On his daughter Lana’s wedding day in 1994, Bill Hyche surprised her with a special gift he had been working on since she left home to attend college five years earlier.
Like many anxious parents whose children are setting out on their own, Hyche, of Lakeway, Texas (pop. 8,002), wanted to share values he considered important. After struggling for two years to compose a letter, he threw it away, electing instead to print a colorful poster featuring sayings that offer simple, sage advice, such as “Exceed Expectations,” “Do Not Judge,” “Learn to Communicate,” “Forgive Others” and “Give Money Away.”
“As my daughters Laura and Lana grew up and moved away, it occurred to me that they might not really know me,” Hyche, 61, says of that time. “I wanted to give them something that showed me not just as a father, but as the person I really am.”
Lana still recalls that moment with her father on her wedding day. “The poster was my dad’s way of saying, ‘This is how I raised my children, and now I’m handing it off to you.’” When she told him, “Dad, this sounds just like you,” Hyche knew his gift had accomplished its purpose.
When friends and colleagues began requesting copies of the poster, Hyche expanded on the values, spending several years collecting more than 1,200 quotes from the world’s leading speakers and writers. Each of the poster’s 79 values became a chapter title for The Right Moment: A Collection of Quotations for Living an Inspired Life, a book he self-published as a gift for his daughters in 2003.
Hyche, president of his own health care consulting company, never intended to become a writer. But while giving a motivational speech attended by a Wells Fargo executive, Hyche mentioned the book and immediately received an order for 500 copies from the banking company. As more orders came in, Hyche established Common Good Press to publish the book.
He pledged to donate 10 percent of profits to charities selected by groups or individuals purchasing the book, an action that enabled Hyche to leave his grandchildren a lesson, as well as a legacy, of giving.
“My goal is to give away $1 million through this book,” he says.
With more than $30,000 already donated to organizations supporting families of American troops and to institutions such as the American Cancer Society and Texas Association of Student Councils, Hyche has a good start on fulfilling his pledge. In addition, books purchased by corporations for their employees get a personalized foreword by the company’s CEO. A special teacher’s edition of the book, with a foreword by Archie McAfee, director of the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, is a popular appreciation gift in schools throughout the country.
“Teachers love that they can incorporate the contents into lessons on values,” McAfee says.
Lana (now Lana Hyche King), the original inspiration for Hyche’s tome, says she refers to the book regularly for motivation in her personal life as well as in her marketing business. “I use it to find meaningful quotes for meetings, presentations and friends,” she says. Her son Camren, 11, gives a copy to his teachers every year, proudly signing page 112, which opens with his own quote spoken as a 4-year-old learning to acknowledge differences: “If you were just like me, how would I know who you would be?”
Today, Hyche has a new dream.
“My fantasy is to use this book to create something bigger than my world,” he says. “All I ever intended to do was write a book for my children, but it has taken on a life of its own. To make a difference . . . that means a lot.”
Beverly Burmeier is a freelance writer in Austin, Texas.