Ziskind.com > Writing > His Story: Morris L. Ziskind > Chapter Eight - Looking Back At My Life

His Story: Morris L. Ziskind

Chapter Eight - Looking Back At My Life

I am proud that I graduated from college, became a veterinarian, and had a successful career. I worked hard, achieved financial success, and was respected in my field. Considering my background it was an achievement. While I never have given it much thought, I suppose I look at my life as a success story. I never spent time second-guessing myself. I have no regrets. I am satisfied with the choices I've made. I had confidence in my decisions. I guess that means I am happy with my life. "How far does one dream? I dreamt I would be a practitioner of veterinary medicine. Period."

When I started my career and worked for the government as a meat inspector I was promoted two or three times. I joked that I was promoted because I was one of the few guys who could read. I soon realized the potential income I could achieve from government work was out of line with my education and the effort I was willing to put in. I was earning the highest salary for a meat inspector, about forty-five dollars a week, which was far less than what private practitioners were making. I was ambitious and chose to leave the secure path of a government job. Working as a private practitioner I earned more in one day than I could in an entire week doing meat inspection.

If I am remembered for my career I would like it to be for being a large animal man. Although I had a thriving small animal practice, large animal veterinary work was where I made my greatest contribution and the most money. I was willing to do the work that others were unwilling to do. I met a lot of fine people in my large animal practice. The nicest people in the world to do business with are farmers. They are honest. With few exceptions they wouldn't cheat you.

My practice was similar to James Herriott's, the author of All Things Small and Beautiful, with whom I once corresponded. We both had mixed practices: large animal, small animal, and state inspection work. We both earned the respect of our colleagues and clients. If we said something, it was accepted. No quibbling. The big difference in our careers: he accepted credit, and was paid when his clients had the money. I insisted on cash. I was better off. My reputation - "He wants his money." The serum companies insisted on payment within two weeks. So did I.

I hope my reputation includes my honesty and being fair. If it wasn't fair, I wanted no part of it. No one ever lost money because of me. If I quoted a price I stuck with it. I expected the same. I would not tolerate dishonesty or being cheated. I would only deal with honest people.

I once had a client who owed me twelve thousand dollars.

"Aren't you worried", he asked?

"No. Why should I worry? I know I can trust you."

I knew he was waiting for a fair price before he sold his pigs. Prices had declined a few cents a pound. We both knew he should wait until the price returned to a higher level. I knew I would get paid. You have to learn to trust the right people. If a person is good for $500, he is good for $10,000.

When I look back at my life I am proud of my family. My children are in good health and were successful in school. All three went to college and have had long, successful marriages. In regards to parenting I believe today's parents are too lax. Parents have lost some of the control of their children that I believe is important. As parents we would say, for example, that you have to be home at a certain hour. It was expected and our children did it. That is no longer the norm, I believe.

Money is a measure of accomplishment. I believe in working hard and accumulating wealth so you can take care of yourself and your family. Money allows you to do what you want to do. Earning money alone should never be the criteria for choosing one's life work. Self-fulfillment should be one's goal. However earning an adequate income is important. One should be self-supporting, not a leech on one's family. Acquiring money is a measure of one's progress in life in reaching the goals that each person individually sets.

Morris L. Ziskind Awarding Scholarship

If you can afford it, giving money to charity is great. I appreciated the efforts the University ofPennsylvania made in behalf of its students, so I chose to endow a scholarship for students, especially those who want to do large animal work. I am proud that I could give my adult children some of my wealth so I can enjoy their benefiting from my efforts.

I am a practical person. I never got pleasure from spending money on myself in extravagant ways, such as buying expensive cars. I am a cautious person about giving out information. You get into trouble by talking too much. I think of safety and protecting myself and those I love. The questions people ask reflect an ulterior motive. I guess I have been disappointed enough in life by people who have failed to live up to the trust I have placed in them to be skeptical of others' motives. I have lived long enough to know that people do not always tell the truth. While I suppose it sounds contradictory, I have probably loaned out more money than you ever dreamed of, yet I am very suspicious of people's motivations. I lend money to people I like whose purposes agree with my thinking. I am skeptical of the motivations of, for example, someone who is trying to sell me something. It is my responsibility to decide what is best for me and not assume that others are looking out for my welfare. These are some of the lessons I've learned in my life.

Next: Chapter Nine - His Final Year | Index