By John Jarvis
We have been having fun with our Mini Goals program at Hughes Marino for several years, but this is the first year that we invited our clients and friends to play along. It has been fantastic seeing the photos and reading the stories of people doing what they said they were going to do. The June Mini Goal was to write an article, and we received a couple that really caught our attention, so we want to give them a home on our Hughes Marino website. Writing isn’t easy, and sharing what we write with others only adds to the stress. Mary-Jo Uniack and Angela Koutis did both, and we love it. We asked their permission to share their articles here and they both said yes, so here you go, Angela’s and Mary-Jo’s Mini Goal for the month of June. Writing takes practice, and so does being impeccable with our word. Great job Mary-Jo and Angela! Thanks for playing along!
By Mary-Jo Uniack
At 51, I have finally discovered my passion. I used to hate questionnaires that asked for a list of my interests and hobbies. Who were they kidding? With a full-time job and two girls to raise, I didn’t have time to develop interests and hobbies! A good weekend for me was one that brought me to Sunday night with a clean house, no laundry piles and enough food in the refrigerator to make lunches all week. In my “free” time I was a Girl Scout leader, school volunteer, cheerleader and chauffeur, and I loved every minute of it. I always wanted to be a mom and I embraced that mission with gusto.
I am now three months away from an empty nest, and knowing this was on the horizon had me slightly panicked. What was my plan? How would I fill the hours previously devoted to raising my girls? The answer evolved from a purchase on a business trip. A $20.00 book helped me stumble upon my passion, answering the question of what to do with my newfound freedom. At a spice shop in Franklin, Tennessee, I bought a book about two women who began hosting monthly potluck dinners as a way of connecting with people who love food and cooking. I was one month past a devastating breakup, two months shy of my 50th birthday and desperate to find a distraction. I have always loved cooking, but never had a reason to really stretch and test my limits in the kitchen. I had watched food TV and subscribed to several magazines filled with recipes, but I read more about food preparation than I had actually participated in it. Things were about to change.
As my half-century birthday approached I announced that I would begin hosting monthly potlucks of my own. I created an email list of practically everyone I knew and continued to add to that list over time. If I met someone who seemed in any way interested in food, I asked for their email and added them to the list of family, friends, and strangers. The event started small and has grown over time, as have my cooking skills. I use this venue as an opportunity to try new techniques, recipes, and ingredients. I gather feedback from my guests and learn from the recipes and dishes they share at the parties. I have unearthed a talent I didn’t even know I had, and developed a skill set I didn’t know existed. At the LA Festival of Books this past spring, I bought 17 used cookbooks within 10 minutes of arriving. I carried that load of books all day but I didn’t mind. I couldn’t wait to read them, recipe by recipe, and begin planning my next potluck menu. I read cookbooks, go to lectures, and experiment with recipes late into the night without noticing the passage of time. This “work” is not work for me, and that is how I know that I’ve found my interest, my hobby, my passion.
The empty nest I was dreading seems less daunting to me now. I don’t fear the prospect of free time, instead I see it as an opportunity to further hone my skills in the kitchen. I envision turning this interest into some sort of business when I’m ready to retire. In the meantime, I hope to create food memories for my family and friends, and to continue to nurture the bonds created when people share a meal. I thank God every day that I wandered into that spice shop in 2015. It changed both my perspective and my life path.
By Angela Koutis
It is one thing for a company to inspire its own workers, it is entirely something else when that company reaches beyond its own corporate structure to inspire others.
At the beginning of 2017, I was invited by Hughes Marino to participate in a unique program in which their team members would be actively engaged. As a client of Hughes Marino, I found this to be a unique offer, so I jumped in with both feet and accepted to be part of their Mini Goals challenge. At the time I opted into the program, my intention was to step outside my comfort zone a bit and represent my company.
For the first half of 2017, I have accepted and achieved a Mini Goal each and every month. The goals set were achievable, but required time and effort to execute. Instead of being one more task to complete, I found, despite my workload, I looked forward to each new challenge.
In writing this article, my June challenge, I reflected on my accomplishments thus far. January blessed me with a Sunday afternoon with family—spending extra quality time laughing and competing in a board game. In February, I learned new things about my community, visiting a museum and fine arts center in my own town that I did not know existed. The March Mini Goal was a self-indulgent treat. I bought myself a bouquet of flowers and then enjoyed several days watching the flowers bloom and brighten my living room. In April, I discovered there is a bike with a battery pack for those long bike rides when you want to continue your journey but need a little break from the exercise or an extra burst of speed. May brought the sheer joy of repotting all my orchids—my first of which I have had for at least ten years and enjoy the blooming bursts of color throughout the year.
These Mini Goals brought unexpected results. They became a personal endeavor instead of being tied to business. They added value and meaning on levels I never expected. By accepting each new challenge and successfully attaining each monthly goal, I felt rejuvenated. This program gave me the opportunity to reconnect with myself. I realized that taking a few hours out of my very busy and full life—which I find rewarding—can be revitalizing and energizing on a whole new level.
As I wrap up the June challenge, I find myself yearning for the July Mini Goal, looking forward to a whole new experience with anticipation and excitement for what I will learn next.
What beautiful and touching articles! Nothing excites us more than to see our extended family play along with us, and to hear that our Mini Goals have had a positive effect on lives. To Mary-Jo and Angela, we thank you and look forward to seeing your photos each month. We hope you all enjoy a concert in August, and can’t wait to see where our challenge takes you!
John Jarvis is a senior vice president of Hughes Marino, an award-winning California commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Contact John at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.