Hello and good day!
A boy and his best friend go to a dance at a middle school.The best friend attends the school, and the boy is tagging along.
They walk into a basketball gym filled with chattering pre-teens.
There is a big window above the bleachers on one side of the gym and pale grey sunlight from a cloudy day outside shines in.
A DJ plays pop music from a makeshift stage at the front of the room. Towards the back there is a refreshment table, covered with bowls of punch, cookies, and finger foods.
The best friend knows everybody and walks around saying hi.
The boy knows nobody and follows behind his friend, offering his hand to shake when his pal introduces him.
After finishing with pleasantries and filling up cups with punch, the two young men stand in a crowd of young men, staring across the gymnasium, sipping their drinks.
On the other side of the floor is a crowd of young girls.
Rhythmic music pumps out of large black speakers that have been stacked three speakers high on either side of the DJ. The DJ makes an announcement into his microphone.
"Hello everybody and welcome to the fall social! We've got a fun night ahead of us. Help yourself to refreshments in the back and let's get this party started! Everybody out on the floor!"
He transitions to a new song, his go to song for firing up the energy.
Base booms out of the sound system.
A chaperon slightly dims the ceiling lights using a control panel near the back entrance.
The girls stay on their side of the floor and the boys on theirs.
After a long and awkward stretch during which one song ends and a new one begins, the boy elbows his best friend in the arm.
"Go for it dude," says the boy.
"You go for it," says the best friend.
"I don't even go to school here. I don't know any of these girls."
"Just play it cool. The ice will break eventually."
Another song passes by.
The DJ pleads with the kids to get out on the floor, but they ignore him.
The dance floor separating the two sides remains empty.
Other than the music, the only noise is the sound of nervous kids whispering to each other.
"You know what? Screw it. I'm going," says the boy.
"Really dude?" says his best friend.
"Yeah. Let's see what happens."
When the boy walks out onto the dance floor, a hush falls over the gymnasium. He's a cool kid, tall, lean, and athletic, with a nice head of floppy brown hair.
The two sides watch in silence.
As the boy nears the girls' side, the girls become increasingly nervous.
Who will he ask? What will she say?
The boy doesn't care who he asks. He just wants to kick off the action.
He walks straight towards the girl in front of him, a pretty, slender, blond-haired girl, wearing a green sleeveless dress with thin straps over her slim shoulders.
The boy sticks out his hand and smiles. "Want to dance?"
The girl turns bright red and looks around at her friends. "Go. Go. Go," they mouth to her. But she is too scared to be the first dancer.
"I was just about to go out with my friends, sorry," says the girl.
She pulls two friends by their hands and those girls pull other girls and the other girls pull others until a big group of girls is out on the floor dancing.
The boy stands alone as girls prance by. He tries to ask another girl to dance, but now an aura of failure is on him, and the next girl shakes her head at him as she frolics away.
Meanwhile, the boys realize that they can now blend into the gathering on the floor without being stared at. They rile courage and wander out in groups to dance next to groups of girls.
Little by little, couples pair up and the party is on.
Since the boy doesn't know anybody and since his best friend is now out on the floor, the boy sits alone at a round table near the refreshments.
After a few songs, he asks another girl for a dance, but she turns him down too.
He has become an outsider.
The party gathers steam while the boy sits alone. An hour passes by. The boy walks to his best friend on the dancefloor and tugs his sleeve.
"I'm gonna call my mom to come pick me up," he says.
"No, don't go yet," says his best friend.
"Why would I stay? Nobody wants to dance with me."
"Try one more time man and if you get turned down, we'll leave together."
"Who should I ask?" "How about her?"
The best friend points to a girl sitting alone in a white fold up chair against a wall.
The boy nods at his buddy and walks over to the girl. He yells over the music.
"Want to dance?" The girl smiles.
They hold hands and head out to the floor.
The boy and his best friend stay until the very end of the party.
Here is something peculiar to consider.
Many of the best things in life don't require a particular skillset.
They simply require courage and persistence and nothing else.
You can meet the love of your life with those two qualities.
You can learn a new language.
You can show up out of the blue and start buying cacao from a remote cacao farming village in northern Peru.
My brother Brian had no prior experience whatsoever with buying cacao or any other agricultural product for that matter. Quite literally, he just showed up one day and began asking farmers if he could buy their cacao.
Most said no. They already had buyers.
Why would they trust a random gringo?
It took several years for us to partner with enough cacao farmers to sustain a business.
We had to learn logistics and post-harvest processing and how to properly incentivize farmers so that they'd be willing to sell to us.
At the start, the only requisites we had going were courage and persistence.
We had no skills.
I had a job doing accounting for the department of defense in the beginning, so it was really my dad and brother who were the brave and indominable ones.
If you keep taking your shots and don't give up, eventually you will break through.
You learn as you go along.
But if you aren't willing to be brave and persistent, then just about any endeavor is doomed from the get-go.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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