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    The 12-year-old CEO

    I recently met a man. This friend of an old ophthalmologist friend of mine offered to take us for a ride in his beautiful boat (a yacht) on a warm sunny day. He picked us up at the beach, gave us chilled champagne and cruised parallel to the shoreline on a crystal clear Caribbean sea that was as smooth as glass. He pointed out the sights while he spoke about his business and himself. Anyone would be in a good mood while on a yacht on a perfect day like this, but the smiles and charm of this man probably helped contribute to his success in business. At one point, he mentioned his age; he was twelve.

    "Excuse me," I interrupted.  "It sounded like you said you are twelve years old." 

    "That's right," he responded.

    This person looked about as much as a twelve-year-old as do I, and at the risk of sounding rude I told him that perhaps one of us had enjoyed a little too much champagne. 

    "I will explain," he said, and proceeded to tell me a story.

    Twelve years ago, the workaholic CEO of a large construction company, he was constantly on the go, building his company, overseeing his employees, and traveling to monitor his many projects in multiple countries. An intensely competitive person, his only non-work activity was racing powerboats. One day while racing, his boat and another crashed and flipped. He was trapped under water for quite a while. By the time he was removed from the wreck, he was pulseless and not breathing.

    "I was dead," he summarized.

    "He will be an idiot!"

    Peter J. McDonnell, MD
    He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of ...

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