Carl Mays: Experience is a pretty good learning tool

Aug. 21, 2014 @ 12:47 PM

Will Rogers said, "A person only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people." Since I'm probably not any smarter than most of the people reading this column, I need to make sure I supply my readers with information that in one way or another is either uplifting, insightful to some degree, encouraging, entertaining, helpful in some way or emotionally stirring, bringing either a little lump to your throat or a little laugh or snicker (or at least a smile).

With the aforementioned in mind, I'm responding to a question emailed to me by several readers regarding last week's column, titled "Some marketing ploys work, some don't." Briefly, it was about my favorite cereal being removed from a supermarket in order to plop down an enticing toy display in the middle of the cereal section. (But I found my breakfast favorite at another store, which didn't have toys in the cereal section.) The question asked by multiple emailers (and by one phone-caller) was, "What cereal were you looking for?"

Considering all that's happening on the local, state, national and international levels, it's not the most important question in the world, and my answer won't change the course of history on any level. However, as I think about it, we have been informed for ages that the most important meal of the day is breakfast. And, Robert A. Heinlein, renowned novelist/science fiction writer and contributor to The Saturday Evening Post, said: "One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast."

So, without giving any specific brand names, let me inform you that the cereal is cinnamon oat squares. To provide a more informative, complete answer: I like to mix about three-fourths cup of the cereal with a few walnut pieces, some frozen blueberries, some grapes or raisins and low-fat milk. Accompanied by a six-ounce glass of orange juice (not from concentrate) and a cup of coffee, I really enjoy the mixture and feel like I had a good breakfast. With this breakfast, I also feel like I can relate to both Pooh and Piglet when A.A. Milne recorded their conversation, which went something like this:

Piglet asked Pooh, "When you wake up in the morning, what's the first thing you say to yourself?" Pooh responded, "What's for breakfast?" Then Pooh asked, "What do you say, Piglet?" Piglet replied, "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" Pooh nodded thoughtfully, then said, "It's the same thing." Meanwhile, in regard to the "some things work and some don't" concept, a reader sent me the following account:

A 3-year-old boy is sitting on the toilet. His mother, thinking he has been in there long enough, peeks in to check on him. The little boy is sitting on the toilet reading a book. But about every 15 seconds or so he puts the book down, grips onto the toilet seat with his left hand and hits himself on top of his head with his right hand. The mother asks, "Billy, are you alright? You've been in here for a while." Billy replies, "I'm, fine, mommy. I just haven't gone potty yet." The mother then says, "Okay, you can stay here a few more minutes. But, Billy, why are you hitting yourself on the head?" Billy tells her, "Works for ketchup."

Yes, Will Rogers, reading and associating with smart people are good learning tools. Experience is also a pretty good tool.

© 2014 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books, including the top-selling classic "A Strategy For Winning" (foreword by Lou Holtz). Email