Chapter 19Career Plan Step #9: Return on Investment

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

—Winston Churchill

Percy Ross was known for making and losing fortunes. In his twenties and thirties Ross made and lost two fortunes. In his early forties, Ross started a third venture investing in plastic bag manufacturing and nearly lost everything, but with the help of his wife, Laurian, who sold her expensive furs and jewelry for capital, Ross turned the company around and made millions. In 1969, he sold the firm for $8 million. He took the money and invested in box manufacturing, and also bought General Motors stock. When the big money started coming in, Ross began living the high life. He had five luxury cars in his garage and had a color television installed in his shower. He continued this frivolous spending until he decided he could do more productive things with his money.

Ross decided to write a column in the newspaper called “Thanks a Million,” which would be considered a cash giveaway column. Readers would write to Ross asking him for money and the reason they needed it. Ross would make a decision about whom he would give the money to. Ross provided money to readers to fix a leaky roof, help out a farmer, and replace a stolen artificial arm. If the reason was a good one, Ross would send the money or deliver it in person. The readers could forget any financial help if they needed money to pay rent, utility bills, or credit card debts; Ross felt ...

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