and unintended sources of learning and inspiration that have been part of my
lifeâ€™s journey! From errant cabdrivers,
fellow airline passengers, an aging â€œdancer,â€ and literally the list of unusual
sources of inspiration go on and on! Once
again, my list of â€œsources of inspirationâ€ expanded recently after a â€œchatâ€
with a Director of a Funeral Home in Bakersfield California.
Bakersfield. As the home of Bolthouse
Farms, I started working out of â€œBakoâ€ late in 2009 and have learned the â€œins
and outsâ€ of the town over the past few years. I have found my favorite Basque
restaurant (Noriegaâ€™s for sure), my favorite watering hole (The main bar at The
Padre Hotel), and my favorite breakfast spot, the 24th St.
CafÃ©. My typical routine is to get up
early and check in with my family back in Atlanta (usually around 5am local
time.) After the call, I hit the
pavement and get a walk in through the Westchester neighborhood of downtown
Bakersfield, and usually hit the 24th St. CafÃ© on my way to the
Bolthouse Farms plant on the east side of town.
It was earlier this month, that I crossed paths and shared an amazing
breakfast with the director of a major funeral home in Bakersfield.
ordered coffee, eggs and sourdough toast, and got caught up on email. Soon after a small, immaculately dressed older
gentleman came into the cafÃ© and found a stool two places down from me on the
counter. Dressed in a pressed black
suit, crisp white shirt and a red tie, he cut quite a figure that rainy
morning! After exchanging pleasantries
and a cheery â€œhappy new year,â€ he introduced himself (first name Ray),
describing that he was in his early 90â€™s and had been in the â€œmortuary
businessâ€ since he was a young man.
Asking about my business, I described my work at Bolthouse Farms and we
both complained about the amount of rain (too much) and its impact on all the
agriculture in the central valley of California (long term great, short term
very challenging). After ordering his
breakfast, Wheatena, brown sugar and coffee, he asked if I wanted to know the
â€œthree secrets of successâ€ of the funeral home business. Not your typical question at 6:30 in the
morning, at the counter of the 24th St. CafÃ©, but not missing a beat
I said an emphatic YES!
he held up three fingers and shared his â€œsecrets:â€
loved one, they have experienced a loss and possibly a tragedy and they were
weak and vulnerable and needed someone to â€œbe strongâ€ on their behalf.
home process was bewildering, foreign and at times scary, and his clients often
don’t have a clue what to do, thus they needed his â€œprofessional leadership.â€
by death and loss everyday, you were constantly reminded of the value of every
day. Ray said that even on the very bad
days, he reminded his staff how fortunate they all were to have the chance to
live another day, enjoy life another day, love those special to them for
another day, etc.
As I walked out of the cafÃ©, I wished Ray well, and thought about those three â€œsecretsâ€ and how deeply they
connected to my life today.
industries, all dealing with challenges and issues, I was tempted at times to
â€œget sucked intoâ€ the problems/issues facing their businesses. While I need to be empathetic, I need to â€œbe
strongâ€ and work hard to help my clientâ€™s organizations work hard to find
solutions/responses to their problems.
work across a number of clients. Whether
a global pharmaceutical company, a fledgling startup, or my old company, all of
my clients need me to bring all of my professional capabilities and experience
to bear on their projects/problems. Not
discounting the need and importance of building relationships in professional
settings, their primary need and expectation of my work was and is deeply
all across my life, since I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was a young
teenager. Life is precious and fragile,
and we have all lost loved ones who passed too early. I have written a number of essays of my
experiences with an old boss and friend, Bruce Paynter, and his battle with ALS
and his passing in the summer of 2009. (See more at http://ift.tt/2kg9sii).
just one more day, or one more week, and I remind myself not be casual and
cavalier with the possibilities and potential of one more healthy day. A very important daily reminder!
moment of inspiration! I hope that Rayâ€™s
â€œthree secrets of successâ€ ring true in some way for you and you can find a way
to apply them to your day-to-day work and life.
The next time you are in Bakersfield, try the 24th St.
cafÃ©. You definatetly won’t be
disappointed by the food and you never know who might be sitting at the counter