Monday, June 25, 2018

Honest John - the rest of the story

After washing our cars one Saturday afternoon in the winter of 2002, I took a goofy self portrait of myself with a cigar clamped between my teeth. In July of 2011, I included the picture in an article that I wrote titled, “Honest John”, which you can read at the link below:

When I lived in Evanston, I decided to modify the picture to include references to the various occupations and hobbies that I have been involved with over the years,  and a local printer helped me to produce the picture shown below, as well as 250 business cards that also included the same wording on the front.


For more than 25 years, I was an insurance underwriter for several different commercial insurance companies. If you’re not sure what an underwriter is, the article posted below (which I wrote nearly 30 years ago) will provide a little more guidance”

When I graduated from college, the majority of the folks that were my parent’s age worked for many years for the same company, and retired at age 65 after more than 25 years of service. Although I know several people my age who have done the same thing, that is no longer true of “the baby boomer” generation as a whole. Today’s college graduates are advised that they could experience five separate CAREERS in their lifetime. Ironically, that is essentially what happened to me. 

When I worked at CIGNA in the mid 1990’s, I was on track to have $1,000,000 in my 401-K, and have a house that was paid for, by the time I turned 65. Life had other plans, however, and I did not achieve either of those goals.. 

Without going into a lot of detail about my specific career path, I’ll simply include a few comments about each of the job titles shown on the picture shown above.

Used cars – Although I DID sell new cars in 2 different states, I also sold an awful lot of USED cars as well. Although used car salesmen are not held in high esteem, I always was completely honest with my customers, and so were MOST (but not all) of the people who I worked with. 

Insurance – not only did I work as an underwriter for commercial insurance companies, I also spent more than 5 years (in two widely different periods) selling life insurance for 3 major life insurance companies. 

Investments – During my more recent life insurance career, I also was certified to sell investments, and I’m happy to say that none of my clients ever lost money. 

College professor – at the age of 56, I sold the house and the car and moved to China in order to teach English to college students. During the year that I lived there, I met a lot of very interesting people, and I also lost 15 pounds (it’s hard to find good pizza in China) 

CPCU instructor – during my lifetime, I have earned countless designations. The CPCU designation is an insurance designation that is roughly equivalent to an accountant’s CPA. I completed the 5 year course in 4 years (which enabled me and my wife to get a free vacation to Hawaii), but I later  TAUGHT college level CPCU classes to people who worked in the insurance industry. 

Philanthropist – I am far from daddy Warbucks, but have contributed to a wide variety of charities over the years 

Marriage counselor – on more than one occasion, I have had young girls who I did not know approach me for advice on their relationships. Perhaps they were under the impression that I had an honest face, but I’ll never know for sure.  

Claims adjuster – although I’ve never OFFICIALLY been a claims adjuster, I have been asked to give my advise on some specific general liability claims, and was paid enough for my efforts to buy a couple of new suits. 

Public speaking – for more than 25 years, I was a member of Toastmaster International. In addition to give literally hundreds to speeches, I also earned more contest trophies that I can count, and in 1993 I was named the District Toastmaster of the Year (in a district that had 3000 members). 

Author and publisher – I’ve been writing articles for various publications for more than 30 years, and I became an online published nearly 10 years ago. I am probably one of the few people you know who has actually received a check from Google, as a result of my online publishing. 

Book critic – I’ve written evaluations of numerous books. My longest book report (about the Koran) is longer than 4000 words. 

Chef – both Sharon and I LOVE to cook. In recent years, I probably spend more time cooking meals than she does. 

Travel agent – I’ve made reservations for numerous trips in my lifetime, including for people other than me 

Mechanic – being a grease monkey becomes less appealing as you get older, but I have spent many hours in my lifetime doing mechanical repairs on my cars – and I still have the cleanest and shiniest car in my neighborhood. 

Preacher – due to my Toastmaster background, I was asked (on 2 different occasions) to fill in for the pastor of the day and give his sermon. 

Notary public – one of the companies I worked for needed a notary public on site, and I served in that capacity for a couple of years 

Pilot – admittedly, my career here was brief, but I actually DID have control off a single engine Cessna in the skies over Minneapolis one night a long time ago


Athlete – I have belonged to various gyms most of my life, and also have participate in a variety of sports, including handball, racquetball, and bicycling. I’d also include golf, but only for comic relief. 

None of these pursuits mean that I am a Renaissance man, but they DO prove that you can do anything that you want to if you set your mind to it.







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