The Journey of Finding Joy Began 5 Years Ago

Bob & Joy

My expectation with every (personal interest story) interview that I have experienced over the years has consistently provided me with wonderful stories that I am excited to share. But there was one that was different, one that impacted me in a way that I had not expected. The result was profound. Today, April 22nd, 2018, marks the 5th anniversary of the day that changed my life forever. This was the day that I met Bob.

It wasn’t one moment or one word or phrase that Bob had shared with me that day, it was the collective of everything he did and said. The way he walked, his breathy voice, his beautiful blue eyes, his kind demeanor, and especially his sense of humor. His story is amazing, but it was how he handled adversity, how he made lemonade out of lemons, how he looked for joy in every area of his life, how he was a perfectionist and how he lived and loved that impacted me. I fell in love that day.

It’s a fact that I fall in love with stories, but little did I know that when I entered Bob’s home on April 22nd, 2013, that I would not only fall in love with his story, I would learn to love myself.

My journey towards finding joy in my own life was spurred by Bob’s request of me to find Joy. For when a 90 year old man tells you to find joy – you do it. Finding Joy (book and screenplay are being released soon) for Bob meant being reunited with his 1st love and providing a beautiful final chapter to a charmed life.

Witnessing happiness, kindness, and love between people is the best role model for visualizing your own happiness and manifesting it into your own reality. This was Bob and Joy’s gift to me.

Yesterday I mentioned this anniversary to one of my closest friends on the planet when I realized that I was driving behind a vehicle with a license plate that read: 2U JOY. How prophetic.

Bob continues to be a gift to me. It’s through his strength that I found my own. I am forever grateful and blessed for knowing him.

Intrapreneurship: A Driving Force Within Companies

This post originally appeared in my column on Inside Indiana Business.

“Intrapreneurship,” the application of entrepreneurial practices within the confines of large, established corporations, is steadily becoming a commonly-used term. Many of Indiana’s largest companies encourage intrapreneurship within their walls. This simply means that taking risks with innovation is encouraged, whether in small teams or individuals. Many companies without the budgets of these big firms are also experimenting with intrapreneurship, some relying upon it as a source for new business ideas or growth strategies for old ones.

“According to the Kauffman Foundation, it’s not small companies that are responsible for economic growth, it’s new companies,” says ClearObject John McDonald. “Companies less than 5 years old are responsible for nearly all of the [net] new job growth in our economy. That’s why introducing intrapreneurialism into existing companies is so critical, it’s the engine that fuels the creation of new opportunities and new businesses from within.”

Memory Ventures, a company which relocated to Fishers from Los Angeles, encourages their employees to take risks, even allocating funding and a time limitation on experimental projects. Many of these projects don’t result in success, but that’s a key part of the ethos of intrapreneurship.

“A lot can be learned through failure,” says Anderson Schoenrock, CEO of Memory Ventures. “When given a concise budget and time frame, the money spent is worth the outcome – which means it is successful if it flies or fails.”

Startup tech companies rely upon intrapreneurs to compliment their fast growth companies. In fact, this characteristic is highly sought after when assembling early stage teams. This is due to the fact that those individuals have a rare mix of corporate experience and existing business connections alongside the risk-taking and trial-by-error mentality of an entrepreneur. Tech startups live or die by experimentation. For example, user experience issues need to be resolved urgently, with intrapreneurship being key to the success or failure of these companies.

Becci Medhurst, an Australian serial intrapreneur, moved to the U.S. in 2016 to continue her work within startup companies. She is VP of Operations for Kenzie Academy, a tech apprenticeship school focused on education, mentorship, and job placement here in Indianapolis.

“Today’s intrapreneurs are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs,” states Medhurst. “Emerging tech ecosystems are generally very supportive of founders and emerging companies, but should look to take a step further in strengthening the support of our future tech leaders who are taking the risk and getting behind these new startup ventures as early employees.”

It surprises no experienced intrapreneur to discover that First Internet Bank CEO and Chairman David Becker encourages his employees to take risks. Becker is a serial entrepreneur who has stayed engaged with First Internet Bank through intrapreneurship.

“I have no problem if one of our employees takes a risk and fails, in fact, I encourage it,” shares serial entrepreneur Becker. “I just don’t want them to make the same mistake twice.”

This is something she hopes to tackle with Kenzie Academy, fostering innovative tech leaders who will be able to take an idea, build a successful team around them, and produce a profitable and scalable product/solution.

“These are the sorts of employees who will commit their time, invest their skills and benefit greatly by building their careers alongside the success of the companies they work for,” says Medhurst, who recognizes synergies between Australia’s emerging startup ecosystem, and what she’s witnessed here in Indy.

Cultivating intrapreneurship within a company may create surprise outcomes, such as growth and creative problem solving. Given the start of a new year, perhaps it’s time for more companies to experiment with celebrating intrapreneurs.

It’s all About Love

This week of Thanksgiving has begun with sadness and an overabundance of gratitude for someone who has profoundly impacted my life.The following is the eulogy that I delivered today for a man that I loved dearly, for he asked me to find Joy…

Bob would be sorry to miss this. He told me that he loved having family nearby so that he “had people to argue with and torment”.

Thank you for being here to celebrate the life of this amazing man. The poet Rumi wrote:

Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes,

Because for those who love with heart and soul,

There is no such thing as separation.

My perspective on Bob is a bit unique. It was 4.5 years ago that I had the privilege of interviewing him for a cover story. I could not have imagined at that time, the impact that a nearly 90 year old man, who moved with a walker and had macular degeneration would have upon my life.

I love it when people surprise me and Bob was full of surprises: from the clarity of his beautiful blue eyes, his kind demeanor at his advanced age, the number of cats he cared for – which I am fairly certain exceeded the legal limit, his seemingly endless list of accomplishments, and most of all, his sense of humor.

Bob said he had more keepers than the zoo – with his daughter and her family living next door, and many friends and relatives who would come to visit him.

He told me:

“When you get to be my age, everyone thinks you’re senile – I say mess with people!” and “You’ve got to have fun in your old age, it’s awfully miserable if you don’t.”

His canned response to a question that he did not wish to answer was “I’ve tried that before and it’s a bit too spicy for me.”

 

Bob spoke and moved with intention. He was deliberate and precise, which were remnant characteristics of a man who was a perfectionist. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for him to first lose his vision, then lose his preferred methods of communication since his stroke. Yet in spite of these challenges, his sweet demeanor endured.

It’s comical to me that the term “survived” is chosen to represent those still living when one passes. Although in Bob’s case, “survived” must be an accurate description that his 3 children have a right to feel, having survived a perfectionist father.

Bob was blessed to have experienced many interesting and miraculous chapters in his life, a life that could not possibly be confined to one book, for his adventures could fill volumes.

Bob was born July 9, 1923. Bob’s childhood was a bit unique in that not many of his friends had a darkroom for developing in their bedroom. Bob’s parents, Frank and Jessie, indulged Bob by encouraging him to pursue his passions which included scouting (he was an Eagle Scout), he played multiple sports including tennis, and his love of photography – which was influenced by his father and would define his professional career.

 

Bob graduated from Arsenal Tech High School in 1941, at the age of 17, the war was imminent and Bob eagerly enlisted in the Navy that summer, for he wanted to be a pilot. But the Navy was after college grads to fill those coveted spots, so Bob enlisted in the ARMY, hoping to be part of the Air Corps. When he took the entrance exam, which is an IQ test, he scored 150. Maybe it was something about how he looked, maybe he made a smart ass comment, because he was asked to repeat the test. The second time he scored 151. His flight training unit was flushed into infantry, except Bob. Bob told me he was late for the meeting, but whatever the truth, he ultimately served in the US Army Signal Corps, training to be a professional photographer at Paramount Studios in NYC before being deployed to the Pacific, coming ashore in the 2nd wave on the beaches of Okinawa, Easter Sunday, 1945.

While he was proud to serve his country, he was reserved about sharing his adventures until later in his life – the first reason is that he was told not to speak of it, for he had been a spy. But Bob deeply felt the loss of those who did not return. He said they were the real heroes. Bob’s missions typically involved being behind enemy lines, which earned him a Bronze Star.

It’s funny to me that Bob claimed that he could throw a pistol with more accuracy than shoot it so he kept it wrapped and ready for inspections, using only his camera to “shoot”.

 

Bob’s sense of humor served him well, for humor was his coping mechanism that kept him alive. At the close of the war, as teams were sweeping caves on the island, a grenade was thrown at Bob’s feet, it turned out to be a dud. He commented, “what poor quality munitions”. He had observed the yellow picric acid, identifying the location of landmines on a nearby beach, and said, “better not go swimming at low tide”. He needed these moments of humor to help him cope with the uglier side of war, which he undoubtedly witnessed.

After he returned from the Pacific, he would become the first professional photographer Eli Lilly ever hired. He was a pioneer in the medical photography field, devising his own equipment to photograph lab slides at a pivotal time for drug companies, because the FDA pivoted to accept photographs in lieu of artists renderings.

Bob proudly shared that, for an insulin atrophy study, he “photographed more women’s behinds than pornographers”.

Sacrifices had to be made, all in the name of science.

Bob had said that it took him a long time to take decent photos of his children, since it was his job to focus in on scientific and biological imperfections, so once he stopped his compulsion for wanting to zero in on acne, he figured out how to take decent portraits.

I mentioned that he could throw a pistol with more accuracy – later in life he became an expert marksman and a hunter. He also pursued his passion for flying. He started flying almost immediately after returning home from the war.

Privately he told me that one time he was flying over Geist Reservoir looking for ideal fishing locations when a voice spoke to him, asking why he was flying alone when he had a beautiful family who loved him. He listened to that voice and gave up flying to spend more time with his wife Joanne and his children – entering into a new era-defining “survival”, as Bob and his two oldest children won archery championships in their age groups. True to form, Bob achieved professional status.

 

Bob knew how to keep busy. Everything in Bob’s life was a hobby; his job as a professional photographer was a hobby; flying, marksmanship, fishing, archery, and painting. He stayed childlike, exploring his passions. He became a HAM Radio operator, collecting postcards from people around the world, including King Hussein of Jordan. He also reached the pinnacle of leadership within his Masonic Lodge. He studied world religions, striving to understand other people and cultures through their religious beliefs. The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” didn’t apply. His name was Bob, not Jack, and he mastered them all.

In retirement, Bob and Joanne traveled, with one trip paid for by National Geographic Travel Magazine, with his photography taken on that trip serving as a cover shot for an issue. Together they took art lessons, creating many amazing paintings and crafts.

 

Fast forward a few years, It was April 29, 2013 when I went to see Bob for the 2nd time, under the guise of reading him the rough draft of the article I had written about him from my interview the week before. But Bob had a different agenda. He was a few months away from his 90th birthday. Retired, a widower, he was reflective of his 9 decades of life. As he took inventory, he had but one regret. He had one last shot, one last hope to wrap up a blessed, charmed life. He wanted to complete his final chapter with love and he asked for my help. That was day Bob asked me to find Joy.

I was overwhelmed by his courage. He had not spoken of Joy in 67 years.

There’s something special about a first love. While Bob and Joy were happily married for the majority of their lives to others, as God intended – they never forgot one another.

I found Joy thanks to Google and Joy’s daughter Beki’s obsession with genealogy, when I delivered an envelope the following evening to Bob as I took a car full of boys to soccer, and I simply said to him, I found Joy.

When he called Joy a couple days later, he said, “This is Bob Albright, Don’t hang up!”

Joy didn’t hear him clearly the first time, asking “Who is this?” and when he repeated his name, she had to sit down. This man was full of surprises.

 

Speaking of surprises, a surprise birthday party for Bob’s 90th was planned. Bob told me that his vision was better than they thought it was since he noticed the extra soda and chips being stashed about – but Bob was the one with the surprise. He had asked Joy to marry him and would announce their engagement at the party.

A question that took him 67 years to ask.

He said, “I don’t know how many days I have left…but whatever time I do have, I want to spend it with Joy.”

Their time together, while brief, was enough. It was a beautiful final chapter to an extraordinary life.

Bob and Joy joked that their relationship was all my fault, and I happily accept the blame.

Joy and Bob

Bob thanked me for one last miracle in his life, he thanked me for giving him the gift of Joy. But he’s the one who gave me – and all of us – the greatest gift, for he showed us what was possible. He showed us that you’re never too old for love.

With Bob Albright, living to age 94, becoming the oldest living Albright ever – a world record that I guarantee he hopes is broken by many in his family – Bob lived more than a dozen lives, for he lived – he really lived – through wonder, with humility, with courage, and with love.

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to weep, and a time for joy, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Bob would want us to dance.

 

Photos courtesy of Brenda Staples Photography

4 Steps to A Successful Personal Pivot

This post originally appeared on The People Reader.

Throughout your career and life, you will find yourself needing to make a few personal pivots to stay in alignment with your joy. Even when you think you have it all figured out, misalignments happen and you can either stay in it and be unfulfilled, or you can take action to make the needed changes. In this episode, I talk with writer/storyteller/tech maven, Kara Kavensky, who shares 4 key steps to managing through your personal pivot process and finding a way to reclaim your joy.

Who is your mentor?

The other night I attended a cocktail reception for the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 40 under 40. It was the celebration of the incoming class as well as alums. I was honored to be a guest of my dear friend Jenny Massey, a recent alum of this fraternity.

The publisher of the IBJ, Greg Morris, in his first job out of college, worked with my mom. He and his wife are big fans of hers.

My mom was a high-level account executive at a very popular local radio station, WIBC. She worked mostly with men. She was a pioneer for women in sales and marketing during the 80s and early 90s.

It was a pleasure listening to stories about my mom in this manner, for I’d not heard this before.

“You didn’t mess with Kenna.”
“She was a force.”
“She was breaking ceilings.”
“She put up with a lot of bullshit.”
“If you were a powerful female and also pretty, you were called a bitch.”

I never questioned that she was a hard worker. She was a doer and got shit done. She was always an upbeat, positive ball of energy. To her credit, I never heard her complain about a single incident. This could be that she was too busy to care, for she was kinetic energy. I knew many, if not all, of her clients, as I attended many sporting events and concerts thanks to her connections. I was the defacto intern, having spent many of my teenage summers schlepping bumper stickers for the radio station at the State Fair or helping with other promotional events.

My mom made it look easy. While I knew struggles existed on some level, she appeared as if there was no issue, ever, for women in the workplace. I had no idea of the full reality of her experiences.

Only a year ago on the way to her grandson’s soccer game, upon passing a business that has been cut off by a newly elevated road, did I hear her mention something about karma as she smiled.

I’ve been asked many times who my mentors are, and have not hesitated to mention unequivocally my mom and Kathy Kebo (an amazing friend and another force of nature).

The comments shared describing my mom’s presence and work ethic resonate with me, for most all of those comments are ones that I have heard – spoken of me, so I must be doing something right. Apparently, I come from a line of strong women, and my daughter is no exception, in fact, I pale in comparison.

The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or in this case, the ovaries.

 

Dream Goals

New Cathedral Boys Soccer Coach, Paul “Whitey” Kapsalis, pens memoir of incredible soccer journey

Paul “Whitey” Kapsalis and his siblings were introduced to soccer while living in St. Louis. The entire family loved it.

Whitey’s father, Andy, worked for Allstate Insurance and was relocated to Minnesota where youth soccer didn’t exist, so the Kapsalis family started one. This club has since exploded in growth. The next stop was in Michigan. There, they started the Bonanza Express Soccer league, which was a select travel team, for his parents had a vision as to what the youth soccer landscape would become.

His oldest brother Pete played soccer for Michigan State University.

“This was groundbreaking for our family,” Whitey says. “Playing at another level, at Division 1, a Big 10 collegiate athlete — this had a huge influence upon me.”

While Pete was at MSU, the Kapsalis family moved to Carmel in 1981. Danny, the second of five, was a senior and Whitey was a sophomore. Soccer was not yet a varsity sport at the high school, and it was Whitey’s mom, Becky, who led the charge to petition and get soccer accepted as a varsity sport at Carmel High School. Ultimately, the IHSAA adopted it.

While living in Carmel, the Kapsalis family would road trip to Chicago to buy their soccer gear. Becky was inspired to open a soccer store in Carmel, and 25 years later, it was voted the No. 1 soccer store in the U.S.

“Soccer was something that our family found a lot of joy in, as it provided a fun opportunity to a wide range of kids,” Whitey says. “It was simply our passion, and we were pursuing what we believed in.”

Danny graduated from Carmel High School, where he set school records for scoring and walked on at Indiana University, the best soccer program in the country. Whitey gave a verbal commitment to play at Michigan State. Then, Danny won a National title at IU, and Whitey turned his attention to Bloomington. Whitey called the IU coach to talk about playing there.

“I was told that I wasn’t good enough, and they had seven returning starters and they had their pick of blue chip players from across the country,” Whitey says. “But this was my dream, and I made the decision the night before I was to check in at MSU that I was going to IU and do whatever I could to make the team as a walk-on.”

It made sense to go to Michigan State when Whitey assessed the pros and cons on paper, but the intangible element of having a dream was a challenge to transcend by a mere pen. After a three-hour conversation with his parents discussing why he was making this decision, it ultimately came to down to one question.

“Can I play at that level? Would I always wonder what would have been?” Whitey says. “I would rather have known that I had tried and failed than not have attempted it at all.”

Whitey placed a call to Coach Joe Baum at Michigan State and told him the news. Baum was gracious in receiving this call. Then he called Coach Jerry Yeagley and informed him that he was coming.

Once on campus, Whitey attended and watched all of the practices, working out on his own until the tryouts. He started doing the math and every factor weighed against him. Whitey was a long shot, but he worked his tail off and made the cut. He was the only player selected as a walk-on from tryouts. Even though he was red shirted his freshman year, Whitey was over the moon that he was a part of the program.

They won another National Championship that year.

Continue reading at TownePost.com

The glass is refillable.

Kara, Finding JoyA friend keeps describing himself to me as being a “glass is half empty” type of person and questions risk with “what is the worst that can happen?” type of questions. While it is good to be conscious of the potential failure side of a situation, isn’t the very act of taking a risk the definition of living?

My view is that the glass is refillable, that taking risks is the very source of feeling alive – that taking action and stepping out of a comfort zone towards something unknown – with the promise of it being ‘amazing” and exciting and worth exploring – is the very foundation of living, of being “closer to life” (a quote from a friend of Peggy Payne’s).

I love this phrase, “closer to life”, for it’s the heart-racing moments in our lives that define us. These acts, where we step in the direction of something unknown, pursue something on faith because we are drawn, become unforgettable life experiences. These are the moments we never forget, either because the act caused pain, or immense pleasure.

Each step taken in faith, towards whatever we are drawn to, is a step worth taking. We explore outside our comfort zone to expand ourselves and to grow. Some of the best lessons in failure lead to the most amazing, and unforeseen, discoveries.

Upon completing my book, Finding Joy (to be released soon), I realized it is about risk. A 90 year old man took a huge risk – by sharing a deeply personal regret. He asked me to find Joy, literally. What I did not realize at that time is that he was sending me along a life changing journey to find joy in my own life. He asked me to live my life with joy – he asked me to live, to be “closer to life”.

We have an obligation to live. We are here, so why the hell not?

Give me the Walkers

Give me the doers, give me those that take action and follow their dreams. Give me those that know what they want and go after it. Talking isn’t enough. Give me the walkers who are doing it.

“Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference.

The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”  – Nolan Bushnell

Entrepreneurs – true entrepreneurs – know how to get shit done. Period.

And it’s not just entrepreneurs, it’s people who create and do epic shit every day. This could be the simple action of caring for special needs child (for which there is nothing simple), it could be loving a person that is challenging to love – and it’s all about making a difference in the lives of others. It all comes down to action taking. Doing.

There are a lot of people that talk and love to talk into delirium. I may listen initially, but I have no time for them.

The stories that I write are about people who do. It’s my choice to focus upon businesses that have created by someone who saw a need, have a passion, and is helping others. They are making a difference. They’ve done more than talk – they’ve been a walker.

Having a dream and doing something about it are entirely 2 different things. Attract people into your life to help facilitate those dreams and ideas, create it, work at it, do it. Walk it.

Give me something to write about.

Interns to Orphans: Jeff Papa’s Mission to Mentor

While planting trees in Jeff Papa’s front yard in 2003, Jeff and Steve Wolff discussed how privileged they were to be where they are in their current positions and how far they had come. They admired the work of those around them, such as Barnes & Thornburg partner Bob Grand with his support of Little Red Door. Jeff and Steve were thinking out loud, exploring ideas for their own philanthropic impact …

Read the full article on townepost.com

Designing Her Own Success

The recent recipient of the National Association of Women Business Owner’s (NAWBO) 2016 Woman Business Owner of the Year, Jeryl Mitsch started her business with determination and sheer will more than 25 years ago.

“Larry had a lot to do with it,” shares Jeryl, of her husband’s encouragement to open Mitsch Design, “He helped guide me along the initial process.”

Read the full article on townepost.com

Kara Kavensky

Kara Kavensky