My lens of the world, the skills I posses, and the motivations I have are a byproduct of the people in my life, the knowledge I’ve gained, and the experiences I have. What I am going to do here is attempt to capture one key influence from people in my life and describe why it is so important to me.
- My Mom. As a teacher, she’s not only passionate about learning (so I definitely pick up some of that from her) but she has a gift she can’t really describe to take in a lot of information, but apply it to her classes to see if it works. By blending concepts she’s learned (academically) with “lets see what works and adjust it from there” attitudes in classrooms and teachers (practical); she’s had tremendous success in the education of many, many students. This is a gift in that she’s provided a blueprint to learning that is different than what I see happening with businesses and how they approach sales training, coaching, leadership development and change management.
- My Dad. With a masters in mathematics, my Dad worked on helping to calculate the re-entry windows for the Apollo space mission and then eventually was a sales manger for GE selling computer timeshares. One thing he always told me (but it has taken me years to really learn) is that math is a universal language. What that means to me to me now is that just as “English” as a language with rules that as we learn allows us to communicate ideas, math is the same. For me “English” is the way to ask questions to define a problem convey ideas or answers emotively. “Math” is the way to fully understand the problem and then provide the way to communicate those thoughts analytically.
- My Grandmother (Mom’s side). I’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD which means I’ve had it my whole life. It is very common for kids who have ADHD to develop self concept problems because most of the feedback you get is very negative (pay attention, stop misbehaving, etc). My grandmother was the one person who was best at seeing past my symptoms and look into my heart and highlight the good things about me. For this, I’ve learned to do that same to others. While a lot can get in the way of my relationships with people – I still can look past their own insecurities and doubt and see their inner good selves.
- My Grandfather (Dad’s side). An Italian immigrant who dropped out of school before he was 12 to help his family make ends meet – my grandfather was very proud to work his way up and on to the NY police force. He was passionate about life and had a zeal for it, but there were some things that would drive him nuts. One of them was the mafia. No matter where he was (Sicily, Little Italy in New York, or our house in Virginia) you were bound to hear it… for a long time and loudly. I think this is where I get my passions from injustice and my zeal. Oh, I also know it isn’t always a good thing -there can be a place and time for it – but, it help provides a fuel to my motivation engine.
- My Uncle Jim (Mom’s brother). From my vantage point, my Uncle represents every possible positive stereotype of a southerner rolled into one role model. In his youth he got into a lot of trouble “boys will be boys”, he’s got a lot of the same friends he had when he was in high school (extremely loyal), and he’s relatively defiant to “establishment” (government regulations and lawyers specifically). What’s more is that he’s a self made man who started as a mechanic then build up a farm, then a packing plant, and then creating a co-op.