Steve Keretz knows that gratitude and a helping hand go a long, long way, after all he has learned Attitude is Everything:
It’s the place outside you that affects you inside – your childhood. Steve Keretz says growing up in Pennsylvania, his childhood was good: “Not rich, not poor, pretty middle class – my mom stayed at home, my dad went to work and growing up in the 80’s I did what a lot of kids did…skiing, fishing, hunting, and I enjoyed reading.”
It was all good, well mostly good, except for the really bad part – junior high school.
“My brother and I had a rough go of it in junior high”, says Steve. “We got picked on quite a bit. Got beat up a lot. I got jumped so bad one time I ended up in the hospital with broken ribs. I was done. I was out. I wanted to quit school. But my dad was having none of it.” Steve says his dad told him, “we don’t quit, we need to find out why people don’t like you.”
Then Steve’s dad gave him a book. For anyone who doesn’t believe one book, or one idea can change your life, then settle in for the rest of the story.
“My dad gave me the book in 8th grade”, says Steve. “This book taught me to become genuinely interested in other people by asking questions and getting them interested in themselves and not focused on me, or what I was doing. It taught me to stop using the word “I” when speaking. The techniques in the book allowed people to see that Steve Keretz is not a bad guy. I used the techniques and targeted all the popular kids and became genuinely interested in them. Kids can be brutal, so brutal. But I kind of figured out who was popular and who has a lot of friends, who I could talk to and how could I get that guy to not dislike me.”
The book? Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Published in 1936, more than 50 years later that book and its principles turned Steve’s life around. He went from being an outcast – chased, beaten and ridiculed to an entirely new life experience.
“It really made a difference”, says Steve. “It was like a miracle happening, like everything flip-flopped. I worked my way to becoming Vice-President of my class in my sophomore year in high school and Class President in my junior year. I attribute much of my success in high school to that book. I also landed tickets to see one of the great motivational speakers at that time, Zig Ziglar. I was one of 100 people out of thousands who bought tickets at the time and about 50 of us got to spend the morning with Zig. It was pretty cool.”
Right out of high school, with a positive attitude and motivated to do more with his life – and to build up not only his mind but his body – Steve joined the Marines. Generations of his family proudly served in the Marines and Steve says he loved it: “Boot camp was physically and mentally challenging, it was more mental for me. People who can put their mind to it can get through it. I made lifelong friends there.”
Eventually Steve made the move down the east coast to Florida, working at a job as a server at a Chili’s restaurant, a stint in a call center selling magazine subscriptions, and then he found outside sales. The career eventually leading him to USHEALTH Advisors. In the sales business Steve’s past experiences helped shape his present and his future.
“I’m fortunate because of what happened in junior high school. It was a good learning lesson for me. I learned a lot about psychology in human beings and other people. The real world is not always a pretty place, there are good people and bad people. I’m glad I went through that experience and glad my dad gave me that book. He was a big influence on my and my brother’s life. Our dad taught us the value of hard work. He worked in the car business and when my brother Mike was 15 and I was 14, he sat us down and asked us if we wanted to get drivers licences. We said of course. He said great, ‘If you want to drive at 16 you’ve got to get a license and you have to afford that car. You thought I was going to buy you one? It doesn’t work that way.’
Steve remembers: “I worked at Pasta Bella a few nights during school and on weekends. It taught me the value of a dollar and hard work. Saturday’s I worked a 12-hour shift and on Sunday a full day as well. By the time I was 16 I could buy a car.”
Work hard and believe. “The world is not a negative place”, says Steve. “Going through all I went through when I was younger, then working hard and joining the Marines helped prep me to be a big believer in attitude and work ethic. If you have those two things you can be successful.”
Success comes from the willingness to give and it’s what drives Steve, now back in Pennsylvania, as a Field Sales Leader with USHA. “I will give a new advisor 100% if I see they are working”, says Steve. “If they are working, I am working. If I see that work ethic I will do anything for them. A lot of people come to our company and may not be in the best financial situation, but they take the leap of faith. I always remember where I came from. I try not to prejudge but be thankful and grateful and blessed for these opportunities.”
“I’m just speaking from the heart. I try my hardest to always do the right thing and sometimes I get it wrong. I’m human, I have made many mistakes in life, but always try to do the right thing and sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do. I really do try to put other people’s needs first in business and in life. It’s the classic Zig Ziglar philosophy – you can have anything you want it life, if you just help other people get what they want. I believe it. If you focus on doing the right thing you will find joy from your substance when you do that. Good things will come to you. I do believe in God and he’s watching and things are being tallied up. God wants us to be kind to each other and I have a general positive outlook on most things. I believe the world is full of abundance.”
Steve says he has a special friend who has really helped to put things into perspective.
“My friend Nigel said something that stuck with me. You can use all the things that go wrong and all the negative things that happen to you as a reason to fail, or use them as a reason to succeed in life. Some people can unfortunately allow the bad and negative things to affect them, when instead you have the power to have a positive vibe. The negative things can set me back, but not hold me down. I use them as fuel to fire me up to succeed.”
It’s a fire so strong Steve has made it the message which looms large in his office and just as importantly in his life: Attitude is Everything.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.