A Publication of WTVP

This summer has been one of reflection for me, as it marks the 10th anniversary of my becoming the sole owner of CIBP. I remember some being skeptical of my decision to continue without my late husband, unsure that I had within me the abilities and drive to do so. To be sure, this past decade has not been easy—and it has required more strength than I believed I had.

Driven partly by stubbornness, I would not give up when told I couldn’t do something. I’ve wondered if my subconscious wouldn’t allow another defeat or disappointment. Cancer took my husband’s life too soon, but I would not let my family’s lives be destroyed by an attitude of pessimism and self-pity.

I thought that life would become easier with each year—that my workweek might someday dip below 60 hours and that business decisions would be easier to make. By the time my youngest child was in college, I figured I would have plenty of time to take those golf lessons and relax on weekends.

I’ve thought a lot about what I would be doing today had I chosen a different path in the summer of 1997. I’ve even written down the positives and negatives of running a business, and the negative list is on the short side. Despite the long hours and anguish over hiring, financing and strategic planning, becoming a business owner was the most rewarding decision I could have made.

As a baby boomer, I had few female role models in the business world—my colleagues bumped, cracked and finally broke through the glass ceiling. A recent article describes my demographic: “When the baby boomers entered the work force, they felt compelled to challenge the status quo, and they’re responsible for many of the rights and opportunities now taken for granted…Baby boomers all but invented the 60-hour workweek, figuring that demonstrated hard work and loyalty to employers was one way to get ahead. Their sense of who they are is deeply connected to their career achievements.”

A year ago, I was honored to have my son join the company. He, too, soon began to experience that feeling of “never getting caught up.” I’ve expressed hope that perhaps his generation will be able to balance their lives better than we boomers have done. But what’s certain is that there are no entitlements which will guarantee happiness— no magic formulas for health, wealth or security.

Professor Arthur Brooks says, “For most Americans, work is a rock-solid source of life happiness. Happy people work more hours each week than unhappy people and work more in their free time as well.” He asks, “If you were to get enough money to live as comfortably as you would like for the rest of your life, would you continue to work or would you stop working?” Only a third of those surveyed said they would stop working.

My conclusion on this anniversary is that I derive great satisfaction from work and am thankful for the challenges that come with it. I’m proud that my children have an appreciation for hard work and the rewards of a job well done. I believe that the most important decision of my life—and one that has had the most influence on the most people—was made back in that summer of 1997. TPW