Herbert Prochnow was born in 1897 and would die in 1998. 101 years old. He was a banking executive most of his life primarily for the First National Bank of Chicago. He is hardly famous at all, however he is sort of important to me. The reason is that ever since I was a small child, I would pull a dusty book of my grandfather’s shelf called “The Complete Toastmaster.” Prochnow was a reputable toastmaster and had a penchant for writing collections and advice for people that were required to host meetings, organize speakers and deliver speeches themselves. His first edition was published in 1949, and I have probably read through it several times.
I always wondered where I got the basic rules down. Things like his first rule – “Choose a worthwhile subject for this meeting and select a speaker who is unquestionably competent to discuss it interestingly.” Seems so painfully obvious, but how many meetings have you gone to or hosted where this is not the case!! Anyway, Prochnow had a very pragmatic view of running meetings and speaking at events. His advice was eternal and I owe a lot of my basic commonsense to this sort of thing to him.
My favorite quote by Prochnow was – “The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work.” He had hundreds of amazing quotes like this, and he also provided an awesome collection of stories, quotes, jokes and everything else you could use for meetings. Nowadays his book would probably be condemned and thrown on a pire for being from some evil pedagogy, but I find the age old wisdom rather refreshing as I read through it again today with my much older mind then when I was younger.
I have build a habit of looking for and finding sources of inspiration. I think you can find that in many places, from many different people. We should all embrace the gems of greatness from the human experience wherever they may come from. I will leave you with one of his famous “fellow” quotes. It would always start out – The fellow who.
“The fellow who never makes any mistakes, takes his orders from the one who does.”