by Jim Hinshaw


So here are the last 5 lessons from shelly Brady’s book: Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter.  More concepts that can help us improve our results and even our lives.


Know your limits and reach past them.  When Bill was in high school, he really wanted to be on a sports team, any team.  He watched each game, made up a player’s roster, complete with the different plays for each game.  Kept detailed notes, stayed up half the night typing up the results, presented them to the coach the next day.  He did this for years; it was Bill’s way of connecting to an activity he couldn’t play in.  His contributions to Lincoln High athletics were greatly appreciated, and they awarded him with a letter jacket at the senior awards banquet.  He hung it in his closet at home, ready to be modeled for anyone who asked about it.


Be a Team Player.  When Bill’s mom was placed in a nursing home, he was alone for the first time in his life.  He soon realized he could not do the routine things needed in a home, cooking, cleaning, yard work, and keep up the sales with his Watkins products.  So he reached out to his neighbors and church, letting them know he needed help.  A couple of people responded and would not take any money, just wanted to help.  Further, Bill had relied on his mom to tie his tie and shoelaces, his fingers just would not let him handle those type of duties.  His bus stop downtown was near the Vintage Plaza Hotel, Bill got off and went in to see if someone could help him there.  He met he manager, Craig Thompson, who said he would be honored to help.  Each day, Monday thru Friday he stopped with his cuffs and shoes undone and tie in his briefcase.  If guests were in the lobby, he waited patiently until they had left.  The bellhops and other employees were always glad to help, they became an extended family.


When Craig was transferred to the Fifth Avenues Suites hotel, Bill followed him there.  Shelly asked Bill if it bothered him, having to ask for help with his clothing.  He said, no, he needed someone to help him with his shirts and shoes, and he appreciated the fact that the hotel employees were available to be involved.  His words: “I don’t look at myself any different just because I need a little help, it’s just part of my daily routine.”


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Bill was focused on his route, so much so that when he had a problem that would derail most of us, it didn’t stop him.  He was walking downtown Portland when he stepped in front of a car, got hit, ended up in the hospital.  He had a cut on his face that took 7 stitches to close, some bruised legs, x-rays showed nothing broken.  So he starts out back on his route again.  The hospital nurses tried to talk him out of it, told him to go home, get some rest, he would not think of it.  He goes back out, after just a few blocks the pain was so bad he collapsed on the sidewalk, not able to continue.  An ambulance took him to another hospital for another round of x-rays, they then discovered he had a broken pelvis.  When Sherry found out, she asked him why he kept going when he was in such pain.  He replied, I’m always in pain, pain is nothing new.  Now, here are the deliveries I need for the sales I just completed.  His theory was, if it is possible to continue, then I will continue, doing what I have been doing all my life.  Working thru the pain and discomfort, delivering my orders as best I can.


Sherry told him he needed to start selling his products over the phone.  He resisted, saying his system of door-to-door worked best.  As he came to realize that he faced months of rehab, phone sales were the only door to walk thru, and he did that very well.  It took a major injury to convince him of how powerful he could be on the phone.


There Are No Obstacles.   Bill’s first speaking engagement was titled: Overcoming Obstacles, The Bill Porter Story.  Preparing for the meeting, Shelly asked Bill what obstacles he faced.  He said there were no obstacles in his life.  Shelly thought about Cerebral Palsy, an aching back, speech impediment, lack of muscular control, all the things in Bill’s life that he had to contend with.  He said, I have no obstacles, ask me another question.  In Bill’s mind an obstacle is something in your path that prevents you from getting to a goal.  He refused to belief that he had anything in his way that he could not get past.


One example was a winter day in Portland, where a freezing rain covered everything in ice.   Bill was walking his route, took more time than usual because of the weather, when he got back to the bus stop, he found out the buses quit running because of the road conditions.  He hitchhiked and walked all the way home.  When he arrived, he tried to walk up the steep drive to his front door, but could not get traction, it was glaze ice.  He finally dropped down on hands and knees and struggled up the driveway on all fours.  Shelly scolded him, told his he should have called her to come help.  His reply: “what’s the big deal, no one could have gotten up that driveway without getting down on all fours”


Live Your Values.  Shelly closes the book by sharing what her family did to live their values, which she claims came from watching Bill’s family as they worked through this journey.  Years ago she sat down at the kitchen table with her family (which grew to seven children!) and put together a mission statement and goals.  Here is the items on the list that went on their refrigerator and stayed there for over a decade.


Brady Family Mission

  1. Be together forever
  2. Mommy and Daddy will watch over the children
  3. We will always be able to depend on each other in times of need.
  4. We will always take time to listen to each other.

And later added:

  1. Be kind
  2. Serve others
  3. Be thankful
  4. Love our neighbors
  5. Be honest


I am thankful you spent the time to read this set of articles, now I have a request.  Watch the movie, Door To Door, you can find it on Netflix.  The film stars William H. Macy, who plays Porter, and also features Helen MirrenKyra SedgwickMichael Shanks, and Kathy Baker.  It will bless you and you will find inspiration in his story.  We’ll talk later.