“I hope you take this right, because as a friend I need to be straight with you. Stop talking about your age. You are not old,” Jim said.
Grady’s Incisive Insight
I was meeting with my friend Jim Grady. We’ve known each other for over 30 years. He began with my first startup as a software salesman. By the time he was 29, he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. His first step was to get equipped and build his network. There wasn’t a lot of support for entrepreneurs in Atlanta, so Jim quit his job, went to Wharton for an MBA and started a company.
Since that time, Jim has started three other companies. I invested in all of them. Jim is now the founder of Package Solutions in Atlanta. I think this is going to be a big success for a few reasons. Jim is an experienced entrepreneur. He found a big problem that must be solved. He has carefully selected and surrounded himself with brilliant, experienced industry advisors.
Jim and I met recently. He saw I was debating the path to follow. As a friend, he wanted to help me. I put this meeting off because I know Jim. He is quick to pinpoint the problem and is very direct. My days of quandary would immediately cease.
The 10th Item
As the meeting was concluding, I listed nine items I learned from our two-hour conversation. He agreed with all of them. That’s when he said, “You need a 10th item on your list.”
Jim told me he always loved and admired his grandmother. They called her Mommy Lizzie. She was his stepdad’s mom, and she lived to be 102 years old. Jim would visit her often. She was always learning and always engaged. She stayed alert and mentally sharp right to the end.
At 92 Mommy Lizzie went on a cruise. While on the cruise, she met a retired doctor. He was 72 years old. Upon returning, her family found out about this new friendship. They encouraged her to date this man since they apparently enjoyed each other’s company on the cruise. After all, Lizzie’s husband had died over 20 years earlier.
She told her family, “I am not going to have a relationship with that man. He is too old.”
You’re Not Your Age
When Jim told me that story, it hit me, and he saw it in my face. He said, “You are not old.
“You are meeting and helping entrepreneurs.
“You are always learning.
“You write and speak on what you’ve learned about entrepreneuring and starting companies.
“You are engaged with people. And you love it.
“You will continue to create a lot of wealth and help a lot of people. Stop talking about age.
“You are not old and will never be old.
“Keep doing what you are doing until you can’t get out of bed.”
In 1977 at a convention called the Accountants Computer Users’ Technical Exchange, I heard Dr. Michael Mescon speak. At the time, he was the founding dean of Georgia State University’s MBA program. The one line I’ll never forget was, “If two people tell you you’re drunk, lie down.”
I told Jim that story. Then I said, “You are the second friend to tell me to change my perspective. You will not hear me speak those words ever again.”
At that moment I remembered what my Ugandan Pastor and mentor, Elijah Sebuchu, asked me, “What are you prophesying to yourself when you say you are old?”
Jim said, “My grandmother died at 102. And you know what? She died a young lady.”
Here is a video of Atlanta Channel 11’s coverage of Mommy Lizzie’s 100th birthday.
Also published on Medium.