In my opinion, a successful business comes from a lot of inspiration. If there is nothing inspiring you, then you’re not going to do a good job. In my business, I have several sources of inspiration that I draw from. In no particular order:

My parents. My mom used to have a saying (I’m sure she plagiarized it from somewhere), “Hard work never killed anyone.” My parents instilled a lot of basic life values into me such as hard work, discipline, honesty, and integrity. I live by these values.

My family. Yes, I make a few dollars being a stamp dealer. That’s what being in business is all about. I want to make sure that my wife, Lori, and our daughters, Haylee and Madison, have the things they need. Because I’m a part time dealer, the stamp business is not my only source of income. But the stamp business does provide a few extra dollars for certain things. The stamp business is a means for me to provide for my family.

Harry Lindquist. This man had guts. In the middle of the Great Depression, he decided to start a new philatelic magazine, “Stamps”. It went on to be a very successful magazine and it is still published today (by John Dunn). Despite having other philatelic publications available, Mr. Lindquist decided he could do something different and better. And he succeeded. I’m sure many people were asking him, “Are you nuts?” for even considering putting out a new philatelic magazine at the time. Harry inspires me to do things, no matter when the odds suggest otherwise.

Steve Jobs. There has been some negative publicity of late about how difficult it was to work with this man. I’m sure some of that is true. But to me, the guy was a genius. As a founder and CEO of Apple, he revolutionized the computer industry. The two things that strike me most about Steve were his focus on the customer and his ability to combine different technologies together to solve a problem. If the customer wasn’t satisfied, Steve wasn’t satisfied. The customer came first. Even though Apple is a highly successful company (OK, they’ve had some rough times lately), they never really invented anything from scratch. Steve had a way of looking at several technologies and figuring out how to marry them together to solve a problem for a customer. Steve always thought of the customer first. Steve knew that without customers, you’re nothing. I believe that too.

Steve Pavlina. I’ve written several times about my longtime philatelic friend. I’m not going to repeat all of that again today. Steve and I were the best of friends for 19 years before cancer took him away in November 2002. Steve taught me the joy of stamp collecting like no one else. I get a lot of satisfaction in helping my customers find items for their collections. I enjoy being a stamp dealer and I learned so much about stamps over the years from my best friend. I wish he was still here today.

Pat Herst. To me, he is the epitome of what a stamp dealer should be. He was so well respected and so well known that he could stop advertising. Collectors knew who Pat was because of referrals by other satisfied collectors. Pat wrote extensively with his “Herst’s Outbursts” and other philatelic writings. I hope to someday be half of the dealer that Pat was.

My customers. Without you, I wouldn’t be in business. Some of you share your stories with me about your passion and interests in the hobby. I get a lot of satisfaction when I know I’m helping someone build the collection of their dreams. Small or large. Inexpensive or valuable. I try to help find material you need. I’m not always 100% successful, but I try.

Many things and many people inspire me. These are the most inspiring individuals in my background. Now you have a sense of what motivates me to be the best stamp dealer that I can to the customers I serve.