No. 453



When it comes to motels, at one time the name Holiday Inn was the standard in our country. While the major portion of this chain has been sold, I stayed in a Holiday Inn this past week and it was wonderful. You may or may not know that there is a fantastic success story behind this motel chain and it has to do with its founder, the late Kemmons Wilson. At age 90, Mr. Wilson passed away at his Memphis, Tennessee home on February 12, 2003. This story is worth repeating hundreds of times because it is one of 'rags to riches' the old fashioned way. That is, a single goal, hard work and striving to please the customer. That's the American Dream and it's still alive today.Ê

Several months ago a friend sent me "Kemmons Wilson's Twenty Tips for Success" and it was so good that I wanted to share it with you. You might get an idea or two here that could make a tremendous difference in your life. When I decided to do this column I called the headquarters of Holiday Inn in Memphis and talked with Dottie Bonds, longtime associate of Mr. Wilson. She was gracious to give me permission to use the published 'tips for success' and she sent me some additional information, that can also be found on the Internet at

Charles Kemmons Wilson was born in Osceola, Arkansas on January 5, 1913 to Kemmons and Ruby Wilson, but his father died when he was only 9 months old. Shortly thereafter, he and his mother moved to Memphis where Ruby raised Kemmons and taught him to make his way in the world. Kemmons said of his mother, "She taught me that I could do anything I wanted to do, and she drilled it into my head so hard that I finally decided that I could do anything I wanted to do." Later when Kemmons was married in the summer of 1951, he and his wife Dorothy packed their five children into the family car and set off for Washington, D.C.

On the road he was very disappointed in what he found. The roadside motels charged $2 extra for each child. "So our $6 room became a $16 room," he said. Also the motels in those days left much to be desired in the way of cleanliness, size and the facilities they offered. Kemmons took notes during their trip, measuring rooms and noticing everything about the places they stayed. By the time he got back to Memphis, he knew what he wanted. He hired a draftsman to draw up the plans. The first Holiday Inn opened on Summer Avenue in August 1952, and ten years later in 1962, the 400th Holiday Inn was opened.

Here then are Kemmons Wilson's "Twenty Tips for Success." #1. Work only half a day; it makes no difference which half Ð it can be either the first 12 hours or the last 12 hours. # 2. Work is the master key that opens the door to all opportunities. #3. Mental attitude plays a far more important role in a person's success or failure than mental capacity. #4. Remember that we all climb the ladder of success one step at a time. #5. There are two ways to get to the top of an oak tree. One is to sit on an acorn and wait, the other way is to climb it. #6. Do not be afraid of taking a chance. Remember that a broken watch is exactly right at least twice every 24 hours. #7. The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.

#8. Eliminate from your vocabulary the words, "I don't think I can" and substitute, "I know I can." #9. In evaluating a career, put opportunity ahead of security. #10. Remember that success requires half luck and half brains. #11. A person has to take risks to achieve. #12. People, who take pains never to do more than they get paid for, never get paid for anything more than they do. #13. No job is too hard as long as you are smart enough to find someone else to do it for you. #14. Opportunity comes often. It knocks as often as you have an ear trained to hear it, an eye trained to see it, a hand to grasp it, and a head trained to use it.

#15. You cannot procrastinate Ð in two days, tomorrow will be yesterday. #16. Sell your wristwatch and buy an alarm clock. #17. A successful person realizes his personal responsibility for self-motivation. He starts himself because he possesses the key to his own ignition switch. #18. Don't worry. You can't change the past, but you can sure ruin the present by worrying over the future. Remember that half the things we worry about never happen, the other half is going to happen anyway. So why worry? #19. It is not how much you have, but how much you enjoy that makes happiness. #20. Believe in God and obey the Ten Commandments. And, so we end Kemmons Wilson's Twenty Tips for Success. Here is a clear case of where a man was really lucky. He was lucky to be born in America and he was also lucky to have a great mother. Ê(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)