Our Spring blog series includes excerpts and basic financial lessons from the book In A Most Delightful Way, by our founder and CEO, James Twining, CFP®. The book aims to explore and simplify concepts based on the author’s own recollection of his early life and storied career path. The formula includes a story or anecdote (the “Spoonful of Sugar”) as well as “medicine” in the form of a lesson learned. Request a copy of the book anytime from your FP Inc. advisor or staff member.
Spoonful of Sugar: Persistence ˃ Resources
By James B. Twining, CFP®
As I graduated from college with a degree in Studio Guitar, I began to feel the weight of responsibility. Jeanne and I would be married that autumn, and I knew that a career as a musician was not conducive to a good marriage, nor could I support a family that way. It seemed that my education had been wasted; I would be yet another example of a student who would not succeed in my chosen field of study. Still, I had the sense that I had learned an awful lot in my five years of school. The jumping around from one major to the next had given me a well- rounded education that I would not have gotten had I stayed in one field of study.
When I graduated from college, Jeanne was living in New Orleans with her folks. Her father had been assigned a tour of duty at the NATO base in Naples, Italy and Jeanne was going to travel there within a few weeks. I was determined to join them, so I hopped on a Greyhound bus in L.A. and arrived three days later in New Orleans to meet her family.
Jeanne’s father, Herbert, wasn’t too sure about me, and I don’t blame him. Here I was a surfer from California with no money and few prospects – not exactly a catch for his beautiful daughter. When he packed up his family and headed for Naples, I told him that I would meet them there, but both of us knew I didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Still, he gave me his Naples address.
The day after they left, I located a “drive away” service. Someone from Silver Spring Maryland recently had their car stolen during Mardi Gras. It had since been found, and the car needed to be driven back to Maryland. The very next day, I was driving a nice BMW to Maryland, and getting paid $250 to do it!
The money was just enough to buy a plane ticket to Heathrow in London. There I was, walking down a residential street in London with all my belongings: a heavy trunk, backpack, and a guitar. I realized that it was too much; I would never be able to haul all that heavy stuff to Italy with me. I saw an old man walking along the sidewalk and asked him if he would store my belongings for a few months. He led me to his basement, and I left the trunk and guitar there, taking the backpack with me.
I hitchhiked to Dover where I found a trucker who let me stow away in his truck for the ferry crossing to France. It turned out he was German which was fortuitous in that I spoke some of the language, and because he was driving all the way to Frankfurt – a 14-hour ride!
In Frankfurt we said our “auf wiedersehens” and I stood by the road with my thumb out again. After another day, my 6,000-mile trip was done; I arrived in Naples and looked up the address Herb had given me. It turned out that no one was living there, so I sat down in a “ristorante” to figure out my next move. In time, I noticed a young Marine officer sitting at the next table and asked him if he knew anything about the living quarters for Marines in Naples. As it happened, this officer oversaw incoming Marines and knew exactly where Herb and his family were living. After hearing my story, he drove me to his flat where, at his insistence, I took a shower and shaved, and he drove me to Herb’s place.
When I knocked on the door, Herb answered, and his jaw dropped. How did this kid get from New Orleans to Naples in three days without any money? I think at that moment he resigned himself to the fact that he would never get rid of me.
The Medicine: If you have an objective in mind (financial or otherwise), don’t give up! Persistence and a burning desire are more important than resources, as this story demonstrates.