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Previous Story: Tortoise Beats The Hare

Last of her Kind (HDR)“What do you want to be in life?” asked Rosh, as he walked with his son on their daily walk the next day.

“Rich!” replied Josh somberly.

Despite Josh’s grave demeanor and the events of yesterday, Rosh laughed at his answer.

“That was not what I asked,” he said, “but that is a good goal. How will you get there?”

“By working hard, getting good marks and a bit of luck,” responded Josh.

“Hard work? Good marks?” Rosh was beside himself with mirth. “They are a good start, but no, they won’t make you rich. And what is Luck?"

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, Lucius Annaeus Seneca had said."

"Opportunity is always there. Even if it weren’t there, you can create it. So, opportunity is not the issue. The real question is, how prepared are you? Are you ready to get lucky?”

When Josh didn’t answer for a long time, Rosh softened and said, “Effort is important son, but it bears lean fruit."

"For richer pickings, you need vision, passion and reason to direct your efforts. Directed effort is what makes men rich. Knowing where to make the effort makes all the difference!”

“Tools don’t make the expert, knowledge does. You can name your price if you know your stuff. I read a story once, about a steamship boiler failing."

"The owner tried one expert after another, but none could figure out how to fix it. Then, they called an old local mechanic who had been fixing boilers since he was young.”

“The frail old man came, carrying with him just a small bag of tools. He listened to the distraught engineer, asked a few questions, then went into the boiler room. They followed him in.”

“He looked at the maze of twisting pipes, and felt them with his hands. He listened to their heartbeat and heard what they had to say."

"Then humming softly to himself, he reached inside his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the boiler awoke from slumber.”

“As it hissed and roared, the old mechanic put away his tool and left. There was much jubilation on the steamship. Later, the owner received a bill for ten thousand dollars."

"What?" he exclaimed when he saw the invoice, "$10,000 for a puny tap. He hardly did anything. I was prepared to pay him well, but this is outrageous!"

"So he had his solicitor write to the old mechanic, requiring an itemized bill. He got back a bill which read:

  • Tapping with the hammer.........$10
  • Knowing where to tap ........$9,990”

“Pa, people can’t do that kind of thing in real life,” Josh objected.

“Can't they?" asked Rosh, "In 1984, a similar incident is said to have happened at General Electric, Schenectady, New York, with an old-timer named John Steinmetz."

"His consulting charge was $100, and in Steinmetz' day, that was a King’s ransom. Accounting demanded an itemized bill, and he responded with, '$1/tap + $99/knowing where to tap'."

“He wouldn’t get paid today!” persisted Josh. “He’d have to fight for it in court. And be lucky to win!”

“There’s luck again,” answered Rosh. “Howard Schultz said that Luck was seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It was seeing what other people don't see and pursuing that vision."

"Today is no different. Don’t multinationals pay millions in salaries to some, when others barely earn pennies. They are not being paid just for their hours. They are being paid for their skills, for their knowledge, for their experience.”

“The mechanic did what no one else could do despite their best efforts. How much was restarting the boiler worth to the steam-ship owner? How much was the time lost unproductively in waiting, worth?"

"How much was he paying in wages while all his crew sat twiddling their thumbs? What was the replacement cost of the boiler? Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”

“But that’s still blackmail,” countered Josh. “Isn’t it?”

“No, son,” Rosh said. “If you overvalue your work, the world will likely step in to knock down your price. But if you undercharge yourself, it's unlikely that the world will step in to compensate you appropriately."

"You can’t rely on others to value you correctly. It is not in their best interests to do so.”

“The mechanic knew where to tap. It only took him a moment to fix the problem, but it took him a lifetime to learn how to recognize it in the first place. And to learn how to fix it. Why do you value knowledge so cheaply?"

"His job seems easy to you because he made it look so easy, because of his intricate knowledge, which took him a lifetime to acquire.”

“To others, it still remained undoable. Just because something is easy for someone, doesn’t mean that it’s easy for everyone else."

"Become a hammer tapper, always learning new stuff, new tools and techniques, new ways of doing things. Creating a niche is the road that leads to riches.”

“Knowing where to tap the hammer is what will set you apart from the rest. Set you apart from the blind - who will try the same things over and over until they fail so many times, that they declare it impossible."

"For hammer tappers, impossible is just an opinion. To them, impossible reads I M Possible.”

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