‘Happy’ Norman, Volume I (1927-1957): Give Me The Child... and I Will Give You The Man

FriesenPress
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The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man in Letters to my Grandchildren and Other Friends


“Give me the child... and I will give you the man” is the first of five volumes that constitute the autobiography of Keith Norman. Having approached an age when one is naturally drawn to reflection, Keith decided to share his experiences through letters to his grandchildren, offering friendly advice, - not designed to instruct, but rather to protect and illuminate. After the first letters were enthusiastically received, and succumbing to pressure from friends and family, Keith embarked on a task of writing about his life to a wider audience.

The first book begins with the question whether our lives are more determined by our childhood experiences and environment or by our DNA. St. Francis Xavier Cabrini seemed to assert that anyone’s potential can be formed in the first 7 years of a child’s life, but is it so? As the details of his life are placed on paper in an orderly fashion, Keith is attempting to discover how and why his life unfolded the way it did: from a young boy who spent his early years as an WW2 evacuee with little direct adult guidance and away from his parents.

Only after his release from the Army in 1948 was he reunited with his family, and within a year he had set out a completely independent path of his own. This period would account for his immense sense of independence and self sufficiency. But what made him seek and attain some of the best university degrees the Western World had to offer? And how this mixture of experience and education guided, sometimes mislead him, in his personal and entrepreneurial challenges in life.

This first volume presents an entertaining and intelligent self-examination of the formative years of a life that stretches over eight decades, five continents, dozens of cultures and industries with wit, integrity and humility. When you turn the last page of this volume you will see that there is nothing ordinary about Keith Norman, - as he opens the door into his life and invites you on to a journey which cannot fail to move and entertain.”
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About the author

Born to professional middle-class parents in the UK and forced to take on the mantle of adulthood at an early age during the turbulent years of World War II, Keith Norman developed an independent spirit and an inner drive that has served him well throughout his business career. His bold optimism and unrelenting energy has taken him around the world in a variety of occupations and in the company of colorful characters, many of whom became friends, or partners. Despite many ups and downs, and several fortunes gained and lost along the way, Keith’s confidence in his abilities never wavered, and he has always been ready to tackle the next opportunity. Naturally prone to self-reflection, Keith began to analyze the inner reasons for the course his life had taken, both in business and in his personal decisions, and proceeded to take corrective action, reconciling with those he had inadvertently hurt along the way. In response to several requests from family members, friends, and acquaintances, Keith’s current challenge is to write a “no holds barred” account of his extraordinary life, which is far from over . . . .
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Additional Information

Publisher
FriesenPress
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Published on
Dec 2, 2016
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9781460285701
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Military
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, I was an American hitchhiker. I hitched across the entire United States and back twice. Once I made it from Portland, Oregon, to Baltimore, Maryland, in four and a half days. On another trip, I hitched from Birmingham, Alabama, to Baltimore in twenty hours. I hitched down the East Coast and up the West Coast. I rode across Nebraska in the back of a pickup truck with a driver who wouldnt stop for anything and spent the night in a school bus in Bodega Bay, California. I endured a continuous stream of homosexual advances from drivers in the Bay Area and was terrified by a pack of wild dogs while squatting on Crow Indian land. I hopped a freight train in Portland, Oregon, and spent the night under the famous Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. I almost got busted in Montana for smoking pot out of an empty beer can and was hassled by cops in New Orleans and Texas. I narrowly escaped injury at the hands of commercial fishermen in Boston, who caught me sleeping in their boat, and had the bejesus scared out of me by a sixty-five-year-old Massachusetts woman who used her 1963 Rambler as an offensive weapon. I met a bunch of gay guys, truck drivers, stoners, petty thieves, ex-cons, heavily armed rednecks, and some very nice people too. I was a lot younger then, but I wouldnt trade those experiences for the world. You hardly ever see hitchhikers anymore, but a few years ago, we were everywhere. But before I launch into my story, a brief history lesson is in order.
The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man in Letters to my Grandchildren and Other Friends

In Volume II the 30 year old Keith returns to the UK and begins a career as Commercial Director in the UK Atomic Energy Authority. When, after 13 years, the institutional demands get too restrictive, he quits and moves on to be Regional Director for the Caribbean and Central America in the Commonwealth Development and Finance Company. Operating from Kingston, Jamaica, Keith is responsible for the investments in a wide variety of industries: commercial properties, an airline, rice farming, pipeline manufacture, hotel management, a turtle farm and many others.

This experience gives Keith a taste of true entrepreneurship and he decides to set up on his own. From the first steps along the road from being his own boss he has never deviated from this path. Commercial rose growing in the Dominical Republic, refinancing of a hotel in Santo Domingo, real estate development in Cayman, raising finance and managing a uranium mining startup in Saskatchewan – are just a few of the businesses he is involved with.

One major commitment is to accept the appointment by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands as Official Liquidator of a local Banking Group, comprising three banks and more than 100 operating subsidiary companies, ranging from a cattle breeding farm in Quebec to two inter-island trading vessels.

Keith meets each challenge with his usual passion, dedication, energy and responsibility. The intensity of his work demands, though, has its price and leads to the breakdown of two marriages. This volume ends with Keith starting his own gold mining company and meeting the love of his life.

Keith writes as honestly about his failures as he does about his successes. The analysis of the dictum of St Francis Xavier “Give me the child... and I will give you the man” continues through the search for the source of his decisions and whether those could be traced back to early experiences in his life.
The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man in Letters to my Grandchildren and Other Friends

Anyone who studies contemporary history, business and management or aspires to succeed in life without selling out on their values and dreams should read this book. In Volume III Keith and Claire Norman continue the unabridged account of their lives, which takes the reader through the 1980’s. At this stage, Keith is approaching 60, not many would call themselves ‘young’, ‘brave’, and ‘adventurous’. In fact, the majority of us would probably have started thinking of retirement and check on the state of their pension funds. Well, not Keith! Keith met Claire, the love of his life, in 1979 and from then on this remarkable duo became an example of business acumen, tenacity and selfless devotion to any task they undertook. Not everything they touched turned to gold. Quite literally, it was gold that escaped. But this set back was a prelude to incredible achievements on the international stage, as well as in their personal businesses.

From the freezing temperatures of Northern Canada and the heat and humidity of Guyana’s rainforest, infested with sand flies, snakes and roaming jaguars, to the high powered corridors of the IFC, the United Nations, and the exclusive members’ clubs of New York, Washington and London, they tirelessly embraced the thrills and adversity which are the bed fellows of entrepreneurs.

Accepting the status quo would never get Keith where he wanted to be, but knowing which of the rules to bend or having an iron clad sense of fairness and integrity resulted in Keith receiving letters of commendation from the head of the IFC and the appreciation of many political and noted business figures of the day.

Volume III culminates on a personal note with a description of their wedding that would make everyone wish they had shared in the celebrations... and everyone who was there were truly blessed by the occasion. This volume takes us through the intricacies of risky business undertakings, across continents and into the world of high finance and political intrigue and leaves us hungry for more.

Keith and Claire write about their lives and work with such candour, dignity and humour that no-one should be left indifferent and is certain to remain curious as to what happens next. Few might guess, but there is still more to come, since for Keith and Claire, life is only just beginning!
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