My 30 day blogging journey is two-thirds complete and I have been amazed at the support, words of encouragement, and most importantly, the impact that I have made so far. Thank you to all of you who have read or engaged with my posts.
Since day 21 falls on a Sunday, a day to spend time with those close to you, I am introducing my in-laws into the How I Found My Niche series.
I have been very blessed to be a part of Courtney’s family since the first day I met her. Even though I am a Yankees/Giants fan and they’re die hard Eagles/Phillies fans, they have put sports aside and treat me a like a son and a brother (most of the time ;)). My mother-in-law, Colleen, is a retired guidance counselor from Freedom High School in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. My father-in-law, Don is an entrepreneur who ran his own accounting firm for the last forty years in the Stroudsburg, PA area. Courtney has three brothers Kyle, Brian and Mickey and they all go by the beat of their own drum (just like Courtney).
Don and Colleen, now retired in Venice, Fl, are at the opposite end of the career path spectrum but they have taught Courtney and I many lessons to help us follow our passions. As I reflect on these lessons, it always comes back to Don and Colleen “dreaming big.” Over the last 11 years, I have seen them in their professional element where their work comes natural to them.
Colleen, prior to her retiring, was a dedicated guidance counselor loved by her students and fellow educators. I have seen her truly help her students whether it be assisting the best and brightest get into the Ivy Leagues or help students with tough circumstances get what they needed to attain their high school diploma. Colleen’s resume didn’t end when she moved to Florida. In 2013, she obtained her real estate license and partnered with a successful realtor, Judy Mazrin, and the two of them are making quite a name for themselves. See, no matter the work she is doing, Colleen has the skill to care about those around her and build long-lasting relationships.
My father-in-law Don, has a remarkable story. He grew up in Pennsylvania in the post-depression era where his family came from very little. He worked very hard to attend and graduate from Temple University where he earned an accounting degree. Don doesn’t mention it often, but he also enlisted in the marines as a way to pay for his education. For a few years, he worked for an employer, but in his early thirties, he took a leap of faith and started his own accounting firm. This firm was started the old fashion way: on a napkin and with a firm handshake with his partner. Don never looked back and grew his firm to be one of the best in the Poconos. Needless to say, Courtney and I turn to him for any finance or business advice among other things of course.
Just like I have alluded to in my Day 15 and 20 posts, many people who follow their passions can get too wrapped up and not find time for friends and family. That is not the case for Don and Colleen. Since retiring to Florida, I’m convinced they are living a busier social life than Courtney and I. Their days are filled with golf, swimming, dinners with friends, and visitors from up north (especially, between January - March). Before they retired, they led the same lifestyle and had several pockets of friends and family they would spend time with. At the end of the day, I’m sure moving to Florida may have been tough, but they had big dreams for how they wanted to spend their retirement and so they went for it. They have done this without letting any of their relationships from ‘up north’ suffer, and that takes the intentionality and effort. Something they put into all of their relationships.
Since Courtney’s parents retired, we have grown closer to my older brother-in-law Brian Stone and his fiance’ Lauren Chamberlin. We have been lucky to find time to go out to dinner with them, visit each other’s house, and get our dogs together to play every few months. Brian followed in his father’s footsteps (while making a path of his own), as he too went to Temple and now owns his own accounting firm. He has established a well-rounded business that focuses on accounting, taxes, and also the launching of new businesses all over the east coast. Brian has the perfect balance of personality, business smarts, and street smarts to provide a service that is in-demand.
When I launched The Niche Movement in February of 2013, he and his firm helped me set-up an LLC and business registration. This among other business advice he has offered to Courtney and I has been invaluable over the last year. Not to mention, above and beyond the great business advice, Brian and Lauren are A LOT of fun!
My younger brother-in-law, Kyle also graduate from Temple in 2008 with a degree in International Business (you can see why they are all die hard philly fans!). Currently, he works for a company called Victaulic, where he is a sales rep selling couplings and piping systems to mines in Australia. Two years ago he had the opportunity to go there for a job and in typical Stone fashion, he went for it. He has a perfect mix of his parent’s traits. He has the business and street smarts from Don and has the personality to connect with anyone like Colleen. At the same time though he is adventurous, laid back and doesn't take life to seriously. When you roll these traits into one, Kyle gets a skill set that has been super successful for him. We miss Kyle a whole lot, but we love any chance we get to Facetime with him and always look forward to his visits.
How They Inspired Me:
With people like my parents, grandparents, cousins, and now in-laws in my life, I have a very well rounded set of values and skills that no matter what I do with my life, I know I will be successful. Don and Colleen have inspired me to dream big and have shown me how to maintain important relationships with friends and family. Kyle has inspired me to be adventurous and to roll with the punches. Brian has taught me that with the right skills, smarts (and good accounting advice), you can make it on your own if you’re willing to put the time and energy into it.
When finding your niche, you will need to advocate for yourself and what you want or need help with. My in-laws are a perfect example of how they balance a life of doing what makes them happy while keeping relationships close to them.