How do you spell success?

What’s the difference between Sam Bankman-Fried, Jeff Bezos, and Robert Kern? We all recognize the first two names but probably not the last. (Even though this story was discussed in a previous e-blast, SBF is still in the news and the moral of the story is still relevant.) 

“I wasn’t in it for the money.” said Bankman-Fried, according to a recent WSJ article by Daniel Henninger, titled, “The Moral Vanity of FTX”.  He described himself as a proponent of “effective altruism”, or high-return charity. 

Jeff Bezos declared “Amazon’s mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”  This statement was from a book by Carmine Gallo and reviewed by Bill Heavy in another WSJ article. While Mr. Gallo focused on Mr. Bezos’ annual shareholder letters to learn his secrets to success, Mr. Heavy also includes another clue.  Success, we are told by Mr. Bezos, is a mindset.  At Amazon, it is always Day One, described as a “metaphor for creating and sustaining a culture of innovation no matter how large a company becomes.” 

The final entry, Robert Kern, was the founder of Generac, a company he founded in 1959 when he set up shop with 5 employees in a garage in Wales, Wisconsin, to make portable generators. He was born in 1925 in Osage, Iowa and recently passed away at the age of 96

“Mr. Kern diversified his range to include permanently installed generators for homeowners worried about power outages. Generac also developed equipment supplying backup electricity for telecom networks, hospitals and other facilities.” Most importantly, however, he kept adapting his product line and distribution channels.

In this regard, Kern had more in common with Bezos than SBF, but his story doesn’t end there.  He sold the company for more than $1 Billion in 2006 and not only shared the proceeds with his employees but donated “well over $100 Million to the Mayo Clinic”.  His philanthropy also “supports a variety of causes, including programs encouraging young people to study science, math, and engineering.”

As we all approach Christmas, Hannukah, & Kwanza, the season of charity for others, Mr. Kern’s story is heartwarming and inspirational. It is truly the definition of success!

Happy Holidays,
Kevin F. Clune, CLFP
Clune & Company, A Division of
Landmark Financial Corporation