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Archive for February 8th, 2009

 My father was the most passionate businessman I have ever known. I had the opportunity to work with him at an early age and it was those years, working with my father, that no doubt shaped many of my own business principles as I grew older and eventually began a corporate career.

My father gave me many gifts during his life, but perhaps none as meaningful as those days, when we worked together during a period of several years through the 1960’s. By working with my father in southwestern Arizona, on the Papago Indian reservation, in mining towns like Ajo and tourist traps like Gila Bend, I was provided a glimpse of a world that was teetering along a path to modernity, while still firmly planted in the shadow of a frontier.

On narrow two lane and often deserted highways in southern Arizona and on dirt roads in Harquahala Valley, my father taught me to drive at the age of ten. For several summers, we would wave goodbye to my mother at 5:00 am on a Tuesday morning and roll out of Phoenix heading south, in a truck filled with candy, salted snacks and potato chips, returning home late on Wednesday evenings with an empty truck and a few new tales. 

In the hours between our departure and our return, we would wind our way along some of the most remote areas of the country where we would stop at trading posts on reservations and numerous bars, stores and service stations along our nearly 400 mile trek. My father would be selling all along the way.

 He would plan each sale and bound out of the truck greeting each customer with an unsurpassed enthusiasm, leaving with an infectious laugh whose echo still lingers. He would set sales goals for himself and each week seek to improve his performance. Some days he would challenge me as we each worked a different side of the street to see who could sell the most of a featured product. He always won.

In time, he would leave the Arizona roads behind and head north to Colorado where, with the help of my mother, he would build a successful business before retiring and returning to Arizona. My father was a great believer in and advocate of the power of self confidence and positive thinking. He was also intensely competitive and relished any opportunity to demonstrate his unsurpassed sales skills.

He was a kind and sensitive man who set the bar high and taught me focus, discipline and the importance of execution for which I will be forever thankful. As I think of him now, I am reminded of a community we would visit outside of Buckeye, Arizona.

 It was a clapboard, shanty shack, solely black community, with a few tiny stores scattered along the two or three dirt roads that comprised the town. The people in the community were poor and black. Visitors to the town were few. My father discovered the town one morning by following the dirt road that led to it. He then went methodically door to door until he was directed to the few “stores” that existed in Allenville at that time and he began to sell. He was viewed as suspect at first, but in typical form he returned week after week, calling on the Allenville merchants and winning them over with that infectious laugh and providing an indelible memory for me.

Today is my fathers birthday. He would be 80. I miss him. Happy Birthday Dad. 

 

A  MOURNING IN JANUARY                                                                                                

Where are the dirt roads?

In my youth

many

did I walk

alone 

eyes waking to sun

sometimes clouded

a vision of self

proclaiming

thoughts

clear crisp precise 

like the morning

random rolling along

dirt and gravel beneath me

comfort sought in

confidence

that I am

free to wonder

free to wander

while still  

breathing

the air

of my

Father  …………………………………………

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