Written by on October 15, 2018

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“There’s no such thing as a snozzberry.”  

“We are the music makers.  The dreamers of dreams.”

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was quite the eccentric and psychedelic movie of the 1970s. It had action and suspense, a bit of drama, and lots of comedy.  It also had fun and frolic for kids but had a darker adult side as well. It was a personal favorite growing up, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I was able to pick up on the nuances and social statements that were suddenly obvious to me

The Dirt: It’s  just a movie

.Looking past Wonka’s perverse sense of humor, there were many life lessons built into the film.  A small set of them were delegated to Wonka’s helpers, the Oompa Loompas. They weren’t the most coordinated bunch, but they were probably the wisest folks on the set.   And although the movie is approaching the 50-year mark, it’s lessons are as valid today as they were back then. Which only points to the obvious fact that we really haven’t changed much.

Augustus Gloop

What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?

Eating as much as an elephant eats.

What are you at getting terribly fat?

What do you think will come of that?

I don’t like the look of it

Oompa Loompa do-ba-dee-da,

Given good manners you will go far.

You will live in happiness too,

Like the oompa loompa do-ba-dee-doo.



This first song referred to the overindulgent Augustus.  He just couldn’t keep himself from stuffing as much food into his face as possible.  While superficially, it’s a look at just eating too much, we’re really talking about gluttony in general.  Gluttony is defined as habitual greed or overindulgence. Even though it is often used in reference to food, it can apply more broadly to any item of wealth.  Consider the ways in which gluttony enters our lives today. The concept of if some is good, more is better, fits the bill.

Money is a clear object of our gluttony.  We fight over it, divorce over it, kill others over it, and even kill ourselves to make more of it.  For some of us, our life’s work is all about getting more at almost any cost. Even if we don’t actually have too much money, we dream of it and it can take over our lives.  It’s our gluttonous desires that fuel us to do things we may otherwise never do. From corruption in financial institutions to government to a local street gang, our drive for overindulgence of money is a killer.

Ego could be another object.  In a new world of “Hey, look at me”, we are seeing an increasing need to be noticed, recognized, and applauded.  So much so, that when we aren’t “liked” enough, we can fall into a depression. Popularity is trumping many other worthwhile attributes like intelligence, hard work, and getting along with others.  If we push the boundaries of ego, it doesn’t take long to move into the land of conceit and narcissism. Even at the highest levels of government, we are now seeing the rise of populism (and the decrease of tolerance).  

And let’s not forget our food addiction.  As of last year, the U.S. was the most obese nation in the world, just ahead of Mexico.  Our easy and quick availability to “food” makes it easy for us to overindulge. Yet the problem isn’t in our access to food, it’s us falling for the marketing ploys of those that sell the least-natural, least-nutritious kinds of food.  It’s not even that we don’t know better, rather we just don’t seem to care. That is, until we see our medical bills later in life. Until then, just a quick white lie that we aren’t that fat (or at least not the fattest) to get us through our day.

The remedy for gluttony is moderation.  Whether it be food, our thirst for more money, or need to be liked a lot, we can always take a step back and approach our desires with moderation.  Imagine eating just one plate instead of going back for seconds and thirds. Or perhaps we focus more on providing value and letting the money be the result, not the main goal.  And if we can learn to put other people first, we’ll find a whole line of people waiting to help us. Win-win is the only way, long-term.


Violet Beauregarde

Gum chewing’s fine when it’s once in a while.

It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile.

But it’s repulsive revolting and wrong.

Chewing and chewing all day long.

The way that a cow does

Oompa Loompa do-ba-dee-da,

Given good manners you will go far.

You will live in happiness too,

Like the oompa loompa do-ba-dee-doo.


Violet was a great example of how impactful our habits are, good or bad.  Statistically, 40% of what we do every day is done without conscious thought.  Whether it be our morning routine, what we do when we get to work, or the route we take coming home from work, much of what we do is a habit.  This means that we don’t do it by choice, we do it by memory. But if we’re not choosing, who is?

Habits are often formed from a young age.  We spend the first 18 years of our life, more or less, being told what to do.  So we do it, else risk disappointment and punishment. After years of that type of behavior modification, it shouldn’t be any wonder that we become rather set in our ways as an adult.  The big risk here is that we’ve inherited habits from those whose own habits may not be doing them any good, or the reason for doing something has become outdated. My grandparents, who always enjoyed at least an 8% savings account return, trained me to put money in the bank.  The only problem is that my return is near zero and it’s not turning into such a great investment.

Habits can be good or bad. Some of them are helping you to succeed, build wealth, and have a wonderful life.  Some are not helping or even hurting your quality of life. And some are innocuous, like which side of the bed you wake up on (doesn’t matter as long as you wake up, right?)  The key is to recognize the good ones from the bad ones. What if we were to stop every now and then and ask, “Why am I doing this right now?” Or even better, write down what you are doing every 15 minutes of any given day.  Go back and rate each 15 minute block as “building a quality life” or “not building a quality life”. You might be surprised at the results

The good news is that habits can be changed.  The first step to any change is awareness. Somehow, some way, we must become aware of what we are doing.  Once we aware, we can determine whether or not to keep the habit. If we must relinquish it, it may be best to replace it with something better.  For example, if we wish to quit smoking, it would be better to replace our smoke break with a quick walk around the block than to just sit there and not smoke.


Veruca Salt

Who do you blame when your kid is a brat

Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat?

Blaming the kids is a lion of shame

You know exactly who’s to blame:

The mother and the father!

Oompa Loompa doompadee dah

If you’re not spoiled then you will go far

You will live in happiness too

Like the Oompa Loompa doompadee do

Oh, where to begin here! Veruca shows us exactly what happen when we get everything we’ve ever wanted.  We turn into an ungrateful terror in which nobody wants to be around. This goes far deeper than just a spoiled kid, it’s a mirror representation of the parents.  We all want our kids to be and do better than us, but it is our responsibility to teach them as much as possible about life, business, and success. This is called parenting.  While incorrectly used to mean that we birthed a child, parenting is an action verb to describe how a child should be raised. Having a child doesn’t make us any more of a parent than owning an airplane makes us a pilot.

Being spoiled is a disservice.  Kids are designed by nature to compete and win, but if we take away the competition and just give them the win, we are violating natural order and our kids will suffer the rest of their lives.  Many times, parents want approval from their kids instead of respect from them. This creates a model whereby we end up being their friend and are then unable to discipline them. Then again, most adults are unsuccessful in self-discipline, so it becomes that much more difficult to do so for others, including their children.

A spoiled kid is an ungrateful one.  Gratitude is always the best attitude.  When we are grateful, we can be both satisfied with what we have and still have the drive to do more.  We are open to sharing with others and building a better life for ourselves. And if we’re in a first world country and can debate this topic at all, we should be grateful.  Helen Keller said she once pitied the man with no shoes until she met the man with no feet. It’s humbling to have gratitude and it keeps everything in perspective.

The good news is as adult child-creators, we can begin to parent our kids any time.  We don’t have to box them in, rather we can start with the important things. Ethics and morals are surprisingly universal and can be a great starting point and foundation for them.  It may not be easy at first and there may be tears and yelling, but if we can stay strong, we’ll quite literally be saving their lives.


Mike Teavee

What do you get from a glut of TV?

A pain in the neck and an IQ of three

Why don’t you try simply reading a book?

Or could you just not bear to look?

You’ll get no

You’ll get no

You’ll get no

You’ll get no

You’ll get no commercials

Oompa Loompa Doompadee Dah

If you’re not greedy you will go far

You will live in happiness too

Like the Oompa

Oompa Loompa doompadee do (doompadee do)


Good ole’ Mike.  Only ever had a TV dinner!   A classic example of distraction at its finest.  Distraction is all around us in society. It keeps us from seeing opportunities, it takes our mind off our problems, and it often doesn’t ensures that we’re no longer growing as a person.  Sounds wonderful, no? Most people tiptoe through life hoping to make it safely to death. Their main vehicle is that of distraction whether it be TV, radio, video games, social media, or anything else that keeps them from winning.

Distractions have a certain lure about them.  They often are shiny and fun and while they provide no real value, they help us kill time.  If we can admit that time is life (neither one can we get any more than what we have), then what we’re really doing is killing life.  Our life. Just on the surface, that sounds cruel. Why would we do that to ourselves? Strangely enough, many would rather slowly die on the easy path than put effort to working hard.  The caveat is that either way life will be hard. It will be hard now or hard later. When is up to us.

Distractions also typically don’t help us learn and grow as a person.  Arguably, they actually detract from our ability to win. If you consider that we’re either growing or dying in life, then you can see if not the former, it must be the latter.  Just to be clear, we can do something fun that is good for us. If that’s the case, it’s not a distraction, rather a passion. And if you can earn money doing it, by all means keep going.  It’s the downward spiral of inactivity of the body and brain that leads to further inactivity until we’re just a pile of you-know-what in a chair.

Finally, distractions are a classic and important tool for marketers.  You will absolutely get commercials in any given distraction. Consider anything you do to kill time and see if you can spot the banner, commercial, product placement, or partner company.  It’s a game that marketers like to call Gotcha! They have your attention guaranteed. Now for these messages….


The good news in all of this is that Willy Wonka is more than just a fictional character.  It’s slightly sad that we must use him and his friends to open our eyes to life, but it’s better than continuing on a course that isn’t going to get us where we truly want to go.   Just start with a little bit of pure imagination, put it in writing, and the golden ticket will be yours.


“If the good lord intended us to walk, he would never have invented roller skates.”

Willy Wonka


I appreciate each of you.  Please share this with any movie aficionado you know.  It just might save their life. We’ll take the Wonkavator to the top cause the bottom’s much too crowded.

Joshua Zepess



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