I grew up on a family farm in Hudson, Ohio, approximately fifteen miles south of Cleveland. I graduated high-school just as the Korean War began and, rather than being drafted into the Army, I enlisted at age 17 (with my parents' permission) in the Navy Air at a nearby Naval Air Station in Akron. During training, as a teenager I really enjoyed flying in (now vintage) Navy planes including the SNJ-5 ("Texan trainer"), PBY ("Catalina flying boat"), R4D (Navy's designation for the C-47/DC3 ("Gooneybird"), TBF (Grumman's "Avenger Torpedo Bomber") and others.
Following training, I flew with "Fleet Logistics Air Support Wing" as air-crewman. At a young age I thought seriously of making a career in the Navy. Recommended by my commanding officer, I was one of four enlisted men to be directly commissioned during the Korean "conflict" by the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Dan Kimball, resulting in being, perhaps, the youngest commissioned man (age 19) in the U.S. Navy.
Some years later, when attending Ohio State University, as I matured I began to wonder about wars and considered becoming a college professor rather than having a military career. After a year of post B.S. research, working toward a PhD, I decided against an academic career. Teaching undergraduates on a paid post-graduate assistantship had become boring after only one year. As a lifetime career, it also appeared to be financially undesirable.
I took a job with a large consumer-products marketing corporation (Lever Brothers Co., Division of Unilever LTD) that offered two years of in-field sales training leading toward company management. After six years and a couple of promotions with Lever Brothers, I felt that I had outgrown promoting consumer products. Having liked trucks since boyhood, as a well-trained salesman, I transfered into industrial sales and quickly began earning serious money.
When Jim Ryder (Ryder Truck Rental, Coral Gables, Florida) decided to compete with U-Haul in the one-way truck rental business, I made the country's largest truck-equipment sale of the year consisting of five hundred truck bodies, each with a Maxon electric-hydraulic life-gate. That single sale resulted in over $34,000 earned commission (around $290,000 in today's dollars).
Over the next six years, establishing a solid reputation, I moved ahead in the truck equipment industry. My final corporate job required either turning around Lyncoach & Truck Corp., Troy, Alabama (Div. of NASDAQ-listed Instrument Systems Corp.) or having it liquidated. I recall with pride having saved the jobs for employees of the city's largest employer. I decided to leave the corporate world to benefit others rather than to continue supporting corporations and investment bankers.
I moved to Worthington, Ohio, location of a top-rated public school at which I enrolled my son. The owner of a local bookstore suggested to me that I meet her husband, the Regional Manager of Century21's Southeast Ohio Region. He invited me to take over a failing real-estate franchise in his Region. I got a real-estate license. At the Regional sales conference, less than a year later, my business won every award as top agency in sales, recruiting, listings, and profit.
One evening at home when reading The Consumer Union's Guide to Life Insurance, I was horrified by the facts disclosed. I saw an opportunity. Most persons, including agents selling life-insurance, when shown facts clearly, will make an appropriate decision, especially when it is in their own interest. I read several books and papers on the subject, including the brilliantly written, A Legal Analysis of the Sale of Life-Insurance by Randal Hendricks in "The Houston Law Review", and Norman Dacey's masterful volume, What's Wrong With Your Life-Insurance.
I got an insurance license. Interviewing and recruiting ambitious men and women of integrity, and conducting educational training sessions twice weekly for several years, I built one of largest personal lines insurance agencies in the country. Having developed some reputation in Columbus, Ohio (where I had three offices) friends urged me to run for the Ohio State Senate, which I did reluctantly. I was delighted to be out-voted (frighteningly by only a couple thousand votes). In that process I learned some things about politics, a business in which I never again wished to participate.
Whereas many books about life-insurance had, over the years, been written for the general public, I targeted my book to insurance agents. I then mastered programming Texas Instruments' TI-59 programmable calculator to illustrate, at point-of-sale, financial mathematical results by means of its attached thermal printer. I sold hardware and software to agents of several progressive companies that provided new generation consumer-friendly financial products and that appointed me as Managing General Agent, paying me a commission on their agents' sales. After he read my book, I was appointed by George Diachok of Multi-Financial Corporation (today Denver's Multi-Financial Securities Corp.) as Marketing Director. For roughly five years I trained hundreds of agents committed to providing honest advice and accountable financial products.
The industry reacted by introducing "Universal Life", another "cash value life-insurance" product. Although prohibited by law from being sold as an investment, it is sold agressively by the industry's "trained" agents as a "great financial product", combining financial death protection along with illustrated financial benefits at advanced age (basically the same sales pitch used for the discredited product that had made the industry astronomically wealthy). Unsurprisingly, the industry's hyped sizzle of "Universal Life Insurance" cooled off significantly. (What a business!).
As personal computers were becoming popular and the first web-browser arrived, I built a high quality educational website as a public service. Mentioned in "Newsweek" magazine The BigEye, my website, was featured in full-page articles by Scripps Howard and published in major newspapers nationally. The American Library Association promoted The Big Eye in its printed magazine, Knowledge Quest, distributed worldwide to academic libraries.
The Bigeye, used by schools and colleges, remained in the web's top 5% for a few years. It escaped the attention of investment bankers who viewed the exploding digital revolution as a great opportunity to extract money from largely computer-ignorant persons who, as usual, trusted Wall Street's stocks and bonds commissioned sales-persons.
When the stock brokers' fraudulently promoted "dot-com investments" collapsed, billions of dollars had been extracted from the families of trusting investors. The Bigeye had more solid data and actual use than a number of websites that were scandalously listed on Wall Street's New York Stock Exchange.
Following the national dot-com financial fiasco, I studied for and gained FINRA's Series-65 designation as a fiduciary fee-paid financial advisor for the purpose of helping people avoid being hoodwinked by financially damaging misinformation designed by corporate greed.
After twenty years I have begun updating BigEye-dot-com online with BIGEYE.ORG and adding material exposing disturbing current events. Much of my original website's content remains intact, fortunately, although accompanied by two decades of scattered link-rot.
I associated, as a true fiduciary, with a couple of RIA's (Registered Investment Advisors) before deciding to work independently and to select, when required, my own professional associates. It took me years to fully realize that, too often, facts have little impact in the face of wishful thinking, skillfully scripted propaganda, and a persuasive sale pitch, especially when accompanied by traumatizing fear-inducing narratives.
Everything begins with a conversation. Following a brief discussion I can let you know whether or not I can be of help to you and to those in life you care for. Feel free to give me a call, if only to chat.✱
With problematic performance of stocks, CD's, Cryptocurrencies, IRA's, 401K's, and inflation eating away at the purchasing power of our money itself, what does the future hold? I don't pretend to have a crystal ball and will do for you the best that I know how.