No. 1226



The late W. Clement Stone is a personification of America’s self-made man. He started with less than $100 in capital and built a multi-million-dollar organization. If you started at the bottom of the rung or may still be there, you will appreciate and be thrilled with his story. By the way, he was born in 1902 and died in 2002, living to be 100 years of age.
As you read along, you will see the power of his influence. He was born on the south side of Chicago, his father died when he was 3 years of age, and he was reared by a single mother. To help support the family, he began selling newspapers on street corners when he was 6. When the older boys ran him off of all the good spots, he came up with a great idea.
Hoelle’s Restaurant was near the corner where he tried to work, so he decided to go inside to sell his papers. He made a lucky sale at the first table. The diners at the second and third tables all bought papers. When he came to the fourth, however, Mr. Hoelle pushed him out the front door. But he had sold three papers. So when Mr. Hoelle wasn’t looking, he walked back in and called on the fourth table. Apparently the jovial customer liked his gumption -- he paid for the paper and gave him an extra dime before Mr. Hoelle pushed him out again. But he had already sold four papers and got a “bonus” dime besides, so he walked back in and started selling again. There was a lot of laughter as the customers were enjoying the show.
One of the customers whispered loudly “Let him be,” as Mr. Hoelle came toward him. About five minutes later he had sold all his papers. The next day when he came back, Mr. Hoelle ushered him out the door, but when Clement walked back in he threw his hands in the air and exclaimed, “What’s the use?” Later they became great friends, and a career in selling was launched.
But here is the power of influence. When he was 12, an older boy invited him to attend a Boy Scout meeting. He went and enjoyed it, so he joined his troop –Troop 23, under a scoutmaster named Stuart P. Walsh, who was attending the University of Chicago.
W. Clement Stone said, “I’ll never forget him. He was a man of character. He wanted every boy in his troop to become a first-class scout within a short space of time and he inspired each boy to want his troop to be the best in the city of Chicago.” Perhaps this was one reason why it was. Every scout in Troop 23 made a weekly report of the good turns he had done each day in the week without receiving compensation of any kind. This made each boy look for the opportunity to do a good deed – and because he looked, he found the opportunity. Later, when he was 19, Clement started selling insurance for his mother’s company and this launched a career that would lead him to the top in the insurance industry.
He founded the Combined Insurance Company of America and a number of other insurance companies. He also became president of the Chicago Boys Club, a member of the Board of Directors of Boys Clubs of America, and was involved in many other worthwhile organizations. It was estimated that during his lifetime he donated more than $275 million to various charitable organizations.
I am pleased to tell you that this information came from a book titled “The Success System that Never Fails” that he wrote back in 1962, and I found a copy in my library. Back in 1923 he married his high school sweetheart, Jesse Verna Tarson, and they had three children. A wonderful story, and the book is still available from
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)