The In Search Of Heroes Program Interviewed Alan Bechtold, A Pioneer In Publishing


Alan Bechtold Heroes Interview

Ralph Zuranski: What is your perspective on goodness, ethics and moral behavior?

Alan Bechtold: I think they are imperatives.  Not just rules that you can decide to follow or not.  I like to view them as the highway you travel to reach a fulfilling life that includes not only health and wealth, but happiness.

And I mean true happiness.  Without goodness, ethics and moral behavior there are all kinds of things you can try and achieve and get, but you won’t ever achieve such true happiness, and without that the others are worthless.

Ralph Zuranski: What principles are you willing to sacrifice your life for?

Alan Bechtold: Freedom is number one.  So you know how I feel about the soldiers fighting, especially of the press but also speech, religion and political thinking.  I don’t care if I disagree with you I always agree you have the right to be you and those things are what make you you.

Alan Bechtold: So, of course I would be willing to sacrifice my life to protect that, but I also think protection of weaker individuals over stronger, especially situations like the struggles of the press against tyrannical leaders, that sort of thing.  These are the things you have to be willing to lay down your life for.

Ralph Zuranski: When was the lowest point in your life and how did you change your life path to one of victory over all obstacles?

Alan Bechtold: I’ll tell you, when I was publishing one of my trade journals that was just really taking off for the dial up bulletin board operators that pre-date the internet today, that industry was growing and burgeoning and I was the only publisher of the leading trade journal for system operators of those systems right when the internet smacked me in the face and all of my advertisers, suddenly none of them called and canceled their ads, they just quite paying the bill.

So, several months into that I was faced with folding that business.

Alan Bechtold: Forty thousand dollars in personal debt, having to completely change with no resources to do it, other than, and this is how I changed my path, other than my friends and one of my own personal heroes who wishes to remain unnamed, but this person when I called and asked why I was feeling so down, I didn’t bring it up I just asked why I was feeling so down.

Alan Bechtold: I told him the whole story and the first words out of his mouth were “How much would help you out right now?”  And that is not the kind of question you get from someone who is not a true friend and someone you can turn to.

Alan Bechtold: It just completely changed my attitude about life, and when I told him how much I really needed I tried to play it way down.  Believe it or not I said “Oh well, I think five thousand will do it.”  And he said “Well than you need fifteen.”  Within five days it was in the mail.

Alan Bechtold: He was just like “You know you have helped me before, you will help me again, we will find ways for you to work it off; don’t even worry about paying it back.  He is a true friend, we are still true friends today and I will be happy to say I have been able to pay that back two or three times in other ways.  He is my hero.  That is why I rank friends among heroes.  True friends.

Ralph Zuranski: How were you able to overcome your doubts and fears?

Alan Bechtold: For the most part I just ignore them.  Now that may sound like, some people would use the term denial, but see I realize that doubts and fears are negative and negative energy holds you back, so I erase them and sometimes I use my vivid visualization and actually visualize the negative thoughts of doubt and fear, and this is a trick you can try, but I see myself rubbing those doubts and fears off of a mental chalkboard with a big eraser, and then my minds freed to move on.

Ralph Zuranski: Do you have a dream or vision that sets the course of your life?

Alan Bechtold: I got to tell you and this is another thing that changed after that point but my entire life is built upon strong visualization.  I don’t even call them dreams anymore or visions.  I visualize strong visualizations of where I want to be in the future, and then I visualize going backwards and building the steps to getting there and it becomes almost a natural result.

Alan Bechtold: It seems like I have set up the universe to start lining these things up.  For example, right now I am currently shooting to generate more than a million dollars in sales in one day.  I have already set that as a goal.  By the end of this year I intend to generate more than one million in profit from my company, and next year three million.

Alan Bechtold: These are goals and milestones and I know I am going to hit them.  Notice I am not telling you I hope to hit them or think I will hit them, I know I am going to hit them because I can already close my eyes and see myself there so any time I want to I can hold that in my mind and it just helps motivate me and it helps me with decisions and it helps me with my day to day activities so I make sure they are constantly moving in that direction.

Alan Bechtold: Before I moved to Florida from Kansas, I grew up in Kansas and when things got really good I thought I ought to try living somewhere else and it was so cool.  I use to sit in my house at night before going to bed and I would in vision the house that I would be in, on a nice little canal connected to the gulf with my boat hooked to the dock.

Alan Bechtold: I could see the pool, it was all a nice screened in big area where I could sit and write in the beautiful area and I could see my boat out there and enjoy all that Florida has to offer any time I want.  And you know when we started looking for houses, and first of all I have to tell you; I moved down here with a great expense.

Alan Bechtold: I moved my whole company and it set me behind, it created obstacles along the way, but as we were looking for houses and we walked in and I looked around I knew which ones weren’t them and the one I bought, when I walked out in that screened in cage area to the pool and it was on a canal, except for the boat hooked to the dock.

Alan Bechtold:  I said “This is it.”  Now I am in it.  I now know the boat I want, I haven’t gotten the boat yet that will happen in September because I haven’t found the one that I pictured but it will show up soon, I feel it.

Ralph Zuranski: Do you take a positive view of setbacks, misfortunes and mistakes?

Alan Bechtold: Yes, it is vital because setbacks, misfortunes and mistakes aren’t really setbacks, misfortunes or mistakes if you look at them the right way and a positive view helps that.

Alan Bechtold: Sometimes its hard to have that positive view immediately and I even allow myself to get a little emotional and then let it cool down because you just can’t ignore them, and there usually is emotion involved when it’s a setback, misfortune or mistake, but always I start digging into the problem and what I try to determine is the cause because with that cause comes, if not a solution a lesson.

Alan Bechtold: I learned long ago to recognize what I can not fix the in the past and there is nothing you can do to change it, you have got to move on.  But if you can look back and find the lesson then you still benefit from what you can’t fix.

Alan Bechtold: And I have to tell you, as successful as my career is, as happy as my life is right now there are still setbacks, misfortunes and mistakes.  I don’t worry about them I just study them for the lesson I can learn and keep moving because I got to tell you, at Ralph Zuranski: Ralph Zuranski:  I am still learning.  It’s what keeps life fun.

Ralph Zuranski: Are you an optimist?

Alan Bechtold: I am optimistic to the point of where I have been criticized for it, being optimistic to the point of fault.  To me that is almost laughable because I can see no fault in optimism, it is what makes the world go around, it is why I get up in the morning.  How could you watch CNN for Ralph Zuranski: Ralph Zuranski:  minutes without a positive attitude and still leave your home?

Ralph Zuranski: Do you have the courage to pursue new ideas?

Alan Bechtold: If I didn’t create new ideas I would stagnate and I never want to stagnate.  So looking for what is next and planting seeds in the fertile ground so they will grow so to speak.  So I don’t even look at it anymore as a matter of courage so much as a need or requirement for my life.

Alan Bechtold: It is almost like food.  I like to look at ideas like crops and you think about it that way.  A farmer wouldn’t refuse to plant his or her crop because it might not come up or the weather might be unfavorable and might make it come up poorly or it might be some work now and the seasons won’t be up for several days.

Alan Bechtold: It will be months before I can they can take in the crop but they move ahead and keep planting.  The other lesson we learn from the farmer, let’s stick with this analogy for a minute; you also don’t get a crop from a single seed.  It is just not going to happen, at least not for years.  I like generating lots of ideas because I think of them as seeds and I pursue the best of them and several of them at a time if I can

Ralph Zuranski: Were you willing to experience discomfort in the pursuit of your dream?

Alan Bechtold: Again, it’s vital.  I have found that most dreams to be realized require some discomfort, otherwise if they are that easy they don’t really qualify as dreams in my mind.  But I think this is why so many people constantly fail to reach their dreams, because they are afraid of being made to feel uncomfortable or moving outside of their comfort zone, and I noticed that those that do succeed always seem to realize at some point that discomfort is just a good and necessary part of reaching those dreams.

Ralph Zuranski: Did you believe your dreams would eventually become reality?

Alan Bechtold: I believe in it because I see them in my mind and as I have said before I am a strong believer in visualization which I consider vivid dreaming, and I have to tell you, when I look back I have never properly visualized a goal or dream that didn’t happen.  I

Alan Bechtold: t is almost magical.  I think it is a crime to discourage kids from daydreaming.  I remember back when I was in school, a little kid, I use to get in trouble for daydreaming all the time until I grew up and realized that’s how you make dreams real.

Ralph Zuranski: Who helped give you the willpower to change things in you life for the better?

Alan Bechtold: Well my friends, my close working friends and my peers, one in particular that I mentioned earlier.  Also I think I mentioned my mother, all through my life.  I mean we had our battles when I was a teenager and I wanted to have a beetle hair cut and she hated it but the funny thing is, and we go through this today, but the funny thing she is that she hated it.

Alan Bechtold: She constantly and this is a great example but she hated my long hair and I use to have hair clear down to my back.  Most people would not believe that seeing my balding photos today but I used to have the pony tail that went all the way down almost to my waist.  She would just rag at me constantly to cut that hair.

Alan Bechtold: She would say, “I wish I could see my boy again” and comments like that yet when I went to school and got trouble from a principle over my hair, she was the first one in the office screaming that it was my right to have this hair and what harm is it doing?  Why can’t they just leave me alone and just teach me?  Just her willingness to stand up again for my right to be me created just such a respect.  I just picture that and I just have to live life for the better and pay her back.

Ralph Zuranski: Who are the HEROES in your life?

Alan Bechtold: My parents are my two biggest heroes.  My dad, God bless him, I mean this guy those a path of least resistance in his job and career but one he enjoyed.  When I say least resistance I mean he was qualified to be an architect and do the high powered life and get a lot of big money.

Alan Bechtold: He went and stood for being a city employee and being the city building inspector.  Now he went through that, got up to the top spot, but the top spot paid chump change, but still to do what he enjoyed he would work nights running the projections at the local theaters and he would be bringing that money home just to make sure we never did without anything because of his dreams, because of his will.

Alan Bechtold: I see that it is dreaming with responsibility, following your muse without dumping your responsibilities and far too many people I see today follow their muse at the curve of everyone in their path.  You can’t do that, and so that was another one of my big heroes.

Ralph Zuranski: What place does the power of prayer have in your life?

Alan Bechtold: It has a constant place in my life and people who know me know that I am not an overly religious guy.  I do not run around telling other people what they should believe because I also believe so strongly in the right of religious freedom.  So I believe forcing my ideas on someone else is just uncalled for but you asked so I will answer.

Alan Bechtold: I pray constantly but I pray a little different than some people do I think.  Here’s my thoughts on it, I even wrote a little something down here because I thought this was such a cool question.

Alan Bechtold: I don’t think it matters who or what you pray to, I don’t think it is a matter of that at all, it is the fact that you do pray and the act of praying.  By doing that you realize that there is something much larger than all of us involved here.

Alan Bechtold: That all of us and this world did not just appear here by chance and that there is a bigger plan and you are just one small cog in this huge machine and believe it or not a replaceable cog at that.  And then by that act of praying what I do is I tell people to stop, if anybody asks, stop praying for stuff, stop making requests of the universe.

Alan Bechtold: And I get tired of that sometimes and I tell you, since you asked, I would not tell someone to stop if they did not ask but I see that so much.  Like, “Please give me a new car… Please help me with this…. Please do this.”

Alan Bechtold: Here is what I do and here is where my visualization ties in with my praying, I picture the things that I want already taking place.  I mean that is what I do with my visualization and then I say prayers of thanks for everything wonderful that I already have and everything wonderful that I know I am going to have.

Alan Bechtold: I am constantly thanking God and you can constantly thank the universe, and I really think that doing this literally sets you up and puts you in a harmonious vibration with God or the universe, whatever you wish to call it and makes you ready to see the huge bounty that is out there for everyone who is ready and willing to receive it.

Ralph Zuranski: Do you maintain your sense of humor in the face of serious problems?

Alan Bechtold: I am telling you without it I would not be alive today, and I say that in sincerity.  I have been through some things that we are not even touching on here and without my sense of humor, which some people may refer to as being a little bit sick and twisted at times, but without it, it may have driven me mad, or may have actually driven me to end my life.

Alan Bechtold:  But instead I have always been able to see the funny side of life and even of the terrible situation I am in.  I have been found to have been chuckling at some of the most inappropriate times and as a result that is the price I pay and I’m happy to.  I just really believe there is always plenty to laugh about when it comes to life and the universe and it is great medicine.

Ralph Zuranski: Who do you think are the HEROES today that are not getting the recognition they deserve?

Alan Bechtold: Oh, we mentioned some and I will mention them again because there are some and that is the police, fire rescue, med-i-vac people, of course soldiers that are fighting for our true cause.  Teachers, teachers are huge heroes of mine because again, these are people who follow their dream even though their dream is not going to fill their plate like they people deserve.

Alan Bechtold: I think that whole list right there is the most under paid, most viable workers we have.  Writers and philosophers are also heroes in my life.  They help me think.  They are doing what they love to do in spite of the low pay or risk.

Alan Bechtold: That goes for my closest friends and family members too because I don’t pay them very well either, or not financially.  And hanging around me might even be perceived as being dangerous.  Still though, they are right there when you need them.  That is why they are down there on my high list of heroes.

Ralph Zuranski: Why are HEROES so important in the lives of young people?

Alan Bechtold: That’s because a true hero is a positive role model and one that you look up to and you want to be like, especially during the formative years.  Which heroes a young person selects and what values they embody can literally shake their life forever.

Ralph Zuranski: How do people become heroes?

Alan Bechtold: I think its doing good for others without being asked, without worrying about possible negative consequences themselves or without any hope of personal reward.  That is really the short one sentence description.

Ralph Zuranski: Do you have any good solutions to the problems facing society, especially racism, child and spousal abuse and violence among young people?

Alan Bechtold: Oh I am so glad you yanked this chain, and I hope you have got a second because this is one of my favorite topics when I am not discussing marketing.  Yes, absolutely.

Alan Bechtold: One of them is turn off the T.V., especially the movie channels, watch what your kids watch and follow the movie rating system for some kind of guideline but realize R is not always R.  PG does not always mean what you think PG should mean, that is why you always have to monitor it yourself and if you don’t have the time then don’t let them watch it at all.

Alan Bechtold: I am telling you right now guys, it won’t hurt them a bit.  And the same thing goes for the music they listen to.  Things have changed in music and my parents griped about my music.  There is a whole attitudinal message that just has to be watched that it is unbelievable.

Alan Bechtold: I think we have seen a dangerous trend in movies and especially in the music our kids listen to today that creates a mind set, an attitude of “Get one over on society, get one over on the cops.”  Hate and racism is there and I think these things lead to other things that are particularly terrible.

Alan Bechtold: But to go on I was going to say freedom of the press and freedom to listen, I hear this argued all the time, and this is true, freedom to listen to and watch all you want.

Alan Bechtold: And freedom of the press, I told you earlier, I will fight to my death for that and I still believe in that but I believe those are adult rights, not kid rights, and I believe a lot of parents forget that and they are treating their kids like little adults way too early because quite frankly its easier for them.

Alan Bechtold: So, they fail to see what can be done to them if they watch the wrong movie and listen to the wrong music.  I don’t know about you but some of my heroes in my own mind when I grew up were the guys I saw in the movies, but the guys I watched, I was not a fan of some the guys that did the acting, for example, but the person they played; it was always so good being bad and evil.

Alan Bechtold: Today I am watching movies where the good guy, and I swear this is true I saw it a while back on the description on the movie channel, it said it was a story about a lovable hit man.  Well you know what, here is my point, we are adults, you and I with a formed mind, and we are done making ourselves.  We are adults; we can watch that and say that is just a movie.

Alan Bechtold: What harm can be done to a kid at thirteen or twelve who is in the informative age who suddenly discovers “Wow, being a hit man can be kind of lovable” and makes that his hero.  You know a lot of people kind of get their shekels up and are going “Man what are you?  Are you a prude?”  And I am not talking about sex here that is the least of my worries, good sex is good for a kid at eight if they understand it and it’s real.

Alan Bechtold: I am talking about attitudes and the heroes they pick up from what they watch and listen to.  The other side of that is made them read a lot, and there again you have to help them select what to read.

Alan Bechtold: There is bad stuff out there, but frankly I would rather have my kid read the wrong book than watch the wrong movie or listen to the wrong music, because at least a book is reading and reading is a skill you must have to succeed in the world.

Ralph Zuranski: What do you think about the “In Search Of Heroes” Program and its impact on youth, parents and business people?

Alan Bechtold: It’s immeasurable.  It is good beyond measure.  I think people need the message and I think more people need to meet real heroes and recognize the real people with values that matter and can change the world.  That is what makes this program immeasurably valuable.

Ralph Zuranski: What are the things parents can do that will help their children realize they too can be HEROES and make a positive impact on the lives of others?

Alan Bechtold: Always encourage their dreams.  Boy that comes from my own childhood, huh?  I use to get yelled at for day dreaming all the time.  They should help them see success reaching their dreams and then help them formulate the necessary steps to get them there.

Alan Bechtold: One of the last things most kids think about before you turn them loose is what’s going to happen tomorrow, and this I think is one of the number one causes of the bad mistakes and bad decisions so many kids make is that they really don’t see a tomorrow, they don’t care, or a consequence, or something I should be doing that would be much better for my future.

Alan Bechtold: So, helping them realize there is a tomorrow by setting a plan and working with them on it, getting them excited about the future and you will see all kinds of things happen.  Also always make sure they see the benefit of helping others without concern for the reward they will see in return.  If you can instill those in your kids, the positive impact on others will be tremendous throughout their entire lives.

Alan Bechtold: You will be effecting future generations.  I think discipline is so important that I think ninety percent of parents today don’t give it enough.  I think they are too much of a push over for their kids, and I’m not talking about physical discipline, they don’t even follow through with… I see it all the time “You’re grounded for two weeks” and a week later “Oh mom there’s a dance, I just have got to go.”  Or “You know what, we are going out tonight, some friends have invited us over” and then the kids go out anyway.

Alan Bechtold:  Another thing, the last thing a kid needs is for their parents to be a buddy.  You know, buddies are great, they need their buddies but they don’t need their parents to be their buddies.

Alan Bechtold: They need a strong differentiation there, and there is a strong difference there if they’re parents can relate on the kids level.  You have to do that, but you do not have to sell your self short to the point of “Ok, drink beer at home at twelve, and there are some parents doing that because I would rather have them drink beer at home than out.  How about the message is, that you just don’t?