At the end of this month, it's my darling Dad's 84th birthday.
Born in 1926 in Detroit, Michigan, this quiet American, known as Mal Grigg, has sailed oceans, managed large-scale refrigeration companies in three countries, brought up half a dozen kids, enjoyed the company of the same number of grandkids, and is as sharp and active as ever.
Maybe his everlasting youth is in part due to his 'childbride' (my Mum), who keeps him on his toes by arranging adventures away, gets him off to the local gym, makes a mean Manhattan and creates unforgettable home-cooked meals.
These days, it's less common for our family to sit together at the dinner table, receiving Dad's nightly lectures on politics, finance, philosophy and everything in between. Still, I get articles and letters from Dad, furthering my life's instruction via the postman.
I received a great dissertation from Dad last September, the no nonsense 'Ten Rules for Business and Life.'
With permission, I have copied down his classic 'Mal-isms': this smart man knows, both literally and figuratively, how to hit the nail on the head.
As Dad says, 'It seems to me that elders have a responsibility to pass to their offspring a distillation of what they have learned over the years. I certainly qualify as an elder but whether the foregoing can be called learning is questionable. Time will tell.'
Happy happy birthday Dad... you still got it, you classy guy!
1. Back 'em or sack 'em
Everyone seeks recognition for the hard work and effort put into their job. The number one role of the manager is to assist those in the organisation to achieve the best possible result within their personal capability. In this way, the manager surrounds himself with willing and capable people.
For those who do not respond or are negative in their attitude, they are best served by allowing them to depart gracefully to find their opportunities elsewhere. If kept in the organisation they tend to spread discontent and are seen by others as 'not pulling their weight'.
2. Give luck a chance to work
Life is full of 'lucky breaks' – you hear of them often – 'right place at the right time' – chance meeting with a particular person, etc. So stay positive and keep your eyes and mind open to take advantage of obvious opportunities.
3. Do not proceed in fear
When approaching a new endeavour go forward with a positive attitude and expectation of success. If it fails accept it and get on with life in a new direction. If climbing mountains or sailing offshore is a fearful experience then don't do it. Await another day.
4. If you can't measure, you can't manage
Nearly every human endeavour can be measured: value of sales; profit; items produced; quality; degree of satisfaction; health and safety, etc. If your job is to manage others then it should be part of the process to measure the outcome of their effort. It must be stressed that this is to help them and is your way of giving them assistance. It is not a club for battering them!
5. Get the facts
How often do we 'guess' this will work, push odd buttons on the computer to make it work, think we know the law without consulting a lawyer, fail to read the instructions or argue with a customer before we check the specification or contract. So get the facts before you act. And see the doctor once a year for a blood test and check up to maintain good mental and physical health by having the facts.
6. Have something to believe in
We all need help to get through life successfully. Many find it in religion – others in nature – some in good friends and family – some in the stars. It is a big beautiful universe and there are many choices or combinations of the above. So exercise your mind occasionally to find out what gives you comfort, guidance and confidence. It is a one way trip through life – try to go 'first class' in quality if not in quantity.
7. Parents are grindstones on which children can sharpen their wits
There is a vast industry telling parents how to raise their children. I don't propose entering that debate. The obvious is to give them love, discipline, support and protect them from harm. In addition, I suggest the above is perhaps a benefit that will serve them well in future years (wit – practical intelligence).
8. Set your objectives and define your strategies
Both of the above change from time to time. But to achieve goals it is necessary to think and plan carefully and to set in writing short and long term objectives and the means to achieve them.
I, for one, have not been very good at this but I'm certain that it can be a significant benefit. Keep it short, sweet and to the point! If you can't do it in one or two pages then try again.
9. Have some fun
My engineering education did not teach or encourage me to dance, tell jokes, find humour in failure, be a good lover or take chances. But experience has taught me that the old proverb is true that says 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'. Relaxation is good for you, your loved ones and those around you.
10. Two dont's
Don't bet the bank.
And don't forget to say 'thank you'.
Dad in his business prime, second from right, evokes shades of the Mad Men series. Photo taken by his 'BFF', the recently departed and much-loved Lou Geisling.