One of the most impactful, yet brief conversations I ever had about wealth and riches took place late in my junior year (1993) at Pacific University. It wasn’t with a professor. Well, not a university professor anyway. No, this guy was (and still is) one who spoke simple, straight-forward bullshit. At least most of the time. Bill’s a real character.

On occasion though, what he spoke made you really pause. It was, after all, 63 years of wisdom from a former Navy fighter pilot, and, a really hilarious character a lot of folks didn’t find nearly as entertaining as I did.

One lazy Sunday (I think it was Sunday; that was the only time it was slow there) morning as he and I cleaned up the remainders of the Saturday night/early Sunday AM, and quite regular, bash at his tavern, he said, “I can’t believe I’m paying to send my kid to a University that penalizes cooperative learning! In life, you are rewarded for copying greatness and emulating success. Otherwise, I’d have never been a fighter pilot. I had to train every day and copy my instructors or I was dead meat.”

You see, before he took over operations of tavern, he studied what other successful bar and tavern owners did to create a successful business. He visited them, asked questions, etc. He picked apart what they appeared to be doing well and what they appeared to have mastered. And, he avoided doing what they were doing wrong. Pretty simple, eh?

Now, what Bill didn’t do was steal. He watched, observed, and copied what it took to be great in character and procedure, but, he didn’t take what wasn’t his to take.

OK, let me try this again: there’s outright thievery – taking that which you’ve not paid for or not given something in exchange on agreeable terms. Then, there’s emulation or copying activities or procedures.