The Ticket, The Stranger, and Glenn Beck: How A Chance Encounter Revealed The True Meaning Of a Strategic Profits Christmas

12/23/2008 | 112 Comments

This one’s a little longer than usual, but well worth a few minutes to read…

Because sometimes we get so caught up in the rush rush rush of the season, we forget to sit back and give thanks for all we’ve been blessed with.

And occasionally, life will rear up and give us a swift kick in the pants to remind us of what we’ve been missing.

Here’s a true story from Brian Johnson, my business partner and COO of Strategic Profits, that will help you understand more of what I’m talking about…

Hi Everyone

This is an incredible true story. It just happened to me on Wednesday night when I was going to a show with Rich. It is like something that you would see in a movie and not really ever think that these kinds of things ever happen. That in itself is unfortunate and you will see what I mean.

About a month ago, my mother invited myself and Rich to a show that was on Wednesday night, the 17th. She paid for the tickets and they were 20 bucks each. That is important and you will see why in a minute. The show was called “The Christmas Sweater” by Glenn Beck. It was a live telecast to many theaters worldwide.

Glenn Beck is a popular syndicated radio talk show host political commentator who I enjoy listening to. But I didn’t have a clue what this Christmas Sweater thing was all about. I just thought it would be a funny, entertaining show.

Man, was I in for a surprise.

Fast forward, So last night, my wife, my mother and I arrived at the theater about a half-hour before show time and waited outside for Rich and Debi. I had their tickets and as usual, he was running late (LOL). Everyone else that was with us went in and got seats. Mom was also waiting for some guests of hers to show, and she actually had an extra ticket because someone had canceled at the last minute.

With about 20 minutes until show time, we were still waiting. So Mom went inside and asked if I would keep an eye out for her guests. She also mentioned that I should do something with the extra ticket if I had a chance.

Of course, I agreed to help her out. But I’m ashamed to admit that in my selfish, impatient mind, I wasn’t so cheerful.

I was actually thinking, “I don’t want to be out here, and why should I have to do this, and where the heck is Rich (who I was texting furiously every minute).” But still I waited, grumbling all the way.

And then things got VERY interesting…

I noticed an older gentleman walking away from the ticket counter. He looked like your ordinary average Joe, wearing flip flops and a raggedy sweater tied around his shoulders.

As he was walking away, I heard him tell the others in line the show was sold out. Wow, what a coincidence, right? Like I was really going to find someone who wanted the extra ticket. Besides, there were only about 8 people standing around as it was.

So I approached the gentleman and said, “We actually have an extra ticket. It’s yours if you like.”

He looked at me suspiciously for a moment, glanced at the ticket for about 5 seconds, and said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yes, absolutely,” and I handed it to him. “Enjoy the show.”

(On a side note, I love doing things like this for people. And I don’t concern myself with getting anything in return. In fact, I usually tell my friends–tongue in cheek of course–“as long as you owe me more than I owe you, we’re good.”)

So the guy reaches for his wallet and says, “Let me at least pay you for it”. I said, “Nah, just take it. Don’t worry about it.”

To which he replied, “you don’t even know me.” He paused for another moment and said, “Well, that’s in the spirit of Glenn Beck.”

Now, I truly had no idea what he was talking about. In the spirit of Glenn Beck? What is that supposed to mean?

While I was still pondering this, the man quickly pulled a rolled-up bill from his wallet, shoved it into my hand, and briskly walked away. So I shrugged my shoulders and slid the bill into my pocket without a second look.

Rich and Debi were still not there, so I sauntered into the lobby to get some drinks. And when I reached into my pocket to pay with the money the man had given me, I was stunned with what I saw.

There, in my hand, was a neatly rolled up $100 bill. This guy had handed me $100 in exchange for a $20 ticket–one that I was willing to give him for free.

I was floored. “Wow”, I thought. “How cool is this?” I put the hundred back in my wallet and pulled out $10 to pay for the drinks–leaving a whopping fifty cents change for the young girl behind the counter to keep, like the annoying cheapskate that I am. HA HA

Gee, you’d think after what just happened, I might be a little more generous. But then again, I was still thinking with a selfish, me-me-me attitude.

However, that was about to change…

A few minutes later, Rich and Debi arrived and we grabbed our seats for the show. And it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.

Glenn Beck told a story about his life as a kid. It was based around a sweater that his mother made for him as a Christmas gift when he was 12 years old. But Glenn had wanted a shiny new bike–not some boring old sweater–and he was furious with his mom. He lost his mother and father before he was 13 years old to cancer and a car accident.

I won’t give away what happens (you should really see the show or read the book), but I will tell you that the story is very moving. There’s a ton of insightful metaphors about life, about God, and about how thankful we should be for what we have.

I thought I was going to a comedy show.

But still, at that time, I didn’t see the parallels between what had happened before and what Glenn was talking about. It was like there was a brick wall between my mind and my conscience.

Finally the show ended, we all thanked my mother, and made our way home.

When my wife and I stepped inside our house, it was very dark, late and very quiet–pretty unusual for our busy household.

She went into the bedroom, leaving me alone in the kitchen. And as I began my nightly ritual of emptying my pockets onto the counter, my wallet fell to floor.

So as I bent down to pick it up…I abruptly stopped and froze. There… was the $100 bill, staring straight up at my face. When my wallet fell to the floor it hit perfectly where the wallet opened up and laid flat exposing the bill, and I stared at it for about 15 seconds. If I dropped it 50 times I could not get it to do this…

And it HIT me–just like a freight train. “Brian, you’re an ungrateful schmuck,” I thought.

Suddenly, I realized how much I truly had to be grateful for, and the many things I had taken for granted.

My eyes welled up with tears as I thought about my wonderful family…my amazing friends…the incredible company that I work for. The list goes on and on.

The whole night played back in my head. There I was, angry at Rich for being late…angry that I was waiting alone while others were inside…angry about my Mother asking me to wait for her people…feeling stunned when I discovered the hundred dollar bill…the lousy fifty cents I left the girl…the story of the Christmas sweater…all of it came racing back in a flood like Hollywood type of effects. Just thinking of the stupid stuff that I thought about during the night and the other experiences that went along with it.

I was only concerned with myself–and not only during that evening, but at other times as well.

I started thinking about an employee who just lost a 29 year old cousin to cancer this week and how I had sloughed it off…

I thought about the text message I received from my wife at 10AM, the day of the show, telling me our best friend had just lost his mother. And how I was too busy in the office to even take one minute and call him… It was not until I was driving home at 10PM thinking about how much Glenn Beck appreciated the very short time with his parents that I thought about my friend.

Really, this is all in light heart and I don’t think of myself as a Schmuck, but when you look at it all this way it’s hard not to be ashamed.

Why did this happen a week before Christmas? Why was Rich late to the point that I was standing there at exactly that time? Why did that guy walk in front of me and say that? Why did he give that money to me? How come I did not know what the show was about and did not even think to ask about it or look into it, and that it was so relevant to current day’s events? Why did my friend’s mother pass away today, the day of this show? Why did my wallet fall the way it did? Why am I compelled to share this with you and still writing it at 3AM because I can’t stop until it’s done? Why did all this happen like it did and when it did?

It was like a weird version of “A Christmas Carol”–and I was playing the role of Scrooge to perfection.

This post is all about me and that is selfish in its self… but it is meant to be bigger than that, it’s meant to be about all of us.

So right there and then, I resolved to make some changes. I’m going to take more time to appreciate the REALLY important things in life and quit worrying about the stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run.

Just think about that. Why does any of this happen to any of us, our businesses, the economy, the car companies, and the real-estate crisis? And on and on…

When you go through a night like I just did you just have to think that there are really good reasons that these things do happen.

So how do you handle it? How do you think about the tough times in your business or life? Do you take advantage of it? Do you give into it and understand that it is happening exactly the way it is supposed to? Do you resist and fight it? Do you look for solutions, and where?

And I’m talking about any aspect; life, business, partners, family… whatever.

I am looking forward to your responses, thoughts, ideas, and maybe even experiences you had like I just did.

…An awakening, a satori… Because once in a while… We need it!!!!

I’ll always remember a stranger, a ticket, and how an evening with Glenn Beck helped to open my eyes.

Take care



Drop us a line in the comments section below and tell us your story. We’re all anxiously waiting to hear it.

And from all of us at Strategic Profits to all of you and your families, our warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous new year.


P.S. Only in Brian’s mind is showing up at 7:45 for an 8 o’clock show considered late. 😉