Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking Back

I dove tailed a business trip to California last week with a couple of great experiences.

I got to spend the afternoon with my 95-year-0ld dad who lives in Northern California. Two of my three brothers live near dad, so we took him to dinner to celebrate his birthday (which is later this week). I always have a great time with my family and sometimes regret living 2000 miles away. But since I am not in California often, it is always a special gathering, even if it just means playing cards with the old man and going out to dinner.

The next day I flew to San Diego to attend the 25-year reunion of my college fraternity. I joined the SDSU chapter of Beta Theta Pi just a year after the national organization had granted a charter to the small colony at San Diego State. Thus I was still an early member. My role number in the chapter is #66.

During my five years at SDSU I was very fortunate to be active with the fraternity and watched it grow from a house with about 35 current members, to becoming one of the largest houses on campus during the late 1980s.

It was very much like being part of a "start up" in the beginning. We had limited resources compared to the fraternities who had been at the university for decades. We had no alumni over the age of 25, which mean our funding opportunities were also scarce. But we had heart, soul, dedication, and a keg in the back yard. I have spent much of my career working in or around "start up" companies, and I have always drawn on my experiences from helping grow the Beta House.... as we worked hard, had goals, made mistakes, corrected on the fly, reached success, and had fun along the way.

The reunion was a great experience. I had not seen some of these guys for nearly 20 years, yet it was amazing to understand the different paths people had chosen. There were lawyers, civil servants, law enforcement officers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, financial investors, entrepreneurs, etc... But nobody cared about career success... the three big questions were "where do you live?", "are you married?", and "do you have kids?". (What we all cared about was the kids!) Everyone looked great, and the common bonds of the times we shared seemed to matter to everyone in attendance.

There was a golf tournament, a banquet, and then a large tailgate party before the SDSU Homecoming Game (we lost to BYU... but it was a good game). Several of those who still live in Southern California contributed to planning the event (BIG THANK YOU to Fred, Barry, and Dave D) and people flew in from different parts of the country. Not everyone was there, and that made me sad, as I would have enjoyed having reconnected with more people.

Some people don't like reunions. They hesitate, for many reasons, on "looking backwards", but I always find power in attending this sort of event (high school reunions, family reunions, etc...). By looking back, at the good and the bad that has gone past, we discover pieces of our own puzzle. Every piece matters. This time in my life - and the people I shared it with - certainly matter to me.

I am the person I am today because of all those who impacted my life up to this point. Those who were part of my college years continue to shape me as I strive for the future. While we were young, carefree, sometimes dumb or silly..... we were friends..,, we are friends...we are brothers.

Have A Great Day.


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