Social Icons


Monday, January 30, 2017

Family Matters

Two things happened last week that reminded me of an important concept. The concept of family.

On Tuesday, our company gave a live presentation to a major property management firm. For the first time ever, instead of going it alone, I took four members of our sales team to help me make the presentation. (I think I was more nervous about speaking in front of my sales team than I was about speaking in front of a large group of customers.) Our plan was that I would make opening remarks, the rest of the team would chip in with the different benefits and services we offer, and then I would close. We even had a detailed PowerPoint to help tell our “story”.  But at the last minute, I decided that our “story” should wrap around the concept of family, that we are a family owned business, we treat our employees like family, we treat our vendors like family, and that if this group would give us a chance… we would treat them like family too.

On Saturday, my own personal family got together for a fun night out. My wife and I, along with three of our children and their significant others, met at “T-Spoons” in San Juan Capistrano for a cooking class. It’s a fun place where you learn to cook while you drink wine and socialize…and then to top it off, you get to eat a great meal together. Half way through the event a thought occurred to me. I am very blessed that my adult children enjoy spending time together and even more blessed that they are willing to include my wife and I in some of their group outings. I guess you could say our family is tight because we do actually treat each other like family.

I think Tuesday’s presentation went well because we’ve already started getting business from it and I think the “T-Spoons” cooking class also went well because everyone definitely had fun and a full stomach when we left. So at this point in my life, I recognize that I am blessed to have a great family and by that I mean, 4 kids, 6 grandkids, 14 employees, 110 vendors, 750 customers and dozens of close friends. To me, they are all family and worthy of my love and respect… and I should never take any of them for granted.

On Sunday, I still had family on my mind when I saw a man walking down Beach Road. There was a little boy walking next to him with his tiny little fist clenched tightly to his Daddy’s big hand and it was obvious he felt safe and happy. All of a sudden the man swooped the little boy up into his arms and said something to him. Then he gave him a big kiss and set him back down on the sidewalk. It was an obvious expression of love and maybe it was also God’s way of reminding me that it only takes two people to create a family… and more importantly that even if we don’t have family or a father here on earth… we will always have a heavenly father and be a part of His family forever. 

You don’t get to choose your family. 
They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
~ Desmond Tutu 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Thank You For Your Service

Recently I played golf with a buddy and we got paired up with two young men in their early 20’s. They were both good golfers and I could also tell they were very close friends by the way they constantly ribbed each other. As I often do when I meet new people, I asked them what they did for a living. Practically in unison they answered, “We’re United States Marines, sir. Infantrymen.”

Since I was raised in a Marine Corps family, I have great respect for all our service men and women, so I responded immediately. “Well then let me thank you both for your service.” They smiled at my small gesture of gratitude but at the same time I felt sad inside that these two men, who were so nice and so young, would soon be putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us. Saying, “Thank you” is nice, but on my way home I just kept thinking that I, in fact all of us, should do more to show our appreciation.

As I drove home I heard a story on the radio that reinforced my thinking. It was about a long-time San Diego Police Officer and how he found a unique way to show his appreciation for our military personnel. He was working in the San Diego Harbor area last weekend when he noticed a mini-van parked near the water’s edge. A young woman with two small children stood nearby. The children were only 2 and 4 years old and both were waving furiously as a large military ship motored slowly out of the harbor. The kids were screaming, “By Daddy, we love you”, over and over again. For a police officer who has seen so much unkindness over the years, this was a touching moment. He drove his police vehicle over next to the family and offered the children his microphone so they could amplify their farewell wishes to their Daddy. There is no way to know if their father heard them, but that’s not the point. Police Officers, Firemen and Military Personnel all put their lives on the line everyday to protect the rest of us and while we typically think of them of them as toughened, hard-nosed characters, the truth is quite the opposite. To be willing to sacrifice your own life for others is the ultimate sacrifice and truly models the heart of Jesus.

On Friday I was still thinking about that San Diego Policeman when I caught a little bit of the Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies on TV. I am not a huge fan of Donald Trump (although I do have high hopes for his success) but the main reason I watched is because I enjoy seeing the top-ranking members of our government surrounded by every division of our military at the beautiful US Capital Building in Washington, DC. The pomp and circumstance is awesome and it reminds millions of us that we live in the greatest country in the world, a country filled with people who are willing to sacrifice for others. I know Donald Trump’s theme is to “Make America Great Again”. But if you ask me or any cop, firemen or military person, I think we would all agree that he should change that wording to be “Keep America Great!”
This, then, is the state of the union: Free and restless, growing and full of hope. 
So it was in the beginning, so it shall always be, 
while God is willing and we are strong enough to keep the faith.
~ President Lyndon B. Johnson

Monday, January 9, 2017

Forever Impression

I’ve been driving a truck since I was 16 years old and I always will. I guess it just fits my personality because owning a truck enables me to do so much more than I can with a car… and it was early on in my life that I learned that doing more... truly can make a difference.

In 1969 my parents had a small avocado grove in Fallbrook, California and I helped them take care of it even though I was only 14 years old. Our neighbor to the north had a much larger avocado grove that covered 28 acres and he hired migrant workers from Mexico to help him with irrigation, picking and pruning every year. The same four men showed up every season and just about every penny they earned they sent back to their families in Mexico. One man in particular, I will never forget. His name was Paco.

Paco spoke a little bit of English, and I spoke a little bit of Spanish, and somehow we connected. He and his crew would work 10 hour days, 7 days a week, for months at a time and if our family had any food left over, I would take it to share with them. They would be so grateful and Paco always had the biggest smile of all! When I told him my dream was to buy a truck someday, he offered to let me work with him. His rancher boss agreed and for 6 days a week all summer, 10 hours a day, I worked alongside Paco pruning massive avocado trees. I got tired and sometimes went home early, but not Paco, he had a family to feed. Even though I was just a teen-ager I picked up on the “work ethic” that Paco and his crew embodied. They worked hard every day, rain or shine, and never complained. I remember the rancher telling me they were only supposed to work 5 days a week, but their families were poor, so they worked extra hard to earn as much as possible.

One day, working way up high in a tree, I sliced a deep gash into my leg with a tree-saw. I cried out for help and Paco came running. He climbed up the tree, helped me down, and wrapped my leg with his bandana. He then carried me a half mile back to my house so my Mom could take me to the doctor. Around 6pm that evening I called the Rancher to tell him what happened, but he already knew. In fact, he said Paco was still working past dark to make up for the time he missed carrying me home. That left a huge impression on me that has motivated me many times in my life, to always work hard and always go the extra mile.

With the money I earned that summer I wasn’t able to afford a truck but I did buy a motorcycle, which I used to get back and forth to school every day. I was proud of earning the money myself and grateful for the life lessons my friend Paco taught me. However, the very next year, only three men came to work at our neighbor’s ranch. Paco was not with them. When I asked what happened to Paco, they said he was bitten by a rattle snake crossing the border and died a few days later. The news of Paco’s death hit me hard, really hard, which I guess was just another lesson to be learned. Life does not last forever, but certain people can leave a “forever impression” on us. 
Hard work spotlights the character of people. Some turn up their sleeves, 
some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.
~ Sam Ewing

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Only True Shelter

I woke up early on the morning of New Year’s Day to the sound of raindrops splashing outside my window. My wife was still sleeping, so I walked ever so quietly past the kitchen towards the sliding glass doors that face the ocean. As I opened the doors and peered out, the sun was not quite up yet so the sky was still dark and the ocean a dreary dull gray. The rain was slowly dripping off the roof line creating a gloomy image in stark contrast to the normally beautiful blue ocean view we are blessed with.

Standing there, looking out at the depressing cold gray view, I found myself wishing that it wasn’t raining, that it wasn’t cold, and that it wasn’t winter time. I admit I’ve never liked rain. When it rains, I can’t play golf, I can’t play baseball, I can’t jog, paddle board or ride my bike. It even makes going to work difficult because as I’m sure you are aware, nobody in Southern California can drive properly when it rains. But as I stood there grumbling about the weather and wishing the rain would stop, I realized I was being selfish. We need this rain to help offset the terrible drought we have had for such a long time. So while it might not be good for me personally, it is good for all of us in the big scheme of things.

You know that old saying, “Into every life a little rain must fall”. Well I don’t think that old saying is really about rain. I think it’s about all the different struggles we face in life and how we truly need those problems to shape us and mold us into a stronger, better version of ourselves, where our faith is tested and hopefully proven. So as I’m standing there staring out at the rain, I thought about how it’s a brand new year and a chance for me to make a fresh start to become the best person I can be. I immediately changed my attitude and decided I should go for a bike ride despite the rain. I just need to put on a helmet, or a hat, or a coat with a hoodie. Or better yet, I’ll mount an umbrella onto my handlebars and if the rain gets too bad, I’ll just find shelter and wait it out. And that’s when it hit me. The only true shelter in life is faith! And if we have faith we can face any storm, any struggle, any time, any where!

Adversity is like a strong storm. It tears away from us all but the things 
that cannot be torn, so that we may see ourselves as we really are. 
~ Arthur Golden