I hope that the things I share help.
I believe I owe it to you, whether or not you have paid me even one cent yet.
Today I want to talk a little about my folks, my kin, my larger family.
Because we all come from somewhere, and quite often owe a giant debt of gratitude. I know I do.
Let me start out by saying this:
They say that the worst people to share your entrepreneurial hopes and dreams with are your family.
They tend to give well-meaning “advice” because they “love you and care about you,” that sounds more like a bucket of cold water on your passion.
You’ve doubtless heard this, or some version of this, before:
“It just seems so risky.”
Or, “What if you lose all of your investment?”
Or a favorite of mine, “Why don’t you just get a good job with a ‘real’ paycheck?”
I have no doubt that my family loved me as a kid.
We had clothes that fit, and new shoes as my feet grew like untamed mutant appendages at the end of my ankles.
As I grew older, it was clear to me my father’s version of the American Dream was to go to college.
Get a degree. Then get a great career, preferably like he did with one employer over the course of decades.
Because that worked for him. He was admired in my larger family because he was the guy that went to college and got the degree in electrical engineering.
I did not do that (at least not in my youth).
I will tell my life story another time in better detail, I promise, but the “Cliff’s Notes” version is that I played in bands…
…got sick of being broke and got a job of some sort…
…got sick of not playing…rinse, repeat, etc. etc. for about 30 years or so.
I only figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up about 10 to 12 years ago.
During all this time there was one person I could always go to visit where I was always welcomed.
Who was always interested in how I was doing as well as overflowing with stories full of love about our large extended family.
Take a look at the picture. The husbands all conveniently lined up behind their wives in the back, and second from the back rows.Far left rear are the grandparents, whom we grandchildren called Gammy and Pappas.
That was just their names for us. We never called them, or thought of them, as anything else.
Now, see the next couple to the right, the man smiling and the wife doting on the fat baby with his hand in his mouth?
Me, and my parents.
Jesus, what a little pudge! I can date this as being 1960, because I’m a year old there.
Next over from me is Dad’s younger sister, my Aunt Lois, holding my cousin Gary that was born just a couple of weeks behind me if I remember that correctly.
To her right is my Aunt Verna, older sister to both of them and younger only than Uncle Gene in the far- right rear corner.
Four sets of parents, Eleven grandkids. My little brother was still 2 years in the future, as were two others.
These two rear rows of ancestors have all transitioned to the next plane, except for Aunt Verna and Uncle Gene’s widow Aunt Billie, both well into their 90’s now.
My Aunt Verna, aka Auntie V, aka Aunt Verna LeeLee, was, is, and remains, one of the most beloved people in my life.
I’m sure partly because she was practically a second mother to my dad.
Really, though, she has a special family love energy for me that had me wishing I lived in Colorado Springs, where this picture was taken and most of this family lived, year-round.
I did grow up in Southern California because that’s where Dad went to conquer the career dragons, and I learned some time ago to never regret this.
It’s as much a part of who I am today as anything else, growing up with a black Welsh ‘Fro in the land of blonde surfers and gifted musicians.
But we spent two weeks out of almost every summer here, playing and visiting together near Pikes Peak, and I knew that I’d live here myself someday.
And I do. How about that.
Over the years I’ve visited Aunt Verna, and Uncle Dave countless times, though never enough. They built a house in the early 70’s that we would ride our bicycles out to when we were kids, and she lived there until just a couple of years ago.
She took deep pride in being an Owings, as did we all, but for her the genealogy of the family was of particular interest and special importance.
She was the one that did the digging, and kept the records, and when distant cousins in Mississippi wrote a book about our ancestry beginning with the first in America with our name in 1682, she was the one that wrote to them in time for a Third Edition of this book to contain many of us, including myself and my daughters.
Who we are, you see, is so much where and who we come from.
I was taught simple manners and etiquette in a way that I believe has not been taught the same way since my generation.
Holding a door for a lady. Saying please and thank you, with real gratitude.
Respect for our elders.
That last one sounds so obvious and so necessary, and yet I’m telling you that I believe it’s going away or mostly gone.
I would never have even dared to talk to any of my elders in a way that younger people do routinely and unconsciously now. It just WAS NOT DONE.
These are the lessons I took away from my childhood.
I am proud to be an Owings.
Now! Let’s circle around to the point I’m making in a business growth and development blog:
I made a decision to name a tax and accounting firm Owings when I started it over 4 years ago largely because of the loose pun.
If you are American and work you OWE taxes. This is something you are OWING.
I thought I could get a little mileage out of the relationship of the word to my surname.
Near the end of our first year in business, still hungry for clients and finding our voice, I got an idea because I had to stand up and introduce myself every week at a networking group I belonged to.
Everybody’s “Owings” tax.
I’ve had a few people tell me that’s kinda cool, so there it is.
That’s even on the cover photo of the Facebook and LinkedIn business pages today.
I came to the conclusion that the name itself is worthy of corporate name status.
Because of ancestors.
Those people, those beings of light and energy of the past and present from whence I come.
I got up to where Aunt Verna stays now, yesterday, and shared this with her.
Wearing my Owings logo shirt, which I couldn’t help but notice her lookingt.
Her smile, her precious face, so much like my father’s.
There is no gilding the lily here: she is old. Full of years, and perhaps winding down toward an inevitable transition of her own, which I would like to see put off as long as comfortably possible.
She is tired, as the elderly can be, wheelchair-bound and mostly sedentary.
Why even tell you this? This my business, my personal family business.
Because the context is so important.
As I was sharing the name-change news with her, and that my wife and I are running a small-but-growing corporation together she said something that will never forget as long as I live.
“You are doing your best.”
I have incredible family, with brilliant careers and full lives with the blessings of many children and grandchildren, and many of them are well-traveled because unlike yours truly they became adults at the normal time, in their 20’s for the most part.
As I’ve said earlier, my own story is for another time, but briefly I’ll say that in the past, especially until the end of the 20th century, I always felt like the black sheep of my family because I was content to have just enough to live and eat on.
In the words of Tom Petty, “A rebel without a clue.”
For her to say this is validation and motivation, and a welling up of family pride.
We are Owings LLC.
Our mission is to solve the age-old problem of what to do about your taxes, and also your books!
Be they current or past-due.
We will build an empire for good, based on service and good old-fashioned etiquette, the kind my Aunt and the rest of my family taught me.
I am Aunt Verna’s nephew. I know she loves me, no one need tell me so.
And I am so proud of this, of her, and of all those who made this life possible.
Honor your ancestors, good people.
And always, for the love of a graceful God, let the last words you say to them upon parting be full of love.
I don’t need to tell you why, do I?
Forgive always, love freely, and be the peace you want to see in the world.
I owe it to the memory of my own parents, and all the parents that came before them.
As do we all.