• Jonathan Ive’s talent for design was not immediately recognized. After graduating from Newcastle Polytechnic, a school that is now known as Northumbria, he worked for a design company called Tangerine, which was based in London. He once designed a new toilet and made a presentation in front of an executive who was wearing a red clown nose. (It was a national comedy-support day, whatever that is.) The executive kind of listened to Mr. Ive, and then dismissed his idea for the new toilet. Fortunately, Mr. Ive began to work for Apple Computer, and even more fortunately, Steve Jobs came back to Apple. Mr. Jobs was interested in originality, creativity, and knowledge of good design, and Mr. Ive and his team of designers had all three qualities. Working together with the support of Mr. Jobs, Mr. Ive and his team of designers came up with award-winning design after award-winning design, including the designs for the iMac and the iPod.
• A Hassid had a problem: the store that he had inherited from his father was not providing a livelihood for him, although it had provided a good livelihood for his father. The Hassid took his problem to the Rebbe, who asked the Hassid what he did when no customers were in the store. The Hassid replied that he read the newspaper. The Rebbe then asked what his father had done when no customers were in the store. The Hassid replied that his father had studied sacred scripture. The Rebbe then explained the Hassid’s problem: The Evil One had seen that the Hassid’s father was studying sacred scripture and therefore had sent lots of customers to the store to interrupt the study of sacred scripture. The Evil One had later seen the Hassid reading the newspaper and had not bothered to send customers to interrupt the reading of the newspaper.
• Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, learned from his father, who loved his work as an artist and who would sit in front of his drawing board for 12 hours daily. Dean once complained, “Gee, Dad, all the other fathers have time after they come home to play ball or sit around. At the end of the day, you’re working.” His father replied, “Those fathers are doctors, lawyers and bankers. When they come home, all they want to do is their hobby. My work and my hobby are the same. Find work in something you love and it won’t feel like work.” The grown-up Dean says, “I listened to him. And I have been fortunate enough to work at something that I love.”
• Early in the career of celebrity photographer Richard Young, he got a tip about where actor Ryan O’Neal was staying. Mr. O’Neal came out of the hotel and got into a car, and Mr. Young followed him in a taxi. Luckily, Mr. Young got a few shots of Mr. O’Neal before he went into a store. When Mr. O’Neal came out of the store, Mr. Young asked him, “Look, I just want a few shots. Can you pose up?” Mr. O’Neal was willing. He replied, “Sure, you guys really do work hard!” The two men did make an agreement: Once Mr. Young had got his shot, he would leave Mr. O’Neal alone. Mr. Young says, “That’s exactly what I did.”
• Seattle Mariners first baseman Edgar Martinez was a role model for shortstop Alex Rodriguez. One day, Alex took batting practice and left at 2 p.m. However, he discovered that he had left his cell phone behind. Returning to the clubhouse at 6 p.m. to pick it up, he discovered Mr. Martinez still taking batting practice. Surprised that this two-time batting champion was still hard at work, Alex asked, “Edgar, what are you still doing here?” Mr. Martinez replied, “I have to hit. I have to work.” Quickly, Mr. Rodriguez decided to emulate Mr. Martinez.
• Like many authors, Dennis Lehane, who wrote “Mystic River,” “Shutter Island” and “Gone Baby Gone,” all of which became movies, has had many jobs. He has been a counselor for abused children, driven limos, loaded tractor-trailers, parked cars, and — of course — waited tables. He says about his jobs, “Everything was based on the idea of taking the best possible job for me to be a writer with.” For example, “Limos were phenomenal. You drive people somewhere and you wait for them for four hours.” And, of course, while you wait, you write.
• Derek Jeter was working and practicing hard long before he became a New York Yankee. While playing for Kalamazoo Central High School, Derek practiced long hours with the team. After practice one day, the head coach, Don Zomer, went home and ate, then he returned to the school for a meeting. When he arrived at the school, he found that Derek was still on the baseball field. Also on the baseball field were Derek’s parents and sister; they were hitting grounders to Derek, and then they let him hit for a while.
• Randy Pausch, professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University, and author of” The Last Lecture,” got tenure early because he paid attention to what would get him tenure. If you ask him how he got tenure so early, he says, “Call me at my office at 10 o’clock on Friday night and I’ll tell you.”
• After being given a job, Zi Xia, a disciple of Confucius, went to see the master for advice about how he could do his job well. Confucius advised him, “The more you try to do, the less you are able to do. If you are blinded by petty concerns, you cannot accomplish great things.” In other words, haste makes waste; or the more haste, the less speed.
• As you would expect, controversial filmmaker John Waters, aka The Prince of Puke, has long been outspoken. When he was young, he worked for three days in a unisex clothing store. Women would try on clothing and ask him, “Do I look fat in this?” He would reply, “Yes.” Perhaps unnecessarily, Mr. Waters says, “I was fired.”
• Go to www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bruceb and download — FREE — “The Kindest People: Heroes and Good Samaritans” (Volumes 1-3).