As I sit here over the last few days of the year, I continuously evaluate many aspects of my life. Am I where I am supposed to be in life? Am I in the right spot career wise? Where will I be in 20 years, or most importantly, where do I want to be? Am I doing what makes me happy? Does my family, and most importantly, my kids feel loved and appreciated as well as given the attention they deserve? Do the people around me respect and understand me? Am I leading the company to the best of my ability? Maybe as we approach the age of 40, this is normal, or perhaps realization sets within as we grow older, and we question many things in life. I believe that sometimes it takes pulling back some to progress forward.
While I could write an autobiography on this, I will keep it simple. For the last 22 years, I have been in the Brothers Produce circle. I will never forget the smells of onions and potatoes as a kid pulling onto the produce market in the early '80s. It always reminded me of reading Canary Row, except my version would be called Produce Row. I remember always looking forward to being woke up at 430 am to spend my summer vacations working with dad. The time I have gotten to spend with my family is priceless, and nothing can ever take that away from me. I have been so thankful a generation later to see my girls do the same with me. I went from selling watermelons on the dock as an eight-year-old kid to becoming the face of the Brothers Produce brand, quite a bit has happened over the years. I always said that my father and my uncle built a company with just a few thousand dollars, two trucks, and a lot of heart, and I was able to turn that into a nationally recognized brand. It is because of them I had the opportunity to be placed inside this nucleus of the Brothers Produce nucleus. As a kid growing up I was basically a soup mix composed of all the iconic industry leaders always around me who helped mold me into who the person and leader I became today. From the sweeping docks to driving the trucks, to adding sales, to purchasing, and eventually leadership, I experienced the proper transition, and I believe every young leader should go through. I can not thank my dad enough for helping promote me correctly on this path.
When I evaluate all the types of leaders in business, I believe that I have become a servant leader. This type of leader is not for everyone or everything, and in most cases, while building an unbelievable level of respect and following, it can take its toll on others who do not buy into the system. Many of the best brands in the world follow this style of leadership. It takes a particular type of culture and organization to support this. One thing I am confident of is that I do not lack charisma. Charisma is the ability to influence without logic. People may not even remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
There are no words to express how thankful I have been for the opportunity, the skills I learned, and the experience I have gained all these years while working with my family. I know that even though in my mind, I am seeking a change of direction in my role, it will be for the best. We often enter forks in the road, but I am confident that I will find a way through mine and come out for the best of the brand and myself. I know that all these things I have learned over the years will be a great asset to use not just in the future, but in all other areas of my life. A family business can be a blessing, but it can also bring upon stress that can also create a family divide. God gives us one family, and we must do whatever we can to ensure the bonds and love within our family remain strong no matter what. While I am not walking away, it does sadden me to take a slight step back; however, in doing so, I know that I can keep my family bond healthy as well as use my strengths to benefit the company and myself even better. Sometimes to rise and move forward, we must take a slight step back to reevaluate things. While I know that it appears I am stepping off the gas some, I assure you I and Brothers Produce will become stronger than ever in this transition. I must follow my heart and reach for my dreams and what is best for the company.
Here is a couple of thoughts as I step back, regroup, find the next stage. I leave lessons below for you all to know which have been helpful lessons to me that I have lived and try to lead by.
Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be or how much you can love. What you can accomplish and what your potential is. A courageous leader will foster loyalty, often leading teams through changes with optimism and inspiration. Courage to believe in yourself can often overshadow failure.
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Enjoy and encourage the success of others. A confident leader shares success.
If you hire only those people you understand, the company will never get people better than you are. Always remember that you often find outstanding people among those you don't particularly agree with. Diversity will thrive under leaders who seek new thoughts and perspectives everywhere they look.
"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
To be a CEO is not an easy task, and I want to give special thanks to the people who had the most influence me to help prepare me to be one. It was several people but most importantly the ones below who helped mold me into who I am today.
The following are non-industry influencers who have impacted my career. It was these people where I feel many of the the ideas to add a creative side of the things came from. If you evaluate our brand, I believe it is clear to see how these great minds below influenced my vision.
Lastly, and again this is not a goodbye for me at Brothers Produce, and I am sorry that it was perceived or sounds that way. It is just a slight refocus break in which I will be in more of a non-executive role focusing on what I feel are my strengths. I also want to thank every employee who currently and has worked for me and works for Brothers Produce. It is because of all of you that Brothers Produce became the best brand in the produce industry.