Recent Dartmouth graduate and entrepreneur Parker Phinney treated delegates to an inspirational story about his childhood quest to own the Guinness World Records title for the longest Barrel of Monkeys chain. During his seminar, he shared how he persevered for years until he earned that distinction during his university days at Dartmouth.
Each time he met with an obstacle to his quest, including unachievable conditions by Guinness officials that he finally convinced them to modify, he asked the audience the key question: “But did I give up?” And right on cue, they answered, “No!”
Afterward, many asked the personable young man questions about his next endeavor and where life might take him. Then one asked him the most important question of all: whether his 5,000 plastic monkeys were back in his father’s garage, where they were stored for years during his quest.
“Yes,” he admitted to the delight of many parents in the crowd whose own children had obviously left them tending their childhood “stuff.”
Faith and Franchising
Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, fascinated delegates with her account of how she rebounded from personal tragedy to start a pretzel company that now has more than 1,100 locations around the world in airports and retail outlets.
Beiler grew up in an Amish home in Pennsylvania, married young and expected to be a mom and homemaker for the rest of her life. But the loss of her 19-month-old daughter in a farming accident plunged her life into darkness and doubt, almost destroying her marriage and family.
When she overcame her years of depression and anger, she began a pretzel business based on a simple recipe she had learned as a young Amish girl years earlier. The word spread far and wide, and the rest is history.
“Success and happiness are not about money,” she said several times to delegates, who could only imagine creating a worldwide franchise company. “Success is about accomplishing what you set out to do. It is the successful completion of an objective. That is how you should look at it. If you do that, you have the opportunity to be very successful.”
Michael Sullivan is a speaker and consultant on all things boomer related. Owner of 50 Plus Communications Consulting, Sullivan was a columnist for more than 15 years for Bank Travel Management magazine and has authored numerous books on boomers and mature adults.
“I’m going to see if you can pass a simple test that confirms you are a baby boomer,” Sullivan told his audience. He then threw lots of partial catchphrases up on the screen to see if his attendees could complete them before moving into more serious territory.
“Baby boomers have to have a certain measure of control,” he said. “They’re independent, and they question institutional authority. They may never retire, so what you offer them has to be doable over a weekend or on a short vacation. And baby boomers do not ever want to stop learning. If you teach them something on a trip, they’ll value their time with you even more.”