Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Interview with W. Clement Stone Changed My Outlook on Life

Success Secrets Shared by “Positive” Millionaire

As published in The Charleston Daily Mail

W. Clement Stone decided as a child that he would be successful -- that he’d be wealthy, happy and marry the sweetest and most beautiful girl in the world.

In his estimation, Stone’s done that and more and it’d be hard to argue that point.

He’s amassed a $400 million personal fortune through his Chicago insurance conglomerate; personal satisfaction comes in knowing he’ll leave the world a better place than he found it, and after 58 years of marriage, he says his wife Jessie is still the most beautiful woman in the world.

Stone spoke in Charleston last night at the West Virginia State College Black Tie Dinner. He came to tell those attending the $100-a-plate dinner how to help themselves. In addition to running his many insurance companies, being one of the most generous philanthropists in American history and contributing many hours to civic service, Stone is also an author of three books and many articles on the powers of the human mind and of positive thinking.

In an informal press conference before his speech, he praised former President Nixon’s strength in foreign affairs. “The Nixon presidency was one of greatest things to happen to the U.S. Nixon promised to keep Russia and Egypt out of Israel and he did. Where would the U.S. be today without him?”

Stone analyzes every event with a “positive mental attitude” and uses it to find the good in every adversity. “Watergate was one of the finest things that ever happened in this country.” Because of Watergate “people are willing to take the time to vote and to look for honest men to elect to office. The people, newspapers aren’t afraid to attack senators, congressmen, presidents, and make them answer for their actions.”

A staunch Republican and member of the executive committee of the Republican National Finance Committee, Stone even has something good to say about Jimmy Carter’s presidency. “We were lucky to have Carter for a president. Without him, the country wouldn’t have been awakened to the vastness of our [economic] problems.”

Last night he shared the secret of his successes with the 150 educators and alumni attending the dinner, explaining the self-motivation philosophies he learned at an early age selling newspapers on Chicago streets.

“Anyone can achieve success if he will set a goal and be sincere enough about that goal to pay the price. The price is willing to think about that goal daily.”

He believes there’s vast untapped powers lying in the subconscious mind and that by training the conscious mind to use those powers, anyone can achieve as he has. Often, he says, the subconscious mind holds the answers one needs to solve his personal obstacles to success.

“You may not think you have the answers, but think about your goals daily and the subconscious will generally come up with the answers. It’s one of God’s ways of communicating with us.” But he says you’ve got to be ready to use the answers found. Another cornerstone of his creed is developing a positive mental attitude. This is achieved by turning “self-motivation thoughts into habit....It’s amazing how much can happen if one is willing to pay the price to think.”

Stone has proved his creeds work by motivating delinquents and dropouts through Chicago Boys Clubs, or which he is honorary chairman of the board. “No matter how bad the boy’s past - we’ve taken boys with the most putrid backgrounds - we’ve proved we can motivate them to become better citizens.”

Stone’s work with the Chicago Boys Club is just a fraction of his contribution - both of time and money - to public service. In addition to espousing his philosophies throughout the world in an effort to “teach people to help themselves,” Stone has given away more than $75 million to charitable organizations for volunteerism, mental health, youth welfare, religion and education. This earned him a spot on the list of the seven most generous American millionaires in “The Very Rich Book,” a menagerie of information about Americans worth more than $50 million. His vast contributions of time and money to youth organizations also brought a 1981 Nobel Peace prize nomination from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former President Gerald Ford and leaders of several international organizations.

Economic problems are no adversity to Stone, who was born in poverty in 1902 in Chicago. His father died when he was three, leaving his dressmaker mother and him to fend for themselves. At 6, he was selling newspapers on busy Chicago streets, where he learned persistence and to be a “salesman by vocation.” At 16, he traveled to Detroit, where his mother began an insurance business. Four years later, he took $100 he earned working for his mother and opened his own insurance business.

During the Depression, his business flourished while others failed. He terms the financial disaster “one of the most positive experiences in my forced me to develop good work habits and be more scientific in training men so I could pay off my debts.”

In 1979 his Combined Insurance Company of America listed assets of $1.15 billion. Stone also leads five subsidiary insurance companies, a realty company and a company which publishes “Success Unlimited,” a magazine which promotes his and others’ self-help theories. He’s listed as a director of the Alberto-Culver Company of Chicago.

Stone will be 80 next May, yet he has the spunk and enthusiasm of a youngster. Age is all in the mind, he says. “ I was born in 1902, and with new math, that makes me 42. It’s all up here,” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he pointed to his head.

And what’s been the motivatiing goal for the man whose life has been spent in attempts to motivate others?

“I have a simple obsession. All I wanted to do was make the world a better place and I have.”

— By Joyce Almond 10/17/81