“The human race has one effective weapon, and that is laughter.”  Mark Twain Loud laughter fills the room and lingers.  Before the audible merriment subsides, he quickly fires away with another joke. Gaining momentum, the laughter now seems to perpetuate itself. Classic Gary!  I am in the audience enjoying these magical moments. We are meeting at Hackbarth Delivery Service (HDS) headquarters in the conference room. This segment of the corporate training program for new managers within our … [Read more...]


“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” Henry Ford Less than two blocks from my home, Harrison Park is hosting a neighborhood youth day of fun and games. One of the contests is a two-person potato sack race. My best friend David and I join together as a team.. Each team member  is required to put one leg into the same potato sack, and then the pair holds the sack up while  racing to the finish line. As David and I huddle up for the … [Read more...]

Ten Words

“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking tartar sauce with you.”     Zig Ziglar Standing at the end of the long hallway – the entrance to the kitchen where my mom is busy cooking – I point one finger in the air, and with great confidence, shout the 10 words that will forever change my life. I have decided that I am going to accomplish a special goal today. It is unlikely (I am only 10 years old). The odds are greatly against me. Even some of the most renown … [Read more...]


 “Fall down seven times and get up eight.”   Japanese proverb  It is among my treasured success principles . . . she taught it to me by how she lived. The teacher, Lucille Hackbarth, was my mother. Angela Duckworth, Ph.D. was a 27-year old teacher when she started on a journey that would result in discovery and further research on what I call my mom’s ‘success principle.’ While teaching seventh grade math in New York City public schools, Dr. Duckworth noticed that some of her smartest … [Read more...]


“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  Old English Proverb, circa 1534 Even though the convention was over three decades ago, one line from the speaker’s presentation remains unforgettable. Over and over again during the intervening years, at important moments, the words imprinted in my memory have resurfaced.  Will today be such a day? Our crew of 13 departs Terry Cove on The Great Gab-Sea, named after my oldest grandchild, Gabrielle. She is onboard with college friends and family … [Read more...]

Sleepless in Mobile

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”                               Marshall McLuhan, Ph.D.  I am not sleeping well . . . waking up many times during the night is normal. Last night was climatic as I woke up twice experiencing scary choking spells. After a visit with my family doctor, who is also a specialist in the area of sleep disorders, I am scheduled for a ‘test night’ at a local sleep center. Meeting again with my family physician following the sleep study, the … [Read more...]

Work While it is Day

“The early bird gets the worm.” John Ray, A Collection of English Proverbs, Circa 1670-1678   Today, I am here . . . Tomorrow, I will be . . . By the end of this week, I will . . . Three years from now, I will accomplish the goal of . . . Five years from now, I will arrive at . . .   How would you finish any or all of those statements? How will you get from this point in time to where you would like to be in the future? Physically—mentally – psychologically … [Read more...]

Fishing Luck

“I believe that people make their own luck by great preparation and good strategy.”   Jack Canfield “If I never catch another fish for the rest of my life, I have already caught my share.” That statement, partly in defense, was made by my dad, Alfred J. Hackbarth, in response to a question posed by a friend concerning a recent fishing trip that had not been productive. Looking back over all the fishing trips I have made over the years; I could easily make the same claim. I would be … [Read more...]

Winning at Losing

“If anything, you know, I think losing makes me even more motivated.”   Serena Williams Have you ever experienced defeat? A major loss? Perhaps, it was a sports competition. Maybe, a job you sought and did not obtain. A contest you entered and never even came close to winning.  A relationship you desired that never materialized. A health issue for which you were not prepared.. You purchased your ticket. You bought your chance. You entered the ring. And, then you lost. Sound familiar? Every … [Read more...]


“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Benjamin Franklin We live in a busy world. Within the circle of people in my life --  retired or currently working – bored individuals, looking for another task to add to their to-do lists are nowhere to be found. Common time-related expressions we hear every single day include: “If only I had the time. . . “                “I am just too busy” “Sorry, I am late, but . . .” and, Rarely heard utterances include . . .: “I am so … [Read more...]