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A Winning Legacy

June 6, 2021 by  
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I’m pretty sure virtually all humans understand and appreciate how important it is to have friends, especially good ones and maybe lots of them. However, it’s so terrible and sad when one of them dies.

I was very shocked and saddened when, a few days ago, I heard that my good friend Mark Eaton had suddenly died. He was a great guy, very smart, and a very famous and talented superstar basketball player. He was also very nice, super friendly, and always looking to help other people.

Mark was also a brilliant writer. He wrote a wonderful book entitled The Four Commitments of a Winning Team. You really ought to get his book and read it cover to cover. Here’s a quick summary of the Four Commitments:

1. Know your job

2. Do what you’re asked to do

3. Make people look good

4. Protect others

What is amazing about his story is that even though he was a giant at 7’4” tall, he didn’t want to play basketball. He actually worked as an auto mechanic. He didn’t have any interest in basketball and resisted many attempts by coaches and others to talk him in to playing.

Finally, he was persuaded to take up the sport and, man oh man, did he ever become a superstar player. He broke several MBA records while playing for the Utah Jazz. Quoting from the inside flap of his book, “As a starting center for the Utah Jazz for over 10 years, Mark Eaton experienced the transformation of his team from cellar dweller to one with an extraordinary 20 consecutive playoff appearances.” 

What surprised me the most about the recent news is that Mark was in such great physical shape. He worked out regularly and was very sharp and smart. He was only 64. To me that’s very young since I’m 13 years older than that and I’m pretty sure he exercised more than I do.

How very sad to lose a great friend and great human being. His death certainly brought back the heart-breaking memories of my daughter, Kristin, who died at the young age of 16.

My wife and I headed for his ranch the day after he passed to comfort his wife and their children. We will all miss Mark very much! Please keep their family in your heart and thoughts.

A Glimpse Into My Past

March 7, 2021 by  
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I was going through some old papers and came across a biography I wrote about my life. I thought, since a lot of people ask me about my background, I would share some of that with you here:

Mark O. Haroldsen was born in Portland, Oregon, way back in 1944. He attended high school for two plus years in the Middle East before moving back to the USA where he graduated in 1962 from Ames High School in Iowa. Mark attended Utah State University on a basketball and track scholarship. His time on the bench, however, helped him decide to drop the basketball dream and pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Business which he received in 1969. He followed this with some post-graduate work at De Paul University in Chicago.

His career began as a stockbroker with Goodbody & Co. in 1969. Later he worked for Paine, Webber, Jackson & Curtis, then went on to work as a manager for Bosworth Sullivan in Salt Lake City, Utah from 1972 to 1974. After a short political career, he lost his bid for the Utah State Treasurer and started buying real estate. This change was inspired by a Denver client that was making millions in real estate.

After gaining tremendous success in real estate, Mark started a real estate seminar company which he ran from 1978 to 1986. The multi-million dollar company set the standard for real estate conventions, retreats, and information, presenting up to 50 seminars a week using a huge staff and brilliant speakers.

Not only is Mark an extremely successful real estate investor, he is also the author of many books including his first and most successful book, How To Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You. The book sold over 2 million copies and landed him on several national talk shows.

After the enormous success of that book, he began publishing the Financial Freedom Report, a real estate magazine that ran for over 20 years. And yet, that was just the beginning. He then got into a much more profitable part of real estate, known as development. 

I’ll stop sharing my bio there as I would like to go more into how that development thing worked out in next week’s blog, including how I made millions of dollars in profit through real estate development.

Friends: A Vital Part of Our Lives

December 13, 2020 by  
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A few weeks ago, I got a terrible phone call from my best high school friend’s two adult kids. What they told me cut me to the core. They were calling from the hospital where their dad had just died.

Richard Harvey was my dear brother and the first black guy that I really got to know. He was my high school buddy and my basketball teammate. We met in Ankara, Turkey when our fathers were working overseas to help other countries. I knew he had been in the hospital because I had talked to him on the phone a few weeks earlier. He sounded find and we all thought he was recovering. The phone call from his kids was like a giant punch in the face and gut.

Richard Harvey and I, along with other American kids, attended a small high school in Ankara, Turkey. He truly was my soulmate and we bonded very quickly when we both made it on the high school basketball team. We got better every week and worked so hard at it. A big part of that great improvement came from my older brother Bruce’s death on the first day of tryouts for the team. Bruce died right in front of me.

Because of that, Richard and I, along with our great big Texas center Ed Beckcom, made a commitment to win in my brother’s honor. We practiced many, many hours each day. There were many small American High Schools in Europe, the middle East, and even northern Africa, and we were bound and determined to win the championship for that entire area.

The big championship tournament is held each year in a huge stadium in Rome, Italy. Thinking back after Rich’s death I had some vivid memories. We did in fact make it to the finals of the Rome tournament and even to this day I marvel at what happened in that game.

Notre Dame high school was the number one favorite and we were to play them in the finals. It was a very close game and with only 20 seconds left, Notre Dame was 1 point ahead and had the ball. They took one last long shot and it missed. Big Ed Beckcom went high in the air and came down with the rebound. The outlet pass went to me and Richard and I were speeding down the court with two on one. The clock was ticking down very fast.

When we got close to our basket, I faked a shot and threw a bounce pass to Richard and, as I did, Richard slipped and fell. Oh my gosh, I was petrified! But as he hit the floor, he tossed the ball up toward the basket and, miracle of all miracles, the ball went in the basket as the buzzer sounded.

WE WON, WE WON! Wow, were we ever excited and in 7th heaven. We did it for Bruce, and for us too! That day certainly cemented our friendship and we’ve kept in touch all these years. Hmm … that’s about 60 years!

I know that you, the reader, know the huge importance and gift of having good friends and we especially see how important that is since COVID-19 has made it hard to be close to them or make new friends. So, let’s all double down and reach out to friends, old and new, on phone calls, through texts, and on the internet and stay connected with these dear and important parts of our lives.

In photo above: Ed Beckcom (top row, left), Richard Harvey (middle row, right) and me (bottom row, left.) 

Stir Yourself Up Instead of Going Stir Crazy

April 26, 2020 by  
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Wow. Now, after several weeks, we are still in lock down mode, but that doesn’t have to force us into a mental lock down too. Use this time to look at your world and your relationships in a new way.

The virus has undoubtedly brought my wife and I closer and has pushed my mind to see and think much more about details of so many things. For example, the other day, Kimberly said “Hey, let’s take a drive and look at all the beautiful blossoms that are out now.” Before the pandemic, I would have said, “Are you kidding me? That doesn’t sound like fun to me.”  But with what’s going on, I said, “Okay, let’s go.” Well, when I paid major attention to all the absolutely gorgeous and beautiful blossoms, I was so very impressed, and that drive lifted my mood. It was such a simple thing, but it did us so much good. Thank you, mister virus.

Talk about me noticing details now! Walking down my long driveway to pick up the newspaper I saw a little rock and noticed what looked like a face. How cool. By the way, walking to get my paper always starts my daily walking goal and I usually hit my goal of 20,000 steps a day, even in times like these.

Kimberly is spending hours and hours doing what she loves to do – making beautiful beaded necklaces and other jewelry. We have also found ourselves playing pool and shuffleboard and having a great time doing so many little simple things that we almost never do.

And, hey, remember that now is a great time to reach out to friends and family. My wife Kimberly has reached out to her family and had many long conversations on the phone with her father and friends. Even if you can’t physically hug your friends and family, you certainly can send a virtual hug on the phone.

I even found myself reaching out to friends from 60 years ago. I wanted to talk to my basketball buddy Richard Harvey. We were on the winning team that took first place in an American high school tournament in Rome, Italy back in the day.  I got a hold of his son Kyle who gave me Richard’s phone number in Ohio. I had a great conversation and did that virtual hugging thing. Then, the very next day an old friend of mine, Russ Whitney, called me. He read my first book back when he was a meat cutter in New York and now gives me a lot of credit for his huge success in life. He’s now having 1,000 apartment units built in Florida.

So, it turns out that we don’t have to put up with those feelings that we are going stir crazy.  We can turn this shutdown situation into a really good thing for us and our friends and family. It’s so amazing to me that I began noticing and paying attention to so many details, even simple things around the house, such as pictures and decorations that I have always just skipped over. And now I have that super little rock with the face to remind me to pay attention to the details too.

 

Never Giving Up

March 8, 2020 by  
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Last week I talked about the fact that there is really no big secret to big success. In the beginning of the great book by Darcy Andries, The Secret to Success, she quotes a very smart and very successful man, Colin Powell. He said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Then Darcy made the wise comment that “You can learn a lot from failure, but that requires you to continue moving forward despite having failed.”

As promised, I want to share with you some of the setbacks and failures of a few famous people who never would give up and who eventually were very, very successful. I want to start with the great basketball player Bob Cousy, who was my hero when I was a young man playing in a great basketball tournament in the Olympic stadium in Rome, Italy.  I wanted so badly to be like Bob Cousy and play professional basketball. We won the Rome tournament and I got a basketball scholarship to Utah State University but that’s as far as I got. No pro basketball for me.

I wish I had known back then Cousy’s story of all his setbacks, turndowns, and losses.  I really think that if I had read that story back when I was struggling as a University player, I would have doubled down and not given up. I think I would have done more and practiced more and pushed myself to the limits, maybe even seeking out a personal coach. Here is a summary of Cousy’s story.

Bob Cousy didn’t pick up a single basketball until he was 12 years old and although he tried, he was cut from the school team twice back then. He kept practicing and practicing though. Then he slipped and fell and broke his right arm but he still didn’t give up. He just switched to using his left hand to shoot ball. Wow. He was now ambidextrous and became the star player of the team. After high school, he went on to play college and earned an All-American statue 3 times, helping his team win 26 straight games. He turned pro in 1950 and went on to be voted MVP in 1957 and then received many other great honors including induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.

Think about that and what huge determination and perseverance it must have taken for him to stick with his dream. We all have setbacks and losses so the real key or secret to success for almost any goal or venture is to NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! It’s a very wise person who seeks help from others through books and seminars, or pushing super successful people to be your coach, your teacher, and your inspiration.  So, bottom line here is, if you have set big goals and dreams and you haven’t yet been successful yet, rededicate yourself to those dreams and never give up.

The Possible

May 11, 2018 by  
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A few weeks ago, I was at a book signing party by the great basketball legend and good friend, Mark Eaton (who holds the NBA record for the most blocked shots), when I met an incredible man, Jeff Griffin. He was in a wheelchair, the result of a terrible fall he had while painting a barn many years back. But, wow, what a guy. We have since become very good friends. I told him I wanted to feature him in my next blog post and so, in turn, he wrote this:

I met Mark O. at a Mark Eaton event some time ago. His energy and excitement about life, as you all know, is contagious and palpable. Our first encounter was of mutual respect. We sized each other up and quickly knew that we were both cut from the same mold; his being a little more expensive than mine! I consider Mark to be a giant among men and am fortunate enough to call him my friend.

Mark has graciously asked me to share a few words about my journey. I hope you read this post through the lens of how you might be, or were, able to amplify the power and potential within your own life because this story is more about YOU and your life-altering experience than it is about mine!

My dream and my desire are to be a Sherpa of sorts, to move and motivate 1 million people to slay their own demons of doubt and fear, the ones that paralyze them from solving the possible!

My mother named me Jeffrey, but my friends call me Griff. I’m currently in a wheelchair, but not forever! I’ve always dreamed of playing sports on the ‘big stage’! As a kid I envisioned playing college football as a receiver. I played two downs and tasted the sweetness of success and was one-step closer to fulfilling my dream when a construction accident left me broken and paralyzed from the waist down. I was given a life-sentence and was confined to a wheelchair. I was told I would never move my legs, let alone ever walk again. I was devastated but not defeated! Although my back was broken, I could not allow this to shatter my childhood dream.

I’ve learned for myself that pain hurts in any form. Whether it is personal or business; pain still hurts. While the difficult takes time, the impossible takes a little longer. The key is to overcome the pain, which paralyzes us, and slay the demons of doubt and fear one step at a time. It will be difficult but with courage and faith, the impossible will become POSSIBLE!

During those dark days I had a decision to make: I could stay down and quit or get back up and succeed. I chose the latter. “I’m going to walk again someday!” I declared out loud. Until then I’m going to live life to the fullest. As an ordinary man living life from a wheelchair, I’ve accomplished some extraordinary things. I played in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, and am a silver medalist for the USA men’s wheelchair basketball team. I’m also a national champion and a four-time All-Star MVP who played for the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz.

“Jeff is one of my best friends and heroes. Not because of what he went through but because of what went through him that created such resolve and determination.” – Mike Schlappi, Four-time Paralympian gold medalist and motivational speaker.

I play a little tennis and, for a short period, was the number one men’s wheelchair tennis player in the state of Utah. Five years after my accident I won the St. George Marathon – on my first attempt. You will find my name in the Guinness Book of World Records with two world records. I’ve written an award-winning book, I’Mpossible: Desire. Dream. Do., which I consider one of my greatest accomplishments since I got a D- in English and was told that I would never be able to write a coherent sentence. As a part of me giving back, I’d like to offer you a coupon code ‘love’ to get $20 off my book. https://goo.gl/5qyxfD Just cover the S&H!

I believe everyone has the power and potential to accomplish the impossible if they are willing and want to take the proper steps forward. One of those steps, which Mark mentions all the time in his books, is to have a clear and concise plan with written goals. Once you plan your work; then work your plan.

What a fascinating guy Jeff Griffin is and what great words of wisdom he has to offer. There will be more coming from Jeff in my next week’s blog.