Brad Feld

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Crazy Dad Stories

Dec 11, 2006

Entrepreneurship requires serious determination.  So does life.  My friend Andy’s story of his dad’s fractured back reminded me of my favorite story about my dad’s dad. 

My grandpa Jack was the first entrepreneur I knew.  I met him when I was a few days old.  While I loved him and played with him a lot as a kid, I really got to know him when I was a teenager.  By the time I was running my first company, he referred to me (and my uncle Charlie – who was running his first company at the time also) as “the Typhoons.”  Jack was awesome.  Following is an example.

Jack ran a clothing business.  He didn’t believe in technology (“Do you want a fax of the receipt?  I’ll drive it right over to you.”)  His factory was in the worst part of downtown Miami.  Every morning during the week he got up at 4:30am, drove 45 minutes to his factory, was there by 6am, worked until 3pm, and then drove home.  Every day.  No matter how he felt.  Remember – this factory was in a terrible part of town – imagine a 70 year old jewish guy unlocking the front door every day at 6am.  Now – that’s a target.  Jack never had any trouble.  I’m sure the people hanging around the building waved at him and said good morning to him.

His morning routine included opening his safe, counting the cash and checks from the previous day, getting his deposit ready, and putting it back in the safe until the bank opened (at which point he hand carried the deposit to the bank.)  He had a big safe.  A really big, heavy safe.  On one particular morning, he must have been tired and not really paying attention.  As he put the money back in the safe and went to close it, somehow his hand got caught in the door and the safe closed on his thumb.  And locked.  And chopped off his thumb.

Now – at this point in the story – if it was me – I would have just laid down on the floor and screamed for a while.  And then probably passed out.  Hopefully someone would have found me before I bled to death.  Jack – on the other hand, went and found something to wrap around his finger and stop the bleeding (remember – this is a clothing factory – I’m sure there was plenty of “clothing” lying around.)  He then opened the safe and retrieved his thumb.  Yup – he had the presence of mind to remember the combination.  He wrapped his thumb in something, closed the safe, walked out of the building, locked up (he was the only person there at the time), got in his car, and drove all the way back to North Hollywood (where he lived) and checked himself into the hospital.  When we asked him why he didn’t just go to a hospital in Miami, he mumbled something about “not trusting the doctors in the big city.”

Remarkably, they sewed his thumb back on and it more or less worked fine.  He’d occassionally complain of it being stiff when the weather changed – but proudly wiggled it around whenever we asked him about it.

Now that’s determination.  Jack – we loved ya.