On the last day of the 2011, I have to pause and give thanks. I have a lot to be grateful for as many of us do. I think many people in the Doylestown area share this spirit of gratitude and will relate to many of the points I share below.
I’m Thankful for Doylestown
By fortune of birth, I was born at the old Doylestown Hospital 50 years ago. I grew up here, my parents ran a 24-hour towing and car repair business in town, and we were heavily involved in the community. My father was in Doylestown Fire Company and served as chief and assistant chief for many years. With my mother serving as part of the ladies auxiliary and my sisters and me volunteering often, our connection in the community was 24-7.
Some long-time Doylestown folks lament the way the town has changed. Not I. While it was a great place to grow up, change is inevitable and Doylestown is even better than it was before. When I eat in Doylestown restaurants, have a drink with friends, shop in our many great stores I am thankful that Doylestown is alive, vibrant, bustling with business and community organizations, and has attracted so many wonderful people who have been added to the great people who were already here.
I’m Thankful for People
There was a time when my father and mother knew just about everyone in Doylestown. That was some way for a kid to grow up. There was perhaps two degrees of separation, so it was hard to be anonymous. I so craved anonymity when I was a kid that I went to Penn State where I hoped to get lost in the crowd. It didn’t work. I connected with many people there and learned that no matter where I go there are wonderful people.
We’re blessed in Doylestown to have so many phenomenal people in our midst that it is truly amazing. It seems like just about every day I connect with another person who I’ve never met before. Sometimes they’re folks who have been here a long time like me, and sometimes they’re relatively new to the area. Either way, I find we have truly amazing people. While Doylestown has always been a great place to meet new people, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare have made it even easier to connect – those we already know and those we’re just getting to know.
I’m Thankful for Business
As I was growing up and watched my parents deal with many of the challenges of being in business for themselves the one thing I never wanted to do was to be in business for myself. I envied the kids whose parents had 9-5 corporate jobs, evenings and weekends free to spend with their families and regular family vacations. That was the life for me!
In 2007, after many successful years working in corporate America, I decided the time was right to go into business for myself. Recession. Challenges. Survival. Victory! While some periods in business over the past four years were absolutely brutal, I am happy to say that 2011 has been a wonderful year for business. I’ve been blessed with some wonderful clients, and I’m spending a lot of my time working with a new Bucks County business that helps entrepreneurs develop sustainable growth in their businesses. Having wonderful clients is certainly a blessing and I am deeply appreciative.
I’m Thankful for Sharing
In my experience, Doylestown has always been about sharing. Neighbors always helped each other, people ran errands for others, community events were enthusiastically organized, businesses readily extended credit on a handshake, and people generally pitched in when it was needed.
In 2008 when business was really slow for me I started organizing free and low-cost seminars for business people. That soon expanded to networking events, unconferences on social media topics, and fundraisers for organizations like Friends of the Borough Dam and Give A Christmas. In June 2011, I organized a low-cost, high value conference at DelVal College – “Social: Media, Business & Life,” or “SoMeBizLife” for short. More than 30 volunteer speakers, registration workers and fellow organizers – plus business sponsors – generously shared their time and energy with 170 participants. Subsequently, Rick Toone and I partnered to offer four free SoMeBizLife basics programs to business people in Doylestown. And a group of us organized a small, innovative program “Doylestown Connects” in September. While I set out to share with others, I can tell you unequivocally that I was the recipient and grateful beneficiary of the generosity of those who participated in all of these programs.
I’m Thankful for My Family
When I was young, I was a total believer in nurture versus nature – that our family experience and environment make us who we are. Now that I see in my 13-year-old son traits of my father who died before my son was born, I have become a firm believer in a blend of nature and nurture. So while I have been blessed with healthy genes from my parents, a good upbringing and relationships with my immediate and extended family members have been invaluable. It all started with my mother, Marian Hall, and my father, Carl Hall. I am profoundly thankful for them.
Now my own family is a deep source of support and gratification. My wife, Amy, is a wonderful partner who has not only helped me enjoy the bounty of our lives, but has also fretted, strategized and worked through the challenges of raising our children, making the transition to my self-employment, and creating a better future for our family. My daughters, Sarah and Jill, make me tremendously proud. Both are hard working, good students in college. And I am continuously told by people who meet them that they are well-mannered, nice people. What more could I ask for? My son, Carl, is good student, a nice kid and a constant source of intellectual challenge. He is my thought-leader in areas of quantum physics, gamification, general questioning, and radical thinking. (And he has pointed out that it is truly impossible to live in the present because by the time you perceive something it has already passed.) Again, what more could I ask for?
Time to Celebrate!
Despite, or perhaps because of, all that my family did in the community and in business, celebrations were often impromptu. Somewhat random times to stop and smell the flowers with friends and family seemed to be the norm. In Doylestown in the ‘70s and ‘80s – and even into the ‘90s – friends and customers would gather at my father’s garage for a beer or two at 5:00 most days. Often, this would lead to informal dinner gatherings at places (now gone) like The HiWay Diner, The Big Dipper and Tilley’s – places “where everybody knew your name.”
Today, I don’t have a garage where people can gather for a beer. (And whose insurance company would ever allow that today in our litigious society?) But many of us celebrate and share our lives together daily on Facebook and Twitter, and gather often for coffee or a beer in one of Doylestown’s great establishments. There’s no reason why our celebration should not be ongoing – every day, every spontaneous opportunity. We have a lot to be thankful for, and so it is right and fitting that we celebrate.