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How to Survive & Thrive in Tough Times - Part 3

Written on the 16 December 2016 by James Cagney


I have included the names of some people who made millions during the Great Depression who added value to society.  I personally find these stories highly motivational and I have read numerous biographies over the years that have given me inspiration in tough times. I do not suggest that you follow in the footsteps of those such as Dillinger, Al Capone and the other notorious gangsters of that time, as many were ruthless and are suspected of having employed illegal methods to achieve great wealth. Here are examples of people of "Character":

James Cagney (yes I have the same name):  he was raised in poverty and gained fame as an actor. It has been reported that, at the time when he was earning the princely sum of $55 a week, he used to send $40 to his mother.  As his salary increased, so did the amount he sent back home. In 'The Public Enemy' (1931), he earned $400 a week, sending over $300 a week back home. This was at a time when the average worker earned $22 to $30 a week. Until his mother passed away he never kept more than 50% of his earnings. While growing up James Cagney was encouraged by his mother to take up boxing as a hobby. She thought it was a necessary skill to have, especially in the rough Eastside section of New York City where he grew up. She would often show up and watch him take on neighbourhood kids in a street fight. However, when he wanted to become a professional boxer, she disapproved. She started to put on a pair of boxing gloves and told him "If you want to become a professional fighter, then your first fight will have to be against me." He abandoned the idea of doing boxing professionally from that moment on. Because of his upbringing on the wrong side of New York he was type-cast as a gangster. He was married to Francis who outlived him by 8 years. He arrived in Hollywood on a three week guarantee, and stayed, to his absolute amazement, for thirty-one years.

Colonel Sanders:  this Kentucky grandfather ran a gas station and started serving fried chicken from that site to supplement his income at a time when most people could no longer afford to fill up their vehicles regularly with gas (petrol). He held a number of jobs in his early life, such as steam engine stoker, insurance salesman, lawyer, fireman and filling station operator. In 1930, the Shell Oil Company offered Sanders a service station in North Corbin, Kentucky, rent free, in return for paying them a percentage of sales. Sanders began to serve his chicken dishes and other meals such as country ham and steaks. Initially he served the customers in his adjacent living quarters before opening a restaurant.  Sanders was commissioned in 1935 as a Colonel by Kentucky governor Ruby Laffoon. By July 1940, Sanders had finalized his "Secret Recipe" for frying chicken in a pressure fryer that cooked the chicken faster than pan frying.  Sanders, whose name and image are still symbols of the company, recognized the potential of the restaurant franchising concept, and the first KFC franchise opened in Utah in 1952. The company's rapid expansion across the United States and overseas was overwhelming for Sanders and in 1964 he sold the company to a group of investors for $.2 million.

David Packard and Bill Hewlett:  They graduated from Stanford with degrees in Electrical Engineering in 1935 and became business partners in the late 1930's starting their operation with less than $600 capital investment. The company was founded in a one-car garage in Palo Alto by William "Bill" Redington Hewlett and David "Dave" Packard, and initially produced a line of electronic test equipment. The founders developed a management style that came to be known as "The HP Way." In Hewlett's words, the HP Way is "a core ideology which includes a deep respect for the individual, a dedication to affordable quality and reliability, a commitment to community responsibility, and a view that the company exists to make technical contributions for the advancement and welfare of humanity."  The following are the tenets of The HP Way:
1. We have trust and respect for individuals.
2. We focus on a high level of achievement and contribution.
3. We conduct our business with uncompromising integrity.
4. We achieve our common objectives through teamwork.
5. We encourage flexibility and innovation.

Joseph Kennedy:  it is widely believed that he gained his initial fortune by illegal alcohol running during the Prohibition period in America.  After graduating from Harvard, with a degree in economics, in 1912 Joe took his first job as a state-employed bank examiner, allowing him to learn a great deal about the banking industry. In 1913, the Columbia Trust Bank, in which his father held a significant share, was under threat of takeover. Kennedy, borrowed $45,000 from family and friends, bought back control and at age 25 was rewarded by being elected the bank's president. Kennedy bragged to the press he was "the youngest" bank president in America.

Kennedy emerged as a highly successful entrepreneur with an eye for value. For example, as a real estate investor, he turned a handsome profit from ownership of Old Colony Realty Associates, Inc., which bought distressed real estate. In 1919, Kennedy joined the prominent stock brokerage firm of Hayden, Stone & Co. where he became an expert in dealing in the unregulated stock market of the day, engaging in tactics that were later labeled insider trading and market manipulation. In 1923, he left Hayden and set up his own investment company. Kennedy subsequently became a multi-millionaire during the bull market of the 1920s, and then even more wealthy as a result of taking "short" positions in 1929. Kennedy formed alliances with several other Irish-Catholic investors. He helped establish the Libby-Owens-Ford stock pool, an arrangement in which Kennedy and colleagues created a scarcity of Libby-Owens-Ford stock to drive up the value of their own holdings in the stock, using inside information and the public's lack of knowledge. Pool operators would bribe journalists to present information in the most advantageous manner. Attempts to corner stocks were made that would cause the price to go up, and bear raids could cause the price to collapse downward.  Kennedy later claimed he knew the rampant stock speculation of the late 1920s would lead to a market crash. It is said that he knew it was time to get out of the market when he received stock tips from a shoe-shine boy. Kennedy survived the crash "because he possessed a passion for facts, a complete lack of sentiment and a marvelous sense of timing". During the Great Depression Kennedy vastly increased his financial fortune by investing most of it in real estate. In 1929, Kennedy's fortune was estimated to be $4 million and by 1935 his wealth had increased to $180 million.

John Templeton:  is reported to have started buying up 100 shares in each company where the value was less than $1, targeting companies which had been badly managed but nevertheless had potential. John Marks Templeton was an investor and mutual fund pioneer. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a Master's degree in law. He rejected technical analysis for stock trading, preferring instead to use fundamental analysis. 'Money magazine' in 1999 called him "arguably the greatest global stock picker of the century".  Templeton was one of the most generous philanthropists in history, giving away over $1 billion to charitable causes. He renounced his US citizenship in 1964, allowing him to channel an additional $100 million that he would have paid in US income taxes when he sold his international investment fund, toward philanthropy. He held dual naturalized Bahamian and British citizenship and spent his retirement living in the Bahamas.

Babe Ruth:  this man knew how to negotiate a good deal for his talents and was reported to have earned more than Edgar Hoover during the same year. Some accounts say that, after a violent incident at his father's saloon, the city authorities decided this environment was unsuitable for a small child. At St. Mary's, which George Jr. entered on June 13, 1902, he was recorded as "incorrigible"; he spent much of the next twelve years there. The food was simple, and the Xaverian Brothers who ran the school insisted on strict discipline; corporal punishment was common. The school's influence remained with Ruth in other ways: a lifelong Catholic, he would sometimes attend Mass after carousing all night, and he became a well-known member of the Knights of Columbus. He would visit orphanages, schools, and hospitals throughout his life, often avoiding publicity. He was generous to St. Mary's as he became famous and rich, donating money and his presence at fundraisers, and spending $5,000 to buy Brother Matthias a Cadillac in 1926 - subsequently replacing it when it was destroyed in an accident. Nevertheless, his biographer Leigh Montville suggests that many of the off-the-field excesses of Ruth's career were driven by the deprivations of his time at St. Mary's. On March 6, 1922, Ruth signed a new contract, for three years at $52,000 a year. It was the largest sum ever paid a ballplayer to that date and it represented 40% of the team's player payroll. On January 7, 1930, salary negotiations between the Yankees and Ruth quickly broke down. Having just concluded a three-year contract at an annual salary of $70,000, Ruth promptly rejected both the Yankees' initial proposal of $70,000 for one year and their 'final' offer of two years at $75,000 - the latter figure equaling the annual salary of then US President Herbert Hoover; instead, Ruth demanded at least $85,000 and three years. When asked why he thought he was "worth more than the President of the United States," Ruth responded: "the President gets a four-year contract. I'm only asking for three." Exactly two months later, a compromise was reached, with Ruth settling for two years at an unprecedented $80,000 per year.

Gene Autry:  the yodelling cowboy rose to fame, singing and yodelling his way through the 'western movies' which were so popular at that time. After leaving high school in 1925, Autry worked as a telegrapher for the St. LouisSan Francisco Railway. He was fired for singing on duty. His talent at singing and playing guitar led to performing at local dances and in 1928 Autry began singing on Tulsa's radio station KVOO as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy". In response to his many young radio listeners aspiring to emulate him, Autry created the Cowboy Code, or Ten Cowboy Commandments. These tenets promoting an ethical, moral, and patriotic lifestyle appealed to youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts, which developed similar doctrines. The Cowboy Code consisted of rules that were "a natural progression of Gene's philosophies going back to his first Melody Ranch programs and early movies." According to the code:

1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. He must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

Michael J Cullen:  his revolutionary ideas formed the basis of our modern day supermarkets by changing the old style grocer shop to a self-service open shelved store with his motto of "pile it high: sell it cheap". In 1919, Cullen joined Kroger Stores and worked for the company until 1930. While working at Kroger, he developed the idea of a supermarket. He wrote a letter to the president of Kroger, proposing a new type of food store with a focus on low prices, larger square footage, cash sales, no delivery service, and low rent locations with lots of parking. In his proposal, Cullen suggested that this new type of store could achieve nearly ten times the volume and profits of the average Kroger store. Cullen's letter went unanswered. Undaunted, and confident in his ability to see his idea become a reality, he quit his job and moved his family to Long Island to launch his own store. Cullen leased a vacant garage in Queens, just a few blocks from a busy shopping district. On the 4th August 1930 the King Kullen Grocery Company opened the doors to the world's first supermarket. The store carried a range of approximately 1,000 items, including automotive accessories and hardware, as well as groceries. Success was rapid. People came from miles around. To many of his customers, Cullen offered convenient and affordable food. Bold newspaper ads described the store as the "World's Greatest Price Wrecker." The chain expanded rapidly in the price conscious environment of the Great Depression. King Kullen stores reused large older buildings, including abandoned factories and warehouses, in low-rent locations on the borders of populated areas. Facilities were simple. Service was minimal. Shopping carts were used and national brands were emphasized. There was a 'no frills' bargain environment that resonated with depression era customers. Ample, free parking was available in order to appeal to customers with automobiles and encourage them to purchase large quantities. By 1936 there were 17 King Kullen supermarkets turning-over approximately $6 million annually.

Harley-Davidson:  In 1901 William S. Harley, age 21, completed a blueprint drawing of an engine designed to fit into a bicycle.  In 1903 William Harley and Arthur Davidson made available to the public the first production Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. The factory in which they worked was a 10 x 15-foot wooden shed with the words "Harley-Davidson Motor Company" crudely scrawled on the door. Arthur's brother Walter Davidson a shrewd businessman later joins their efforts.  By 1931 all of Harley-Davidson's remaining American competition were gone except Indian (Hendee Manufacturing). Indian and Harley-Davidson are the only two American motorcycle manufacturers that survived the great depression and continued to do so until 1953. During and after the Great Depression the company was close to bankruptcy. But the vision and genius of William Harvey and the determination and tenacity of the two Davidson brothers pulled them through. During and after the depression they took massive risks including turning down Ford who was wanting to by the company.  They survived the tough years by licensing blueprints, tools, dies and machinery to the Sankyo Company of Japan. Japan now owns the biggest motor cycle companies in the globe including Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki.  What these three men did was create an iconic premium priced brand that many blue blooded men and women want to own. Their brand has stood the test of time and will continue to do for many years to come.

  *   *  *

Common threads run through all of their individual journeys to success:

  • Looking for opportunities and seeing potential where others see failure, Diane Grant, who is an award winning playwright and screenwriter, said "It's better to walk alone, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction."
  • Hard work and commitment to the task at hand.  Jim Rice a former Major League Baseball left fielder and designated hitter who played his entire 16-year baseball career for the Boston Red Sox said "Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I will accomplish what others can't."
  • Self-believing 'risk takers'. Rob Gilbert said "Losers visualize the penalties of failure. Winners visualise the rewards of success." The success of any venture is determined at the beginning and not at the end. You need to take calculated risks if you want to succeed.

Reading through these amazing stories of people who stood out during the Great Depression reminds me of what Arthur Friedman, actor, professor and historian said "Men of genius are admired. Men of wealth are envied. Men of power are feared. But only men of character are trusted."

These men were mostly men of character and achieved greatness. Unfortunately we live in the instant society where everyone wants quick success and wealth. We need to "Become" before we can "Have". This formula below has been tested throughout history:

1) Obtain the "Knowledge" you need to be successful
2) Develop "Principles" to live by based upon this knowledge
3) These "Principles" will lead to "Wisdom" (sometimes referred to as "Intelligence) and,
4) This formula will lead you to success in whatever you turn your hand to.

Whatever you "Become" in life should be based on what legacy you will leave behind when you are gone from this earth and not on how much money you leave behind.


Make sure you read Part 1 and Part 2 of "How to Survive and Thrive in Tough Times" to see which industries are going to feel the squeeze and where some people will be losing their jobs.

Be careful of scam artists who offer you easy money.  I recently received an email about making 'easy money'.  I was curious and opened the email. To obtain the information I was requested to 'opt-in' to provide my email address. I decided against this and searched the website for FASTCASH.BIZ.   I was taken in watching a video for about 10 minutes which made me think I was onto something good. However, as a precautionary measure, I decided to go to a website which notifies scam alerts only to find to my disappointment that this was a total scam.  I was annoyed and disappointed. The website to check for suspected scams is below and you should always check on this website before you look into any promise of easy money and simply part with your hard earned money. The link to this site is:  http://www.binaryscamalerts.com .

Here is an excerpt from the scam alert website: "The story starts out when Madison Clark and David Graham walk towards the camera man as they exit a yacht. Then they introduce themselves as the creators of fastcash.biz, "your shortcut to unlimited wealth". They have no social media profile on Facebook or LinkedIn for example. They continue by stating that it's the first time they are allowing the general public free access, and that their software has made them over 55 Million dollars and it keeps growing. They proceed on to mention what their first group of Beta Testers did in "the first two minutes of activation", and show you a live demonstration of how their software is performing on a daily basis. The fact is that they are saying "you need money, lots of it, and fast" means they are targeting the weaker segments of society and not those who are well-to-do. This is just despicable!

"Pressure tactics are constantly used with sound bites like "the clock is ticking" and "right now is the time". Inflated bank accounts are prominently displayed showing photo-shopped images and fake names. "Legitimate ways to make money from home" and "gaining financial freedom" are recurring themes which are constantly being rehashed in an orchestrated and cosmetic fashion. There is no tangible evidence or any instructional videos to show us what the software looks like and how it works. The level of transparency is below zero and these scammers are doing everything possible to hide what their software looks like instead of displaying it and making it available for public scrutiny. The customer email at 'fastcashmembersarea@gmail.com' was evasive and at times intentionally cryptic or non-responsive, specifically with questions concerning broker regulation and payout policies. Actual and documented proof of winning trades and accuracy levels were not provided, despite repeated requests."

Now you can see how easy it is to get sucked into these schemes - especially if you have lost your job and you are looking for business opportunities.  The Integrity Business Network is a good place to start if you are looking for help starting a new business. We have professional members who will help you start a business and put the right systems in place for you to succeed. Obviously these professionals charge a fee for their services. I have personally checked their credentials. All member services recommended consist of licensed and registered people and well established companies. We do not need any 'bad apples'.   If you want to find out more about the Integrity Business Network or you want to offer your services through the Integrity Business Network  click >>> BUSINESS NETWORK

Residential property has stood the test of time over the last 80 years in Australia as a safe secure investment through the tough times. If you would like information about investing in property please call James Cagney: +61 416 137 645 or click >>> HERE.  Do it now because "Procrastination is the thief of time."

To go to the previous articles written on "How to Survive & Thrive in Tough Times" click >>> PART 1 & PART 2 


This is not financial advice. You should not act solely on the basis of the material contained in this article for your investment strategies. Changes in government and legislation occur frequently and without prior notice and financial markets are unpredictable.
Please note that the information herein is of a general nature only and is not intended as specific advice for any particular person or entity.

This information was written and compiled by James Cagney.  The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of his associates including
Asset Finance Pty Ltd.

Author: James Cagney
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