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Scott McKain

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Five Friends: Lessons From My Dad

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This message is especially appropriate to post today — for it would have been my Dad’s birthday. He passed in 2004 — but is remembered every day by his daughter and son.


From Mark Sanborn:


My father spoke much good advice with me, but he demonstrated even more.

What impacted me most happened one holiday season when I was a boy.

My father was a loan supervisor for a federal agency. It was against the rules to accept gifts of any kind, even if those gifts were given in sincere appreciation. Loan approvals had to be made fairly and without any expectation of reward from the borrower.

One day I came home from school and found a giant gift basket of fruit, candy and other goodies, beautifully wrapped and sitting on the porch of our home.

I was examining it closely and even considering opening it to grab a treat when my dad came out of the house.

“Don’t,” he said. “It’s a gift and as much as I appreciate the gesture, I can’t take it. I’m sending it back.”

What I saw that day was my father living with integrity. I will never forget the advice of his example.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

From Scott McKain:


It’s impossible for me to describe how popular my father was back home.  Suffice it to say that if I were elected President, my hometown news would proclaim, “Dallas McKain’s Son Wins!”

Our family owned a grocery in Crothersville, Indiana.  The way my Dad treated people and served customers not only helped us survive when a supermarket came to town – we thrived to the point that the larger retailer closed.

The McKain’s had a country music band — Dad sang and played lead guitar, with brothers on bass and rhythm. (And, for several years in my teens – me on drums!)  We played just about every local dance, wedding, and event you could imagine.  We opened concerts for Hall of Fame performers – and in some of the worst clubs you could imagine.

Regardless of the size of the venue, status of the audience, or condition of the crowd, I saw Dad engage every person with respect, giving attention to anyone who wanted his time.

When Dad passed, his obituary was the front page of the local newspaper.

Dallas McKain’s best advice was that his life taught me that the highest calling is to serve – and demonstrate that you care about – others.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com.

From Randy Pennington:


Like many in his generation, my Dad taught a lot without saying much. Here are four important lessons I carry with me today:

  1. There is nothing nobler than hard work flawlessly executed. My Dad worked hard all of his life. He left home at age 16 to help support his family by working in the CCC camps. I took my first summer job at age 12 because he expected me to work. Starting at age 16, I was expected to work at least a part-time year round.
  2. Live your beliefs – don’t talk about them. My Dad had a strong faith, but he never broadcast it. And, he would never publicly condemn others if they didn’t share his beliefs.
  3. Help others when you can. I remember my Dad walking out on the front porch; taking $20 from his wallet; and giving it to an employee he supervised to help him make it through the week.
  4. Create a life of happy memories. The evening before he died, my Dad closed his eyes, recounted his life, and gently whispered, “Happy memories. So many happy memories.” That is the true testament of a life well lived.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change and disruption. He is an award-winning author, speaker, and consultant. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

From Larry Winget:


My Dad was full of great advice. He never went to college or made much money but was full of love, laughter and country boy wisdom.   These are some of my favorites:

“Smile, it don’t cost nothing.”  The grammar isn’t right, but the message is.

“The lazy man works the hardest.”  This one has a couple of messages: 1. A lazy man will work harder getting out of work than he would have if he had just done the work.  2. Respect the task enough to give it the necessary time and effort. I heard this one when I would try to carry too much so I wouldn’t have to make two trips. Then I would drop stuff, maybe breaking it, and end up taking longer than if I had just made two trips.

“If you go to work for someone, give them their monies worth.”  If you don’t, you are a thief because you are stealing their money by stealing the time you are being paid for.

“A man is only as good as his word.”  This one shaped me more than about any other set of words ever spoken to me.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development®, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

From Joe Calloway:


“How much money have you saved up for it?”

That’s what my Dad would say when I told him that I wanted a bicycle, a motorcycle, a set of golf clubs, or whatever it was that I wanted at the time.  The message, both spoken and by example, was simple:  Go to work.

My Dad was a country banker.  He also had a small dairy farm, which meant that before sunrise we milked the cows, took the milk to the processing plant, then went home and got ready for school and work.  Same thing in the evening.  We milked the cows.

The advice of “you can have and accomplish pretty much anything you want if you’re willing to work for it” imbued me with a work ethic that runs from my head down to the tips of my toes.  If the sun is up, I feel the need to be doing constructive work.

Sometimes, it’s been almost to a fault.  It’s taken me a long time to learn to chill out and not feel guilty for not working all hours of the day.  But, trust me, I’ve gotten pretty good at it now.

“If you want it, work for it.”

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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More Stories By Scott McKain

Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on Amazon.com list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers (Amazon.com & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" show...to a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.