Saturday, September 15, 2007

Son of a Son of a Gambler

Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers, and What to Do When You Win the Lottery

Published by RRP International

Advanced copies of Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers, and What to Do When You Win the Lottery are available now. There are only a limited number of advanced copies available and orders are limited to four books per person. You will only be able to get this limited edition copy through the link below until November 1, 2007 when the book goes on sale in bookstores and everywhere else. All advanced copies are autographed and sure to be a collector's item!

Al Smith and Transitions

Al Smith and Transitions

"Keep on rockin' in the free world."

-Neil Young

Al Smith, my mentor in all aspects of life, was going through a list of things that he plans to do in the next year. He concluded by telling me, "It is better to wear out than rust out."

I don't see any signs of Al doing either. He is 80 on the calendar but 16 in his heart. I can't keep up at his pace. I don't know many people who can.

November is when Al is going to make a life change. He is ending his over 30-year career as host of Kentucky Educational Television's longest running show, Comment on Kentucky. His last show will be November 16th.

I am a frequent guest on the show and love the energy and preparation that Al brings to the production. He spends countless hours prepping guests and tracking down breaking news.

Viewers get information they cannot find elsewhere. No one can calculate the show's influence on Kentucky's history. Many a journalistic career, including mine, has been launched or enhanced by a Comment on Kentucky appearance.

I am glad that Al is leaving at the top of his game. He set his own terms and gave everyone time to prepare.

It reminds me a lot of when Johnny Carson left The Tonight Show. Carson left in good health and at the top of the ratings. He went out with class and dignity, just like Al will.

He is leaving his successor an incredibly loyal audience and a legacy. Like Jay Leno, following Carson, it could be that the transition to a different host works well, or it could be like when Louis Rukeyser left Wall Street Week and the show quickly died. The audience wanted Louis and no one else.

A lot depends on how the transfer is coordinated.

Although Al is normally the teacher and me the student, the transition of Comment is a situation where I can provide my mentor with advice.

I have had my own business transition.

Exactly twenty-five years ago, I started in the financial planning industry. Shortly after, I started my own business focused around my persona and image. My name, picture, and penguin mascot are on everything.

Just like Donald Trump, Charles Schwab, or Oprah, the business was based around one personality. A lot like Comment on Kentucky is.

Last year, we made a change in how we manage the business. I see more clients than I ever did but I don't run business operations. I spend more time writing and doing research.

It took some adjustment but the business has prospered and has had record growth.

I had advantages that Al doesn't. I got to pick my successors and he does not. Each member of my senior management team had over a decade of experience with the company and literally "grew up" with the business.

I assume the next Comment host will be a veteran journalist who has frequently appeared on the show. It would be a gamble to make a format change or bring in an outside host. Katie Couric's failed attempt to revamp the CBS Evening News proved that news audiences don't want a lot of change.

Al has never shied away from taking a stand. Even though the show is on public television, Al has always pointed out the failings of office holders and his audience appreciates his candor. A host that tries to "water down" the show to please politicians will find audiences quickly tuning out.

A guy who won't be tuning out is Al Smith. On or off the air, he will be as busy as ever. I pointed out to Al that based on his health, energy, and family history, he could easily be active for another twenty years. Until I recently made some weight and lifestyle changes, he had a longer life expectancy than I do, despite his 32-year head start.

When Al made his "better to wear out than rust out" statement, I thought of Neil Young's line, "better to burn out than it is to rust." I don't see Al burning out or rusting.

He will be rocking in the free world for a long time to come.

The Poll

The following are the results from the last poll:

1. Have you ever invited a neighbor to share a holiday with you?

Yes - 56.5%
No - 43.5%

2. What is your favorite holiday?

Other - 28.6%
Christmas - 25.0%
Thanksgiving - 25.0%
Fourth of July - 21.4%

This week there are two poll questions:

1. What is your primary source of news?
2. How many newspapers do you subscribe to?

To vote in this week's poll follow the link below. The poll will be on the left hand side of the web page.

Don McNay is Chairman of the Board at McNay Settlement Group and author of Son of a Son of a Gambler, Winners, Losers, and What to Do When You Win The Lottery, which is available at You can write to him at or read other things he has written at