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"The Men Who Changed My Life And Made It Possible For Me To Get Anything I Ever Wanted."

by Tony Hassini

Indeed, what a wonderful gift and I am proud to share it with my friends and colleagues. Back in the mid-1970's, I was enjoying a very prestigious position as the Magical Director for the Burger King Corporation, which lasted for six years and gave me the opportunity to create over 200 television commercials. The real magical moment came five years earlier, when I was in love with magic and the motion picture camera. I wanted to make a life-long career out of both.

So I enrolled into New York University Film class, where I learned the camera, editing, and the history of film making, which was quite interesting. It was here that I learned about a gentleman by the name of Richard Albain, one of Hollywood's special effects wizards, who had created all the magic and special effects for,"I Dream of Genii", " The Three Stooges", " Bewitched," as well as many other hundreds of motion pictures and TV shows. I learned that Mr. Albain was the founder and the President of ANA Special Effects Corporation in Los Angeles. I took a chance, looked up the phone number of ANA Special Effects, and called up. As the phone began to ring, I could hear my heart pounding faster and feel sweat building on my forehead. I was nervous. Just then I heard a female voice say,"ANA Special Effects. May I help you?" I heard myself saying, "Yes, may I speak to Mr. Albain?" She asked,"Who is calling and what's the nature of the call?" I said," My name is Tony Hassini and I am a film major at New York University. I'm also paying for my college working as a professional magician." Then I heard the lady on the other end of the line say, "Wow! Dick loves Magic! This is Dolores, Mrs. Albain. Let me see if I can get Dick to come to the phone." And there was a long pause. Then I heard Dick come on the line and say, "Hey, I hear you are a magician." Well the conversation between us went on for about 20 minutes. Then he asked me if I would like to come out to Los Angeles and work with him on the Ronald McDonald commercials as an intern.

Two weeks later, I was on the plane to L.A. to meet Dick Albain and get a tour of the A.N.A. Special Effects Studios. Dick and I hit it off real good. He was willing to teach me everything he knew on special effects and I was willing to teach him everything I knew on magic. And this was the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime. Dick and I worked on so many Ronald McDonald commercials, with I, as the apprentice, he, as the Master. We were setting up the gags for Ronald McDonald and the cameras were ready to roll when Ray A. Kroc, the founder and owner of the McDonald Corporation, came onto the set. All of a sudden, there was so much commotion going on. I asked Dick what was going on. He said that was Mr. Kroc, the owner of McDonald's. I remember reading in LIFE MAGAZINE that Ray A. Kroc started McDonald Corporation at age 55 and became one of the world's richest men.

However, the story went on to say that Ray Kroc had tried five different businesses and had failed on each one of them. Those days, I was a young wipper-snapper and I kept rigging the gags for Ronald McDonald in between takes and I noticed Mr. Kroc watching me work with an approving smile on his face. That gave me the courage to approach him and speak to him during our lunch break. I still remember, as if it was yesterday, walking up to him. I said, "Mr. Kroc, when I grow up I want to be just like you, rich and successful. I read in LIFE magazine that you had tried five different businesses and they really didn't work out for you." He interrupted me by saying, "You mean to say I failed miserably five times." I looked down and cleared my throat. Then I said, "You eventually found the secret. Can you please tell me the secret of how I can become successful?"

He looked me in the eye and said, "First I will tell you what doesn't make it. Then I will give you the secret. Are you ready for this?" I kept my gaze straight in his eyes and said, "Yes." Then he began. He said, "Education alone doesn't make it. The world is full of educated derails. Desire doesn't make it. Everybody has the desire to be rich. Talent doesn't make it. There are so many talented people who are starving. Hard work doesn't make it. Every day men go to their grave from working hard." Then he went on to tell me just about everything I could think of that will make it that is not going to make it. By this time, my mouth was hanging and just waiting to hear what makes it. Then he said, "Now I will tell you." He looked me in the eye, and almost whispering, he said, "PERSISTENCE. Persistence alone is the key to any success. You have to stay with it and never give up. Had I given up on my fifth business which failed, I would have been a loser. But I went on to the sixth one, McDonalds. If that had failed, I would have gone on to my seventh, eighth, and ninth, and so forth and so on, until I made it."

From that day on, I focused on every goal I wanted to accomplish and stayed persistent with each goal until they were accomplished.

I hope this story will give you the courage and inspiration to be persistant with your goals.

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