Interview with the world's laziest man, Fred Gratzon (a Taoist sage disguised as American entrepreneur?) - by Paul Wilson
For my venture strategy class, I was supposed to interview an entrepreneur this week, and I chose Fred Gratzon, founder ofFairfield 's Great Midwestern Ice Cream and Telegroup. This is the text of my interview with him.
Fred Gratzon is an entrepreneur raconteur provocateur. In 1968 Fred graduated sine laude whatsoever from Rutgers University as a Fine Art major. He never held a job for more than two months and is one of only five people in the entire history of the United States Government to have been fired from a civil service job. In 1979 with no money, no experience, and no knowledge of how to make ice cream, he founded The Great Midwestern Ice Cream Company. In 1984 his ice cream was judged by People magazine to be the best ice cream in America . Playboy made the same declaration in 1986. In 1989, again with no money and no knowledge or experience of telecommunications Fred founded Telegroup in a spare room in his house. Telegroup became an international long distance carrier and grew to 1100 employees with $400 million in annual sales. Fred's companies have appeared on Inc magazine's list of the 500 fastest growing companies in America four times. In 1995 Telegroup was the second fastest. Fred, ever the entrepreneurial pyromaniac, is currently lighting new fires and using The Lazy Way to Success as his invincible formula.
The Lazy Way to Success is unlike any other book you have ever read. Or seen. Fred Gratzon and Lawrence Sheaff have collaborated to create a provocative, playful, profound, powerful and unparalleled tour de force – both philosophically and artistically. In full chutzpah mode, Fred debunks the commonly-accepted notion that hard work has anything to do with success. In fact he convincingly (and impishly) (and hilariously) (yet insightfully) argues the exact opposite. He not only explains why success comes from finding ways to avoid work, he shows how to be successful by avoiding work. Fred and Lawrence have merged a totally charming narrative with uproariously funny illustrations. Each page has been massaged to be maximally seductive and irresistible. The end result is a reader-friendly book filled with infectious bliss, insight and edginess (see sample chapter). Like a favorite song, you will enjoy The Lazy Way to Success over and over again. The Lazy Way to Success is destined to become a lively, loved, and long-lived part of the national dialogue.A key principle in realizing our oneness with the Tao is that of wu-wei, or "non-doing." Wu-wei refers to behavior that arises from a sense of oneself as connected to others and to one's environment. It is not motivated by a sense of separateness. It is action that is spontaneous and effortless. At the same time it is not to be considered inertia, laziness, or mere passivity. Rather, it is the experience of going with the grain or swimming with the current. Our contemporary expression, "going with the flow," is a direct expression of this fundamental Taoist principle, which in its most basic form refers to behavior occurring in response to the flow of the Tao.Fred Kardash, Taoism - The Wu-Wei Principle, Part 4Celebrated on Saturday by the Jews, Sabbath has been adopted by the Christians (Sunday) and then the Muslims (Friday), before the secularized world has universalized these 'days of rest' into a legal injunction. However, whereas European countries like France and Germany have imposed a 35-hour week with at least an entire month of paid vacation, the United States, supposedly our future society, is slipping back into a 24 X 7 work-week especially in 'leading-edge' sectors like publishing and the Internet just in order to remain competitive. It's not just the employees who are increasingly squeezed for slave labor despite an official 40-hour week (with starting 10 days annual vacation...) but even the 'high-performance' CEO super-star who comes in to work on Sunday and deluges his employees inboxes late at night with requests for information.Quite apart from a rich web of symbolic implications, the Torah imposes such severe penalties on working on the Sabbath, because, it seems to me, that the Jews said "never again" to the forced labor of imperial Egypt even if it were for the pious purpose of building pyramids that would reach the heavens so as to ensure immortality (not just) for the Pharaoh (not to speak of producing ammunition at Auschwitz for Hitler's war machine - Arbeit macht frei!). In fact, the Messianic Age, it is said, would be a perpetual Sabbath not just for the Jews but for a redeemed world. So would we all starve because no one would work any more? No, work would have become not just worship but leisure so much so that we might not need holidays and holy days any more...my university, BHU, was understood, at least in the 70s to be "Benares Holiday University" because they insisted, in typical Indian fashion, on not only celebrating everybody's holy days but students wouldn't turn up even on 'work' days! To tell the truth, my specialization was in "playing hooky" and I hardly learnt anything in the university....least of all in the Sanskrit department!It seems to me that our increasingly frenetic society could learn a great deal not just from the orthodox Jews and Muslim artisans [weavers of Benares], but also from the 'escapism' of the Buddhist 'hippies' and the 'work-ethic' of our 'gypsy' brothers who worship only duende (rasa) ....Sunthar V., Religion, work, leisure and culture - celebrating the Sabbath everyday in Benares! (24 Oct. 2002)
Fred Gratzon is a natural-born American Taoist, adept of (wu-wei = no way!), who deserves to be crowned honorary 'do-nothing' mayor of Benares, the holy city of the Hindus. The Lord of the Universe (Vizva-nâtha), addicted to 'idle intoxication' (bahri alang), would have approved...enjoy!Sunthar[rest of this thread at Sunthar V. (24 Oct. 2002)
- Dear Sunthar,
I wonder if education is double edged: while shining light on the
dark, it also tends to trap one within the lighted areas! Why is that
bad? Read the Six Blind Men and the Elephant story.
What is the way out then? What is the magic of Fred Gratzon?
--- In email@example.com, "Sunthar Visuvalingam"
> For my venture strategy class, I was supposed to interview an
> entrepreneur this week, and I chose Fred Gratzon, founder of
> Fairfield's Great Midwestern Ice Cream and Telegroup. This is the
> text of my interview with him.