I am the Chief Executive Officer of a financial company. I’m also the Executive Director of a philanthropic foundation. The difference between a CEO and an ED is the “for” or “non” profit factor. Institution that exist to make profits have CEO’s. By Law, in non-profit organizations, the same position duties of a CEO are designated as an ED. The IRS keeps it tidy. I was raised to become both.

My Grandparents raised me. They did so because I often didn’t want to return to my familial home in the SeaTac area. I wanted to stay with my Grandparents. My Parents were/are dancers. Ballet. My entire family is. I am as well, but not with the proficiency or love for dance as my siblings and parents held. My mind found more joy in numbers, finances, organizational structuring and calculated risks. Just like my grandfather. As a young boy, I fought to stay in Mid-Michigan with my Grandparents. I’ve never regretted that.

At first I flew back and forth between the two homes. My mother was a strict instructor and I made certain to maintain my dance skills. It wasn’t easy. I felt a great amount of guilt. Some in my immediate family didn’t like my want to be in Mid-Michigan. But my Grandfather passed when I was a young tween. At that point, nothing could pry me from my Grandmother’s side. Nothing.

It was my Grandparents who held the official positions within our Family’s Dance Academy, and then the Foundation that was started at my Grandfather’s passing. The Academy teaches Dance. The Foundation has been privately held, and raises money to then aid financially lacking students in attending Performance Arts schools and programs. They go hand in hand, yet are each their own entity. By the time I was graduating High School and looking to University, although it was never stated, I think we all knew that one day I’d take the reigns.

As a young man, I worked my way through higher education. I invested, heavily and well. And I transitioned from working for a Paint Contractor, to being the owner of my Paint Contracting Business. I did such to have a steady income as I lived 3 houses down from my Grandparents home, and my Grandmother. I was 35 years old when my Grandmother first started having me represent her. When I was 45, she stepped down to an emeritus position and guided me as I took over. When I was 48, my Grandmother died. I am now 49.

When I started handling business at 35, for the Foundation and The Company, I always had a back up; my Grandmother. I can’t recall a single time that I need it, but I had it. Last summer when my Grandmother passed it took seconds for the realization that my back up was gone, to hit me. Mere seconds. The impact was profound. It still is. I miss her. Greatly.

Today I had to make an executive decision. The decisions made would carry large ramifications for the Academy, The Foundation and The Financial Company. This would quantify as “a biggie” like my Grandfather would say. I knew it was coming, I was prepared. I made the call. Just another day at the office.

It didn’t hit me until just now, this was the first time I’d not felt that pang in my heart because my grandparents weren’t with me to back me up. The very first time.

I finally feel like myself. Isn’t that odd?



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