Uncle Harry’s Misadventures

Please Say “Hello” to My Eccentric Uncle Harry!

I would like to say it is my “pleasure” to introduce you to Uncle Harry but that would not be honest. In many ways I am not certain that I should even let you know that Uncle Harry exists. Truth be told – our family looks upon Uncle Harry as somewhat of an eccentric embarrassment.

I really wish that Harry was Fran’s Uncle but the reality is Uncle Harry belongs to my side of the family – he is mine – unfortunately, all mine!  Fran reminds me frequently!

I guess almost every family has an Uncle Harry. He is lovable and mostly fun to be around but he can wear very thin and be a huge pain in the posterior. Uncle Harry is usually upbeat as he tries to enroll, recruit and have us invest in his next great “sure thing” business venture. Uncle Harry just lives for the next BIG DEAL!

He is often the brunt of family jokes because he lives in never-never-land and is constantly pitching his newest thing – you know – the one that is even better than the invention of sliced bread. He gets himself involved in more scams, shady deals, get-rich-quick-schemes and – well you name it and Uncle Harry has tried it. He seems to be a magnet for “outer fringe” business deals.

He shows up at every holiday celebration (probably for the abundance of free food) with a presentation for a new venture that is shaping up to be the “mother-lode” of all business opportunities. Harry claims, “It is one of those things that if you get in early you can catch the wave of exponential growth and ride it to “instant” riches.” He continues, “I have it on good authority (from my people on the inside) that this opportunity is the one true path to remarkable success and riches! It is exploding in others parts of the country and we are going to explode it here!”  Uncle Harry – cut me a break!

He showed up last Thanksgiving in a pretty vile mood which is not his usual demeanor. He is usually very positive and optimistic – the consummate salesman. However, this time he shared a tale of how he just got burned by a home-business scam. He lamented that his garage is overflowing with $4,000 worth of products he already purchased but can’t sell and the company he represented is now out of business. He was madder than a hornet.

This was a bit of a departure for Uncle Harry. He hardly ever shares with us when one of his great ventures fails. They most often just disappear into the night and Uncle Harry moves on to his next big and promising whatever. He hardly ever revisits his misadventures or misfortunes. He just keeps rolling along. With all due credit, he is a resilient old guy.

Family folklore suggests that Uncle Harry can afford to fail repeatedly because Great Aunt Samantha Anne (who loved Harry dearly when he was a toddler) left him a rather hefty sum. Apparently, he has ample money to live on and enough to spare so that he can perpetually invest in whatever new “opportunity” pushes his button.

Uncle Harry constantly affirms that he is going to be disgustingly rich someday. He endlessly assures us of that he will make the family proud. Then he boasts that his latest “program” already has him positioned for millions! Then of course, he invites us to jump aboard and help turn the wheels of his latest “money-machine.”

Uncle Harry promises every one in the family that when his ship comes in they will be at the top of his list. We have not figured out what it means to be on his list. However, with Uncle Harry’s track record we should not even give it a second thought!

For all of his self-professed business acumen he is also the world’s most easily dupped person I know. He is even a sucker for a business opportunity that he sees advertised on a hand-lettered sign posted on a telephone pole that promises the ability to earn $5,000 your first week in the business. He almost always calls the number on the tattered sign and usually coughs up a few hundred dollars to check out this truly alluring opportunity. Of course, as soon as he signs on to his next great “vehicle for success” we all get a call from him. Thank goodness for Caller ID.

The week Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 130 years in jail for operating one of history’s greatest Ponzi Scams, Uncle Harry bought into a sure-thing “investment” for a $1,000. He aggressively shared this great opportunity with everybody he met, trying to sell them on investing a $1,000 bill and assuring them “obscene” returns.

The newspapers were running bold headlines every night about Bernie and the collapse of his heartless and sinister Ponzi Scam. Paying no attention to the headlines good old Uncle Harry was busily and actively participating in another version of a Ponzi. He claimed that the deal was presented in such a way that the promoters “proved” to Uncle Harry that it was totally legal and that investors were making “zillions” on a mere investment of a $1,000. Of course, Harry just had to buy in. Uncle Harry always buys in.

After the whole Ponzi Scam collapsed Uncle Harry said, “I can’t believe it! The proof was right there in front of me. The “broker” showed me the “out-of-sight” profits that others were making. He showed me copies of the checks! I just can’t believe it!

In our professional and business life Fran and I talk about climbing to the summit of the Mountain of Opportunity. We recognize that it can be a long and arduous journey but with patience, persistence and hard-work we will conquer the summit and claim our treasure of success and financial security.

Uncle Harry does not like long journeys that require hard-work. Rather, he talks about parachuting to the Summit of the Mountain. He is always looking for the fast and easy way to make it to the top and make a quick buck. Uncle Harry simply can’t grasp the idea of long arduous journeys to success. He totally discounts the concepts of hard-work and perseverance.

He bragged recently that he certainly is not afraid of hard-work. He said, “Hard work does not bother me at all. I can sit next to hard work all day. I can even take a nap next to hard work. Nope, I am not at-all-afraid of hard work – as long as somebody else is doing it!” Then, he rolled out one of his roaring, signature belly laughs.

Uncle Harry sees the world through a different lens. He lives by his own peculiar logic and marches (mostly saunters) to the beat of a different drum. But grudgingly, I am introducing you to Uncle Harry because, I must confess, he has taught me a lot of very valuable lessons about life and business.

Although he is lazy, gullible, naïve, and often out-of-touch with reality -his misadventures can teach us a lot about what NOT to do in life and business. Uncle Harry demonstrates some upside-down thinking that really makes me crazy. Some of his attitudes and behaviors drive me to distraction. I find myself constantly at odds with him. But even with all that in mind – lovable Uncle Harry can be our inadvertent, implausible, impractical and unwitting teacher.

I hope to share more about the bumbling, extraordinary ventures and misadventures of dear old Uncle Harry. Come back and visit often – learn some valuable lessons from my intolerable old Uncle.

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