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28 March 2009 - Lessons learned in 3⁄4 of a century

Since my partner, Max Armstrong made it very public on our TV show last month that I was celebrating my 75th birthday March 31st, I decided to take this opportunity to share with you wisdom gained and lessons learned in 3⁄4 of a century.

A very early lesson learned - “Never evaluate a happening when it happens, give it some time”. The summer after I graduated from the one-room eight-grade country school, I was diagnosed with a rare leg-bone disease that made me an invalid, unable to walk, for two years. I was angry, how could this happen to me at this stage in my life? But it was during those two years I listened to radio a great deal and with the encouragement of my parents and FFA Advisor, pursued a broadcasting career that has kept me employed for 57 years. That childhood “tragedy” changed my life.

Another lesson - “Losing isn’t the end of the world“. In my senior year in high school, I was one of 5 state finalists in the Wisconsin FFA Public Speaking Contest. I was really good and I knew I would bring the state title back to our little high school in Ontario, Wisconsin. When the results were announced, I finished 4th out of 5; I was devastated! But my FFA advisor came to the rescue again and said “Let’s analyze what went wrong and learn from it”. We did, and I’m a much better broadcaster because of it.

Some wisdom I like to share with young people today…”You can’t dream big enough!” There is a world out there you can’t begin to imagine; many of you will work in a job or industry that hasn’t even been invented yet, so prepare yourself with education.

Sitting on that three-legged milking stool, I couldn’t have imagined a job that would take me to 43 countries with a TV crew, that would allow me to meet 7 Presidents and have dinner at the White House when Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution was honored for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, or receiving an Honorary Doctor’s Degree of Humane Letters from the University of Illinois, my first college degree at age 67! Young people, “you can’t dream big enough!”

But the most important wisdom I can share…the center of all this must be based on faith and family. My upbringing in a small country church has carried me through life and I am so blessed with my wife, Gloria, my two children and my two grand-children. Thanks to them, my glass is always half-full, never half-empty. And finally, I can say this…”I’m 75, but since I’m Norwegian, I’m just half done!” Thank you for all your good wishes.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.