Real good news.
Free money. W. Clement Stone is in town and he's giving away money, big money, $50,000 worth for his third annual Endow A Dream Award. All you have to do is have a dream, something good and positive for mankind, and get someone to nominate you.
Stone isn't just giving it away to any bozo on the street. It might be have to convince Stone that summer in Southampton or Fila tennis outfits for all your friends in Hilton Head would be good and positive for mankind. Stone may have given away more than $100 million in his life, but that doesn't mean that he's a soft touch. A man who looks like Stone -- a man given to multicolored bow ties, Viennese headwaiter suits, a pencil-thin mustache -- the kind that you'd expect from an Xavier Cugat roadie -- isn't about to fall for your con so easily.
This guy is serious.
"We feel a person has to have overcome some handicap," Stone says. "He, or she, has to have demonstrated altruism before. You could be an inventor or an engineer, even a writer, but you have to have had some kind of struggle . The purpose is to inspire others. We like to think in terms of benefitting your fellow man."
The first winner, for example, a man named Richard Chavez, gave away his $50,000 to a variety of Hispanic charities. Last year's winner, a Chicago teacher named Marva Collins, used her money to further the educational program she started at Westside Preparatory School, a school she founded.
"We're looking for really unique people," Stone says. He may be playing a type of Queen for a Day, but he's not playing it fast and loose. "Many people want the usual -- to help a church or a favorite charity. Once in a while you get something foolish, like someone wanting to take a trip to the moon, but we disregard that immediately." And then, from the thousands of nominations, some blue-ribbon committee (this year including Gerald Ford and Elliot Richardson) makes its selection, and the nominator and recipient to go to a fancy dinner in Chicago. ("We have 250 people there. aWe stay in the best hotels. Dinner is a real gourmet dinner; we don't try to serve chicken.") that might cost as much as $20,000 on its own, and they pick up the cash. But they don't pocket it. W. Clement Stone sparkles, he bubbles; mess with him and you're in a whole lot of trouble.
The Look: A white Cab Calloway. Straight from the '30s, and at 79 easily old enough to remember how to make it cook with gas. Shellacked hair. The mustache, two capsized thin Ls, fringed on his upper lip rising up the cleft like a stairway almost into his notrils.
The Rap: PMA (Postive Mental Attitude). Anything is possible if you just believe in it and use all the facets of your mind to achieve it. Pma, PMA, PMA. Like it was something you sprinkled on lettuce to perk up a salad. "Like the Chinese say, if you give a man a fish, you've just given him a meal. But if you teach him how to fish . . ." PMA, PMA, PMA. "I never tell a person what to do unless I tell him how to do it. . ." He has this excited, energetic, bouncy way of talking. "All I want to do is change the world . . ." Publishes "Success, the magazine for achievers." ("Have a copy right here for you. Each issue I write the inspirational message.") PMA, PMA, PMA. At the end of a paragraph you half expect W. Clement Stone to tell you what toll-free number to dial so you can send the money and get that full collection of Enzo Stuarti records that you now know you can't live without.
The Rep: philanthrophy and politics. Made a fortune in insurance. Started at age 6 selling newspapers on the streets of Chicago. Sold his first insurance policy at 16. Self-made and self-esteemed. Could sell sand to the Saudis. "At a time I have more than $450 million, but we've given millions away. Also, the market is down now." Gave more than $5 million to Richard Nixon's two presidential campaigns. More than $10 million to Republicans in general. Evans and Novak called Stone, "the party's most flamboyantly ostentatious fat cat." More than $100 million to charity. Once said, "I wanted to change the course of history for the better -- and I did." Calls his charitable work his magnificent obsession, to make the world a better place for this and future generations.
Some guys dream big.
W. Clement Stone dreams BIG.
Nixon was his man all right, his main man. He supported Nixon with all that cash because he simply knew that Nixon "was ready, that there was no power on earth that would prevent him from making it." Even now he thinks that history will judge Nixon "without a doubt one of the great, great presidents." When a reporter asks Stone about Nixon, Stone's first words are: "Did you read 'The Real War'? [to his secretary -- 'Get this man a copy'] Every American must read 'The Real War.' You know everyone in France has read it." It is Nixon's latest book, and Stone has a copy with him in his hotel suite.
Watergate? "Watergate was a wonderful, wonderful thing. Really. You measure things by their result. Now we want honesty in government. No longer can you do things and just sweep them under the rug." And if Nixon made a comeback? "I'd be there for him absolutely, but he will not do it because he can be so much more effective this way. Like me, I'm a free man. I can call a governor on the phone and tell him what he's doing wrong. As a free man, Nixon can help out much more."
And now his man is Ronald Reagan. And there is a copy of a biography of Reagan in the hotel suite as well.
"He's got PMA.
John Connally was his man in 1980, but Stone switched off when the Connally campaign went down the tubes. Reagan was his second choice. "Now, if there was a choice between the two, I'd be for Reagan. Connally didn't have the right management, and Reagan did. He is absolutely the right man for the job, and we can thank the Lord that we have him."
When he was a small child, living in poverty in Chicago, W. Clement Stone thought he might like to become a priest. "Had the Church been as liberal then as it is now . . ." he says somewhat wistfully.But that's past tense. "No," he says, "the sales route is ideal for someone without much education because anyone can be taught to sell, and for the youngster who has nothing, he can do it on his own."
Sell, sell, sell. Make, make, make. Then give, give, give.
Anyone can do it, says W. Clement Stone.