College-level Chemistry at Eleven


The Failure                

When Herb was 11 years of age, his father decided he needed an education in chemistry. Herb’s mother was a chemist, so three nights a week they cleaned off the kitchen table and the three of them studied chemistry. The older and younger siblings were sent outside to play quietly. When Herb asked why he had to study chemistry, the only answer he got was, “We think it is appropriate.”

After 4 years of studying college-level chemistry, they studied cement chemistry for a year under Ino Weiske. While others went to sporting events, learned social skills for getting along with contemporaries, and did the things young people normally do, Herb skipped it all. He never went to a football game. He never learned to dance. He never learned to talk to a girl without getting nervous. His contemporaries considered that he was a failure. He knew he was a failure.

By the time he was 17 he had the chemistry knowledge of a person with a degree in chemistry, but he did not have the other things which go along with such a degree. There was one bright spot: he graduated from the 8th grade. And to this day he proudly displays that badge of his achievement in his office. He even mentions it when listing his qualifications when he testifies as an expert witness.

The Lesson                 

Herb learned that learning is not limited to the public school classroom. With motivation, he could study things which many of his teachers had never studied.

The Success       

By the time Herb was 17, he was the assistant to the head of research and development for Pozzolana, Inc., and Rio Clay Products. Since he learned chemistry at such an early age, he was able to make connections between different components and target research to develop products that others had not thought possible. As an attorney for one of the companies he worked for said, “Herb has brought in, on average, 5 million dollars of new business every year with products he has developed.”

When taking a new product out into the field, Herb wanted the tradesmen to try it out and tell him what needed to be improved. They were usually able to, but with one manager they never had any suggestions. That manager would tell the tradesmen that Herb was the world’s leading authority on the product, so the tradesmen were afraid to comment on how the product could be improved. Herb repeatedly asked the manager to eliminate that part of his spiel, but the manager continued to talk about all of the accolades Herb had won. Herb eliminated having that manager involved in new product field testing. That manager never understood why he was eliminated.


Author: Herb

In January, 2010, I left corporate America, and now I have my own business. Since I have never been able to focus on one item (Does that make me a scatter brain?), I divided my company into three divisions: Kayak guiding and instructing - specializing in nature kayaking, Building materials consultant - specializing in cements and forensics, and Writing - Stories w/ life lessons and construction books that are fun to read. Published books: The Stucco Book - The Basics, Animals I Have Hated, Grandpa, Help! Answers to Questions a Young Lady Would Never Ask Her Parents, Grandpa Helps Grandparents, Living with Cancer – That Intense Houseguest, Homes for Jubilee (June, 2016), and Kay pou Jubilee (in Haitian Creole) (August, 2016). Forthcoming Books: The Adhered Concrete Masonry Veneer Book, The Stucco Book - Forensics and Repairs, and Failing My Way to Success.

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