O’Neal, Williams’ father, owned a furniture store in Santa Barbara where he was well-known throughout the community. After he retired at age 58, O’Neal found himself having to reinvent his whole lifestyle, but his business philosophies helped him stay active and lead an active later chapter in his life.
The key was reinvention — stating a goal and working toward it, knowing full well that the path is going to change along the way. He was a model of focus, emulated by his employees and his family.
That focus can be applied everywhere, and Williams’ book explores how anyone can approach reinventing themselves after a significant event like a layoff, a retirement, or just the realization that a career change is imminent.
“Maybe you start small with a parking space,” Williams said. “If you really want it and focus on it in a positive way, there’s a better chance of it happening.…It may have been there all along, but it doesn’t come to light until you focus on it.”
When O’Neal died in 2010 at age 89, his daughter started remembering all the business and life lessons she heard from him. The following year she began writing them down, and 25 pages in she knew she had a book.
“A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That” is part practical philosophy and part tribute to O’Neal, who helped his employees with their medical bills out of his own pocket and made sure his younger employees went to college. His own family doesn’t know the extent of his philanthropic work; they learned of much of it after his death.