Lessons from the Edge

Article by:
David Marinac, EO Cleveland
David Marinac
EO Cleveland

David Marinac is the president of American Built Containment Systems, which offers custom packaging design services online. Marinac has been an EO member for nearly five years.

WHAT I DISCOVERED THROUGH THIS "SACRIFICE" WERE BLESSINGS AND GIFTS BEYOND ANYTHING I COULD HAVE IMAGINED.

Like most entrepreneurs, I have been guilty of burning the candle at both ends. Whether time spent developing my original business plan, designing a solution for an important client or just trying to get ahead of my competition, I have worked early in the day and late into the night.

I would do anything for my business. In fact, I did. I went so far as to use money from our largest supplier — without the supplier’s knowledge — in an attempt to take my company where I wanted it to go. I was foolish and desperate.

But as I was consumed with the aftereffects of this horrible decision — a decision I made because growing my business across the country was my priority — I was forced to take a step back and assess my life.

My wife was not well. A few weeks before I con­fessed my fiscal misuse to my supplier, she started fainting unexpectedly. Not only was she fainting, but she was having severe abdominal pain. We went to doctor after doctor looking for answers before we finally discovered that she had some abnormalities with her ovaries. To make matters worse, cancer ran in her family. When tests came back with elevated levels of some sort, the doctors had no choice but to expect the worst … cancer.

Over time and through experience, we all come to a point when we must reflect on what is most impor­tant in our lives. For me, it was this moment. I found myself with an interesting decision to make. My busi­ness was teetering on the brink of disaster, as I still did not know how things were going to shake out with our largest supplier. My initial reaction was to work even harder to try to dig myself out of this hole. But it did not take long to realize that this would not be successful, not in the short term anyway.

At the same time, I knew we needed to make some decisions regarding our children, as my wife would need exploratory surgery and we did not have any idea what the doctors would find. I distinctly remember thinking that this could be a turning point in my life. Was I willing to accept the fact that this business could possibly go under if I decided to dedicate a large chunk of my days and nights to tak­ing care of our kids? What would we do for money? How would we pay for insurance or medical bills if we lost everything?

I wish I could tell you that the decision was an easy one to make. It was not. I always thought of myself as a decent dad, someone who made his share of events and tried to spend time with the kids when­ever it was convenient (for me). On the other hand, I thought I would build a company with multiple offices and hundreds of employees, too. I had to make a choice, and I did. I decided to give 100 percent of my time and effort to my wife and kids. Whatever time I had left, I would devote to our business. “No matter what the cost,” I told myself.

What I discovered through this “sacrifice” were blessings and gifts beyond anything I could have imagined— blessings even more significant than what I thought was my magical elixir… money. These are things I probably would not have noticed in the same way or at the same level had I remained obsessed with work.

I am happy to report that our supplier did not shut us down. Most importantly, my wife did not have cancer. Cysts on her ovaries were irritating a nerve connected to her heart, which was causing her to black out. The doctors feel they have a handle on the situation, and our lives are getting back to normal.

I hope to remember the lessons of this past year and never forget how irreplaceable moms are. I know one thing for certain: I don’t ever want to give up my day job.

WHILE I WOULD NOT WISH THE PERSONAL AND PROFES­SIONAL PROBLEMS I HAD ON ANYONE, I DO HOPE THAT OTHERS MAY REALIZE THE SIMPLE JOYS OF LIFE… A LONG WALK, A FLOWER BLOOMING, A BIRD SINGING AND YES, PRINCESSES AND ROCKET SHIPS BROUGHT TO LIFE BY CHILDREN.

HERE ARE JUST A FEW THINGS THAT I WAS MISSING:

  • Being counted on in the middle of the night when “boom-booms” (thun­derstorms) come.
  • Watching their little minds dance as I tell stories about princesses and rocket ships. (Can you tell we have a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy?)
  • Turning up Radio Disney and singing songs on the way to school.
  • Appreciating how adorable little kids’ clothes are, from little blue socks to fancy shirts with sparkles.
  • Watching their pride soar as they get themselves dressed, regardless of whether pants coordinate with shirts.
  • Seeing them stand in line for school pick up and how their eyes light up when they realize Dad was there.
  • Serving fish sticks and fries for dinner and feeling as if I cooked a gourmet meal.
  • Watching our 4-year-old son complete an exercise at gymnastics and the shy smile he gives me when he realizes that I saw him do it.
  • Being told I make the best toast in the whole world.
  • Coming to understand that Mom’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cannot be duplicated.

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