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Five Hugs a Day

Five Hugs a Day

Hello and good day!

I am the son of an entrepreneur who was born and raised in the Midwest by a family of entrepreneurs who lived through the great depression and world war 2.

My dad is tough as nails.

He is a loving man. He has always expressed how much he cares about my brother and me and how proud he is of our accomplishments. But even so, he is one of the toughest people I have ever met.

My dad's father passed away when my dad was just 4 years old.

When I was 11, my dad was forced to declare bankruptcy and lost a beautiful historic hotel that he had built from the ground up and that I grew up in. He'd been working on that project for 15 years when the US hotel market crashed.

Around that same time, the son of my dad's best friend was murdered by a 14 year old gang member in San Diego. And my parents got a divorce right around that time too.

It was a very tough confluence of events.

Given all that was going on, my dad was exceptionally sturdy. Yes, he suffered a lot and got depressed at times

But I have no memory of him ever whining or complaining or ever really appearing to become bitter against life. Somehow or another, he always carried on in a way that was very respectable.

After coming out of bankruptcy, he started the business that eventually led to our current business, Fortunato Chocolate, which we've been working on for almost 15 years now.

Of all the lessons that I've learned from my dad, and there have been many, resilience and hard work have served me the most.

When you see a man go through some of the hardest things that a human can go through, and yet he keeps busting his tail, and with a positive attitude, even when his dreams have crumbled, his plans lay in shambles, and his heart is aching so bad it feels like it will split in two....

It does something to you.

It makes you hard.

And I can say with certainty that my brother Brian and I are hard people.

We are sweet people.

Kind people.

Empathetic people.

But we are hard.

We don't waver very easily at all.

We soak up hard work.

And complaining about doing our duty is a cardinal sin. If there is something hard to do, the natural thing for us is to run straight towards it without delay. That is our stance.

This approach has served me well in life.I don't get down easily. I generally always see the bright side of everything. I know that I can lose everything and bounce back, just like my dad did.

Therefore loss and setbacks don't do much to me.

My wife is from a small mountain town in the northern Andes mountains, with a population of about 30,000. She grew up during a time when there wasn't consistently working electricity in her town.

Her dad took a correspondence course to learn about electricity and ended up inventing a way to recharge batteries using the limited electricity available so that the folks in town could use appliances. She is the only girl in a family of 5 siblings.

Based on tradition, she had to help her mom with the cooking and cleaning day in and day out from a young age.Her dad is a wise and sweet man, but the men of his era in Peru were also strict disciplinarians.They didn't take any guff off their kids and were quick with a belt or a switching if their children got out of line.

Interestingly, his kids don't resent that. As adults, they realize that the toughness of their father has served them well in life.

That is where we come from.

And even though I love our kids dearly, I feel that I might be too hard on them sometimes.

I wasn't the world's most together kid. I didn't get good grades. I was pretty wild. But one thing I wasn't was a complainer. And I wasn't lazy. So if there is something that really sets me off, it is complaining and laziness.

I can't allow my kids to be lazy or complainers. I just can't.I know they will suffer their entire lives if they fall into those habits and they'll be miserable. However, I feel I need a way to let them know how much I love them, even when I am coming down on them.

Because sometimes I come down hard and send them to bed without making amends. And it breaks me up when that happens.

I've been thinking a lot about it and this is what I am going to try. No matter what is going on, I am going to hug each of my kids at least 5 times a day.

That way, there is a baseline to let them know how much I love them and how much I care on a daily basis. It is something concrete that can be done. It doesn't depend on how I am feeling. I can make myself physically go do that no matter what is going on.

I can't in good conscience relent on bringing my three sons up correctly. They must not be spoiled. I won't stand for it. And being part of a family that owns a chocolate business is a pretty good environment to become spoiled rotten in.

But at least this way, there will be a salve on my heart and theirs, when we have to engage in discipline.

Before I sign off, I'd like to address why I would write about something so personal in a daily email that is supposed to be about chocolate. It is because I think that you have a right to know the real people you are doing business with.

We are a family chocolate business.

And families shouldn't have some kind of corporate image.There are enough big corporations with sanitized brand images in the world.Even though we may not live in the same neighborhood, we consider ourselves to be your neighbors.

We just happen to be in the business of buying and processing wonderful cacao and making really good chocolate.

But that isn't all we are.

We're parents and children and spouses and flawed human beings who are struggling and fighting and trying to overcome our frailties just like anybody else. And I think it is good for businesses to present themselves as real people.

So that is why I decided to share this today.The idea that I am being too hard on my kids is something I've been battling with for a long time.

If this strategy seems to work, then maybe somebody else, one our neighbors can put in play, and that could be good for the entire community.

Anyhow, I'm running out of steam for now.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I'm going to get a jump on my five hug a day quota right now.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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