Six Lessons in Six Decades
I can’t believe the time has come but I recently turned the final marker of my 50s to the big “60”. I have to say that I’m proud to be here. I feel as though I’ve earned every grey hair. And, I’m in good company with those that have survived some of the most significant mile markers –Neil Armstrong taking a first step on the moon, the uprise of the personal computer, the demolishment of the Berlin Wall, and the most recent - inauguration of President Barack Obama, a new kind of visionary and the first African American to become our president – to name a few. It’s really overwhelming to think of how important these and other events occurring in my lifetime have been.
On an individual basis, we bring value through the insights gained from events that surround us. It seemed like good timing to share in a condensed version six (one for each decade) of some of the more important lessons I’ve learned. As you can imagine, in six decades one acquires many useful lessons and beyond what is practical to share here. The six I share will occur in separate entries along with a brief history or story showing some of why they are so important.
First Lesson: Family is the true foundation of our core. It supports us in everything we do.
I hold invaluable the quality values and work ethic I learned from my mother and father. Although their belief in a fanatical religion and my stand against its goofy leader has limited communication with them, I still love, care and appreciate my parents and other family members for all the quality lessons they helped me learn. I did come to realize however that I needed to pay priority attention to those I’d participated in bringing upon this earth, namely my own children. I am thankful every day for having come to this realization.
My birthday dinner this past weekend was a “Thanksgiving feast”, complete with the turkey and all the trimmings. It truly was a day of thanks for me because of the loved ones that surrounded me. The room was full with the chatter of some 25 young children (mostly grandchildren) of all ages plus most of my adult children and their spouses. As I reflect on the many untold stories that occur daily and throughout the years, in addition to the honor of being a father and grandfather to so many wonderful and talented humans, I feel like the most blessed (or lucky) guy in the world. I only hope that my teachings, and most importantly through living by example, that my bride Leenie and I can enable my children to also feel thankful for having learned quality values and a work ethic. And speaking of being thankful, I’m thankful for how Leenie makes all of my family members who choose to be with us feel so welcome.
Without family, Ultradent would not exist. It was because of my family coming together and working hard that Ultradent got off the ground. I believe to my bootstraps that when families work together, solving problems and driving through solutions which requires hard work, they grow stronger and many times closer. Furthermore, I often say that if you do nothing more than teach your children two things, namely quality values and a work ethic, they can become or obtain anything in life they choose. It is the family foundation that causes us to strive at Ultradent, albeit with over 800 employees, to maintain family values.
In a larger sense, history and contemporary evidence shows that small family businesses are fundamental to the health and quality of a free economy. Sadly, loosing sight of them, or causing their demise as probate taxes often does at the death of the founder(s) is one of the greatest “lost opportunities” that occurs in our country today. I hope I live to see this corrected in my lifetime and before turning the finale marker of my 60s.