Music to My Ears

Top row l to r: Portrait of the child Mozart, possibly by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni, painted in 1763 on commission from Leopold Mozart. Portrait owned by the Mozarteum, Salzburg; The family that plays together… The Mozart family on tour. Leopold, Wolfgang, and Nannerl. Watercolor by Carmontelle, ca. 1763. The portrait on the wall is of Mozart’s mother. 

Middle row l to r: Mozart early teens; A great cake to honor Mozart’s birthday. Recipe HERE; A 1782 portrait of Wolfie’s wife, Constanze Mozart by her brother-in-law Joseph Lange.
Bottom row l to r: Mozart in his early 20’s; Photoshoped Mozarts: Cool Mozart, Rad Mozart and Modern Art Mozart; Mozart Plushy that plays music. Get yours HERE.


It’s so fun for me to walk around the operation plants and see everything in motion. My teams are amazing, moving materials, prepping loads, testing, measuring, packing, shipping. Everyone is tuned in and focused in their area of expertise, with a shared goal of completing and delivering your PIA (@#$) Jobs!™ A friend of mine asked me last week if I had a “favorite” heat treating process (I of course had to correct him explaining that it’s not just heat treating , it’s called “distortion sensitive thermal processing!”). We had a bit of a laugh, but it got me to reflect on just how vast our services have become – from our 10 bar K-Vac bar furnaces, to K-Salt, the largest rack salt to salt facility in the Midwest, to our close tolerance specialty K-Flat team, to the deep cryogenic increased wear resistance K-Life team, to the ion-nitriding K-Glow team. All “in motion”, working together like a big orchestra, making beautiful music. Guess who is blessed to be the conductor!

Here in Northeast Ohio, we’re lucky to be home to one of the greatest orchestras in the world, the Cleveland Orchestra. Occasionally Jackie and I will venture over and see a performance, and every time, we are astonished just how incredible they are. I know that Jackie and my daughters are eternally grateful since I have VERY LIMITED musical talents! Today is in fact Mozart’s birthday, born over 260 years ago, in Salzburg, Austria. For my trivia buffs, here is a little bit on this amazing writer, composer and musician. Also included are some links you can listen to of just some of his awesome compositions. Below tells the early days of Wolfgang’s career (special thanks to For the complete bio, CLICK HERE. Now sing out loud – “da Da Da dum”.  Enjoy.

  • Born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a musician capable of playing multiple instruments who started playing in public at the age of 6. Over the years, Mozart aligned himself with a variety of European venues and patrons, composing hundreds of works that included sonatas, symphonies, masses, chamber music, concertos and operas, marked by vivid emotion and sophisticated textures.
  • Central Europe in the mid-18th century was going through a period of transition. The remnants of the Holy Roman Empire had divided into small semi-self-governing principalities. The result was competing rivalries between these municipalities for identity and recognition. Political leadership of small city-states like Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague was in the hands of the aristocracy and their wealth would commission artists and musicians to amuse, inspire, and entertain.
  • The music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods was transitioning toward more full-bodied compositions with complex instrumentation. The small city-state of Salzburg would be the birthplace of one of the most talented and prodigious musical composers of all time.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s was the sole-surviving son of Leopold and Maria Pertl Mozart. Leopold was a successful composer, violinist, and assistant concert master at the Salzburg court. Wolfgang’s mother, Anna Maria Pertl, was born to a middle-class family of local community leaders. His only sister was Maria Anna (nicknamed “Nannerl”). With their father’s encouragement and guidance, they both were introduced to music at an early age. Leopold started Nannerl on keyboard when she was seven, as three-year old Wolfgang looked on. Mimicking her playing, Wolfgang quickly began to show a strong understanding of chords, tonality, and tempo. Soon, he too was being tutored by his father.
  • Leopold was a devoted and task-oriented teacher to both his children. He made the lessons fun, but also insisted on a strong work ethic and perfection. Fortunately, both children excelled well in these areas. Recognizing their special talents, Leopold devoted much of his time to their education in music as well as other subjects. Wolfgang soon showed signs of excelling beyond his father’s teachings with an early composition at age five and demonstrating outstanding ability on harpsichord and the violin. He would soon go on to play the piano, organ and viola.
  • In 1762, Wolfgang’s father took Nannerl, now age eleven, and Wolfgang, age six to the court of Bavaria in Munich in what was to become the first of several European “tours.” The siblings traveled to the courts of Paris, London, The Hague, and Zurich performing as child prodigies. Wolfgang met several accomplished musicians and became familiar with their works. Particularity important was his meeting with Johann Christian Bach (Johann Sebastian Bach’s youngest son) in London who had a strong influence on Wolfgang. The trips were long and often arduous, traveling in primitive conditions and waiting for invitations and reimbursements from the nobility. Frequently, Wolfgang and other members of his family fell seriously ill and had to limit their performance schedule.
  • In December, 1769, Wolfgang, then age 13, and his father departed from Salzburg for Italy, leaving his mother and sister at home. It seems that by this time Nannerl’s professional music career was over. She was nearing marriageable age and according to the custom of the time, she was no longer permitted to show her artistic talent in public. The Italian outing was longer than the others (1769-1771) as Leopold wanted to display his son’s abilities as a performer and composer to as many new audiences as possible. While in Rome, Wolfgang heard Gregorio Allegri’s Miserereperformed once in the Sistine Chapel. He wrote out the entire score from memory, returning only to correct a few minor errors. During this time Wolfgang also wrote a new opera, Mitridate, re di Ponto for the court of Milan. Other commissions followed and in subsequent trips to Italy, Wolfgang wrote two other operas, Ascanio in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772).
  • In 1776, he turned his efforts toward piano concertos, culminating in the Piano Concerto Number 9 in E flat major in early 1777. Wolfgang had just turned 21.
  • As 1782 turned to 1783, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart became enthralled with the work of Johannes Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel and this, in turn, resulted in several compositions in the Baroque style and influenced much of his later compositions, such as passages in Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) and the finale of Symphony Number 41.
  • During this time, Mozart met Joseph Haydn and the two composers became admiring friends. When Haydn visited Vienna, they sometimes performed impromptu concerts with string quartets. Between 1782 and 1785 Mozart wrote six quartets dedicated to Haydn.

You can find a lot of Mozart on You Tube but you have to check this ONE out.  Plug in your very best speakers and listen as well as watch South Korean Yeol Eum Son do something on the piano that would make Wolfie Amadeus very proud indeed. (And if anyone can tell me why the conductor is using a pencil to conduct, please let me know.)




Things We Can Count On

Clockwise starting at top left: Clark Stanley, Mrs. Clark Stanley in her rattlesnake suit (nice hat), Snake Oil bottle, a depiction of Clark Stanley in action, Others get in on the action: Dr. Willie Gellbedder’s wagon, an ad from the Reverend Shine Snake Oil Co., Dr. Thomas Electric Oil (whaaaat? And what does a cat have to do with it?), Clark Stanley’s newspaper ad.


At KHT, we keep things pretty simple and traditional.  Put in a hard day’s work.  Be honest and straightforward with customers. Give our word and stand by it.  And when looking someone in the eye, it’s ok to close an agreement with a nod, smile and a firm handshake.  Seems pretty simple really. But lately there’s been so much noise about what’s “real”, what’s fake, who to trust, who to blame.  I don’t know about you, but my inbox and online accounts seem flooded with articles and opinions around fake news, unmet promises and misinformation. Add to that all the clickbait, spam, and junk mail, and it’s a wonder we can navigate our workday at all.  Recently I saw an ad making all these crazy promises and thought “geez, that guy seems like a snake oil salesman.”  Which got me to thinking, where did that term come from.  Like I often do, I turned to the internet, and found some recaps of the backstory, a delightful marketing tale that includes a cowboy, a socialist, and Teddy Roosevelt.  Enjoy.

In 1893, the world turned its eyes to Chicago, when the city hosted the Chicago World’s Fair, a spectacle seen by 27 million people over six months.  Big brands were launched like Juicy Fruit gum, Cream of Wheat and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

In the middle of that pageantry was a self-described cowboy and “Rattlesnake King” by the name of Clark Stanley. He had rolled into town to sell one thing to the revelers at the Fair: Snake Oil, and he did so with great fanfare and showmanship, deftly grabbing rattlesnakes from his bag, slicing them open, and dropping them into a great vat of boiling water. As the snake’s fat rose to the top, he skimmed it off, mixed it with a concoction of patented ingredients, bottled it, and sold it in .50 bottles as Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment –“Good for Everything a Liniment Ought to Be Good For”.

Long before it became synonymous with quackery, snake oil was a real medicinal substance that was potentially effective.  The construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1800s brought thousands of Chinese immigrants to the American West and Pacific Coast, and they brought many traditional medical remedies with them, including snake oil, made from the Chinese water snake, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a potent anti-inflammatory agent.

According to Stanley, he spent years conquering the West—conquests he detailed in pamphlets that also happened to serve as advertisements for his Snake Oil Liniment – (how’s that for “content marketing”?).  claiming he learned of the powers of snake oil for medicinal purposes from the Hopi people, recounting tales of “snake dancers” who stared deadly rattlesnakes in the face without fear. Business was booming.

Eventually, he met a druggist from Boston who convinced him to move east and open a manufacturing facility to sell his product in bulk. A newspaper interview recounted how Stanley fearlessly handled the snakes in his Massachusetts office, telling the reporter how he makes the liniment over the winter, then spends the rest of the year traveling from town to town with his family to sell it.

Around 1901, Stanley moved his headquarters to an even larger facility in Rhode Island, still printing his cowboy tales in pamphlets, always accompanied by ads for his product.  But in five short years, a book would be published by a socialist activist that would lead to the end of Stanley’s growing business.

In the early 1900s, a socialist author, Upton Sinclair, (remember your 7th grade history class?) went undercover in Chicago’s stockyards to investigate the exploitation of poor immigrant workers at the hands of the powerful meatpacking businesses. He described in his work called “The Jungle” the long hours, dangerous work conditions, wage theft, and predatory lenders who preyed on a Lithuanian family who had come to America in search of a better life.  The work was republished as a book the next year and became a runaway hit.  The public was shocked and outraged.

The public outcry—and the endless barrage of letters from Sinclair himself—was enough to force Teddy Roosevelt (who had previously described Sinclair as a “crackpot”) and his administration to pass two important pieces of legislation: The Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, a measure that caused a big problem for Clark Stanley and his snake oil.

With the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, the government finally had some teeth with which to crack down on hucksters of phony “patent medicines.” (the Act would later evolve into the modern day Food and Drug Administration).  While other laws had provided some protections, the Act defined “misbranding” and “adulteration” for the first time—stating that a drug would violate the law if it is “falsely labeled in any respect.”

It took another decade for the government to catch up to Clark Stanley, but in 1916, a shipment of his Snake Oil Liniment was seized by the District Attorney and tested by the Bureau of Chemistry. They found Stanley’s miracle cure was nothing more than mineral oil, 1% fatty oil (probably beef fat), capsicum, and a trace amount of camphor and turpentine.  Not a drop of snake oil to be found.

The D.A. took issue with the claimed uses on the bottle, and concluded that Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment was misbranded. Their decision did not mince words:
“The article was misbranded for the reason that certain statements, appearing on the label…and included in the booklet accompanying it, falsely and fraudulently represented it as a remedy for all pain and lameness, for rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica, sprains, bunions, and sore throat, for bites of animals and reptiles, for all pains and aches in flesh, muscle and joints, as a relief for tic douloureux, and as a cure for partial paralysis of the arms and of the lower limbs, and as a remedy for paralysis and effective to reduce enlarged joints to their natural size, as a perfect antidote to pain and inflammation, and effective to kill the poison from bites of animals, insects or reptiles, and heal the wounds resulting from bites of animals, insects, or reptiles, when, in truth and in fact, it was not.”

On June 15th of that year, Clark Stanley pleaded no contest to the charges, and was fined $20, the equivalent of $459.27 today.

After several amendments, the Act eventually became the FDA, a powerful government office today with a $4 billion annual budget, charged with protecting the health and safety of Americans.  The formation of the FDA was part of a larger movement—the “Progressive Era”—that saw a push towards more protections for consumers against unfair business practices. In 1914, the Federal Trade Commission was formed, which would be responsible for enforcing false advertising laws, preventing other businesses beyond the food and drug industry from misbranding their products.

Apparently, the Rattlesnake King didn’t find the truth to be all that profitable, because he disappeared after 1916.  Historians don’t even know if Clark Stanley was his real name, or whether it was simply a stage name for his snake-wrangling cowboy persona.

What is known is that the term “snake oil” took on a life of its own, becoming a catch-all term for fraud. The “Snake Oil Salesman” became a stock character in Western movies, and lives on today.





Spoiler Alert: Holiday & Vacation is Over.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs and business owners, you’re right back at it tackling an overflowing inbox, scheduling production and juggling an already crammed calendar, while trying to mentally check back into the “flow” of work.  Surprising how we can all relate.  For some reason, this holiday break, as wonderful as it was, seems like a blur to me – cookies, parties, family, kids, friends, great food, more great food and still more great food and fun.  I did my best to “go dark” a bit, and try and break away from the business, but probably like you, found myself checking emails, responding to the cell phone and in my home office, just “checking things”, to be sure no “hidden opportunities” has popped out!

In fact, according to a Glance Networks study, most businesses don’t get back to normal productivity levels until about three weeks after New Year’s.  That sounds ok, but just doesn’t work for us, as we’re running 24/7 on your PIA Jobs! TM – product still coming in, and trucks still rolling out.

That said, I came across an article in Forbes magazine I thought I’d share.  The perspective was from Brian Scudamore, the founder and CEO of O2E Brands, best known for 1-800-GOT JUNK fame.  According to Brian, here are three things you can do right now to hit the ground running in 2017 – (thanks for tips! – full article HERE)

1: Paint a Picture for Long-Term Success

Over 45 percent of people make personal resolutions, but few of us make resolutions for our businesses. The new year is a perfect time to set goals for all aspects of your life. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t, and those odds for success increase to 50 percent when you write those goals down.

I personally experienced the power of visualization when I wrote my first “Painted Picture” — a crystal-clear snapshot of the future I wanted for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. In the early days, it was just a scrappy startup with three trucks and a lot of potential. Since achieving most of the goals in the first Painted Picture, I craft a new one every few years, and share the updated vision with our employees. It’s a powerful way to get your team fired up and working together towards a goal, not just settling into another year of the status quo.

The new year is also an opportunity for our team to look at our Can You Imagine? wall and their 101 Life Goals lists with fresh eyes. These are two ways we ask employees to dream big all year round. And when someone’s in a post-vacation slump, these tools are potent reminders about the exciting things that can happen when you intentionally set goals.

2. Snap a Leadership Selfie

How often do you take an audit of your strengths and weaknesses? A new year is a great time to reflect on what’s going well, and what could use work. Self-awareness is truly one of the greatest skills for success: not only does it make you a better, more empathetic leader, it’s also positively correlated with your company’s bottom line.  So how does a leadership selfie work? For me, it’s as simple as writing down my skills and what needs improvement. I make a list and solicit feedback, both formally and informally, with coffee meetings, chats with coworkers, and more structured surveys. And what better time to break old habits than those first few days when your work routines haven’t yet reformed?

3: Strip Away Productivity Blockers

What was holding you back or frustrating you last year? I’ve found it’s the little things that end up wasting the most time. But the good news is that identifying time-sucks is the first step to eliminating them.  For me, unproductive meetings are a big pet peeve and I’m not alone: 59 percent of people hate meetings that don’t stay on topic. So in 2017, set meetings with one direction, clear outcome goals, and only invite people who need to be there. Another simple trick is to schedule 22-minute meetings instead of half-hour ones. The idea, pioneered by Nicole Steinbok, is to make everyone hyper-conscious of start and end times.

Email is another productivity blocker. In fact, the average office worker spends 28% of their week managing their inbox. I learned long ago to tame this beast. Now, I sort every email into one of three folders (personal, end-of-day, and end-of-week) so I can power through later in one focused, productive chunk.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do for your business is start 2017 with a positive attitude that will set the tone for the rest of the year. Having fun in the workplace, (a MUST here at KHT) is the real key for being engaged, creative, and super productive.

Hope some of these ideas help – feel free to give me a call to discuss – I’m working on my list right now.




How Long Is Your List?

Happy New Year to all – hope you had a great holiday (I sure did), got the gifts you wanted (my kids were all home for Christmas!) and enjoyed a little R&R with family and friends (I sure did). And so, the New Year begins with goals and aspirations and that dreaded “resolutions” list. If you are like me, it’s probably quite a list – better health, be kind, more spiritual, patience, be organized – oh yea, that “eating right thing” too (That doesn’t even make the list!). It made me wonder “who started this resolutions thing” anyway – and of course the answer is perfect for my weekly posts. Thanks to History Channel and Wikipedia for filling in some of the info.

  • Today, resolving to change and improve yourself and your life is an almost unavoidable part of the transition to a new year. Though it’s a pretty well documented fact that most New Year’s resolutions fail, we keep making them—and we’re not alone. The custom of making New Year’s resolutions is most common in the West, but it happens all over the world.
  • The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago.
  • They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted.
  • During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.
  • A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.
  • In the Medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
  • For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year.
    This tradition has many other religious parallels. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People can act similarly during the Christian liturgical season of Lent, although the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. In fact, the Methodist practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.
  • Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are a mostly secular practice. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves, and focus purely on self-improvement (which may explain why such resolutions seem so hard to follow through on).
  • At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.
  • According to the American Medical Association [(AMA)], approximately 40% to 50% of Americans participate in the New Year’s resolution tradition. It should also be noted that the 46% of those who made common resolutions (e.g. weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking) were over ten times as likely to succeed, compared to only 4% who chose not to make resolutions.

Most Popular goals include:

  • Donate to the poor more often
  • Become more assertive
  • Become more environmentally responsible.
  • Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits
  • Improve mental well-being: think positive, laugh more, enjoy life
  • Improve finances: get out of debt, save money, make small investments
  • Improve career: perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business
  • Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent,
  • Put down the phone, less screens, watch less television, play fewer sitting-down video games
  • Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity, volunteer to work part-time in a charity organization
  • Pray more, be closer to God, be more spiritual
  • The most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ Resolutions was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it.
  • About one in 10 respondents say they make too many resolutions
  • According to recent research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. But that dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions anytime soon—after all, we’ve had about 4,000 years of practice.

For fun, email me your list. I’ll tuck it away for a few months, and then “check back” to see how you are doing.