Warning – This post is not about home remodeling. It’s about reflecting and being thankful for today.
I’m so excited for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. Our dinner includes my sister in laws world famous (OK – I’m exaggerating, but not by much) Greek-style chestnut stuffing. In fact, I don’t let her in the house until she turns the stuffing over to ME! My sister Venera makes a killer classic cheesecake. My brother in law Gulio’s takes control of two fried turkeys (he resembles a master scientist in his meticulous cooking process). And I can’t forget Rose making my (almost) brother in laws Mark’s favorite – baked brie with cranberries on the top. Yum!
There will be laughter. Lots of laughter.
There will be candles burning and a table setting fit for a King and Queen (no King and Queen have shown up yet…maybe this year).
After dinner I will be manning my “battle station” (AKA the kitchen sink) along with Mark. We will be hand washing the fancy stem wear and huge platters which only come out on special occasions. I love doing this job (yes – I’m weird). The kids (note: these “kids” range between 15 years old and 29 years old now) will be playing Candy Land (a fun traditional my daughter Jade looks forward to).
While all this food, family camaraderie and cheer are fantastic – this IS NOT what Thanksgiving is about to me.
Thanksgiving for me is about reflection. Reflecting on my too-many-too-count blessings. As someone reading this post you are part of these blessing as well – even if I’ve never met you before yet (read on to find out why).
I hope my blessings (I’m an eternally optimistic glass-half-full guy) help you find good things to embrace in your life today (even if you’re going through tough times).
Thankful for the gift of faith
I didn’t grow up “in the church.” As a matter of fact, when we used to attend church as a little kid my sister was embarrassed by me because I fainted on more than one occasion (now that’s a kid motivated to be in church).
My connection to faith began by watching how two of my business friends (Bill Ryan and Phil Fogarty) went about living, loving and running their businesses. I respect them greatly. They embody the character of what it should be to be a Christian. I wanted to be more like them. I bought and cracked open a Leadership Bible (yes – it’s funny that most of my life is wrapped around business and leadership – even my faith). I started reading Proverbs and Philippians (they are still two of my favorite chapters in the Bible).
I was introduced to what a church could be – an inspirational place to learn and grow in your faith – by close friends Karen and Gary Wimer. I understand I’ve been given a gift (of faith) I didn’t earn and can’t pay back. With this being said – I can pay this gift forward by being love and showing love to others.
It’s helpful for me to remain grounded in my faith which is certainly helped by the examples of 2 pastors in our family – Franco Foti and Jeff Wise.
Thankful for the gift of family
I have a weird family. There it is, I’ve put it out there. Yes – we are weird because we don’t have judgmental people who tell each other what they “should” be doing. We have a family who understands love is sacrificial.
Love is not convenient – in fact in most cases it’s inconvenient. Love is my sister in law tearing up when she visited me before my second heart operation. Love is my wife Rose looking out for everyone in our family (so much caring and so much love in one person!). We have a family who “shows” up no matter what. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, hospital visits and even our Cousins Christmas party (about 30 mostly crazy Italians in one place).
Love is also about fun and being wacky (at least to me). My kids know this saying I’ve told them for years, “You don’t choose your parents, you’re stuck with them.” They know they are stuck with me (and my wackiness) and Rose. Despite our faults – they know we love them unconditionally. We love them even when we’re not delivering the message in a way which will win awards on Parents Digest (if there is such a publication).
Thankful for my Dad still WOW-ing me today (i.e. his Words of Wisdom ringing in my head)
My Dad passed away in 1989. He was 59 years old. He seemed old to me at the time. Today – he doesn’t seem as old since I’m 57 (although I don’t look a day over 77).
With this being said in his 59 years of life my Dad’s words still ring true in my mind. One of Dad’s quotes which guides my life to this day is when he said, “Mike, an ounce of perseverance is worth a pound of genius, and in this family, we ain’t got no genius – so we’ve got to work our butt off.”
What I don’t have in brains I am determined to make up for in effort.
My Dad loved to learn. This love of learning drives me EVERY DAY. I run around my basement for an hour and read (while running – yes this is crazy) and posting to social media. Why do I do this? It’s my quest to get smarter, to share what I’m learning. I want to use whatever God given gifts I’ve been blessed with.
Dad, you’re not here physically – but I’m thankful you’re still in my heart (and in my head) every day.
Thankful for good friends
Good friends do things NO ONE else would do. How about Nancy Mannion spending countless hours visiting assisted living and memory care units for my Mother in Law? How many friends would do that? How about a business buddy of mine – Ray Tuminello – who always has my back and tries his darndest to help me? How about good friends like Gary and Karen who are there to help Rose and I deal with the ups and downs of raising kids.
Good friends inspire. I love how my friend Rosemarie Rossetti turned a challenging life event (she became paralyzed from the waist down after a 3-ton tree fell on her while bike riding with her husband) into teaching people how to live in their homes by designing around universal design principles. Rosemarie proves even when life throws you lemons – with the right attitude and desire you can make lemonade.
Good friends make you feel good about you. My friend Nancy Whetstone is such a person. She not only sees the good in others, but is not afraid to publicly let you know how special you are. Nancy is an encourager to the max.
Good friends also make good business partners. Who can say they’ve had a good friend and business partner and NEVER had one argument or disagreement in over 30 years of working together? Ron (Clelland) thanks for making Eastern Glass Block go (and having me along for the ride). Who would have known when I recruited you into Kappa Sigma Fraternity 38 years ago we’d still be hanging together this many years later?
The bottom line is good friends are there for you and there for others. I cannot have enough good friends.
Thankful for a cell phone and an Internet connection
This sounds oddly impersonal – but learning and growing are a huge blessing in my life. With an Internet connection and a desire to learn anyone can grow at any time of day. This is a truly a blessing for all of us in a developed country who can afford to own a cell phone with an Internet connection – if we use it for positive purposes.
Thankful for my co-workers and the opportunity to be their leader (and for them to lead me)
I believe God is intentional in the people he places into my life. I am blessed to have hard working people who put up with me. They put up with my ADD-like stream of consciousness ideas which are too many to be completed – even if they worked 24/7. They put up with my not-so-great listening skills (Rose says I have the listening skills of a guy – and that’s not a good thing). There are countless examples of them helping customers and fellow coworkers without anyone having to ask (much less demand) they take initiative to assist (I’ve got one guy who volunteered to work this Sunday just to finish up a job so we aren’t behind going into next week).
They are not good people because of me. They are good people because they are people of character who love others. In business it’s all about love (as strange as that sounds to some). It’s not about profit first. It’s about loving and caring for others and being of value – then profits follow.
Thankful I was born into an entrepreneurial family
I grew up as a version of Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties. As a high-schooler I would watch Louis Rukeyser on Wall Street Week. What a total business geek I was – and still am today!
When I look at why I evolved into this business geek it comes back to my Dad and Uncle Sam. As Italian immigrants they came to the United States with desire, passion and a willingness to pursue the American dream. They would earn their GED’s. They would serve this country. They would start businesses and shows their kids the value of hard work, ingenuity and using their God-given talent.
Entrepreneurship is in our blood. My brother runs a shipbuilding and ship repair company (Vigor Industrial) with over 1,900 people. My cousin Frank leads (and he uses the Italian title from the Godfather, Il Padrino – or CEO for the rest of us) The Telos Alliance and is a brilliant inventory of audio processing equipment for radio stations. My cousins Sammy, Anthony and Anne Marie team up at Hose Master (a business my Uncle Sam started) and are taking it to the next level.
Although it’s impressive what my cousins and brother have achieved – to me what is more impressive is how they lead their businesses. They have heart, compassion and a care for the team responsible for their success.
Thankful for YOU – even if I haven’t met you (digitally or in person) yet
This blog (and my second blog Professionally Organized) have been a labor (and yes blogging is a ton of work) of love. But the coolest thing about it is YOU. I have been so blessed to now have more 50,000 people show up at this blog every month (this is twice as many as last year and continues to grow). We communicate weekly with you and over 13,000 email subscribers.
What is cool is I have not only been able to share what I’m learning with you – but you’ve taught me about cool products and processes in the remodeling marketplace (which help our company continue to innovate).
I’ve had the opportunity to work on crazy-cool projects like glass decking in a $16,000 per week vacation home rental in St. Thomas. I’ve seen customers stretch their DIY shower remodeling skills with some crazy-complex glass block shower designs and live (and share videos to tell about it). I’ve had customers share how their Dad’s words of wisdom pulled them through a bathroom remodeling project.
With all this being said, as much as I’ve worked hard to help you – you’ve given me back more than I could give you. I’ve had so many nice notes of appreciation. I’ve even had people sign their emails saying they were a “fan” of mine. Wow – now that’s crazy!
What it all boils down to
When I look at all the things I have to be thankful before this upcoming Thanksgiving it all crystalizes into one word. The word is
There cannot be thankfulness without love. There cannot be love without one another. Thanks for loving. I wish you and your family the best Thanksgiving EVER (say this word like a Valley Girl).
Now I’ve got more important things to do – my sister in-law Georgene’s chestnut stuffing awaits.
Thanks for reading this Thanksgiving post. If you’re not familiar with me I am Mike Foti (an over-the-top passionate remodeling and building material wholesale owner, professional speaker, fanatical blogger, crazy 1 hour a day runner and super fortunate guy with a family who actually gets along (most of the time). If you would like to connect with me check (or my businesses) follow on Twitter @Mike_Foti, @InnovateBuild, @InnovateHomeOrg.
If you need help with remodeling projects in Cleveland, Columbus or product supply anywhere in the country, please call the numbers below (shameless plug here).
Call Innovate Building Solutions in Cleveland at 216-658-1280, in Columbus 614-565-5888 or Nationwide 877-668-5888.
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