The neighborhood kids had congregated in the front yard when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting on the front seat was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties.

"They use him to keep the crowds back when they go to a fire," said a 5-year-old girl.

"No," said another, "they carry him for good luck."

The third, a boy about 6, brought the argument to an abrupt end when he said, "They use the dog to find the fire hydrant."

Everyone has a purpose in life.

My friend Brandon Steiner, who runs Steiner Sports, one of the country's largest sports memorabilia companies, has written a book, "Living on Purpose," that should be required reading for every young person starting out in a career. Brandon shares remarkable insights into how to win at the game of life when business success isn't enough.

Brandon had worked hard his entire life and sold his company in 2000 for more money than he had ever dreamed of. But he wasn't happy. He was emotionally bankrupt. His health deteriorated, as did his friendships.

It took a few years, and with the help of some trusting friends, Brandon became a better husband and father, bought his company back and started getting more involved in charity work. He sought to leave a legacy.

In his book, Brandon details some of his journeys, such as learning about faith from New York Yankees great Mariano Rivera, getting tips on how to deal with fear from WNBA star Brittney Sykes, getting his "Jerry Maguire moment" with football star Ottis Anderson and helping baseball great Alex Rodriguez, who sought redemption.

Not all of his stories are about sports stars, though. He talks about motivational guru Brendon Burchard teaching him about the qualities of extraordinary people: not being afraid to ask for help, collaborating with other talented, committed people and always measuring results.

Brandon also delves into a topic I care greatly about — relationships.

He asks himself four key questions that help him take inventory of his relationships:

1. Do I trust you?

2. Do I really know you?

3. Do you understand me?

4. Are you what's best for me?

"You want people in your life who are smart, kind, loyal and reliable," Brandon writes. Above all, he looks for loyalty in people.

Brandon starts each day with an MVP list — Most Valuable Priorities. This helps him keep his agenda in check. Just as important, he recommends that you make a "Not-To-Do List," filled with time-wasting or bad habits. This will save you a tremendous amount of time.

Discovering your own purpose starts with two basic questions:

What do you do best? Focus on what you do well in your professional life, but don't ignore what you like to do. This is not an exercise in setting goals or plotting a career path.

What do you enjoy doing that helps other people? Getting outside of your own interests can lead to a more fulfilling life.

Mackay's Moral: The best life is one lived with purpose — on purpose.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail