This is the best fathers day gift I could give my father. Gone are the days of the silly tie’s, the useless cooking gadgets, and kiss the chef tee shirts. I invited my dad onto the podcast. This is really funny to me considering my father does not know how to use a computer or has ever been on the internet.
Today is a Father’s Day special. We will talk with my father, the one and only Greg Nawrocki. He has taught me many lessons throughout the years. He has inspired me to become mentally tough, reach my goals, and never take crap from anyone. He is an amazing guy, and I think each and every one of you will love him.
My dad will talk about his upbringing and the jobs he had when he was a kid. I asked him to talk about turning points in his life that led him to where he is today.
He will share some funny stories of the past. (It’s a father and son duo so you have to throw in some good stories!) We will also talk with him about how to raise positive, confident, and determined kids.
Happy Fathers Day to my dad and to all dads everywhere.
-How to want more in life even when you think you might have a good job.
-How to understand failing is good.
- How to allow your kids to fail to make them stronger in the long run.
-How to remember where you came from. Understanding your life might take you in different places in the world, but always having a respect for your foundation is a key to success.
-How to cultivate a love for reading.
-How to learn to take a few great thoughts and ideas out of every book you read.
-How to use a gallon of vinegar to replace the smell of gasoline in a big blue van.
-How to apply the 10,000 hour rule to become great.
-How to be thankful for what you have in life instead of focusing on what you don’t have.
Think and Grow Rich
[spoiler]You’re listening to Operation Self Reset with Jake Nawrocki. Today is June 16, 2013, and it’s Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to not only my dad but to all the dads listening to this podcast.
Hey guys and welcome back to Operation Self Reset. Today is Father’s Day and I figured, you know what? Instead of giving my dad some goofy grilling outfit or some crazy tool, gadget thingamajigger. I thought, “Why not bring him on the podcast and let him preach what he has been preaching to myself, our family, our friends, our relatives and to even random people on the street about just loving life, kicking butt, and just staying positive day-in and day-out?” it’s a long interview, so I just want to get right to it.
Hey guys, and today we have a Father’s Day special. Coming to you live from my studio here in Milwaukee, WI, the one and only Greg Nawrocki, my father, a.k.a. dad. Never really got comfortable calling you father or dad. I don’t know where that came from maybe it was just because you never listened to dad, so I started calling you by your first name. But welcome and what do you think about this podcasting and/or you holding a microphone and looking at the screen?
Well, it’s always enjoyable to be with my son and especially now that he’s venturing out into a new facet of his life, so I’m happy to be here and hopefully we can give people their money’s worth.
Perfect. Perfect. Yeah, that’s my father—always talking about money. So there you go. So, Dad, let’s talk about I guess a little background. Give everybody out there listening a little bit of your personal history, and I know, I mean, you’re old, so this might be a long history lesson. So make it kind of quick, but tell us where you began.
Well, I’m 66 years young as of May 31st of this year. Born in Milwaukee, WI, grew up in Milwaukee, WI, and as a young kid we were fortunate to be in a facility where we had a lot of room to run and our backyard was an open field, and we had a lot of adventures and interesting friends and a lot of BB gun fights, apple fights, hiking through the fields, chasing rabbits, enjoying life. And I had great parents, great parents. My dad and mom. My dad was a marine during World War II, married my mother. Brothers were born in 1947 and we moved out there and started a family. We’ve had, I have a sister and another brother and I guess I just started out having fun and realized that I could make money picking up soda water bottles at that time. Back in the 40s and 50s that was the thing. So I started collecting those bottles and turned that into some spending money. Then as a grew older, I wanted to make some more money and some guy down the street offered me a job at a farm picking beans, picking beans by hand, 50 cents a bushel. Not just a flat bushel, a heaping bushel. So that was a lot of back-breaking work for 50 cents a bushel, but it was enjoyable. I got out to see a lot of things and learned something about the farm and then had an opportunity to sell Christmas cards as I was growing up. Then got into being a newspaper boy, delivering newspapers for quite some time, even into high school. Got into high school and still liked making money, so I went and started working in a, not a fast food restaurant but, what do you call it? Like a 7-Eleven store. It was called Dutchland Dairies in Milwaukee. Got into high school and then started selling clothes to make some more money and working in another place washing windows and washing floors, you name it. Joined the Marine Corps back in 1966, went to Vietnam for a couple of tours. Still enjoy traveling. I’m very lucky to be back here. I have three great kids. Quite a few grandkids. Great in-laws. Great sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, so I’m very fortunate. And when I got out of the Marine Corps I didn’t know what I was going to do, and so one of the gentleman that I used to go to high school with, his father was a policeman, and he said, “Greg, did you ever think about being a policeman in the Milwaukee police department?” I said, “No, it never crossed my mind.” He said, “Well, why don’t you go out and see if you can make it?”
So at that time, I think this was like early 70s, I fill out the application. Then he said, “Why don’t you also try out for the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department?” I said, “That’s great. I’ll try both.” So I put my applications into both. I still remember probably late 70 or 71, we had the test. I was able to pass that. There were 4000 men who took that test back in 1970 or 71 and I think I passed and I was number 30 out of all those people, and then I was in the training class of the police department when I was approached by the Sheriff’s department. So I had a chance to do either one of those things, and I think I placed number two out of 2000 people for the Sheriff’s department and decided to stay with the police department. But as I got in the police department I just was thinking, “I don’t know.” At that time, I was only making $12,000 a year. $12,000 a year. That’s less than about $1,000 a month. And I knew that I could not be able to support a family on that type of money, so I was looking for ways to make more income.
I went back to college, and my economics teacher stayed at one January or February, I think it was maybe 73 or 74: “Anybody wants to have their taxes done, I do taxes on the side.” So I approached him after class, and he accepted my money to do my taxes, and when I went to pick them up, he says, “Greg, you know, you’re paying a lot of money in taxes.” I said, “Well, isn’t that the American way?” And he says, “Well, it is for some people, but I can show you how to pay less in taxes.” And he told me to see one of his friends from I think it was called Milwaukee Investment Realty. So, I didn’t know the first thing about real estate. My father and grandparents and none of the people that I knew were in real estate but I thought I’d take a chance. I went and spoke with this gentleman. We looked at a couple of properties. He said, “I can show you all these properties, but, you know, what you basically got to do is take a chance on it.” Well, I was still unsure about it, but everything happens for a reason. And during the tenure that I was looking of trying to get into the real estate game, one of these classes came to town, you know, learn all about real estate in, you know, a weekend. And so I joined up for the class. I think it was about $200 at that time for the whole weekend of Friday night, Saturday, and all day Sunday. Well, taking the class, I was really interested in it. And we ended on a Saturday note, excuse me, we ended Sunday. And at the conclusion of this class, the gentleman who was running it just said, “I wanted you folks to realize that”—I think there were 250 people in this class—“Out of you 250 people, half of you right away once you leave here will say, ‘This is not for me’, and half of you out of that 250 which is 150, I mean 125, will still not be sure and you’d have to ask somebody.” But he said, “In the long run, maybe out of all you people, two or three of you people will actually get into real estate, buy something, and continue and become very successful.”
Well, I thought of that, and I thought, “Well, that seems quite strange.” But, as I’ve been in real estate now since about 1974, that’s come true because, and I think one of the big factors too when you get into real estate or anything you have to have a mentor. And when you have a mentor, you stay with them and you ask him all these questions, and if he’s a good person like the mentor that I had when I first started in real estate, he had me meet people that would give me a good roof deal, steel, windows, so forth and so on. But I also felt that if you get into real estate or anything, I think you have to start from the bottom, work your way through, learn all the different angles of real estate or owning a fast food restaurant or a gas station or a mom-and-pop cigarette store, whatever you want to get into, or a liquor store. Work from the bottom up. And I didn’t know the first thing about changing a toilet, changing a faucet, electrical. But at that time, Reader’s Digest had a large book that I can’t recall the name of it but, you know, home improvement. And they had pictures on how to change a toilet, how to drop an electrical line, plumbing, carpeting, tile work. And once you do that, and once you go through this thing of doing the repair work yourself, no one can take advantage of you cause you know what it takes to change a toilet or put a wall up or drywall or tile work.
So you become quite fluent in that and as you become larger and larger in whatever you do, whether it’s real estate, you become more proficient in it and no one can take advantage of you. And I think the biggest thing too is no one manages your money better than you do, and you’ve got to find a good accountant, a good attorney, and trust these guys but yet you do all the book work. And then you can see where your money’s going, who’s it going out to, and always write the checks. Because as you know probably from all your experiences from around the world, actually I think this is gonna go through the world, there are a lot of people that take advantage of us, and you can’t let them take advantage of you because it’s more beneficial for you guys and you ladies too to do the work yourself, write the checks yourself and talk to a lot of people. And as you become proficient in this game, whatever game it is, you become confident, you start helping other people, but still there’s a lot of people that you can talk to and guide and they still don’t know what’s going on and you tell them about it. They’ll ask you three or four times, and almost 40 years later I see these people that asked me 25, 30 years ago, “Greg, I should’ve stayed in real estate.” And don’t forget, folks, real estate is like any investment. It’s not easy. Because even in that class that I took, they always tell you, “Oh yeah, you buy the building. You put your key in. you turn the key. People come in. They pay their rent. Blah, blah, blah.” Well, they don’t tell you about the bad things where the tenants start a fire or they’ll bring the dogs in and cats that destroy the place or their girlfriends or boyfriends.
Or the guy running down the hallway with the ketchup.
Yep, that’s another, that’s another story. And, you know, here’s the other thing that you’re gonna find some deceased people where people say, “Gee, Greg, I haven’t seen Frankie in a while.” And all of a sudden, “But it smells from his apartment.” Well, you knock on the door and he’s dead or she’s dead. And that’s part of it.
Alright, alright. Cause when dad gets on the death subject it starts getting all emotional and you’ve got to live for the moment, so I want to hold you on that note for a second. But let’s talk about that first step of when you came out of the military and focusing on your goal of becoming a police officer. Being number two on a list of, what did you say, 1400 people?
The fire department, I mean the Sheriff’s department was 2500, but the police department was like 4000. I think I was number 20.
Okay. Sure, sure, sure. But how did you dedicate yourself and realize that this is the path that you wanted to take at that moment?
Well, I guess I needed a job and I wanted to be the best candidate. So I worked out, talked to a lot of police officers that were on the job, and talked to my buddy’s father, and he directed me into what I should do. Found out you had to do the physical agility test. They give you a list of what you have to memorize, places, things, situations, and just was fortunate that I was in the right place at the right time and must’ve had a great guardian angel, and I was one of the lucky guys to come out of Vietnam without too many injuries. And there’s a lot of guys that have not been, have not had this opportunity.
Now, being a police officer is a very respectable job, kind of decent wages at that time. Obviously, you did not feel you were paid sufficiently enough and you craved more cause you felt you couldn’t raise a family on $12,000 a year. Where did that come from? Where did the drive to say to yourself, “I want more in life. I want more money so I’m able to have my wife stay at home or to raise successful kids and have a decent living”? Where did that come from and how did you find it?
Well, as you talk to people in various walks of life, you ask the mentor. And I asked this gentleman that was my mentor and he’s still my mentor and he said, “Well, I started by reading”—I think the book was called Think and Grow Rich by…
Napoleon Hill, right, correct. And I, I guess I started out [unclear 13:10], and I still remember the one thing that he said, “If you have a goal in mind, if you want to buy a house that looks like a mansion, get that picture and you put it on your wall and you look at it every day. Or when you get up in the morning, thank whoever you believe in that you’re alive and you can keep on thinking positive thoughts, write things down, present yourself in a positive manner, and don’t listen to all the people who say, ‘You’re [unclear 13:34] getting into real estate or what do you want to be a policeman for?’”. Well, I enjoyed it and I still enjoy it but it’s the, after a while you realize that you don’t make a lot of money working for somebody else, and if you have a talent, whether it’s real estate, laying concrete, asphalt, and you can do that on the side and still have a nice, nice cushion of a job, I shouldn’t say a cushion of a job, but a nice job that pays a good salary and on your off days working for it and also reading various books, talking to various people. When I was on the, the force, we’d walk into a lot of doctors or attorneys and I’d speak with them on the side and if anybody I saw that had a business, “How did you start?” Talking to a guy that ran his, what do you call it? Hardware store. He started up by himself and it’s a very interesting thing to keep on talking to people. Don’t be afraid to ask things because people are willing to give you information, and if you keep on thanking them and being appreciative of what they have to offer you, you’re gonna succeed.
Where did that get instilled in you, through your parents—grandma and grandpa? Or did you just learn that throughout your events that led up to the current spot where you’re at?
Well, my mother and father were very cautious people. You know, they would think about things and think about things, and by the time they thought about things those things passed them. And I think as I saw that, I’d say, “Gee, why didn’t you do this and do that?” “Well, we’re still thinking about it.” But I was the of the other thing of that, “Let’s take a chance.” So, you know, it’s okay to fail. There’s nothing wrong with failing. That’s why with in baseball, you know, you don’t see a 500 average hitter per year because it’s pretty tough to watch that fastball coming out of that pitcher’s hand and hit it out of the park. And same thing with real estate, you’re never gonna have 100 things go right. There’s always gonna be some difficulties in life, but you just got to face them, realize that I’m not the Lone Ranger, I can do it myself, and we’ll go from here.
What about when you took that stuff to buy that real estate property, your first one, you bought it with your dad, correct? Was that your first one?
No, no, no. I bought it with just my own money from my mom and I, your mother and I saved and we started with a ten-family small, little unit, and back in the 70s and I think I must’ve bought it for about $45,000 but at that time that was a lot of money. But now, I sold that years ago and recently I checked the tax roll with the city of Milwaukee and it’s almost $600,000 now. People say, “You’re a goofer for doing it.” But yet, I turned that building into another building and bought successful buildings and that’s where I’m at today.
Taking the risk on the first one, were you confident in the decision? Did you feel that you were doing the right thing or were you thinking, “This is what I studied. This is what I know.”? You already did the background checks on it. You understood the climate of the real estate and kind of notion, so you felt good going in or were you nervous? And if you were, how did you overcome those feelings and what proceeded after that?
Of course I was nervous, especially when you’re signing your life away. You know, you don’t know what’s going on. You don’t know how people react. And even though you had the course, like I said, they don’t tell you about people skipping out and you take over a place and two guys leave right away. Am I ever gonna get this rented? And here I’m doing the painting myself, you know, working a full job and coming home and going out, you know, by ten o’clock in the morning, working there a couple hours, going back to work, and on my off days to make it a successful business. And it took you about six to eight months to really feel confident in that you can make it in this place because it’s very simple. If you give people a nice place to leave and they enjoy it and they pay you good money and you give them good service, they’ll stick around. But if you just take, take, take from the place—cause you have to put money back into the place to make it go. People don’t realize that, you know, toilets are gonna break, pipes are gonna break, roofs are gonna leak, windows are gonna be broken. I mean, it’s not just an easy thing to put that key in the door when you buy it and say, “Wow, this is what I have.” And it’s a very enjoyable project for myself or anybody, but that’s what I do. Other people like, you know, buying roofing companies or laying asphalt. That’s up to them and that’s great, but I just had a knack for it and I was feeling pretty good about myself.
At that time, were you into the positive attitude and everything like that?
Oh yes, you have to be. I mean even when, you know, someone breaks a window or the toilet breaks or a guy leaves a pan on the stove, and he walks outside and next thing you know the whole place is full of smoke. You have to laugh at it, be thankful no one got hurt or killed, and life goes on. I mean, life is too short when you look at people who have more physical problems than I do, you’re very thankful to whatever Supreme Being that you believe in and that’s what you have to do. Every morning, be thankful for what you have, your parents, where you’re living, your health, and that’s the main important thing. Without your health, you have nothing, so you’ve got to stay healthy and you’ll be wealthy and very wise. But if you start drinking too much or smoking too much or eating too much, it’s not gonna work because your mind has got to be working like a machine, and if you make it work like a machine by staying healthy and doing all those things you’re gonna be successful.
Yeah, I will say that one thing that my sisters and I always laugh about is our dad took us to a lot of his real estate properties and helped gut the place, remodel, remove junk or whatever, and that should be a whole other episode because there are stories after stories about events and family issues that arose because of these buildings. Funny when you look back on but in the moment you get kind of mad and pissed off, but, hey, that’s the real estate game. Isn’t that true?
You’re right, Jake. And that’s what life is all about. You have to have the shittiest jobs—can I say that, shitty?
Yeah. Yeah. You can now. Yeah.
Okay, well, okay. You have to have the crummiest jobs to appreciate what you have, and that’s what I wanted you kids to realize that just because your father owned real estate doesn’t mean you guys can sit back and say, “Oh, well, dad, I need this and I need that.” And I have instilled upon you guys that when you were growing up you weren’t gonna get any favors from me. If you wanted something to buy or get, you had to work for it. And even when your sisters were young, we bought that one antique store in Milwaukee and they came out to work with me one day and I told them to go into the window wells. And for some of you people don’t know what a window well is is when you have a basement in older parts of the country or even the world, people use those window wells to bring light into the basement. And this antique store used to be an old shoe store, so they would package all the shoes back in the late 1800s in the basement and that’s why the window wells were about six to eight feet deep. So they were so small because I had the two, I mean Jake’s two sisters who were older than him, Jill and Julie. They come with me one day and I said, “Ok, girls, this is what we’re gonna do. I’m gonna drop you into these holes and start picking up the garbage and you fill up the buckets and dad will take it to the dumpster.” Well, after the first two inches of the old leaves and junk that was there, it started to smell like sewer gas. And Julie and Jill would say, “Oh, dad, you got to get me out of here. The place stinks.” I said, “Well, just remember this when you get older because if you don’t want to learn anything in school, this is what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life.” And they all started laughing.
Well, fast forward maybe five, ten years later, I called home one day from working and talked to Jake’s mother. I said, “How are the girls doing in school?” “Very good, but Jill’s having a pretty tough time of her math. And, well, you know, she’s, oh yeah, Greg, she knows that, she said, ‘If I don’t study this math, I’m gonna be working for dad and picking up all of his garbage, and I don’t want to do that.’” Now, we can laugh about it now, but at that time and now she’s doing quite well as a banking executive, working in the wealth management department in one of the local banks in Milwaukee. Well, I should say, not local, it’s a nationwide bank. But those things and same thing with Julie and Jake. They’ve all had their little difficulties.
Yeah, yeah. To interrupt because I guess we are gonna start the real estate stories. So there was one time in third grade I remember, it was parent night. And I brought them to school, and I was all proud because I organized up my desk. Remember when you were in grade school and organizing your desk was a big deal? So my dad was walking around the room and in the corner—do you remember this? In the corner of the chalkboard was ten words, and every week we had a ten-word spelling bee every Friday. Was it Friday or Monday? Well, whatever. And my dad looks at me and he goes, “What are those words doing up there in the corner?” And I just told him that they were just words of the week. I was never really good academically. I wasn’t a good speller. I wasn’t a good reader. So of course I didn’t want to tell him that I have a spelling test tomorrow which would be Friday. So my dad goes up to the teacher and asks the teacher, “What’s up with these words?” And she goes, “Oh, every week, Mr. Nawrocki, we have a spelling bee.” And my dad’s eyes blew open and he looked directly at me, and I knew I was in the doghouse.
So sure enough, on the way home we stop at one of his kind of not-so-good real estate properties on the more of the poorer areas of the city, and he told me that I had to pick up all of the garbage surrounding one of his dumpsters. Now, mind you it’s about 5:30 at night. It was probably in the fall, so the sun was setting really early. And he said, “I’ll pick you up in a couple hours.” He dropped me off back there, he jumped in his truck, and he drove off. And now I’m back there, I’m in third grade, I have to pick up all this garbage around the dumpster by myself. All these people were starting to walk on out and ask me questions and all this stuff. Talk about freaking out in a good way and getting back on track. So if you parents out there have a kid that’s acting out, maybe have him do some community service in a not-so-desired neighborhood and that will put him on the straight and narrow. Do you remember that?
Now I do. Yeah, that’s correct. And look what happened to you? Okay. Twenty-something years later.
Yeah, now I’m running the ship. Now I’m interviewing you! Exactly. So speaking of kids and the stories and understanding you have to work hard to get things, I think that model worked out quite well. You raised three successful children. Do you have any tips? Obviously, a lot of people know that I just had a baby boy recently. I would like him to turn out quite well. For all the new parents or existing parents out there, do you have any suggestions to raise a positive, self-confident child in this day and age?
Well, I don’t know if I’m an expert, but from what I have done with you three kids is that I have always told you about PMA, positive mental attitude.
Yeah, SUS, stand up straight. Winners never quit; quitters never win. Tough times never last; tough people do.
Tell the people, those last two quotes—where are they located at your house?
Tough times never last; tough people do. Well, that’s my license plate number. That’s my abbreviation and winners never quit; quitters never win, that’s on your mother’s car. So we have a lot of people who can’t understand what it is but when they figure it out they’re really impressed with it. And I think for all of you people out there that are raising kids, put these little positive information.
Quotes on your bathroom mirror. Here’s one that I always thought was pretty good: You are what you think. You become what you think. What you think becomes reality. And I read that once in a Men’s Health magazine where this kid said that his mom and dad put that on his mirror and he couldn’t understand what it was until he started going to school and really thought that if you keep thinking positive and you get your kids that way or even, you know, even yourself, no one’s gonna stop you. But it’s the soothsayers that say, “Oh, that’s, that sounds stupid. That’s really ridiculous.” There’s, there’s nothing that will stop your family if you keep on telling them that they are the best. If they fail at something, and it’s good to fail because that’s makes them realize that, “Hey, I can figure this out.”
Now I’ll tell you a little story about my son Jake when he was about I think in fourth or fifth grade. They had to make a science project. Do you remember this?
Well, geez, no.
Well, the project was you had to make a Styrofoam, not a Styrofoam.
Not an animal, an insect.
An insect, yeah.
For science class. So, you know, Jake said, “Will you help me, dad?” I said, “Okay, fine. We’ll go.” We went to the local hardware store. Got some chicken wire, got him a couple of pliers, and a snipping pair of tweezers, and we went down into the basement and he starts molding something. He said, “Well, aren’t you gonna help me, dad?” I said, “Yeah, I went and bought you those items. Now it’s up to you.” [Crying sound 27:03]. Jake starts crying.
I was never a crier. That’s a lie.
Yeah. And then all of a sudden, then his mother comes down, “What’s going on?” I said, “Jake’s got to make this thing.” And Jake, of course, you know, went to mom and, “Dad’s not gonna help me.” I say, “You’ll be fine.” Well, he made it and the more he thought about it, he was successful. I think he got a B on it. And let me tell you fellows and ladies, don’t ever help your child. Let him fail. Well, he did a very good job and I think he got a B on it. And what’s sad about it, when you went to see this and I think after this thing occurred, they had like an open house and they had all these various insects hanging in the common hallway right around Jake’s class, and you could actually tell who made them themselves and who had the parents make them cause they were very, very exquisite. They were very, looked like they should’ve been in the museum. And that’s the sad part about this society. What’s happening now with these kids, everything’s being done for them. And I know these computers are great, but I’ve got grandkids that I’m trying to wean them away from all this technical stuff because you know, it’s very easy to tell someone through texting, “I don’t like you” or “Drop dead” or “You’re nothing but a B-word or a goofball.” No one wants to communicate. Nobody wants to talk face-to-face, and that’s what I think is gonna be wrong with this society, but I could be wrong.
Yeah. That is true. There are actually better stories than the one that he said, but that is a very true point: working hard and failing. And one thing too that I realized from you, and throughout sports I’ve been very lucky to have a father that has provided me with some great activities in my life and never once was he focused on, “Jake, you have to score. You have to do this. You have to complete that.” He was always about the team atmosphere. He was understanding if I didn’t win, if I lost, if I screwed up. He never brought the pressure on me. He always let me work through my own issues. He was always supportive but he was never pushy in trying to have me achieve certain goals when it came to athletics because he understood that everybody has a little different knack and a different niche for each activity, and he decided to let me do that instead of be the father that was so pushy and almost make me hate him and/or hate the sport. So for that, thank you. As I look back on my life, that was really huge because that actually makes me enjoy the sports more as opposed to hating them.
Funny story. I actually still play hockey but back in the day I played hockey at a local ice arena, and I was, gee, I don’t even know how old I was. But my father came to every game and I played defense in hockey, and he would always yell, “Help that goalie! Help that goalie!” from the top of his lungs. Well, it was during play-off season. Play-offs when you’re six years old is really more just to make sure everybody gets a trophy at the end of the year, but he decided to bring in a garbage can lid and a stick, and he was standing there in the stands. Now, granted, again, we’re six years old. All the people that are in the stands are parents. It’s not like there’re random fans pouring in because they want to see a six year old play hockey at eight o’clock in the morning on a Saturday. So my dad’s standing there in the top row banging his garbage can lid, “Help that goalie! Help that goalie!” And I remember even the refs had to stop the game, they had to get the manager of the ice arena to go talk to my dad and all us kids were like, “What’s going on? Why did they stop the game?” And the coach is like, “Oh, there’s some crazy guy up there banging on a garbage can lid, so they have to stop and they have to make sure that he’ll give up the lid before they let the game go on.” And I remember turning around and looking up and everybody’s looking at my dad, and he’s arguing with the manager. And I was thinking, “Geez. Yeah, that’s my dad.” But he’s always been really supportive and that’s one thing I hope to carry on is just be really supportive and loving throughout my kid’s life. And for you guys out there make sure you share that with your kids too.
If I could make one more statement about this hockey situation, a lot of folks don’t realize that there’s not enough ice rinks in the Milwaukee area to play, so when Jake was going to play hockey in high school the ice time started at I think five o’clock in the morning. So we’d have to leave our house probably quarter to four, 4:30 to get to the rink and it was, you know, it wasn’t bad come the early spring, but when it’s winter and it’s, you know, ten below zero where you’re getting in the truck. And I stop and get Jake’s partner or one of his teammates who lived down the street from us. You know, I had an old blue van and I said, “You know, just think, guys. A couple of years from now when you’re going into high school, you can have this blue van, take it to class, and really have fun with it. Put an old couch in the back. Maybe a little table, blah, blah, blah.” They started laughing, but I said, “I have to really compliment you fellows, because while you guys are out here practicing for hockey there’s other people in your class who are sitting at home sleeping and enjoying the nice, warm bed. And what you guys are doing right now is going to set a precedence for what you guys want to become in your future endeavors. Because here you are busting your butt, getting up early, playing hockey, practicing, going to school, getting out of school, doing your homework, practicing at night sometimes, and getting up again.” And on Friday nights we’d be traveling up to northern Wisconsin to play teams or other classes or the schools in the Milwaukee area, but it gave me a good reason to show you guys that it might be tough, and when it is tough and you say, “Oh, man, this is nothing compared to hockey.” That’s what I wanted to instill in you guys because it gives you an idea that, “Boy, if I can play hockey at four o’clock in the morning, no matter what I’m doing now, this is nothing.” So I think that’s what’s made Jake become a success and some of his partners that played hockey with him because if you look at the guys that didn’t have any organized sport, they’re sort of like still wandering around the world or in the city thinking what I should or could’ve done, so.
Take that for what it’s worth. Again, this is about you guys, but it is a Father’s Day special so we will be going on little rants about personal stories, but a funny thing about this old blue van. My grandfather bought that on my mom’s side. My grandfather on my mom’s side bought that way back in the day, and he actually drove that down to Mexico for one of their trips so this van has been around the block numerous times. But the funniest thing is having a father as a landlord or what my sister and I like to call him, a slumlord, as a joke. There’d be times that he would put lawnmowers, trimmers, chainsaws in the back of that truck and it would spill over and there’d be gasoline just smelling. If you lit up a cigarette in that blue van, I mean, literally, that thing would’ve blown up. So what did my dad do to counteract the smell of gasoline inside of the cab of that blue truck? He poured like a gallon of vinegar on top of it. So you’ve got this rank smell of gas like, “Geez, I’m all high now.” And then you’ve got this potent stinging of the eyes and nostrils of vinegar, but he toughened us up for sure. So that was funny. But getting back to kind of mindset and trying to transform our lives. If somebody came up to you today, and a little side note: my father also has—do you mind telling the people what you have on your voice message?
Well, basically summary is “Tough times never last; tough people do. God bless America. Thank you. Make it a great day. You are what you think.” Kind of like this inspiring message. And how many people would you say have given you crap for that message throughout the years?
Oh, there’s got to be hundreds of them, but you know, after they say it, they say, “But I really like your message. I know it sounds goofy,” they say, “But every time I hear it, I really like your message.” So it, and I think that’s another thing, when you have, don’t, don’t be like everybody else: “Hi, this is the Smith residence, or Jones residence. Please leave a message.” Always give them something to talk about, whether you want to talk about farming or whatever or like I did. I’m very happy to be in America and I think, I don’t know wherever you folks are listening, it’s a great country. We’ve got difficulties just like every country has, but be thankful for what you have and never, ever forget where you came from. That’s what I told my kids and every time we go by where my, my father, or Jake’s grandfather, grew up, or both grandparents grew up. Let them know that what we have now is from what they did or, our nationality is Polish. My great, great grandparents came from Poland and it took a lot of strength and initiative and fortitude to leave your homeland and come to a place that you didn’t know squat about nothing and couldn’t even speak the language, and it’s, it’s always been impressive upon me that you thank those people every night before you go to bed and say, “Hey, I’m very thankful for what you’ve done for us.” And, you know, there’s some people who just don’t want to do anything. I mean, you might listen to this broadcast and say, “Oh, it’s a bunch of garbage.” But, you know what? If you get one thing out of anything I’ve learned in my life, whether it’s reading the book, listening to this, listening to someone speak, and it’s gonna sit in your mind as to what you want to do, you can do it. You put your mind to it, nothing can stop you.
Yeah, that’s very true. My father would always tell me, “Oh, you got to read this book.” Or, “Read about this guy. He did whatever.” I can’t think of a specific book off the top of my head. But I would be like, “Dad, why the hell do I care about this guy’s life? He’s dead. He has nothing to add value to and also, too, I have my own life to live. Why the hell am I reading about somebody else’s life when I can be living my own?” And he said exactly what he just stated, “If you can gain 10% out of that book to implement into your own personal life, that will just really speed up the learning curve.” So that is huge. I continue to read and also, too, one thing I can say that I plan to do for my child in the upcoming years, my father, like he said, read a lot of books. He also keeps this little pamphlet that’s sent once a month; it’s called Bits and Pieces. And it’s about inspirational stories, motivating tips, quotes, all that kind of fun stuff, and if you keep that stuff around your house, if you keep stuff that you want your kid to turn into or believe in or understand, they will catch on and even though you don’t think they’re looking at it, well, that’s why I turned out the way I did because that stuff was lying around our house all the time. And I’d pick it up and I would read it and I would look at it and it really brought me to the person I am today. So for that, again, Greg, thank you very much.
And in summary, so you kind of danced around that subject about if somebody came up to you and they wanted to change their life—we got side-tracked on your inspirational voice message which is very good—but, no, in all honesty, if somebody comes up to you and you are a person to tell people if they’re smoking to quit. If they’re a drinker, to quit. And you’re very honest and very truthful to a lot of people out there which is very good because you’re not a sugar-coater. You are a cop. You were a Marine. You’re a guy that likes to get in people’s faces and tell them what’s wrong with them which is good or bad however you want to look at it. For the most part, I would say it’s good because you are trying to change people’s lives and if somebody did come up to you and said, “Greg, I’m struggling right now.” And you don’t know his back story, what’s one direction you could point them in?
Well, I think, I was just thinking about while you’re talking there, Jake. It’s called that 10,000 hour rule. No matter what you do in life, and I still remember this story about Tiger Woods who we all think, who I know is probably one of the best golfers in the world. They said that he used to go to Stanford, or he was a Stanford graduate and after a golf outing he came back to the school and it was raining out there, and all the golf guys that were on his team went into the, what do you call it? The campus dormitory and started studying and all of a sudden they look out and here’s Tiger Woods hitting golf balls in the rain. He’s got his rain suit on and one of the guys says, “Hey, Tiger, come on in.” He says, “No. No.” He said, “Well, what do you mean no?” He says, “Well, there’s some times where I’m gonna be out there playing in the rain and I got to practice in the rain.” And I think that was one thing that I’ve thought about all these things, if you look at all the successful people it’s 10,000 hours of playing baseball or football or working in a factory and making something special or Papa John’s Pizza, you know, or Steve Jobs.
There’s a good book you guys should read about Steve Jobs. I don’t know if you folks know this, but Steve Jobs’ mother was originally from Manitowoc, WI. She grew up on a farm. Went to UW Wisconsin at Madison. Became a, she wanted to become a teacher. She fell in love with some guy I think from Jordan who was there on a scholarship to learn mechanical engineering. They fell in love. She went back to Manitowoc to introduce him to the father, or her father, and he says, “Hey, I don’t want you marrying this guy. You do what you want, but I can see there’s gonna be a problem.” Well, she got pregnant. She wanted to go back. So she went to California. She had the baby there. Well, Steve Jobs’ stepfather, or adoptive father I should say, grew up on a farm in Kenosha which is another county of Wisconsin, and he went out to California during WWII and he was on the US Coast Guard ships. And after the war he started living in the California area, met this woman, got married. She couldn’t have kids, but he was always a tinkerer. So when Steve Jobs’ mother had the baby she gave it up to this doctor, and the doctor said, “I have a nice family that should take care of this son for you.” She said, “I want my son to have a college-educated husband and wife.” And the doctor says, “Well, I think this guy is better, the stepfather that was gonna be the person, than your college-educated people.”
So she finally agreed to it and she also wanted to say, “The only way I will agree with it is that when he gets to college age Steve will be able to get his degree.” Well, they adopted him, and the rest is history. And Steve Jobs and even in his book, if you have any inspiration read that book and it’ll show you how this gentleman who hung around with his father who went to these swap meets at times. He’d buy used parts for a car, fix the car up, sell it, re-invest the money, and buy another car. And Steve Jobs would go around with him and [unclear 42:02] the one thing I was impressed upon is his father said, “If you’re gonna build a car, make sure everything is perfect, even under the hood. Or if you’re gonna build a cabinet, make sure the wood in the front of the cabinet is as good as the back of the cabinet.” And I still remember one of the stories in the book about Steve Jobs how nit-picky he was. One of the people was showing him how they built a computer and they took the back of the computer off and Steve Jobs says, “Why did you change my plans? I wanted this titanium screw, which was a special screw, on the back of this computer.” He said, “Steve, we’re saving, you know, like $15,000 by not using these screws.” He says, “I don’t care. My name is on that computer, and I want it to be my way.” And I think that’s one thing that you guys should realize too is that when you do something you do it right and if your name’s on it be proud of it.
Yeah. Perfect. And that is the CliffsNotes version audio book by Greg Nawrocki on Steve Jobs.
Well, I know, guys, I could talk forever on it because it’s a very good book, and if you have a chance that would be one of the books to read. And here’s another one I always would recommend. It’s a book called Die Broke. And people laugh about it but I always tell them this story because it shows you how to invest your money, what kind of insurance you should buy to make sure that you have enough money for your family’s protection—that’s another big thing. I even told my son Jake and my daughters that when you do have children take out as much money as you possibly can on the term insurance policy. One of the things I always laugh about in the book, the gentleman who wrote the book—can’t think of his name—he said, “When you’re passing from this world, always write a check to the undertaker and it should bounce.” Which means that you have no money, you give the money away to all your kids or whoever you wanted to give it away because you can’t take it with you.
And here’s another thing too, if your children or your children need help while they’re growing up, help them. Make sure that, you know, if you never had any help and I didn’t have that much help, but help them succeed, become more successful than you are, but if you see that they’re, you know, wasting the money, well, then stop it. But if they need something now, don’t forget, well, you can say, “Oh, I’m gonna have my, you’re gonna get this inheritance when you’re 65 or 70 years old.” They don’t need the money then. They need the money when they’re growing up, having a family, helping them through some tough times. And we all have had tough times and just be thankful for what you have and spread the wealth. That’s what I would tell anybody that approached me, so.
For sure. That is perfect advice and something that you have always preached to us. See guys, that’s why I had to get Greg Nawrocki, my father, on the podcast because he is Mr. Motivation, always positive, and always has a story to share with you. So again, dad, thanks for joining us. But in closing here, I made publicly on podcast number one and kind of the inspiration for starting this podcast was to help people who were in a bad place. The reason why I started was because I was filing bankruptcy. I had a child on the way. I knew that I needed to do something that would bring me to a better state of mind and that is why I started the podcast, and so far the responses back from people out there listening have been remarkable. The emails and the reviews from you guys have just been inspiring, and I really do appreciate that. But I want to ask you, Dad, when was your most difficult moment and time of really questioning if you made the right decisions in your life?
Well, that’s a very interesting question, Jake, because as you know I had to file bankruptcy in 1990. I didn’t want to, but quite a few of the tenants just for some reason weren’t paying their rent, and the banks were, you know, hounding me for money and I couldn’t come up with it at the time. So I had a few avenues to check out and spoke with quite a few attorneys and say, “This is the way to go.” And you really feel that you failed and that the whole ship was sinking and people are looking at you strange and, “How could you file for bankruptcy? We told you to never get into real estate.” And I thought, “Boy, I really felt bad.” But then talking to the attorneys, they said, “Greg, listen. Do you know how many people are filing bankruptcy every year? It’s not just you.” Large corporations: Dow Chemical and I think quite a few things back in the 90s were filling bankruptcy. And these are multi-billion-dollar companies, and then just recently if you think of GM went under.
Now that’s another thing that really upsets me. They really went under, but we bailed them out. Or same thing with the banks. Now, I failed, and I’m better for it because I worked my way through it. But here the federal government came and helped these people out which I think was wrong because at least when you fail with something you start over. Here, they’re borrowing money from all of us when there was nobody basically I could borrow money from. But I got through with it. It took about three months to really get out of the funk of being, you know. And, and what’s funny too is that, you know, all my relatives knew what I did and they were, they weren’t risk takers. So I’m thinking, “I should listen to these people? And they’re gonna say, ‘Well, you shouldn’t have done this and done that’, but I’m the one who has now bounced back.” I’m doing okay. We’re doing great in some respects. Life goes on, and if you do fail, that’s okay. I mean, what do they always say, “If you fall off a bike, get up.” You have some type of situation where you lose a lot of things, but you know what? Came back stronger. Got rid of the crappy investments that I thought could turn around, but people just didn’t like what was going on and I’ve got the same bankers that I had 25, 30 years ago. They appreciate what I’ve done. I’ve never scurried around or ran away from things. I always looked it in the eye and say, “I’m tougher than this and I will get through this.”
And that’s I guess the mindset you have to have and don’t worry about what other people think. You keep telling yourself, “I’m the best person around.” You look in that mirror every morning, “I’m the best looking guy or girl in this city or country or wherever it is.” And don’t take shit from nobody. You laugh in their face when they tell you that you failed, and say, “Yeah, I failed, but I’m doing okay.” And I think that’s what’s wrong with a lot of people in this world that, you know, are upset because they failed. It’s okay. Look at Steve Jobs. You know, he, there’s a perfect example of how things went bad for him, he fought back. A lot of people like him. Same thing with Donald Trump. Donald Trump was filing bankruptcy back, or maybe I don’t know if it was bankruptcy or reorganization back in the late 70s or early 80s and look at him now. So there’s people out there that have been through a lot worse than I have and we’re all still fighting. We’re above ground, and like I said, the best thing that you can do is in my mind feel confident about your health, your looks, the stuff you eat, and being involved in things, and having a great family life and whoever you believe in pray to that person every night and thank them before you go to bed and the first thing you do is wake up in the morning and tell yourself that you’re gonna be helpful to some people and really appreciate life. Life is too short. Enjoy the ride.
Yeah, one thing you always talk about too is being self-confident and believing that you are the best person, the best looking, the best motivation, the best-inspiring person you can be. And some people might think, “Oh, you’re cocky. You’re full of yourself or whatever.” But if you’re not happy with yourself, then what’s the point? You’re not gonna have that self-confidence within to propel you to take those risks, to laugh in the people’s faces, and to tell them that, “You know what? I took the chance. You didn’t. I’m living my life. You should start living yours.” So another great inspirational tip by Greg Nawrocki. Anything that you want to leave the people—cause we’re coming up on an hour here—anything you want to leave the people listening? Cause this could be your last chance, Dad, on the podcast. So really, just let the people know what you’re all about and what you believe in.
Well, I think, I was just thinking about it as you were talking that I’ve been on a lot of rafting trips and when you go to different parts of this United States, or we’ve been on a lot of tours and I saw a lot of places when I was in the Marine Corps overseas, and you see different walks of life and be thankful for what you have not what you don’t have. And there’s a couple of times when I went on that first rafting trip where I almost drowned and I’m, as I’m sinking underneath the river I’m thinking, “Boy, I hope they find my body so my friend Dan can sue the rafting company so my family can get some restitution.” But I think the other thing is too you have to go out and enjoy life, whether it’s rafting, bicycle trips, shooting. You got to take a break, and when you are with people with a like mindset who enjoy adventure, climbing mountains, going in goofy places that you’ve never been before. And the other thing is too don’t be afraid to ask people questions. That’s were I think where a lot of people in this United States and look them in the eye. Don’t look at the ground when you’re talking or look away. You focus on what they are. Be interested in them. And even the wealthy people, if you come up to them and say, “Hey, do you have five minutes? I just want to pick your brain.” They’re more than happy because they want that acknowledgement that you give them. And don’t be cocky. Just enjoy life. that’s basically what I’ve told you kids and that’s what I still feel the dying, before my last breath I’m gonna enjoy life as much as I possibly can cause life is too short.
Damn right. Well, Greg, I appreciate your time coming on the podcast. I know this is all new and exciting for you, and you finally have a platform to speak your true self and I think you accomplished that today.
Well, thanks, Jake. And if I can say the last thing like I say on the answering machine, thanks for calling. God bless America. Have a great time. Enjoy life and keep on hustling.
Perfect. Thanks again, Dad. Happy Father’s Day and many more.
Well, Jake, and thank you for asking me. This is the best Happy Father’s Day I’ve ever had in my life and I enjoyed it and I hope you folks did too. Thanks for listening to us and maybe we’ll talk again.
So there you guys go. A little insight in my life. A little insight about my father, Greg Nawrocki. Dad, thanks again for coming on the podcast. I don’t even know if you’re gonna be able to listen to this someday, but either way it’s documented and I think the people out there listening got some great information from your life story and just the way that you live your life day-in and day-out. Thank you so much again. And guys, what do you think about this interview? Do you think my dad nailed it out of the park? I would love to hear some feedback from you guys. Feel free to go to the website: OperationSelfReset.com/podcast007. There you’ll find all of the show notes, the links, the books my dad talked about, and also, too, the seven tips that I pulled away from this interview. Even though he’s my father, I still learned a couple of things from him. So it was great to really dive in and really understand his mindset and how he ticks.
Well, guys, we are coming up on an hour here and today is Father’s Day, and I would hope and suggest that you guys can reach on out to your fathers. Give him a call. Let him know that you love him. Let him know that you appreciate him and even if you had a bad relationship with him, maybe it’s time to rebuild that bridge because life is too short, life is too valuable to always be just pissed off. Today’s a good start, and hopefully you can reach on out to your father and just tell him, “Happy Father’s Day. Thanks for bringing me on this earth.” If nothing else, just thank him for giving you the opportunity to strive for your best day-in and day-out when it comes to being a part of this great world. So, guys, again, thank you so much for the reviews on iTunes. Just remarkable. The emails I’ve been getting from you guys. Again, just so inspiring. I hope to continue to bring you some great information in the podcasts to follow. Happy Father’s Day. Make it a great day. This is your life. Live for the moment and enjoy it. See you in the next episode, guys. Later.
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