and then fly away if people approached them.

Today, all is different, many hunters put away their guns and bought golf clubs, tennis rackets, or swimming pool attire. In large part, hunting gave way to other activities or old-timers lost interest. Now, deer and wild turkey sightings are common and exciting to see. Red-tailed hawks, crows, and Canada geese do not fear Pfafftown residents as we cohabit these spaces.

As for the environment, most people didn't throw their garbage and rubbish into the edge of the tree line behind their house or use isolated roadside dump sites, but some did. Lots of people burned trash in metal barrels in their backyard. Maturity, improved standard of living, and curbside garbage collection service caused most people to turn away from these disposal practices.

Many people now embrace the concept of sorting their package materials and taking those items to recycling centers instead of mixing them with garbage. Roadsides are cleaner today because motorists litter less as volunteer groups adopt highway segments for trash pick-up.

Have a good day!


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pfafftown, Part IV (Farming)

William Vance Nichols' 1994 painting "The Harvest" captures a period in history. This scene was a common sight in Pfafftown. As with most rural areas of the country, agrarian life was the norm for most people, especially prior to the 1950's. The main crops around Pfafftown were tobacco, corn, various small grains, and grass for hay. Hogs, cows, chickens and large gardens were also farmed to help feed families.

Tobacco harvesting meant going to the fields beginning in July to visit each plant. The ripening of tobacco leaves starts at the bottom of the stalk and moves up the plant over an 8 to 12 week period. These weekly visits involved "cropping" the ripe leaves usually 2 to 4 leaves per plant each week. These yellow-tinted, green leaves would make cracking sounds as the wrist-action of children and adult labor broke the leaves next to the stalk. This was back-aching work in conditions of extreme heat. "Priming" was the term used to describe the work of the "field hands" as they moved along the tobacco rows in stoop labor form.

The leaves were accumulated into sleds pulled by mules or small tractors passing through the fields. When full, the sleds were dragged to the barn where, usually female, crews would hand- string "bunched" leaves onto sticks. After the day's harvest was complete, the men would return to the barn and begin "housing" the loaded sticks onto "tier poles" inside the barn.

These barns were usually built from hand-hewn logs interlocked on the corners forming a square of around 16 feet. The courses of logs would rise to around 13 to 15 high and be around that many feet tall. A typical barn would hold 250 to 350 sticks loaded with leaves ready for curing. Curing meant slowly adding heat to the closed barn over the time span of 5 to 7 days. The ambient heat was produced by wood burning inside a rock or brick tunnel built inside the barn on the dirt floor. Oil and propane gas were introduced later to produce heat as conversions were made to modernize these barns. Temperatures would eventually be raised from 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit to dry the harvest and turn these leaves a bright golden color. The cured leaves were removed from the barn just in time for the cycle to repeat the next week.

As a teenager during summer, I worked all jobs associated with tobacco farming except curing. Although my father and mother didn't farm during my childhood, I worked as a hired hand for neighbors in the area. The going pay rate for this type work was $0.75 per hour during the time period of early '60's.

Today, these barns dot the Pfafftown countryside in an abandoned, dilapidated, or overgrown condition as two pictures show below. I'm not aware of any tobacco now growing in Pfafftown and can't recall when I last saw a field growing here. These old barns represent a past era that has been replaced with modern day living.

I'll describe the wildlife here in a couple days.

Have a good day!


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Historic Pfafftown Churches, Part III

Three United Methodist Churches are the oldest in Pfafftown. The brick building of Doub's Chapel on Seward Road was established in 1780.

Pleasant Hill in Dozier is next oldest with its founding in 1852.

Elm Grove, established 1894, in the bottom picture is located at the edge of Seward on Reynolda Road. These churches are triangularly positioned in the community, separated by two to three miles, and served by one minister who currently is the Reverend Richard Patzfahl.

Although not members, both sets of my grandparents are buried in two of these churches' cemeteries.

The congregations are relatively small in membership, but they do a big job of organizing community affairs like July 4th God and Country celebrations, Homecomings, Veterans Day observances, as well as Fire Department and Law Enforcement appreciations. Doub's Chapel usually leads these activities with the support from the sister congregations.

There are larger churches in Pfafftown with more programs for young people, but they don't have the long history and architecture of these three.

I will address tobacco farming and flue-curing barns in two days.

Have a good day!


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pfafftown, Part II

Fifty to eighty years ago these three country stores were places to go for sugar, flour, soda pop, candy, hoop-cheese, fish (in a barrel of brine), chewing tobacco, and neighborhood conversations. There were other stores that long ago were demolished like Kearney's near Old Richmond School, Whitman's in Dozier (converted to residence), and Pfaff's at the end of Transou Road at Yadkinville Rd.

The store buildings in pictures here are still standing but out of business. Waller's Store, the second picture, is located in Dozier. Edna Waller kept this store open for the past 30 to 40 years until health required her to close last year. It was formerly operated by Emory Long and named Long's Store. This is where I met the school bus my first years in elementary school. The public library's bookmobile also parked here on its route through the county during summer months.

Ernest Kapp's Store, top picture, is located on Seward Circle. This road segment was part of Hwy. 67 until reconstruction straightened this highway and redirected through traffic out of this curve. Kapp's Store closed at this location around fifty years ago.

The store building in the bottom picture was the store owned and operated by Efraim Davis (sp ?) on Old Hwy. 421 (Yadkinville Rd.) in the Vienna community. This building was moved to the property of West Central Community Center in Vienna with plans for restoration. Apparently this plan evaporated when nearby neighbors protested the annual tractor show on these same grounds. The housing development neighbors succeeded in prohibiting the annual event and old-timers' support for this restoration plan apparently vanished.

These sites are part of the "old" of Pfafftown. My next posting will show and describe historic churches.

Have a good day!


Friday, April 07, 2006

Pfafftown, NC 27040, Part I

Introducing "Pfafftown" (the first name in my blog's URL)

(the first f is silent when pronouncing this word)

It occurred to me that some folks seeing this blog may not be familiar with this suburb. This zip code area of Forsyth County is northwest of Winston-Salem and borders the city limit. It consists of several unincorporated rural areas called Vienna, Dozier, Seward, and Pfafftown. It's beyond the scope of my intent here to write about where these names originated or to relate the old history of this area. However, I intend to show and write briefly about landmarks and some impressions I have of living here most of my life. Some locals living here may not be aware of some of the sites I intend to show you in future days. Others will remember when these landmarks were well known places. People who moved here in the past fifty years may find this information new. Either way, I hope you find it interesting.

The picture below is the current diner where many old-timers hang out to eat and visit. The current restaurant operator has been cooking and managing this eatery for probably 30 years.
It's located along one feeder road to Winston-Salem where most people work.

Later, I'll show you some historical stores, churches, and barns in the zip code area of Pfafftown.

Have a good day!


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Appreciating Philanthropy

Have you thought about how we benefit from the generosity of some wealthy people? Let me give you two examples. Credits given at the beginning of some PBS programming identify foundations who support their broadcast. I made a note of Park Foundation and researched this philanthropic organization on the Internet. I was surprised to learn that Roy H. Park was born and reared in Dobson, NC. He graduated high school at age 15, went to NCSU where he majored in journalism and became successful in several business ventures. Read his short biography by clicking on the link at his name. When he died, he gave 70% of his estate to the foundation he created.

Secondly, if you visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, you will see life-size images of animals from around the world set in their natural habitat behind a wall of glass. Near the floor of each display, a plate will identify the person(s) who donated the upkeep cost for the climate controlled space housing these displays. Most of the ones I saw were a Mr. & Mrs. Name I didn't recognize.

These are examples of education opportunity we enjoy through quality TV programming and museum exhibits brought to us, in part, from wealthy individuals. There are many people who do much for us all and I appreciate them.

The next time you're in New York, budget a half-day to visit this museum. You won't regret it.

Have a good day!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Eyes Wide Open

A couple months ago my wife invited me to attend a mathematics technology conference with her. I sent my fees and registration form to be included in the T3 Regional Conference. Last Friday we arrived at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington where we spent from 2 PM to 8 PM in Leutze Hall and on Saturday from 8 AM to 5 PM in a variety of sessions to learn more about graphing calculators and classroom learning systems. These classes were taught by public school teachers of math in schools throughout North and South Carolina.

As an outside observer, I can tell you there are exciting things happening in technology and the math classrooms. Texas Instruments (TI) is bringing much help to math and science teachers to enable teaching and learning comprehension. I predict that young students of today and tomorrow will learn and understand mathematics to a level much beyond my generation. TI has partnered with CBS network and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) to produce the weekly TV program Numb3rs which uses math to analyze crime to reveal patterns to predict behavior. Teachers can opt to download classroom activities coordinated with each show episode.

Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint are being used to demonstrate quadratic equations and polynomial functions.

There are learning systems to teach algebra, geometry, probability, statistics, and much more without the laborious detail many of us attempted in the past to grasp these concepts.

If you have children or grandchildren in school you should find out how up-to-date their classes are with instrumentation and technology. Some schools and teachers are offering amazing instructions to students of mathematics.

I thank my wife for inviting me to this conference.

Have a good day!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"Mason Madness"

I'm only mildly interested in college sports until teams advance to final competition. The news this week has been overpowering with George Mason University reaching the NCAA Final Four playoffs and Duke University's lacrosse team sidelined for ugly (and perhaps criminal) party behavior.

I have seen two front page articles in the Wall Street Journal this week about George Mason University and the person for whom the university is named. The basketball team is helping to put this school on everyone's awareness radar. Many people, me included, want to know more about this young college as evidenced by web site visits and telephone calls to administrators at the school. This school's performance should be a source of encouragement for other less known universities who are doing an excellent job of educating and training young people.

I will be watching and cheering for GMU tonight, but win or lose, I hope the team and school's celebration parties exclude strip dancers.

Have a good day!