‘You are the director of your life’s story’

On the heels of presenting the Waukesha County Business Alliance Top 10 Businesses of the Year Awards, I want to share with our readers this week some pearls of wisdom from columnists, authors and consultants Susan Marshall and Susan Wehrley.

Think of them as the BizTimes Lake Country Susans.

Marshall is based in Oconomowoc. Her new book is titled, “Life. Be In It.” For nearly 30 years (though you certainly would not
have guessed it by her lovely, youthful appearance), Marshall has been encouraging readers and live audiences to take a clear-eyed look at life, find the opportunities it holds and position themselves to pursue their dreams.

Here is a passage that will give you a taste of Marshall’s latest book: “Take some time to consider your life so far. Dream about what you would like it to be before it’s over. You are the director of your life’s story. There are things you can choose and admittedly, things you’ll end up enduring. But if you’re thoughtful and skillful, you can blend them into a true story that is charming, challenging, inspirational and worthy of your investment of time, thought, energy, love and endurance. What’s next? It’s yours to choose. Make it meaningful to you because then it may be a gift of inspiration to another.”

Wehrley is based in Brookfield. Her new book is titled, “Ignite ‘The Plan’ to Live Your American Dream!” It’s a perfect bookend companion for Marshall’s book.

Here is a passage from Wehrley’s new book: “Being an entrepreneur and a business person is a very spiritual journey. We are constantly stepping in the unknown, creating something out of nothing and not knowing if our something will produce the outcome we want, or not…Instead of fleeing, think about, ‘What is your next step to prove them wrong?’ Execute small changes, whether that is in your language or your approach. Benchmark these changes to see if they make a difference. If they don’t, execute something new and benchmark those results. The idea is keep moving forward and executing.”

Wehrley had the great privilege to work for a short time with one of my mentors, the late and great George Dalton, the co-founder of Fiserv Inc. and the inaugural recipient of the BizTimes Lifetime Achievement Award.

So, to bring this column full circle, I’m going to go back to my final conversation with Dalton, who passed away on Nov. 17, 2011.

In that conversation, Dalton expressed concerns about American companies as they tried to cut back to try to recover from the Great Recession. Dalton said American entrepreneurs must continue to be “swashbucklers.” He said they must never stop pushing forward. They must be bold, he said.

Being a company owner is a high calling with significant responsibilities, Dalton said. “An employer’s obligation is certainly to his customer, but also to his people,” Dalton said. “Hardly anybody left me at Fiserv. The people there have done well and become fairly wealthy. That’s what it’s all about, providing that type of opportunity for people.”

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes

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