I have four brothers- and all five of us are in business for ourselves. I have owned my own training and consulting firm for over 25 years. My first brother is an award-winning poet and teacher who runs a highly acclaimed and often honored printing press. My second brother owns a very successful national security firm. My third brother is an amazing instrumentalist, music teacher, carpenter and artist. And my fourth brother caters to the famous in California with musical extravaganzas and business products.
All five of us are also heavily musical. My first brother was first clarinet for the Albany Symphony Orchestra. My second brother has performed with the New Lost City Ramblers and now plays klezmer music as a sideline. My third and fourth brothers make their living with music. And I dabble with the piano and use music throughout all of my training programs.
None of this is surprising. My father, Seymour Solon Levine, has been a clarinetist all his life. Classical music continually played in our house and my father expected that each of his children would master at least one instrument. Oboe, clarinet, piano, violin, trumpet- every school day afternoon was filled with homework and practicing. Throughout my childhood, family gatherings always included instrumental recitals.
My father also owned his own engineering and marketing business. So the dye was cast very early. My mother, Merle Plockie Levine, inspired three of us to become teachers. My father inspired all five of us with the impetus and initiative to work for ourselves. He showed us all that it was possible, though not always easy.
Because of his national business clients, my father frequently flew around the country. Three of us still emulate that continual travel to serve our national clients. When he was in his mid-nineties, my maternal grandfather shared his secret belief about my father’s travels. He drew forward conspiratorially to tell his story, and I fully expected to hear some alarming news that perhaps my father had had a forbidden sweetheart in one of the major cities to which he often traveled. But no, that wasn’t why my practical naval officer grandfather sounded so scandalized. According to my grandfather, the reason my father traveled so often was to have time and privacy to practice his clarinet, away from a home filled with five small children! You can just imagine my relief!
When my father retired from the business world, he apprenticed himself to Sam Goody to learn how to repair instruments. Now in his mid-eighties, my father continues to play clarinet in a variety of orchestras, bands, and chamber groups- and repairs all types of wind instruments from schools and individuals throughout the region. His business IS music!
An engineer by training, when Dad was afflicted with Bell’s Palsy a number of years ago and was unable to close his mouth tightly around the reed, he solved the problem by designing a clamp that enabled him to continue to play his beloved clarinet. Throughout his life, he has modeled dedication, creative problem solving, drive, persistence, ingenuity, and a complete unwillingness to take “no” for an answer.
I have often written about people who helped me along my way, sharing information and tools to improve my skills and my effectiveness as a trainer. My father is the reason I am in business for myself. To this day, he continues to provide business and marketing insight and suggestions that shape the way I do business. He is the source of my inspiration!
This week’s Tip concerns how to how to market effective participant-centered training to managers who believe that lecture is enough