Many years ago I learned one of the most important lessons in life. And I have followed it ever since. I was working at a TV station in Winston-Salem, NC, and after three years my salary had reached $60 a week. It was a good job. I only had to work 9 or 10 hours a day, six days a week. Then opportunity knocked.
I got a call from Russell Bruton (known as “Rusty”) who was the Production Manager at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL. He wanted me to come down and audition for their opening for a chief meteorologist. I thought about that for several days. Jacksonville was a much larger market, and the idea of living in FL, after enduring the snows of NC, appealed to me. But I had a young wife and a new baby. I decided that to make the move to JAX I just HAD to have a salary of $100 a week, guaranteed.
So I went to Jacksonville, did the audition, and Rusty said he’d like to hire me. I was ready for him. I was not going to be dissuaded from my $100 a week salary. I had that figure firmly implanted in my mind. I knew he would probably offer me less than my request and I was ready to argue the point that I was worth a hundred bucks a week. He HAD to agree to $100, or I was catching the next Eastern Airlines flight back to NC.
Rusty said, “How much do you want to come to work for us?”
I answered, “A hundred dollars a week.”
He said, “I’ll pay you a hundred and ten dollars.”
I shouted, “NO! I want a hundred dollars!”
He began to laugh as I realized how foolish I must have sounded. And then he said, “I’ll pay you the hundred and ten. And, Johnny, NEVER TURN DOWN MONEY.”
I worked for Rusty for 5 years in JAX and when he came to Atlanta, he brought me with him where I worked at WSB for another 20 years. But I never forgot the lesson he taught me. NEVER turn down money. Just say, “Thank you.”