Back in February 2004, I actually wrote a double newsletter issue. The first part of the issue talked about Black History Month. The second part of the issue was dedicated to thanking some people in my life who helped me along the way, whether they, or I, knew it at the time or not. I look back on it now and don’t feel that it got the full justice it deserved as a stand alone piece. So, I’m reposting it here, on the pages, and I know some folks will have the opportunity to read it over time.

In the last newsletter I wrote how good I was feeling about my life, as I begin anew my business career. It seemed to touch a great many of people in a positive way. I always hope that I can give good information, as well as good feelings, to every single person who reads both this newsletter, and the other one I write for healthcare professionals.

As I thought about this week’s newsletter, I wanted to say thank you to all the people who had commented on the last newsletter. Then I realized that most of the time managers and leaders tend to forget to say thank you to people along the way who help us to succeed in our business lives. Often we forget to thank those people along the way who may not have had any direct impact on our professional lives, but our personal lives. How many of us remember to go back and thank our teachers for giving us the tools we use now to learn and progress in our lives? I hate to admit that I don’t remember the names of many teachers I’ve had, and that’s a shame. Almost all of them, even the bad ones, have helped to make me the person I like to think I am today.

So, as I sit here on the verge of my first year anniversary of writing this newsletter, I’ve decided to dedicate this issue to the people in my life who have, in their own way, helped me, and given me the tools I have today, the confidence I have today, the skills I have today, and the love I have today. Of course this is a long life, and there’s plenty of people to thank, and I’m going to miss some people because there’s just too many things to think about, and there’s names I just don’t remember.

First, I want to thank the doctors in my life, those men who went to school long hours and took many tests and had to go through many trials to be able to help me recover and be healthy, or as healthy as I can be. To the doctor who was there when I was born, the one who treated my leg when I burned it on an iron, the one who treated me after I stuck a bobby pin in the electric socket, the one who stitched my chin after I busted it on the sidewalk, the one who treated my first back problem when all I did was turn a certain way, the one who thought I had diabetes, and the one who confirmed it, and the one who operated on my breast when it was discovered I had a lump that was painful, but non-cancerous,… thank you. And a special thanks to the doctor who showed the greatest compassion to me and my family on my dad’s final day.

I’ve got a lot of teachers to thank, but I can’t remember most of their names, and for that I’m ashamed of myself. I thank the first teachers I ever had for realizing that they didn’t have to teach me anything except how to get along with others. I thank the teacher who discovered I had a problem with my vision, so my parents could go get me glasses. I thank the teacher who helped me gain some compassion for fellow students who didn’t have the opportunity to live the kind of life I was living because of their circumstances. I thank the principal who took me out of those classes and trusted that I would have the responsibility to do the right thing. I thank the teacher who taught me how to speed read. I thank the teacher who had the poster up in his classroom that read “You don’t go to school to learn what to do, you go to school to learn how to think.” I thank the teacher who told me I had a brilliant mind and would go places in this world. I thank the teacher who took me on as a piano student when another teacher thought I didn’t have the proper technical skill, and how she guided me to learn how to be pretty good. I thank the teacher who thought I had a better singing voice than I thought I had myself, as his confidence helped me later in life not be afraid to stand in front of others and shows what I could do.

I thank my friend Chuck P for being my first friend when my dad retired, because it wasn’t easy for either of us to make friends as outsiders in this community in that day and age. I thank my friends Ted and Dave for the fun and joy we had, the camaraderie in playing sports and other games. I thank Ted even more for basically getting me two jobs, first part time at Kmart, then, through his mother Amelia, my first true job outside of college at the music store, where I met many famous musicians and some not so famous. I thank Nanci for being my first girlfriend, and showing my mother that there wasn’t anything wrong with me at age 20. I thank all my college friends for having faith in me, and allowing me to be a small light in your lives.

I thank Joan R for being the one who got me started in my healthcare career by training me better than anyone else ever could have on technique and procedures of billing. I thank Rita S for promoting me to my first supervisory position and allowing me to learn even more things in healthcare. I thank Dennis B for hiring me as a regional manager for a physician billing company, even though you worried what clients would think about working with a black manager in certain areas. I thank Dave M for giving me my first director level position at a facility, and Arden B for hiring me the second time around. I thank Chuck C for always being there at every crucial step along my healthcare career, giving me advice, giving me recommendations, and talking to me as an equal, even though he didn’t have to at the time. I thank Dr. Ruben C for allowing me to see another side of healthcare, and I thank Carol J for accepting me into her fold when she could have seen me as a threat.

I thank Jack O for having faith in my abilities, and for staying in the fold when we clashed because of misunderstandings due to the language barriers of email. I thank Neil S for always listening to my suggestions, even if he didn’t take all of them. I thank Jane, Debbie, Brenda, Mary, Millie, Janet, Chris and Wendy for allowing me to hone my leadership skills, and for helping me make our departments successful, wherever we were. I thank every single person at every single facility who ever worked with, and for me, while I was in healthcare. And I thank every member of Mid York that I’ve ever worked with, and thank you for helping to make my four year tenure as president fun, exciting, and successful.

I thank Chuck C a second time for giving me my first bit of business when I went out on my own. I thank Jim Y for giving me my first teaching assignment, and my first foray out of state; he’s still a great and valuable business partner. I thank Linda K for giving me my first speaking engagement in the state of Pennsylvania. I thank the people at the Syracuse and Liverpool Chambers of Commerce for inviting me into their business worlds. I thank Dick S for bringing me into the PCA, and for remaining one of those shining lights that helps mentor me along the way. I thank Executive Dialogue for allowing me to see that other business people experience some of the same issues I have to deal with. I thank Pete M of DB&B Peak Performance (who I forgot to mention in the last issue when I was talking about the next day seminar) for the sales training I really needed, and for reminding me that no one should ever expect to get a free ride forever. I thank Joan H, Jill H, Kurt H, and Frank M for giving me support, encouragement, and many other things I’ve needed as I continue trying to fight the good fight. And I thank Kelvin R even more specifically, because he’s the one who listens to my contemplations, gives me constant support and criticism, is sometimes editor when I’m looking at my newsletters and feel something else may be needed or is missing, and is the one who created my webpage, for which I’ll be eternally grateful.

I thank every friend I’ve ever had for helping me become the person I am today. I thank all my relatives of my extended family, a couple of whom actually subscribe to my newsletter, for being there throughout all the years and all the moves. I thank my parents for raising me right, even if they can’t figure out how they did it. And I thank my wife, Robyn, for standing by me through the thick and thin, ups and downs, and, ultimately, the success we’re both going to enjoy.

There; I thanked some people. Was that a hard lesson to learn?