Success: Is It Worth It? (Part 1)

“Seek not to follow in the footsteps of men of old; seek what they sought.” -Matsuo Basho

For years I’ve had a running debate with myself as to whether or not my dad’s success was worth the price he paid for it. The way I see it, he paid with his life to build a highly successful group of companies. My dad died at 64 years old— he didn’t even make it to “senior citizen” status. Our family paid a hefty price too.

When he died I experienced a strange multitude of emotions. I was glad that his long and painful struggle with a number of illnesses was finally over. I was upset that he could have prevented many of those illnesses by doing a few small and simple things differently— things like eating breakfast, getting more sleep, exercising regularly and visiting the doctor for routine checkups.

I was grateful that, despite his shortcomings, he’d lived his life honorably and in a way that we, his family, can be forever proud of. I remember feeling like a sort of cap had been put on his life— that the reputation he’d earned through his fairness, honesty, authenticity, loyalty, generosity and hard work could never be reversed or undone.

I was exasperated at the thought of ever measuring up to him or his accomplishments. I was sad that I would never have the close and loving relationship with him that I had missed out on as a child. I was angry at not having had that relationship and that it was now impossible. I was upset that he hadn’t taken better care of himself.

I was appreciative of his incredible vision, foresight and initiative to prepare my mom, my siblings and me, and the leaders of our company to carry on the good work that he started. And it has paid off— in the five years since he has been gone, our family business has experienced unprecedented growth and profitability. 

The last five years have given me a lot to think about, and many new perspectives.  

(To be continued…)


Why I Love Entrepreneurs

Larry H. Miller and the US flag from EnergySolutions Arena

Larry H. Miller and the US flag from EnergySolutions Arena

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their vision.” -Ayn Rand

I often think that entrepreneurs are an enhanced breed of human being. Just as vampires have heightened senses or superheroes possess superhuman strengths and abilities, entrepreneurs have unusual vision, unnatural fortitude, and a tolerance for risk, uncertainty and ambiguity that’s fascinating and inspiring.

Living well is an art, our lives are our masterpieces, and business is the ultimate creative medium. And entrepreneurs are the ultimate artists. Entrepreneurs show us that business, at its best, is where capital, creativity, hard work and passion combine in potentially limitless ways to positively impact the world.  

I was reminded of this today when I saw a gift that Paul Swenson, owner of Colonial Flag, gave our family. It was the US flag that flew from the rafters of the EnergySolutions Arena from the time the building opened in 1991 until June of 2013.

The flag was folded and framed, and accompanied by a photo of my (now deceased) dad with his hand over his heart during a National Anthem and a plaque that reads, “During that 22-year period more than 30 million guests looked to this flag, many with their hand on their hearts, during the National Anthem. No other US flag flown in Utah even comes close to having been the focus of patriotic expression as has this flag.”

I’m grateful to Paul for his thoughtful gift, for my dad and his indefatigable entrepreneurial drive, and to my mom for being his partner through all those years.

I’m also grateful for the freedoms of the United States that allow for the full expression of the entrepreneurial spirit, and to all who have served and sacrificed to ensure these freedoms exist.

And I’m grateful for the entrepreneurs who pursue their passions and visions despite innumerable and unforeseeable obstacles, and in so doing inspire, advance and serve all of us.

Live free and create!