As a teenager in Mountain View, CA, I was fascinated with cars (especially car electronics and car stereos). I was installing a car stereo in my father’s 1980 Blazer when realized I was missing a component. I headed down to Dealer’s Car Stereo in Los Altos to ask for that very specific part. The sales manager wondered how I knew what to ask for, so I explained that I was doing the installation myself. The store’s owner happened to be in listening distance and, after I gave him a chance to see my work, he offered me a job. It was while working at Dealers Car Stereo that I met the person who taught me the concept ‘paying it forward’.
He was Cliff Goldstone: one of Dealer’s Car Stereo’s best customers. He had encountered problems with a very expensive stereo that was installed in his Porsche 928. I knew I could fix it, but it would take three days to complete the work. Reluctantly, my manager asked Cliff it this was OK. Cliff agreed, under the condition that it would be the last time he brought in his car about this problem.
I took all of the 3 days, and completely disassembling the stereo, but it all worked perfectly. Impressed with my work, Cliff immediately offered me a job in his San Francisco company, West Coast Communications, where I would be installing mobile phones and two-way radios.
I accepted, but was soon distraught when my family refused to lend a car to get into the city. However, when I called Cliff to tell him the news, he said “Tony, if your parents don’t want you driving their cars to San Francisco then I will let you drive one of mine.”
This was the first of many opportunities Cliff gave me that helped me grow as a person and expand my career. He believed in me and my abilities, and became one of my key life coaches. Each time I asked what I could do to repay him for all his help, he always replied, “When you are in a place where you can do something to help someone else, do it. That is all I want from you.”
Cliff’s lesson of giving was so engrained in me that I started making donations to charities each year in the names of my friends and family. This holiday giving began after I sold one of my business ventures in 1995 and I decided to give myself financially, as my time had become a precious resource. In 1997, I started a charitable trust that will grow during my lifetime and be allocated to charities when I pass. In the past 20+ years, I have donated over $3 million to various charities and charitable trusts, and I will continue to donate my time and money to great causes.
This is not only the core of my business, but also the way I live my life. I have always tried to do whatever I can to help others, through giving advice, loaning a car orspare room or offering assistance in some way, financial or otherwise. It is my hope that those whom I have helped will strive to do the same for others and continue to “Pay it Forward”