There’s a story behind it – isn’t there always when it comes to me? And only a portion of it can be told – doesn’t that always seem to be the case with me? It’s complicated. I’m complicated. And damned proud of it.
Actually, I shed tears twice Monday night – the second tears were tears of anguish, of great sadness as I heard of the tragic violence in our country’s midsection. Take it from someone who knows – when your midsection ain’t working (and my often isn’t), nothing’s working.
But enough of that. This story is about the first tears, and it is tied inextricably to Thanksgiving and all the great things in my life right now.
I really like it when our anniversary falls on Thanksgiving, though it did cause at least one awkward visit with my family: We wanted to drive home after eating – at the time we only lived about an hour away from SoBo – instead of spending our anniversary night at my Mom’s.
But anyway, when Nov. 27 falls on Thanksgiving, it reminds just what I have that no one else does and why I should be as pleased about that as I am.
Why I’m so happy
A lot of things are going well right now – personally and professionally. I’ve mentioned Karen. But it’s so exciting to see the things going on with the rest of the family:
- My stepdaughter Lauren continues to not be satisfied with the status quo and look for new opportunities out of life. She’s going to find one that’s perfect for her – I just know it.
- My stepdaughter Nicki has come so far in such a short time. I don’t tell her enough how proud I am of the way she’s responded to setbacks that would have beaten other people.
- Austin is such an amazing dad (and Grace is a terrific mom) to Samuel. I’ve said it before, but he’s a much better father than I’ve been.
- Garrett is starting to see his potential. He’s looking at colleges and making plans and it excites me to see him explore just what he’s capable of.
- Samuel is such a sponge right now. Use a word in front of him and he latches onto it. He’s really bright and full of joy and tender and everything that’s right with the world.
My other family
I’ve mentioned before that I mentor two young women under a program for high-achieving undocumented students. A few words about them:
- Maria is a first-year student at High Point University. She only got all A’s on her first midterms. And in case you’re wondering, she’s taking Calculus, Chemistry, and Biology. Plus, Maria’s a better person than student. You should see her light up when she talks about her little sister, who faces some challenges but according to Maria is the “just the sweetest.” I can’t stress enough what a terrific young woman she is.
- And Vanessa. She’s in her second year at Meredith (but might actually be a junior – she had a ton of AP credits going in). Vanessa worked three jobs in high school to pay for her first year of college (combined with a scholarship she received from Meredith). Oh, did I mention that she contributed half the money she made to her mom to keep the family afloat. Including her little sister – Vanessa got up early every day in high school to make eggs for her sister, and she calls her nearly every day (if not every day) to make sure she stays on the right track. Vanessa has a 4.0 and is an unbelievable campus leader. Again, she’s a great student but a better person.
There is so much more I could tell you about these kids and the things they’ve overcome and how proud of them I am and how proud I am of my boss for creating this program.
As a person who’s ‘over 35,’ I’ve bought a few cars in my time. Some new, some used. But I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy about buying a car as I was last Saturday. It’s not new, but it’s new to me. And it’s loaded – frankly, I don’t know how I ever got along without a backup camera! Here’s a photo:
Back to the tears
I haven’t forgotten about them. I just wanted to set up why I was so happy going into last Monday when I got to the office. I knew one good thing was going to happen – I didn’t know how good it would be. As with many aspects of my job, I can’t really talk about it. But it was – and will continue to be – a good thing.
So I was pretty happy already when, late in the afternoon, the co-founder of my company, Dan Feldstein, approached and asked if he could speak to me for a couple of minutes. Dan’s a nice guy – he once bought me soup in the cafe at the office – but I knew it was less a request than it sounded like. So I said sure.
Here’s what he wanted: He asked if I would be attending the next session of Red Ventures Business Reviews – an all-day meeting filled with 25 or so short presentations/discussions on what’s happening at the company – and whether I’d be interested in running it. I thought about a quarter second before the words exploded out of my mouth: “Absolutely and absolutely.” It means I’ll meet with senior leaders at the company to create and curate an agenda and try to keep each presentation on schedule.
My company taps different people to do this each month – typically it’s one of the up and coming young numbers analysts that make up a lot of the people who, like me, don’t belong to the sales side of the operation. I’ll be – by a pretty good margin – the oldest person to take on this challenge.
But there’s something else that will be different about me guiding this session. I am – to my knowledge – the first of our creatives to run Business Reviews. Which means I have a heavy responsibility not to mess it up!!! I felt beyond flattered to be chosen.
Karen and I talked at length about it Monday night. I kept trying to express how honored I felt, and it was difficult. Then I came up with the reason: I felt, maybe for the first time professionally, so appreciated.
And that’s why the tears came. They were tears of extreme joy.
It’s not often that a person finds his calling at age 54. I did.
I’m so thankful for all the great things in my life, and I can’t wait to put my stamp on my company.