ADDING INSULT TO INJURY. As you prepared (prepare?) to comply with Wednesday’s IRS April 15 filing deadline, did you feel just a little annoyed about funding the bailout of folks who have been at least a bit irresponsible in the way in which they handled their finances?

Me, too. But fortunately I have a tax-time memory that always takes me to a better place; one that I try to be mindful of every day. And, particularly at this time of year, I make an effort to share that Life Lesson with others.

This year it seems even more appropriate. So, if you’ve heard it from me before, I hope you find “tickler” value in its repetition and maybe new insight for dealing with today’s economic conditions. Thanks for your patience in reviewing it again.

If it turns out to be a new item for you, I hope you can take it to heart and use it to make these days easier to weather.

Some basic info: As you have noted by now, Eric and I like acronyms, TGIM… FYI… BYE… DREAMS. Certainly they serve as convenient “shorthand.” But they are also a powerful and valuable tool for reinforcing important concepts and bringing the full force of the underlying principles quickly to mind.

So, although it’s high season for the dread acronym IRS, that leads my thinking to the origins of perhaps the most important acronym in my mind — EHFTB.

EHFTB stands for -


Here’s the story behind it: Richard Prentice Ettinger, the co-founder of the publishing giant Prentice-Hall, discovered EHFTB as he started in business. In the earliest days of the company, the pages for his second book, about the then-new Federal income tax law, had just come off the press. Congress, in its usual wisdom, made last-minute changes in the law. This made many of the already-printed pages inaccurate. Stuck with a huge printing bill and worthless pages, it appeared the new publishing enterprise was doomed.

But RPE, as he was known (more initials), thought hard about what he had. Fortunately, the books had not yet been bound. He realized many of the pages were NOT adversely affected.

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. He concluded that he could salvage the unaffected pages … print some new, correct pages … punch holes in the whole batch … and put them all together in a loose leaf binder.

Bonus payoff: He could sell not just one book but also sell replacement pages on a continuing basis as the Tax Law continued to evolve.

That was in 1913. The forward-thinking Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World) noted at the time that Ettinger had done with the loose-leaf page something equivalent to what Guttenberg had done with moveable type. Such subscription publishing became a cornerstone of a highly successful enterprise; proof indeed that EHFTB – Everything Happens For The Best.

“A nice, but slightly Pollyanna-ish, sentiment,” you say?

Wait! There’s more. In fact, it’s The Most Important Part.

Richard Neill, RPE’s protégé who was entrusted with the ongoing publication of that first tax tome, passed along this history lesson for many years. (I was Neill’s protégé and was fortunate enough to have known RPE before he died. And yes, he was referred to as RN and I was GS.) But in the telling and reminding, RN always added the crucial element that makes the difference between an interesting bit of business history and a principle which any of us can take to heart and apply.

TGIM ACTION IDEA: When appropriate, and especially if some problem needed confronting or remedying, Richard Neill would annotate the margin of a memo or report with a handwritten reminder, EHFTB. And under those initials he would write FTWMIH.

The importance of this second thought, and the principle behind the phrase the letters represent, is THE KEY to making EHFTB work.

Richard Neill’s reminder - FTWMIH – is that -

Everything Happens For The Best

What if? Maybe if some of the folks getting bailouts got that kind of mentoring and bits of wisdom like EHFTB-FTWMIH as they came up in business or cobbled together their get-rich schemes, the economy wouldn’t be in quite the pickle it seems to be in. Maybe if we all began to think and behave that way now, by next April 15 we’d find the process a little less personally taxing.

TGIM IDEA IN ACTION: You must take action for anything to turn out “for the best.” You must be ever alert for opportunities to triumph in the face of adversity. And it’s not easy. You can’t be a passive bystander. You must be always preparing for the future. And, when challenges arise, you must rally that preparation and confront them. It isn’t enough to want the best. Continually challenge yourself to know what you’re going to do to get to where you want to be. Effort makes achievement.

Make the effort. Make It Happen.

Author's Bio: 

Eric Taylor is the Chief Inspiration Officer of and founder of New Jersey based Empowerment Group International. He delivers more than 100 energized and interactive keynotes, workshops and seminars each year to corporations, associations and tradeshows. He is the author of the Energy Passport, Co-creator of the Best Year Ever! Success System and Co-author of The Complete Sales Training Encyclopedia. To get complete details about Eric’s background, his products and services, visit Eric Taylor’s Blog and review Eric Taylor’s Profile.