Article Categories Archives: Fuel for Thought

The 80/20 Rule

80/20 Rule Pie Chart

By D.J. Harrington

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

We have all heard of the 80/20 Rule. This rule is one of the most helpful of all concepts of time and life management. Some people call it the “Pareto Principle,” after its founder, an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who first wrote about this way back in 1895 (an no, I wasn’t there). Pareto noticed that people in his time seemed to divide up naturally into what he called the “Vital Few,” the top 20% in terms of money and influence, and then the “Trivial Many” will form the bottom 80%.

He believed, and so do I, that virtually all economic activity is subjected to this principle. For example, this principle says that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results, 20% of your customers will account for 80% of your sales, 20% of your products or services will account for 80% of the value of what you do, and it goes on like that.

Now listen up to what this means to all of us in the towing industry. If we have a list of 10 items to do, 2 of those items will turn out to be worth 5 or 10 times or more than the other 8 items put together.

Here is something my dad tried to explain to me and I didn’t catch on to until later in life. Each of 10 tasks may take about the same amount of time to accomplish, but 1 or 2 of those tasks will contribute 5 or 10 times the value of any of the others. My dad would ask me which tasks I like the least, and then proceed to tell me to do that one first to get it off your plate first thing in the morning.

If you know one task means more than the other nine, do that one first. You get what I am saying. My dad would say, “Focus on activities not accomplishments.”

Remember this, “If you have to eat a live bug, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” Do first things first. The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place.

Just thinking about starting and finishing an important task motivates me and helps me to overcome procrastination. Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key factor to your success in life and work.

Please remember that effective, productive people in the towing industry discipline themselves to start on the most important task that is before them. As a result, they accomplish more than the average person and are much happier as a result. This should be your way of working, as well.

I know you heard of the 80/20 Rule, but now you know more about it and how it can improve your life and the towing business.

See you next time!

Oh, and one last thing: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” — Mother Teresa.

Correspondence regarding this article should go to:
DJ Says, 2820 Andover Way, Woodstock, GA 10389

D.J. Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar and Damon Corporation. He may be reached at 800-352-5252 or by email at, 52 weeks a year, we are as close as your telephone, or at

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If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, “What Am I Doing in the Pits?”

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

A great title for this article.  This original title was chosen for a book written by the late Erma Bombeck, “If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?”  What a real down-to-earth lady she was.  All of us at some time or another feel like we’re in the pits. We’re in the pits because we’re considered a cast-off or the last to be thanked for our efforts. We work hard on our business and all of sudden…SMACK…we get kicked in the face.

Coming up at the end of the month, I will be speaking for a large pharmacist group in St. George, Utah. What’s do cherries and cherry pits have to do with us and pharmacists? I know what you’re thinking – we’re not pharmacists! We go to the local pharmacy – that’s all. However, the pharmacists are just like us. They need people skills, and we need people skills. We should hire people that have good attitudes and can get along well with other people. We can teach the hard skills of driving a tow truck or working in the yard.

Last week, I heard a manager yell at a worker, calling him an IDIOT.  Maybe without realizing it, the manager just put a label on this person. Labels like this can last awhile. Hearing that conversation reminds me of the grocery store aisle where they place the damaged goods. Everything in that aisle is “damaged goods” because of one reason or another. Some are damaged cans; others are expired, “out-of-date” items. The outside of the cans maybe damaged, but the insides are not. Insides are still good. Those of you reading this column get out of the damaged goods aisle and go where you can believe in yourself. Don’t listen to what others may say. Maybe they’re saying that you can’t make it.  You are not what people say you are; you are what you feel you are. You have heard me say, “Whatever you think about, it will come about.” If you think business is going to be good, business will be good. However, if you feel you won’t pull through the month, you won’t. Right?

In life, all of us make mistakes. I have made a ton of mistakes myself. At that point, I felt like I had fallen, but I knew I wasn’t a failure. I did what that old Frank Sinatra song said to do…”I’ve been up and down and over and out, and I know one thing. Each time I find myself laying flat on my face; I just pick myself up and get back in the race.”

“That’s Life” is the song title. I can still hear “Old Blue Eyes” singing that song. Fans of all ages know of whom I am speaking. What a message in that song! Life does happen and all those life experiences aren’t fun. Life’s not a bowl of cherries. It can be sweet one minute and tart another. We can’t eat the pit. We don’t consume it. So, part of what we get isn’t good.  It’s not good for us to eat the pit, but it helps create and mold the cherry. The cherry pit is really the negative part of the cherry…the part we can’t consume or fix.  Negative voices you’ll experience in life will always play louder and can last longer in your mind. Whether it’s in your own head or being yelled at you, doesn’t matter. Keep positive thoughts and think good stuff and you’ll have a “cherry-of-a-day.”

It’s my hope that you take my articles, the ones you like, and pass them around the office. Let other team members have access to these articles. One particular company cuts the article out each month and makes copies to add to each payroll envelope. This way, the company knows the team members are having a better chance to read a positive article.

Some of you will remember this suggestion from Dr. Wayne Dyer: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”

Oh yeah, I was asked if I celebrate each birthday of every employee. No, I don’t!  But one day a month, I do.  We bring in a cake, and everyone who has a birthday during that month is recognized and celebrated together. Don’t let even one employee feel like they’re the pit. We need to put fun back into our business.

See you next time.

DJ Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

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What’s the Best Way to Start the Day?

By DJ Harrington

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

Last week, I was in New Orleans speaking at the NADA Convention. NADA is the National Automobile Dealers Association. While there, I was asked, “DJ, how do you start your day?” Wonderful question! So, I paused and said, “Well, at my age, it seems the bathroom is the first on my list.” My comment prompted a smile! I continued, “I’ve got some age on me and am a Christian. So, I sit down and spend some time reflecting. I really try to be someone who finds something good in each day…then give it to someone else.”

The tips that I am about to share with you will help you discover the right beginning for your day. This one is so important. Believe that you are going to have a great day. Have the faith that no matter what happens that your day will be great.  Ask yourself empowering and positive questions, such as: What can I do to make this day better than any other day? Or, what can I do to make a difference in my job or business?  Review and reflect over things in your life that make you the happiest. What are you most excited about in your life? When you ask yourself these type of questions, you’re more apt to have a good day.

All of us should think about what we are most grateful for in our lives. Now that I have 3 grandchildren, the natural course is to think about them a great deal. So I do.  What’s your focal point? When you’ve pinpointed it, focus on the positive answers to some of the above questions. Use the answers to enrich your life and give yourself a positive attitude toward each new day.

Here are the next activities in my morning ritual. Sometimes I listen to lively music. Fast, energizing music can get me recharged quickly for the new day. Music is a melodious vapor that can change the mindset from negative to positive. Another day, I may listen to motivational tapes while dressing for the day. Words from someone successful may be just what you need. Let’s not forget your goals either.  You need to go over your long-term goals and review all the actions you can take towards accomplishing them.

I have to include this activity every morning. I spend 5 to 10 minutes each day with a daily devotional book that I bought for myself this past Christmas. It’s a ritual for me that’s “non-negotiable.” That may not be for you. Perfectly fine!

However, here are some suggestions that might help you start your day – your way.

You have to get up earlier than you want to get up. Everyone knows the old saying, “The early bird always catches the worm.” You have to give more than you get in return the moment you put your feet onto the floor.  You have to care more about others and helping them more than they care about you. You have to lead when no one else is following you yet or you don’t feel like leading. You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is. You have to try and fail, try and fail, and try again. You have to run faster even though you are out of breath. You have to be kind to people who have been cruel or mean to you even though you’d rather reciprocate. When things go wrong, you have to be accountable for yourself.

The biggest suggestion of all, no matter what happens, is you must keep your personal goals and achievements in front of you – all day, every day.  Review them each morning and throughout the day. Before retiring at night, see how much you accomplished.

Making sure you have a good day depends on how you start, spend and finish your day. What you put into your mind and heart from the moment you wake up is most important because it sets the scene and tone for the day’s events. Start a ritual now. You’ll discover wonderful, positive and productive days ahead for you.

See you next time.

DJ Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

Publisher’s Note: DJ will be speaking at the 17th Annual TRAA Legislative & Leadership Conference, March 20-23, 2014. Hope everyone is there in Washington, D.C., to support TRAA!

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Your Attitude is Everything

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

By D.J. Harrington

Attitude is the way you view your life, your experiences in the towing business and your experiences outside the towing business. Attitude is how you deal with your opportunities, your problems and choices and then your responses to the results.

Losers always see thunderstorms. Winners always see rainbows. Losers see all mishaps of icy streets while winners put on their ice skates. Losers are always putting down and winners are always lifting up. Losers let life happen to them. Winners make life happen for them and others. Winning and losing are all about attitude. Let me share with you a story about a wise, little boy who wanted to change his situation.

There was a big bully down the street who was always bothering this little boy. The little boy was trying to get his nerve up to stand up to the bully, but he was still too afraid.

Well one day, his father bought him a new telescope hoping to divert his son’s thoughts. His son was out in the front yard, playing with it, but he was looking through the wrong end. Instead, he was looking through the big side.

His father stepped outside and said, “NO, son. You’re doing it backward. Turn it around and it will make everything bigger like it was meant to do.”

The little boy said, “I know that Dad, but right now I’m looking at this bully. When I look at him this way it makes him so small that I’m not afraid of him anymore.”

You may need to turn your telescope around. You’ve magnified that problem long enough. You’ve thought about how impossible it is, and how it’s never going to work out. But if you’ll turn it around, you will see from the right perspective.

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”

It goes back to Dr. Wayne Dwyer’s saying, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”

Attitude begins as harmless thoughts. Then, with practice, they become layered by habit into unbroken chains to shackle OR strengthen our lives. We are scarcely aware they exist. Just like a comfortable bed, they are easy to fall into, but difficult to get out of.

First, we make our attitude and then our attitude makes us. There is little difference between common people and those who are uncommonly successful. Both common and uncommon people have a passion. The slight difference is in their attitude. What makes this little difference HUGE is whether the attitude is positive or negative. Things will always happen to us. We are not responsible for what happens out here or what others do or think. We are responsible only for how we choose to feel or behave.

My final thought is some of us in towing need to turn our telescope backwards and start seeing some of our challenges in a better and proper perspective. After that exercise we’ll have a better attitude.

See you next time.

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10 Habits of Highly Happy Towers

First Aid for Life Reminder Kit

First Aid for Life Reminder Kit

By D.J. Harrington

There are certain towers who seem to maintain their joyful state and their love for life – no matter what. You and I probably could agree that some of the towers are definitely “highly happy” towers.  It turns out that joyful people tend to have a few habits that help them get the most from life and keep them looking on the brighter side of things. So, if you want to infuse more happiness into your life, right now, make these 10 habits as part of your daily routine.

Habit #1 – Appreciate life

Develop an attitude of gratitude and count your blessings. When you start looking for things to be thankful for, you’ll discover more reasons to be grateful.  Me, I have bad legs, but I at least have legs. Ads from the Wounded Warrior Fund remind me just how bad it would be to have a missing limb. These wounded warriors have to retool themselves and learn to embrace Habit #2.

Habit #2 – Keep learning

Invest time and energy into continually learning and developing new skills. Keep your brain stimulated with exciting information and hobbies. Take a “wreckmaster” class and improve your skills. Get certified!

Habit #3 – Laughter

Don’t take life too seriously!  Laugh at yourself – and OFTEN. Make light of your circumstances and infuse fun into daily activities. Frequently in my classes, I’ll remind the group that it takes 7 muscles to smile and 28 to frown. Don’t let your face be caught working overtime. Laughter will allow you to benefit from the habit of forgiveness.

Habit #4 – Forgiveness

Holding onto anger, resentment or jealousy will only hurt you. Learn to forgive others and yourself for mistakes. Let it go and move on. Towers sometimes want to get even. It’s tempting when things don’t go as they should, but let it go. Forget about it and move on.

Habit #5 – Meditation or prayer

More and more research is showing that prayer and meditation has major benefits for health and well-being. They increase positive emotions, life satisfaction and the immune system function. Spending time with nature, expanding your spiritual self through reading good books, prayer or meditation and just going to church, will help. Take my word for it.

Habit #6 – Love

Nurture your relationships with family and friends and make it a priority to spend quality time with your loved ones. Be a supportive ear during good and bad times. My parents and all five of my brothers are already fellowshipping with the Lord. I still wish they were here, but I know I’ll send them again one day. Tell your family that you love them before it is too late.

Habit #7 – Stop comparing

Happy towers don’t waste their time worrying about what others think or are doing. Happy towers don’t gossip. Let go of the need to judge and criticize others. Instead, concentrate on creating and living your life.

Habit #8 – Be positive

Make a determined effort to see the glass half filled instead of half empty. Always look for the silver lining in any situation. If you notice a negative thought creeping into your mind, counteract it with a powerful, positive affirmation.

Habit # 9 – Surround yourself with those people who take you higher

Surround yourself with happy, positive people who truly want the best for you and people who will support you on your journey to success. 

Habit #10 – Be a thinker

I want people to think “outside-the-box.” Spend time each day reflecting on how you can make things better. Ponder this question everyday: “How can I leave earth a better place than how I’ve found it?”

Next time I see you, I would love to hear how many of the habits you’ve been able to implement since our last meeting. See you next time.

D.J. Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

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Why Did Al Capone Go to Jail?

By D.J. Harrington

One of the most famous American gangsters of all times was Al Capone. He was known for many things. Not only was he a notorious killer, but he was known and feared for other reasons, as well.  His nickname was “Scarface.”  He became known as the leader of the Chicago mafia during the Prohibition Era. It was a troubled time in Chicago, as the headlines will recall. We know he killed many people and was behind the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Al Capone should have been an escape artist because he was always able to escape arrest due to “lack of evidence.”  Even though a known bootlegger and a corrupt businessman, he wasn’t accountable for anything because there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him for anything he had done….that is, until October 17, 1931.  On that fateful day, a jury of his peers found Al Capone guilty of several counts of Tax Evasion. The judge sentenced him to 11 years behind bars. Finally, Chicago was free of Al Capone.

I share this story because it reminds me of what happened at the 3rd Annual New Mexico Recycling Summit held in Albuquerque last month. Sandy Blalock, the managing director, invited their newly elected state senator to their meeting. He listened intently to the towers complain about the unlicensed, uninsured towers who take away business from those that did.   The senator had listened and recorded every concern of those in the room on his canary-yellow legal pad.

Knowing this group was comprised of all kinds of folks from the automotive, towing and metal recycling industries, Senator Padilla thanked his constituents for their votes and support. He has listened to the group that put him into office. These industries needed fresh ears. The past senator was voted from office by this same group of people because he never listened to their concerns. With high hopes, the group felt that Senator Padilla was the new set of ears they needed. But was he? Being so new to Congress, what could he do to help them?

After the senator listened to the towers complain about the unlicensed, uninsured towers who have taken away the business with their cheap prices, the senator began to speak. I know these details because I was there. As speaker for the day, I had been trying to get towers and recyclers together for a good cause. (I’ll get to that later in the article.)

As Senator Padilla stood to address the group, the first thing he said was, “What did Al Capone go to jail for?” Okay, someone get the hook! Had the senator lost his mind? Maybe he was writing other constituents a letter instead of listening. Everyone yelled back, “TAX EVASION.” “That’s right!” he said. “I think I need to call my cousin!” The whole room, including me, thought “Call your cousin???” What in the world? He wasn’t trying to be a millionaire asking for a “life-line” or call a friend or family member for the answer to win some cash on the show Cash Cab.

You could have heard a pin drop in the room. The audience looked around the large outdoor tent to see if someone might know what he meant. At that point, the senator validated the legitimacy of his statement. “My cousin is the Secretary of Taxation for the entire state of New Mexico.” The government controlled Al Capone in a way that the judicial system couldn’t.

All of us are mad about this so-called, underground economy. Unlicensed towers and, yes, unlicensed recyclers are making a living in our backyard. It’s not what we want, but they’re here. It’s certainly not what we deserve. We need the state to enforce established laws, but there isn’t any money for hiring compliance officers.

Senator Padilla is a problem-solver. Without assistance in getting evidence to close them down through a department that couldn’t fund the activity anyway, the senator’s cousin was able to shut them down. Just like Al Capone, those businesses are now out of business because of tax evasion!

Towers and Recyclers need to work together.  Do you know this? The past president of the Michigan Recyclers Association, Slaytor Shroyer, is a tower in Lansing, Michigan; everyone knows Bill Giorgis, owner of Mike’s Wrecker Service. Mike is the president of the Michigan Towers Association and just bought a recycling center.

The largest tower in Tampa, Florida, is also one of the oldest towing companies in Florida. I’m referencing Stepp’s Towing. A few years ago, Todd Stepp purchased a recycling center and had me help “hook him up” with another recycler. Did you get that? I got it, too, so I introduced him to other recyclers.

Happening next month in Phoenix, Arizona, is the Auto Recyclers Annual Meeting. Plenty of towers will be walking the convention floor. Since 81% of recyclers own tow trucks, why don’t we invite recyclers to tow shows? Just a thought for those producing tow shows that feel we have enough people attending tow shows. It would be great if we could work together.

Now that we realize we have the power to vote people from office who don’t listen to us, let’s replace them with good people like Senator Padilla. Furthermore, now that we realize we can remove people from our industry that don’t follow the rules, let’s help get them out of business.  Let me help you put the unlicensed, uninsured towers out of business – Just call the Doctor.

See you next time.

D.J. Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

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