Hello and good day!
If you've been reading these daily emails for a while, you may recall that my grandfather owned several diners in Ft. Wayne Indiana.
This was back in the 1930s and 1940s.
My grandad, Victor Wick, passed from Hodgkin's disease when my dad was just 4 years old. My dad was born in 1939 and Vic died 4 years later.
My dad says that he no longer has even a single memory of his father. All he has are the stories that his family members told him growing up.
And yet somehow, the idea of this man, Victor Wick, looms large in my life.
See a great old picture of Victor Wick.
It is hard to explain. I always heard about him from my dad growing up. My dad became an entrepreneur in the first place because he was trying to follow in the footsteps of his deceased father.
Vic was the savior of his family.
He was one of 8 kids brought up by an alcoholic widower. He left home early and went to school to become a chef and then started his own restaurants.
It went so well for him that he had money to help his siblings start their own businesses. In one generation, the Wicks went from destitute to a flourishing entrepreneurial family.
Then the man who made it all happened passed away and everybody started looking at his four-year-old son as the heir apparent and the next golden boy.
My dad, Dan, not only grew up without his father, but he felt the pressure of living up to his deceased father's hero status. Over the years my father has made and lost millions of dollars a couple times. All brought the appearance of great wealth and then eventually came to an end, sometimes very dramatically.
Like all businesses, we've been through hard times here at Fortunato Chocolate trying to get our business up and running and sustainable. But somehow, just when it seemed like we might be approaching an end game, we've always managed to catch a fortunate break that has allowed us to endure.
Fortunato is both the name of a cacao farmer, and one of our business's main themes. We've been extremely fortunate when it counted most.
And we've been extremely fortunate to end up doing work we love.
Now here is something I am just now getting my head around.From what I've understood about our family's history, Vic Wick was considered to be a brilliant entrepreneur.
But what if he was doing work that he loved and was good at and that was the root of all his success? Maybe he wasn't such a great entrepreneur, but rather a great restaurateur.
What if the real key to business success is finding the thing you are great at and love and going all in on it?
Here is another thing to consider. What if we are made to be something? I don't mean that in a mystical pre-ordination kind of way.
I mean that in a DNA kind of way.
What if our genes dictate that we are naturally good at something and will enjoy it? And to the extent that we do it, we are more likely to prosper?
My dad started a cattle investment fund. It was spectacularly successful at first, and then it went under. My dad built a beautiful hotel in downtown San Diego called the Horton Grand. It is worth about $50 million today. But he lost it to a crooked business partner and had to declare bankruptcy.
He and my brother started a mining supply distribution company in Peru. It did well for several years before eventually they decided to fold up shop.
My brother and Dad tried to start a business buying trout in Peru, flash freezing it, and shipping it to China. It petered out. They tried to launch a business growing sugar cane for ethanol along the northern Peruvian coast. It didn't make it.
Finally, we came across a thought to be extinct variety of cacao and got into the chocolate business.
My brother moved out to the jungle to live with cacao farmers to buy and process cacao, and my dad and I started selling chocolate to high end restaurants.
Now we were coming back full circle, adjacent to restaurants, which are apparently in our blood. Fortunato Chocolate has already lasted longer than any of the other businesses, 15 years.
But this time, we are just getting started. We are just now figuring out what we do really well.
Get a load of this.Here is a picture of my grandfather in one of his diners. This photo was taken somewhere between 1937 - 1942.
Mind you, I never knew this man. My dad didn't know him either. I heard about him growing up. But as a kid, things don't have as much significance as they do when you are older.
What I knew about my grandad had no influence over my life choices.
I studied to become an accountant, I did payroll for the deparment of defense, and I sold software to financial advisors before getting into the chocolate business with my dad and brother.
By sheer coincidence, and I'd say by allowing my instincts to lead me towards what my genome says I should be doing, I eventually came to own a food establishment, like my grandpa did 90 years ago.
Check out this photo of me in 2022, out in front of our chocolate shop.
None of this really added up for me until just recently and it is hard for me to look at these pictures without breaking into tears.
I wish I could have known my grandad. I really do. However, I won't get to know him and that is alright.
But here is what I want to leave you with.
Somehow, we are called. I don't know the mechanism, but I know for sure that somehow, we are called. And I can tell you in all honesty that when I am in our chocolate shop, I feel great peace.
My soul feels at rest.
It is the strangest and most comforting feeling.
Anyhow, make of that what you will, and I thank you for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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