The Saturday Morning Post© 2018

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Albert Einstein

Catch That Plane!

Last week, I headed to LAX to catch an early morning flight to Austin, Texas. En route, I suddenly remembered that they’ve been remodeling American Airlines Terminal 4 and that some flights had been rerouted to Terminal 3. Or had they already finished the remodel, and so was everything out of Terminal 4 again?

I didn’t want to miss my flight by going to the wrong terminal. Suddenly, I remembered an encounter from a few years ago, which solved my dilemma, and which might help you too, in similar situations.

While fueling my car near the airport, a limo driver at the next pump asked me to check on a flight for him.

I said, “Sure,” and pulled out my iPhone, not exactly certain what the fastest way might be to check the arrival time for an incoming flight.

“What airline are you looking for?” I asked. Sensing my confusion, he said, “Oh, you don’t need to go to a website, just go to Google and enter SW 1624.”

Surprised, I did that, and seconds later the exact information for his flight popped up–no website, no other flights, nothing, except the information he needed.

So I have been doing that ever since. I typed in AA 1138, and away I went. It’s in real time, so if the plane is late, the program adjusts for that as well. It tells you the terminal and gate location. It works for any commercial flight, anywhere in the world. Sometimes, it does help to write the name of your airline, but, generally, it’s not necessary.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, they have finished the remodel, and American is back at Terminal 4.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2018

“We are here on earth to help others;
what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.”

W.H. Auden

How to Sell Anything to Anyone

My name is Hank, and I am a salesperson. And so are my doctor, lawyer and accountant. In my book, selling is persuading people to take action that is in their own best interests.

If you are new to selling, ignore the common and sometimes justified perception that a salesperson will tell you anything to make the sale. Instead, follow these simple tips and you will succeed, as a byproduct of what you do for others.

· “May I help you?” If a salesperson really means this, it’s a powerful phrase. I noticed that when I first got into business that the more I thought of the money I might make on a sale, the less likely I was to make the sale. Like a baseball player, it’s easy to miss the ball when your eye is on the wall in center field. Focus solely on being of benefit to your customer.

· Another powerful phrase in selling, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Let your customer see you write it down and come back with the answer. I noticed that when I followed that guidance, my customers’ faith in me increased. And they learned they could count on me.

· Early on in the insurance business, I was often in competition with other agents. When I told the client the downsides of a product, I nearly always got the business. The clients would frequently tell me, “The other guy didn’t tell me any of this.” Presenting both the pros and cons of any product increased their faith in me and the likelihood that they chose to buy from me.

So, persuade your customers to take action that is in their best interests. Don’t be afraid to follow these suggestions, and you will be on your way. Just ask your doctor, lawyer and accountant.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2018

“Kids say the darndest things!”
Art Linkletter


My sister, Mary Ellen, and my cousin Lynne were Brownies at the same time, which makes sense, since they lived across the street from each other. My cousin Stephen and I were Boy Scouts together, for similar reasons.

The girls must have just gotten their uniforms, as they certainly look delighted in this picture, taken in our backyard when they were eight and nine-years-old, respectively. Check out those white gloves.

We lived in West Los Angeles at the time, just a few blocks from CBS Television City, where they filmed a lot of TV shows. One day, my mom surprised me by asking if I wanted to go see the taping of the Art Linkletter show, Kids Say the Darndest Things!
That was one of my favorite shows, because it had my kind of people on it, kids. And Art Linkletter was pretty funny too.

The big day arrived, and my mom let me in on a little detail she hadn’t mentioned when she first asked me if I wanted to go. We were going with twenty-two Brownies, and I was the only boy in attendance.

Sitting on the end of the long row of Brownies was the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to me, up until then. Of course, I’ve been way more embarrassed since then….

But I did enjoy the show, and, years later, Art Linkletter and I became friends. He was always as warm, friendly and funny as he had been on his show, when I was a six-year-old boy with a red face at the end of a row of Brownies.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2018

“In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”
Andy Warhol

Fifteen Seconds

Growing up in Los Angeles, you get used to seeing movie stars in daily life, at the grocery store, the eye doctor’s office, or as neighbors, over the years. Usually, well-known actors behave just like anyone else out in public, but sometimes they clearly don’t want to be recognized.

When I was about twenty-two, my cousin John was a contractor working for a large construction company redesigning the shopping section at Universal City. John called me to say they were changing out some wood fencing. The old fencing was clean redwood board about a foot wide and eight feet high. There were hundreds of boards that would be thrown out the next day. John’s boss said I could have them if I came to get them that day.

John knew I’d been looking for some fence material to run down both sides of the length of the property I lived on with my sister Mary Ellen, in a house that my parents owned. The property was over an acre in size and was really a small farm with all the animals my sister kept, including horses and chickens and goats.

So, I hopped in my truck, wearing jeans, t shirt, a bomber jacket and Ray Ban sun glasses and drove over to Universal City. John had left my name at a side gate, and the guard let me in onto the back lot of Universal Studios.

I parked and began walking up a narrow road towards where John and his crew were working. I was the only one on the road, as a packed four-car-long tour bus came over a rise and down the road towards me.

All the Frazees are pranksters, and suddenly I became inspired. I began to pretend that I didn’t want the people on the tour bus to get a good look at me and turned away from them. The tour bus passed with cameras following me and clicking away.

I had been on that tour bus when I was thirteen and really wanted to see someone famous, so in a way I was helping out these fellow tourists. Perhaps, when they looked at the photos later, they might think, “I don’t know who this is, but I know it’s someone.”

And they’d be right! I had my fifteen seconds of fame, though it may have been only ten.

The bonus of course was that I had wanted that fencing for quite a while, and the universe, or rather Universal City, delivered in a big way.

Well I did have to go and pick it up.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2017

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau

The Long and Winding Road

My longtime friend John, and his dear wife Michele, moved north to Morro Bay about ten years ago to enjoy a slower pace of daily life. John being a top-notch surfer might have had something to do with it too. At the time, he said that he loved the ocean and getting away from the crowds. John told me, “I’ve spent my whole life hugging the coast, and the coast has hugged me back.”

We met by chance long ago in the insurance business, became friends and worked some cases together. But what we are doing now is much bigger than anything we have done before.

John has dreams of where he is going in life, and I’m sure he’s going to get there. Resilient in the face of setbacks, John moves in the direction of his dreams everyday. He’s positive and upbeat and enthusiastic. He thinks big. But the characteristics that most define John as a winner is that he has courage and persistency and vision.

He told me this story years ago.

John knew another agent who tried unsuccessfully to sell long-term care insurance to a wealthy prospect. John had heard of the man but hadn’t met him. He didn’t have his phone number but had an idea that he was sure Mr. Wisk would like, if he could get in front of him.

So, John drove to his address and pulled in the driveway, but there was no house in sight. The driveway stretched out before him, and he followed it, for over a mile.

When John at last pulled up to a large house, his heart was pounding. He knocked on the front door and, after what seemed like an eternity, Mr. Wisk opened it.

John introduced himself and told him why he was there and was invited inside.

Mr. Wisk didn’t end up buying what John was selling that day, but John had the courage to drive up that long and winding road, to ask. He sold himself on the belief that if he kept asking someone would eventually say yes. And they have, over and over again.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2017

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 22:39

A Man You Can Count On

When we were about eighteen, my cousin John and I went to Shaver Lake to go camping with a couple of friends. One friend’s dad had a camper truck that served as our base for three days in a remote campsite on the far side of the lake.

As we were leaving camp one afternoon to go into town, my view of my own dad and my life changed forever.

We all piled into the camper with our friend’s dad driving. Our plan was to go get supplies for dinner. I was in the front seat on the passenger side, with the window rolled down.

Just for perspective, this was way before cell phones, and we were some distance from town.

We slowly drove through the campground, and on the right up ahead was a car with its hood up. As we went by, the owner of the car asked if we had jumper cables.

I looked inquiringly towards my friend’s dad. He replied to the man out my window, “Naw, sorry,” and we passed by.

A few minutes later, as we edged out onto the main road, the dad spoke again and said something I never forgot. “I do have jumper cables, but if you stop, the next thing you know they’ll want you to rebuild their engine.”

I felt as if I’d been slapped across the face. My dad would never have done that. Ever. And I knew that in a way I had never fully appreciated before.

My dad always helped people in need, whether he knew them or not. I watched as he left to pick up family or friends at the airport in the rain. He loaned money, pitched in, and was there for everyone in the family and everyone else too.

And that has become pretty much a credo in my own life, because of my dad. He wasn’t perfect, and neither am I, but he knew why he was here, and so do I, thanks in large part to him.

My wife is that way, and my sister and our son John is too. The night after Thanksgiving, he drove out to the grapevine to help a friend, whose car was dead. It’s just who he is.

Thanks, Dad, for setting that example.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2017

“You can observe a lot just by watching.”
Yogi Berra

Teaching Old Dogs

Maybe you have had this experience. As a matter of fact, if you know anyone under thirty, you are certain to have had this experience.

Let me set the stage a bit. My daughter and I were at an estate sale this morning, not her idea, but we were there. Spotting a silver bowl my wife would like, I took a picture of it with my iPhone. Then having clicked the Photos icon, intending to attach the photo to a text and send it to her, I heard a common refrain in our family, “Dad! What are you doing?”

Now, if you are under thirty, you can stop reading, as you know what happens next. But if you’re north of that, read on, you’ll be glad you did.

My daughter took my phone and said, “Why are you doing it that way, you just…,” and zip zing she took a new photo of the item and sent it to my wife in about two seconds flat.

I learned nothing from the experience, because it happened so fast that I couldn’t really tell what she had done, other than that it was way faster than what I’ve been doing since I began texting photos. Why wasn’t I informed of this sooner?

In the Apple store, the instructors don’t touch your phone at all when they teach you something every third grader knows. So, when my kids roll their eyes and do some magic with my phone, I ask them to make like an Apple instructor. Show me again, with me holding the phone and doing the steps myself.

This is more or less what she said:

  • Touch the text icon on your phone’s home screen.
  • Touch the name of the person you want to send your text to.
  • Notice that a little window opens at the bottom of the screen that reads iMessage.
  • To the left of the iMessage window is a capital A that looks like it was made out of Popsicle sticks.
  • I don’t know what that does, but I will ask her later.
  • To the far left of the iMessage window is an image of a camera.
  • Touch that.
  • A wide window will open up below the iMessage window.
  • On the upper left side of that window is an image of a camera, and below that is an image of a couple of black rectangles above the word Photos. Ignore those completely.
  • To the far right side of your phone are the last couple of photos you have taken. Ignore those too.
  • But in the middle is a small live camera screen!
  • Point the camera towards what you want to take a picture of and touch the white round circle in the lower part of that camera window.
  • Presto! That’s an old fashioned word.
  • Not only have you taken a photo, but if you wait a second or two that photo will attach itself to the text you want to send to your wife (or husband). And you can write something underneath the picture if you want to.
  • Next push the white arrow in the round blue circle to the lower right of the photo you just took.
  • And that will send your new photo to your recipient.

It takes less time to do this than to explain it, so give it a try and you’ll have made your life easier. And there you have the first chapter of your new book on how to simplify your life.

I’m sorry I don’t know how to do this trick on a Samsung phone, but if you find someone of a certain age, I’m sure they would be happy to show you. Then ask them to tell you, while you hold your phone and follow the steps yourself, if you want to be able to do it again without supervision.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2017

“The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act.”
Barbara Sher

On A Mission

“Hey Honey, will you stop at Whole Foods and get four ripe avocados for tonight?” I don’t know about you, but that request takes me out of my comfort zone. The cook in our house is my wife, not me, though I do make good omelets and can handle the barbecue.

There are usually two types of avocados at Whole Foods, Haas and the other kind with the thinner, shinier skin. Choosing four that are good to go for tonight is way harder than picking up just one. If we need one, I get three, hoping that one of them will be just right.

We love avocados around our house, and with five of us they usually go pretty quickly. I can tell when they are overripe, because they have a red sticker that says, “Ready to Eat!”

I can also tell when they are nowhere near ripe, because they shine like my dress shoes and are as hard as a brand-new baseball.

Picking the right avocado by squeezing it is sort of like testing the bathwater by running your hand under the faucet. In either case, you don’t really know until you’re fully committed.

So, when I walk into Whole Foods and find the giant mound of avocados, there’s a large sign that reads, 5 for $4. I’m in luck, that gives me four good chances out of five to get the right ones. But as I sort through them, most feel like the first day of spring training in Vero Beach.

Finally, with five in my reusable shopping bag, which rarely make it out of the car, I do what I usually do with avocados in the grocery store. I look for a woman that looks like she knows what she is doing. That means she has a lot of produce in her cart. I don’t trust men in this situation, because they could have a loaded cart and have no idea what they’re doing, just like me. And anyway, there aren’t many men in the produce department. They’re mostly over in the frozen food aisle, where I spent a lot of time when single.

I see a woman with a loaded cart and green onions in hand and ask her the question. “Do you think these are good for tonight?” I try to look like I don’t know what I am doing, which isn’t hard to do in this situation. She surprises me by saying, “You flip off the belly button, and if it’s yellow inside, it’s good.” I think this can’t be true, but I do admire the creative word choice. Warming to the subject, she says she’ll look it up on her phone.

I spot the produce guy a few steps away and catch his eye and ask him the same question. He tells me that all of my avocados are good for tonight! I beam, and the aforementioned woman comes over and shows me a video on the subject. I’ll share it with you here, in case you don’t know what you’re doing in the produce aisle either.

When I get home, my wife says, “Good job, Honey, these are perfect.”
“Oh, good, just lucky I guess!”

Click here to watch a video on how to pick an avocado.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2017

“Unexpected things happen in life more often than you expect.”

A Three-Hour Tour

A few years ago, my wife and I went on a short business trip down to Newport Beach for a few days, with our friends Matt and Jeri and Randy and Suzanne.

We stayed at a beautiful hotel near the water, Randy, Matt and I attending meetings, while our wives relaxed at the resort. Since our mutual friends, Craig and Margie lived nearby on Balboa Island, we visited them on Sunday afternoon, knowing we had to be back for a dinner reception by five.

Craig offered to take us for a little cruise around the island, which we much enjoyed. The day and surroundings were lovely and, as I remember it, we had some wine and cheese while taking in the sites.

On our way back to Craig’s place, we saw a solitary couple on the beach, a little boy and his mother. The boy was crying and pointing at a brightly colored beach ball floating midway between us. The boy was maybe 3 years old, and his mother couldn’t swim out to get the beach ball without leaving her son at risk on the beach.

So, we all agreed that we should go after the ball in the boat. What we didn’t realize, until it was too late, was that there were two underwater ropes between scattered buoys all along the shoreline, to keep boats from doing the very thing we were about to do, which was to get too close to the shore where there was no dock.

Within moments, we were stuck right where we were, with the submerged ropes hopelessly tangled in our prop. Craig shut the motor off and sat there watching the brightly colored beach ball bob happily in the water about thirty feet away. The mother and son abandoned the beach.

We had a little more wine and cheese and called harbor patrol, who said they could reach us in about an hour or so. We knew it would take them some time to untangle the boat once they got there, not to mention the lecture we were sure of to follow.

Knowing that we would miss dinner if we waited through all that, I began considering how to untangle the ropes. Somewhat possessed, I shed some clothes, jumped in and swam under.

Did I mention that it was March and brisk and dark under the boat? After an initial inspection of the problem, and having received sufficient assurances that Captain Craig would not start the motor, I swam back under the boat.

The prop was highly tangled in both ropes. Having begun the untangling, I occasionally came up for air, clinging to the side of the boat. During one such surfacing, Randy encouraged me by asking. “How much longer do you think you’ll be?”

After a while, and it was quite a while, it occurred to me that I could make better progress by keeping my eyes closed and focusing on the feel of the ropes in my fingers. At last, the ropes untangled. Gratefully, I climbed back in the boat and into my clothes, teeth chattering. Craig hurried us back to his house and me into a hot shower that never, ever felt as good.

We made it to dinner on time, and, looking back on it, what seemed an inconvenience turned out to be quite an adventure.

The Saturday Morning Post© 2017

“The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen.”
G.K. Chesterson

The Catch

Congratulations to the Houston Astros on winning the World Series! What an exciting Series, heartbreaking, but exciting.

I love baseball and could watch any game and enjoy it…a lot.

One of the greatest batters in history, Rogers Hornsby, was once asked what he did in the offseason. He replied that he sat in his house and stared out the window, waiting for baseball to start again.

Dodger right fielder Yasiel Puig’s nearly effortless catch in the third game of the World Series reminded me of the catch made by Willy Mays in the first game of the 1954 World Series, between the then New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians.

The score was tied 2-2 in the top of the eighth, with runners on first and second and nobody out. Vic Wertz worked the count to two and one, when he hit what Vin Scully would call a “towering fly ball” to just right of dead center field. Mays, playing shallow center to hold the runners, turned and ran flat-out away from the ball and towards the center field wall making an over-the-shoulder catch right at the warning track at what is guessed to be 460 feet.

Dodger Stadium dead center is 395 feet.

Willy wasn’t done yet. He wheeled and threw to second, causing the runner to have to retag and barely make it to third instead of home. Willy saved at least two runs. and the Giants went on to win the game and the Series.

The catch is considered one of the greatest moments in sports. It sure was!