Life is Like a 60-Minute Football Game

I believe the game of life takes 60 years to play. It starts at 20 and ends at 80.

The first 18 years don't count because - You live at home with Mom & Dad. You must follow their rules and do as they say, at least in theory.

I know that some of you are thinking that some kids grow up with bad parents and they are on their own earlier than that, and I agree. But – I also believe that parenting in America is at an all time high! Most people, especially in Americans do a great job raising their kids. We do whatever it takes to insure that our kids have a better life than we did.

18-20 is Spring Training: Go wild have fun, nobody is keeping score. This is the first time that most of us are on our own and it can be a very dangerous time for many of us. Most people do their stupidest stuff during this two-year period. I know I did.

The First Quarter is from 20-35: This is when we figure out Who We Are NOT. We experience a variety of events and make lots of mistakes. We figure out what we like and mostly what we don't like, and what not to repeat.

Life will teach us the same lessons over and over and over until we learn them. "Note to self - don’t do that again!"

The Second Quarter 35-50: This is when we figure out - WHO WE ARE. We discover what we really like, and what we are good at.

We begin to formulate the plan that will define our life and help us put points on the board.

Halftime is 50: This is time to take a breather and evaluate the first half, make some adjustments and come out smarter in the second half. The first half are the LEARNING YEARS. The second half are the EARNING YEARS.

The Third Quarter is 50-65: This is when we use what we learned in the first half to put points on the board and money in the bank.

In Zen, they say, "find your path and lead your life". As a member of the third quarter club myself, I have discovered my real desire is to be a leader and a coach. I am passionate about helping others learn to use their natural talents and work toward their real potential.

The Fourth Quarter is 65-80: This is when we should be able to enjoy life on our terms. All we need is good health and plenty of cash in the bank to spend on the fun of adding value to the lives of the people around us. This is when people are traditionally retire from active work.

Personally, my plan is to work at what I enjoy, and not even consider retirement until I’m at least 80. What the hell am I going to do - go fishing?

80 is the new 65: Do you realize that if you are under the age of 50 and in decent physical shape today, you will most likely live to see your 100th birthday. It’s true, the advances in medical science are amazing and getting even more incredible every day.

We had a lady who celebrated her 100th Birthday at the restaurant last month. She walked out of the elevator, into the restaurant, sat down and ordered a martini and a medium rare ribeye! When she left, she said, I’ll see you next year!

WOW! I hope I’m doing half that good when I’m her age.

I like this perspective because it goes against conventional wisdom. Most people think the game starts at Birth and goes to 80.

That would put halftime is 40 years old. That means it takes 40 years to climb the hill, and 40 years to come down the other side of the hill. This is why men often have a mid-life crisis in their 40’s.

I SAY the game of life starts at 20 and it goes until at least 80. With this thinking we move halftime from 40 to 50 years old. I like this a lot better. The first half from 20-50 are the LEARNING YEARS and the second half from 51-80 are the EARNING YEARS.

Anything after that is EXTRA… and a BLESSING!

OK – let’s change the conversation and look at this from the perspective of your 75-year old self.

Thing #1 - Try to stay in decent shape and save some money for your 75 & 80 Year old self to enjoy. It would be a shame to leave the old guy, or gal, sick and in the poor-house, having to eat dog food.

Think of your life as a RELAY-RACE… That takes 60 Years. Each year you pass the baton to your new self. Eventually the baton will be handed to your 75 year old self.

The big question is WHAT will you be able to do with the baton at 75? AND - What will it be made of – pure gold or PVC?

  • Let’s go back and start at the beginning: Your 20 year old self is at the starting blocks. The starting gun sounds and you’re off… What do you do?

  • Do you go to college and study or, get drunk and drop out.

  • Do you marry the wrong person – TWICE or do you pick the right partner the first time and build a great home and family?

  • What about Your Career, do you pick a career that you are passionate about or work at a job that you hate and can’t wait to retire from?

What about Money, do you save at least 10% of your earnings and invest it wisely for your 75 Year Old Self to enjoy in the not too distant future OR do you blow it all on trivial things like New Cars and keeping up with the Jones’.

Think about it are you doing the right things that will make your future great or are you blowing it all in the here and now AND what do you think you future self will think about that when the baton is passed to them.

Will the baton be made of solid gold or shabby PVC?

Here’s a Smart thing that I heard recently…

Taking the easy way now – leads to a hard life later. / Taking the hard way now – leads to an easy life later.


Where are you on the life cycle, which quarter are you in?

  1. If you are in the first quarter, your job is to learn some skills, make some good friends, figure out who you are NOT and save a little money for the future.

  2. If you are in the second quarter, you need to learn new skills, make more friends and figure out how and where you are going to put points on the board.

  3. If you are in the third quarter, it’s time to learn new skills, make more friends, and start putting points on the board. Did you know that Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s didn’t sell his first hamburger until he was 54 years old? It’s True.

  4. And if you are in the fourth quarter, your job is to learn new skills and stay relevant. AND we get plenty of hope from Colonel Sanders who founded Kentucky Fried Chicken at the ripe old age of 65!

Colonel Sanders struggled for most of his life, and then pulled out a major victory in the fourth quarter.

Think of an NFL football game that lasts 60-minutes. How many games are decided in the first quarter? Very few.

The winner of most NFL football games is decided in the fourth quarter. So, No matter who you are and where you are in the game of life, it is never too late to change the outcome.

My point ladies and gentlemen is that there is plenty of time… You will live a lot longer than you think you will. Slow down and take the long view.

The moral of the story is that life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You need to have a long-term view, there is plenty of time, you just need to focus on doing the RIGHT THINGS to the BEST OF YOUR ABILITY.

I hope these ideas help you see the time table of your life with a new perspective.


Today we are going to start a new thing. It appears that this little blog is starting to take off and we are getting some very favorable responses. And for that I am very grateful – Thank You!

I have received a few questions from listeners and I am going to start to answer them at the end of each post. So let’s give that a shot and see how it goes.

The first question is from Daniel in Topeka and he writes:

I’m 53 years old, I own a restaurant that is doing OK. I work seven days a week because I can not to find a manager who I trust to run the business when I take a day off. My kids are getting older and I am missing out on all the important family occasions. Plus, I am unable to save any money for retirement. I’m thinking of closing the restaurant and going to work for someone else.

What do you think?



First, I’m thrilled that we have this kind of honesty, and second, this one is a real doozy. Unfortunately it is all too common. Here’s how I see it:

It is very difficult to diagnose your problem without more information. But, I want you to know that you are not alone. We see this problem every day, in the restaurant business.

And the truth be told I’ve asked myself these same questions more than a few times. At what point do we throw in the towel and give up?

It sounds like you have three problems:

  1. You can’t find a manager that you trust.

  2. You are missing important family occasions.

  3. You are unable to save for retirement.

Let’s take them one at a time:

#1 - You can’t find a manager that you trust. Here’s the truth – None of us can find a manager that we trust. Restaurant managers are almost impossible to hire from the outside. There are many problems with hiring a manager from the outside, here are a few.

  • They do not understand our culture.

  • Their work ethic may not meet our expectation.

  • They may not have the talent to perform the job to our level of expectation.

  • They will leave us at the wrong time, and we will have to start over where we are today.

My solution is to build your own managers. Start with your very best and most trustworthy employee and make a serious investment in them.

Teach them the skills they need to help you open and close the restaurant. Build checklists for them to follow.

Build a black and white system and tech them to be a manager and leader.

The biggest problem that most restaurant owners have is that they are martyrs. They believe that nobody can do it as well as they do. Most restaurant owners need to become better leaders. Most restaurant owners need to build an on the job training program to teach their people how to manage their business

I believe there is ONE person in every restaurant who is praying for an opportunity to step up and show us what they can do IF they are given a chance.

#2 – I used to work seven days a week for the same reasons, here’s what I did: I changed my hours. I closed the restaurants on Sundays. This made a huge difference in my lifestyle and my ability to keep good people. For me Sunday was the big problem day, NOBODY wants to work on Sunday.

Sunday just has a different feel than every other day of the week. And the reality is that restaurant people like to get hammered on Saturday night and it’s difficult to get people to show up on Sunday morning.

Sunday brunch was a great sales day, but Sunday night was usually a bust, and the time when most of the really stupid stuff happened. So, I made the tough decisions and worked hard to find replace the revenue in the other six days of the week.

I can already hear some of you people saying that just isn’t possible for me. I understand, it is a BOLD move. But I think it’s a hell of a lot smarter than driving yourself crazy and losing your family in the process. The key is to work smarter and find ways to increase sales on the days that you ARE open.

One of my restaurants is opened for lunch and dinner and closed on Sunday and the other restaurant is dinner only and is closed Sunday and Monday. This affords the staff a much better life style and helps us keep good people. Having every Sunday and Monday off is a BIG – BIG benefit!

#3 – You are unable to save for retirement: This one is really tricky. I believe that you are saving for retirement. I believe that owning your own business is the absolute best way to save for retirement. I believe that investing in yourself is much better and much smarter than taking a chance on the fine folks from Wall Street. Here’s a little idea to illustrate my point.

In all the World there are EIGHT ways to become Rich!

  1. Steal It – Rob a bank

  2. Win the Lottery

  3. Be Born Rich

  4. Inherit Wealth from a Rich Uncle.

  5. Marry Into Money

  6. Get a Great Job

  7. Invest Wisely

  8. Build Your Own Business

If you own a restaurant or any business for that matter, you have one of the EIGHT ways to build wealth and get rich! WOW.

Here’s the thing that most people just don’t understand. If you own a restaurant and that restaurant is BREAKING even or maybe even making a little bit of money, you are in a GREAT SPOT!

Here’s why…

Once you hit the break-even point - 60 cents of every additional dollar of sales will go to the bottom line as profit.

Think about it – if you increase your sales by 10% your fixed costs of (labor and overhead) should not have to improve to handle the additional business. All you will have to pay for is cost of goods and that should be 30% of sales. There will be a few extra things like credit card fees and maybe a few other incidentals, LET’S CALL IT 5%. THIS BRINGS US TO 35% cost.

THEN, if you invest an additional 5% of additional sales into a STRONG MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

Your costs for the additional sales will only be 40% of the new sales. That means 60% of your new sales ( the sales above the break-even point) will become profit.

If you can create $50,000 of additional sales you will keep 60% - that is $30,000. This is a 250% return on the additional investment.

All because you own your own restaurant. Where else can you get a 250% return on investment that you have 100% control of?

This my friend is where I would put all my energy if I were you. Running a restaurant or any business for that matter can be very hard. The trick is knowing where to focus your energy!

If you are the owner of a restaurant you have the means to create enormous wealth for you and your family.

If you own a restaurant, you - You are 53 years old – You have a one year head start on Ray Kroc, who didn’t start building the McDonalds empire until he was 54. WOW!

If you have a question, please come to Food Guru University, and click the appropriate buttons, I look forward to hearing from you…

I loved answering this question, in fact I love it so much that I am going to do my next podcast on this subject. So, be sure to tune in to next week… I think I’ll call it - LIFE ABOVE THE BREAK EVEN POINT!

I’m Peter Harman, The Food Guru. My goal is to help you Build a Better Restaurant… 1% Better Every Day – 300% Better Every Year… You Can Do It – I’ll Show You How!

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