Good friends make for good company, as well as a boost of energy. So it was with me the other day when friends of ours, Jerry and Mary, whom we had not seen in 17 years rolled into town. In moments the years peeled away and we caught up with life, kids and careers. And it is the latter – careers – that I want to focus on because Jerry and Mary have had more careers between them than most extended families put together. With them starting a new venture is second nature and I think worthy of exploration.
First, you need to know that Mary began her career as a nurse; she met Jerry while she was studying for the California Bar. Jerry was working in a hospital as a bio-medical photographer and cardiac technician, back before there was really such a thing. Mary subsequently went to work as corporate counsel for various companies where she spent more than 25 years. Jerry meanwhile started his own business producing multimedia shows; he later went into sales, everything from cars to businesses. And ten years ago they moved to a lovely beach town in Central California and started over again. They began in real estate and later bought a coffee shop, and now have the freedom to do pretty much as they please. Hence the long road trip across America.
Jerry and Mary to me epitomize what you can do when you put your mind to it. They don’t climb mountains – though Jerry has run marathons. They don’t invent new things – though Mary is an expert knitter with her own loom. They simply embrace life; they make things happen and in the process make life better for them and others. Here’s what I’ve learned from them.
Learn always. Mary has three degree – an M.B.A. to complement her nursing and law degrees. Jerry learns by doing – be it photography years ago to sales, marketing and business brokering. Their approach is to find something that interests them; learn about it, and then do it. That applies to hobbies as well as to careers. For them the challenge comes from learning and doing.
Share what you know. Jerry is a born teacher; ask him a question about anything he knows – carpentry, mechanics, or building a business and public speaking – and he will share what he knows gladly. And make you glad you asked him. His energy is boundless, like a cup of strong espresso. This sense of sharing led Jerry to write his first book on building a business, something he now teaches in seminars for trade associations across the country.
Sell it. How good a salesman is Jerry? Awhile back, he was brokering the sale of a coffee shop in their home town of Cambria. He asked Mary to attend his sales presentation. When they returned home Mary wanted to buy the coffee shop. So they did. They sold it four years later to the original prospect. Jerry’s gift is to believe in what you sell and make the deal real. His passion is tangible and makes his persuasion all the more compelling.
Have fun. Jerry and Mary know how to have fun. Their dinner parties are a hoot; Jerry is a gourmet cook and Mary a gracious host. This trip across the States is their opportunity to try out their 40-foot RV; I call it a poor man’s jet. Others may call it a rolling luxury condo. It is as self-contained as a Space Shuttle with food and supplies for any eventuality. Yes, the carbon foot print is heavy – 6 miles to the gallon (diesel) – but for them it is a way to maintain an office on the road as well see family and friends, and even motor to Jerry’s speaking events.
Jerry and Mary will conclude their trek across the nation sometime in late October. Then it’s back to California where Mary has plans for another venture, and Jerry is tweaking a new book. They will, however, have time for another road trip next year, even longer this time. Happy Trails!
John Baldoni • Leadership Expert: Executive Coach/Author/Speaker • Baldoni Consulting, LLC • www.johnbaldoni.com