Posts filed under Family

Peter J. Burns III: How Do You Eat An Elephant?

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One bite at a time. This was wisdom passed down from my dear departed father when I was faced with the angst of being overwhelmed with major tasks of new business ownership starting at the tender age of 19. My father suggested that I take what was apparently overwhelming and break it down into "bite size" components, attacking each piece one-by-one until the seemingly impossible task facing me was reduced to "wholly consumed elephant."

Thirty nine years later, I am taking Dad's advice yet again. Recently returning from a humanitarian mission in Ethiopia, I have accumulated no less than 42 viable projects that merit development, funding and launching into this remarkable country. Basically, I determined what was needed in that country and matched it up with what was available back here in the States, and which was within my ability to provide.

To that end, I took the "lowest hanging fruit" of a dozen such ideas and created Project Files on each. I had great luck with interns in my past US-based ventures, so I reasoned that I could access a new set of eager and talented young people to assist me this time too. I placed my request for virtual interns with specific skill sets out in CyberSpace and lo and behold, I now have nearly 60 very qualified young men and women awaiting their selection for specific projects and tasks.

Through one such intern, already recruited, I established a Project Management template that each intern will follow. Another intern selected, who is now my virtual Administrative Assistant, has organized all of the various projects (up to 50 something with my US projects combined with the Ethiopian ones) into Google Docs and Drop Box files/folders. Each intern, assigned to specific projects, is granted access to his or her projects and my Administrative Assistant is adding to each project folder as I receive more info, updates and requests on each individual project. It is amazing how much material is flowing through these combined channels and now, so efficiently!

Since I favor a mentoring-style of management and am as far removed from micro-managing as anyone I know, I informally communicate with each intern as regularly as once a week, sometimes more. I am making the move to place a new head of Project Managers, who is, herself, working on one of the major projects and happens to be going to school for a Project Management certificate.

The plan is to create complete packages of multiple projects and have a 5 page (or so) Summary of each project, complete with research, financial docs, etc, so that I can present them to my top financing resources for consideration. Then, I either fund the project myself or take on an interested joint venture partner, put in the internal operations, and assign management to handle each one.

That is how I plan "to eat this elephant." I think my dear father would have been proud. 

Posted on September 5, 2014 and filed under Family, Volunteering, Teaching, Personal History.

Peter J. Burns III: Memorial Day Is Much More Than Family Picnics

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As I sit before my computer on the porch overlooking the beautiful hills and forests of my part-time home in California (I live in Ethiopia most of the time) I am moved by the freedom to conduct business and live a life far away from the strife many others face across the world. My experience of moving to Africa was quite a revelation and I'm so thankful to have served as a humanitarian volunteer in that peaceful and safe capitalist democracy, while the rest of Africa seemed to explode with murderous conflicts each passing day. Truly, Ethiopia is like an oasis on the African Continent, as the USA is an oasis on Earth.

The reason I can happily pound out my thoughts of free expression and even conduct worldwide commerce on my laptop while sipping my morning coffee on the porch of my dear friend's multi-million dollar mansion is because of the brave souls of the US military that gave their very lives to protect the freedom that I and so many generations of other Americans enjoy but, regrettably, often take for granted.

My grandfather, Peter Senior, served in WWI. My father, Peter Junior, served in the Pacific battlegrounds and until he passed away a little under two years ago, was one of the last remaining combatants who stormed Iwo Jima and precipitated the defeat of Imperial Japan. My dear father is featured, along with a half dozen other Iwo Jima veterans, each anniversary of that immortal battle on the Discovery Channel in a feature entitled, "Going Back." Watch it if you can. It's the "real deal."

I served my country as a US Army infantry soldier at the age of 17 at the end of Viet Nam and while I was blessed not to have gone overseas, I lost many fine young fellow soldiers to that infamous war. We, as Americans and indeed the entire world, owe a debt of gratitude for every single American life lost in the preservation of Freedom that marks America as the one true Superpower and the Forever Guardian of the Free World.

As you all enjoy a peaceful and fun filled Memorial Day weekend gathering with your loved ones, take a moment and bow your heads for the brave souls that gave their lives for the Freedom we all enjoy as Americans.

God bless America.

 

Posted on September 5, 2014 and filed under Family, Deep Thoughts.

Peter J. Burns III: Family, What It's All About In The End

Last weekend, my two daughters and I trekked from Phoenix to Santa Barbara to attend a family reunion for the celebration of my father's 85th birthday. Reaching that milestone is noteworthy enough but the gathering had far more meaning for me.

I grew up the eldest son in a proud and achievement-oriented New England family. For many reasons, each of the three sons and one daughter took very different life and career paths and I was the proverbial "black sheep" of the Burns clan. As time and distance grew, the times for family gatherings became less frequent and often, by either situation or choice, I was not included. My daughters took offense at that and even my former wife tried to help mend fences on my behalf but was met with a stone wall of resistance.

You see, I just didn't quite fit into the whole "family dynasty" thing. It wasn't that I was not very proud of who my family was or what they had achieved in life, it's just that I wasn't part of that life, since I left home on my own journey at 17 years old.

Great success was mine at a very early age. I counted myself a millionaire at the tender age of 22. My brothers and sister were just finishing college at that age, preparing to enter their respective fields. The distance between us as siblings grew wider as I flitted around from one farflung business to another and reaped the success of entrepreneurial freedom. My siblings climbed their respective corporate ladders, married and had families. The occasions of sharing time together became less and less frequent.

Along my journey, I had lost my way. Money and power replaced my responsibilities of family and conscience. My marriage collapsed, through no fault of my long suffering wife and my mother died way too early at the same time I got divorced. What relationship threads I did have with my siblings vanished, or were never there in the first place. Instead of being the undisputed leader of the pack, my two younger brothers replaced me and reached the pinnacle of success in their respective fields and my sister had married well and had a large and successful family of her own.

To add insult to injury, my now former wife packed up my two beautiful daughters and moved across the country from our winter home on Sanibel Island to the desert of Phoenix while I was out of town with yet another of my "flavors of the week." I returmed from that vacation to discover that everything that I had owned - houses, businesses, autos, furniture and even clothing, was gone. The saddest revelation of all was that I knew that I deserved it and that I had nothing left to do but to start over.

The next 14 years were spent moving out of my comfort level of an upper-crust East Coast mentality and embracing the "Wild West," first landing in Denver, courtesy of an old Harvard classmate, then to Las Vegas and finally to Phoenix around 10 years ago. To say that I started over from scratch at each turn is a gross understatement. Landing in Phoenix just months before 9/11, I arrived with only $200 to my name and through a series of fortunate events, moved from renting someone's 500 sq. ft. guest cottage to buying a grand manor house of 12,000 sq. ft. (circa 1929) at the venerable Phoenix Country Club in a matter of six months. But that's another story.

In any case, through a series of skillful and mostly lucky business moves, I quickly reclaimed my legacy as a "serial entrepreneur" and in no time was back to my former grandiose lifestyle, driving a Rolls convertible and entertaining the rich and famous at my newly acquired estate. My father, newly arrived from California, moved into the main house with me, much to my siblings' chagrin. It seems I was a "bad influence" on my dear old dad. Oh well, the black sheep is always the black sheep.

That "Hugh Hefner" adventure lasted 8 months until my real estate partner's deception of diverting the mortgage payments caught up with him and the bank took back the house, the Rolls, the antiques, everything. Oh well, on to the next chapter. I ended up in the email marketing business and made some great cash. Next, I moved into the magazine business, pioneering the "insertazine" concept and then started the area's first "Entertainment Card."

I bounced around from venture to venture until I was moved to take my two young daughters on the greatest adventure of all, a pilgrimage to Medjugorge, a tiny village in what was once Yugoslavia and is now in the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Along the way, I had returned to my roots of Catholicism and this pilgrimage completely turned my life around.

I returned from this fateful trip and decided to teach school, landing a pro-bono adjunct gig at my daughter's school at Barrett Honors College at ASU. That precipitated the beginning of Club Entrepreneur; the teaching evolved into my starting the country's first College of Entrepreneurship at Grand Canyon University, I launched the eFactory, (CEO's predecessor) and started a number of new businesses.

Step by step and most importantly, I became closer to my children, reunited with my father, became best friends with my former wife and as of my father's 85th celebration in Santa Barbara a couple of weeks ago, am happy to say that I'm even making some progress building back my relationship with my siblings.

Life is a journey and really can and does come full circle, which I dearly hope happens with my family. Because that's what life's all about, family.

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Posted on September 5, 2014 and filed under Family, Personal History, Deep Thoughts.

Peter J. Burns III: Have A Merry (BARTERED) Christmas

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As many of you know, Club Entrepreneur is deeply vested in the barter applications of business. (see www.clubeexchange.net) We've partnered up with the longstanding and integrity-filled barter company, Tradesource (see www.tradesource.net)and have conducted many tens of thousands of barter transactions with our Club E members through Tradesource's barter network.

Over the last year or so, Club Entrepreneur (and me personally) have been able to trade for the lease of our beautiful downtown Phoenix facility (www.clubeoffice.com), complete with bartered furnishings and even the delicious catered food at our weekly and monthly gatherings of entrepreneurs. In the past several weeks, we've added both print and ink cartridges (www.clubeinkandtoner.com) as well as good, used automobiles to the roster of products that can be purchased through our barter network.

Perhaps the greatest personal story of what can be bartered occured just a day or two ago, when I had the privilege of hosting two young single mothers, who are now working with Club E, as well as a surrogate aunt and young Club E member, who were able to pick out literally hundreds of dollars of toys and gifts for their 20 month, 4 and 5 year old little girls for a Christmas that they will never forget. You see, each of these young ladies had been unable to afford to buy Christmas gifts for their little girls because they simply could not afford to this year.

Fortunately, the sale of catridges and cars on barter had left a generous amount of surplus barter in my accounts and I was honored to bring these young ladies to go Christmas shopping at the Tradesource store, which was filed with member items, including toys for little girls. The ladies at Tradesource, Sally and Amanda, kindly assisted these young ladies in finding many great gifts for their children and the smiles on their faces, as they gleefully filled their cars with gifts for their girls, was the greatest gift of all!

Tonight, I was able to fill up my daughter's large SUV to the brim with large boxes of beautiful new furnishings for her townhouse, which she shares with her sister. My daughters had been laboriously filling their new home, piece by piece over the months as they settled in together but they still had a long way to go to make their place comfortably furnished. Through one of Tradesource's members in the new and consigned furniture business, I was able to locate beautiful furniture and accessories that I could give to my two daughters for Christmas. Had I had to pay cash for such beautiful items, I never could have afforded to be so generous this Christmas. Barter saved the day!

There are many other examples of how using barter can help us all in this tough economy. I, for one, can proudly, gratefully attest that barter has allowed me to provide a very Merry Christmas for five young ladies - the three little girls of Club E members and my own two beautiful daughters!

Merry (Bartered) Christmas to you all!
 

Posted on September 5, 2014 and filed under Family, Entrepreneurs.