I was citing my father. I will be 59 in a week. My dad died in 1994. I don’t recall ever, not when he was alive and not since he’s passed, that I ever used a story about my father to motivate anyone to do anything. Yet here I was, at the LaunchHouse Bootstrap Ball, talking to a couple of high school aged budding entrepreneurs about my father’s greatest asset, how he came alive behind the diamond counter. And everything I said was 100% true.
Owning a business should never be confused with having a job. The opportunity to choose what you do, how you do it, and who you do it with are the hallmarks of being the boss, of being in control. Money? You might make more money being self-employed or as the owner of the business. You might not. Money isn’t the constant. Risk is. And with risk comes the possibility of reward. But reward isn’t necessarily financial. If you really love what you do and you are able to find happiness in your accomplishments, the money is secondary. The money is the bonus. The joy comes from what you do and the money is simply another benefit.
My father didn’t buy into any of that. He was risk aversive. He always knew the plot of land or the building he should have purchased. But Jerry Cunix could sell jewelry. Watches and necklaces? No problem. But diamonds really got his attention. I had the pleasure of watching him meet with countless couples and individuals as he sat behind the diamond counter practicing his craft. He served as the manager of jewelry stores in Canton, Akron and Youngstown Ohio. Never the owner. The manager. His stake in his store’s success was limited to being able to retain his job and a miniscule percent of the sales. He made his employers a lot of money.
Back to the story – my dad so loved the process, the meeting with the diamond salesmen, creating designs, selling the unique and the ordinary, that he created his own signature piece, a tie tack of a hand holding a diamond.
“Mr. Jerry, I’ve never seen anything like that! Can I buy that from you?” My dad would hem and haw for a second as he would explain how he designed the piece and had it made up for him, and then would take it off and walk them to the register. Once the customer left the store, my dad would open the drawer and take out another of his special tie tacks and put it on. It was all true. He just forgot to mention that he had a bunch of these made. Did his employer appreciate his initiative? Don’t be silly. But little moments like this gave him great joy.
It is that joy that I wanted to share with these young guys. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Everyone knows how much I love doing what I do. I needed a different example last night. Not just for them, but for me, too.