Thursday, 19 September 2013 13:12

Contemplating Life and Business In A New York Minute

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This morning I was expected to be awaken by the symphony of jackhammers and construction workers screaming things that would make a sailor look like a nursery school teacher. Imagine my surprise when I was awaken by the rumbling coming from of all places my stomach. So what's a guy to do when he's starving at five a.m. in the 'City That Never Sleeps'? So I grabbed a magazine and began trolling for food and would ultimately stumble upon a little storefront café where I would find the best breakfast I have ever eaten out of a Styrofoam container. As I gratefully ate my food and watched the city come to life, I took the opportunity to reflect on the sights, sounds, people and what I learned from my most recent trip to New York City.


The easy part of traveling is booking a flight, hotel, or car, however, navigating public transportation in a city as large as New York City can be intimidating. The easiest thing to have done would have been to secure a shuttle or taxi in order to get to my destination with the least amount of hassle . . . but that's not my style. Instead I grabbed my luggage and what seemed to be the world's biggest public transportation map which seemed to scream 'I am not from here please take advantage of me'. I kindly asked to be pointed in the right direction and away I went successfully navigating the bus and subway until I reached my hotel. In both life and business it's easy to get too comfortable or begin to start playing everything safe. There are times when decisions need to be made and you have to throw caution to the wind and just go with it knowing that everything is going to be alright-because life is an adventure.


Years ago Nissan Motors had a great ad campaign which centered on this mystical guy and his dog. At the end of each commercial he would implore the viewers to simply 'Enjoy the Ride'. For some reason that tagline came to mind when I set out to attend a business event and needed to catch a cab to get to where I was going. After being passed by what felt like dozens of cabs, I finally grabbed one and was on my way. Factor in the sheer number of pedestrians, the cabs bumper to bumper trying to avoid each and them as well and it doesn't take long before you begin to hear the humming of irate cabbies. But not my cab driver, he remained cool, calm, and collected. So I finally asked him, "How do you do it every day and does it ever get old?" His response, "What are you going to do about it? I simply tune into my music and when days get really rough . . . I put on classical music. You've got to learn to go with the flow." In life and in business there are things that we have control over and then there are things like New York City traffic that you have no control over what-so-ever. At times the best that we could possibly hope to do when difficult situations arise is to sit back and enjoy the ride.


The cultural diversity of New York is unlike anything that you have ever seen-and I absolutely love it. Regardless of what you think about New York, I don't truly believe that you can live here unless deep down you enjoy living, working, and playing with so many wonderfully diverse individuals. If I had to pick one thing that has been primarily responsible for any small success that I have had over the years I would have to say it has been the relationships I have established over the years and a desire to build bridges with individuals whose lives, look totally different from my own. I admit that at times I am still a little shocked when I encounter those who refuse to let themselves find commonalities with their fellow man because of where they are from geographically, their general background, or even their ethnicity. It's a pity because if you can't connect with people that are not like you, you could be short changing yourself personally but also limiting opportunities for your business.


Not sure where I first heard this quote but there is something about it that resonates with me, "Grant me the understanding that someone else's limitations of me . . . don't have to be my own." After a week of being under the weather, behind on work, the thought of leaving at 3:30 in the morning to navigate airport security, and maneuver a city the size of New York was the last thing that I wanted to do. However, I knew that if I didn't make an attempt to go that I would in some small way be limiting myself. When was the last time that you stretched yourself both personally or professionally? Have you gotten so comfortable that the thought of doing something out of the norm makes you cringe? I am always on the lookout for those seasons of life when I find myself getting too comfortable or possibly limiting myself. I often wonder how many individuals who are destined to do great things find ways to self police or limit themselves before they get a chance to truly soar.

Years ago my grandfather, Mitchell Gaddis, gave me advice that I have tried to live my life by. At 13 I grumbled for weeks leading up to a junior high dance arrange by my mom and her friend for her daughter. My grandfather watched me complain and just as I was set to leave for the dance he pulled me aside and said, "Son in life there are things that you are not always going to like, that you may not always want to do . . . but at least at the end of it you will have the experience." Sitting in New York’s LaGuardia Airport waiting to board my flight back to Chicago it dawns on me that this article was never intended to be what it currently is. My experiences over the course of the week helped me reevaluate whether or not I was still seeing life as an adventure, if I was simply enjoying the gift of each day or existing, was I still genuinely showing love for my fellow man and was I limiting myself? Some of the answers are easy yeses while others may require a bit more thought. Each month I enjoy sharing insight on all things small business in hopes that it will help others get closer to living their own dreams-it is one of my true passions. As the title suggest this article was about finding that delicate balance between your personal and professional life. The questions I will leave you with is how much of this article has anything to do with business and how much of it is really all about life?

Cavanaugh L. Gray

Cavanaugh L. Gray ( is the Director of Business Development for The Entrepreneur Café, L.L.C (877) 511-4820.  For more information on what makes a great start-up or to read a chapter from his new book The Entrepreneurial Spirit Lives: 25 Tales to Help Entrepreneurs Start, Grow, and Succeed in Small Business log on to  For more information on how to start, grow and succeed in small business, ‘Like’ on Facebook, ‘Follow’ on Twitter @TheECafe or ‘Connect’ on LinkedIn.