"Long term success is built on credibility and on establishing enduring loving relationships with quality people based on mutually earned trust. Cut all ties with dishonest, negative or lazy people, and associate with people who share your values. You become who you associate with." -- Dave Kekich
I have been fortunate during my life and career to come into contact with some outstanding people. I am blessed to consider some of them members of my extended family. To a great extent they are responsible for my success because they have served as my role models. They have inspired me to strive to become better than I am.
I have seen the opposite happen. During one season that I toured with a circus I had a group of friends who became disgruntled with conditions on the show. They sat around complaining all of the time. I saw that their mood was contagious. Not only did they become increasingly negative, but I began to look at things the same way. That is the one circus season when I was the most dissatisfied which began to affect my performances. If I hadn't associated with them I would probably have had a much better season.
Here are three positive examples:
When I did circus spot dates in the mid 1980's I always accepted work from a booking agent/producer named Ed Russell. If he called to say he was working with a limited budget and asked if I could work for a little less than my normal fee, I knew he was telling me the truth and would accept the offer. I knew that because he had earned my trust. Sometimes when he called he would tell me he had a big budget and would pay me a bonus for that booking as a thank you for the work I had previously done for him. I knew that he would always be fair with me in our relationship. I also knew that he would be fair with his clients so working with him would help enhance my credibility. Ed is still working providing small circus performances for county fairs. He has had some competition that cut corners to take bookings away from him. However, the fairs that hired somebody else always came back to him because of his honesty. I would say that Ed's main business philosophy is to deliver everything you have promised, and then some. I try to follow Ed's example.
Kenny Ahern is another person I have been fortunate to consider a friend. He is an outstanding performer and instructor. People who have attended an educational program where he has taught understand that. What many don't realize is how hard he works behind the scenes to assist others on staff in doing their best possible performances. He does a lot that participants don't see. He has helped me figure out the technical aspects of some of my best stage shows. I have learned to listen carefully to his suggestions because he has a wonderful theatrical understanding. What is even more important to me is his character as a person. The way he treats others is wonderful. He has developed a social grace that sets others at ease and makes them feel important. When I am on staff somewhere I try to follow his example and help others with the technical elements of their performance. In my every day dealings with people, I try to follow his example in making others feel valued.
Lee Mullally is another dear friend and source of inspiration. Our relationship first began nearly thirty years ago when he wrote in response to my articles in Laugh-Makers Magazine. That meant a lot to me because I rarely got any feed back on my articles. I wrote back about Lee's articles that were being publishing in other variety arts magazines. I began following Lee's example, and writing to authors of articles I enjoyed and appreciated. When I met Lee in person, I learned that he is another person of outstanding character. I have seen him in stressful situations and admired the way he was able to keep conflicts from spreading. I also appreciate his tact and taste in comedy.
There are many other people who have inspired me to become a better person and performer.
Who do you associate with? Do you want to become like them?