My wife, Margie, and I moved to San Diego in the summer of 1976. Having just been promoted to full professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I was on sabbatical, and Margie had just finished her doctorate in communications. Our son, Scott, was 11 years old, and our daughter, Debbie, was 9. We had planned to stay in San Diego for just a year. But after a few months, Margie said, “Why are we going back to Massachusetts? It’s beautiful here. Summer in Massachusetts is two weeks of bad skating.”
It’s true—San Diego has the best weather in the country. And as visitors, we loved all the fun attractions like the San Diego Zoo, one of the best zoos in the world; the Wild Animal Park (now Safari Park); SeaWorld; Balboa Park with its world-class museums; and the famous beaches. But it was also clear to us that this area was a fabulous place to raise our family, with unlimited activities—surfing, boating, bicycling, hiking, golf, the mountains, the deserts. What more could we possibly ask for?
There was one problem: How could we stay when we didn’t have jobs? Then I got an opportunity to do some sessions for the Young Presidents’ Organization, an international network of business executives who all became presidents or CEOs before the age of 45. My sessions on leadership were so well received that members of the San Diego chapter of YPO asked me what I was going to be doing at the end of my sabbatical. I told them we were going back to UMass. They said, “No, you aren’t. When you’re hot, you’re hot. You need to start your own business.”