This is me on graduation in 1997 from Clemson. From left to right, my mom – Linda, my Nana – Judy, me, my sister – Jennifer, and my Pop – Joe. My Pop the business man…the only thing that is not seen in this picture is my Pop’s cell phone, which he had close to him all the time. I remember he had the first mobile phone in his car in the 1980’s and it was a rotary phone…he was an innovative business man. He was the first realtor in Anderson to have a mobile phone. He and I have lots in common. We love technology and gadgets.
Today…on this Thanksgiving, I went up and sat for about an hour with my Pop. This is my grandfather…my mother’s father. He is in a rehabilitation home after a few trips to the hospital. I am the oldest grandchild and my mother is the oldest of her siblings. In a way, I am like a son to him.
As a business man, it is good to find someone whom you can call a mentor. One that you can sit down, share honest thoughts, and receive honest feedback. But when the talk is over, that positive feedback makes you want to get up and keep on moving ahead. My Pop was a self-employed business man..for most of his adult life. He grew-up in Spartanburg, son to a police officer who died when my Pop was a teenager. It was my Pop and his mother (my Granny) trudging through life for years. He went into the Marines and afterwards met my Mimi, my grandmother. She died when I was only four years old. He became a medical sales guy…then stepped away to tackle the world of real estate. My grandfather sold real estate here in the Anderson, SC area most of his adult life. He has probably sold the same house numerous times. His photographic memory of each house combined with his relationship building skills made him successful leader in this Anderson community.
Now during the later years of his life, I think he is beginning to reflect and share his wisdom. He has seen recessions, he has seen the real estate market flourish. He has had to balance an entrepreneur’s life with the life of a family that encompassed four children and tons of grandchildren. My oldest memories of Pop is going on a house showing with him, sitting in the car, then watching him guide the people (his clients) through the contractual process. He loved what he did. I am sure he loved selling real estate because the of the financial benefit of a sale, but most of all he loved dealing with people. He loved building relationships. He loved hearing stories from his clients, connection with people from different backgrounds, sharing relationships which led to sharing business. Relationships led to strong economic development in his opinion.
Each time I get to sit with Pop, we share stories. He loves to hear my stories of a new client, a new person I met, new ideas, and my vision for my business of tomorrow. He also wants to hear the struggles, the fear, the disappointments, and the challenges. He wants to keep it real, because business is not always about the pluses…it is about weathering the storms and finding positives in the challenges. He has had to endure the downswings, so he sees the value in sharing both sides…but finding ways to understand and move forward to a brighter tomorrow.
My Pop loves to be called my mentor. He is…in so many ways. I seek his wisdom, his advice, his thoughts, his laughs, his positive thinking…but most of all his approval. I want to do it right in his eyes.
Mentors are necessary in this world of business. Mentors bring perspective, bring wisdom, en-still positive thinking, and prepare us to move thoughtfully for a brighter tomorrow. Mentors are awesome…but they are even better when they are your grandfather! One who has found success in his passion…not just selling real estate but building wonderful relationships.
On this Thanksgiving 2010, I am thankful for my mentor…my Pop.