This week I’m at the Jersey Shore where I did a book event organized by my mother (who I should have officially hired to help with my book’s promotion, but that’s another blog post.) Since I’m staying in the parental home, I’m thinking a lot about my dad, who passed away about 15 years ago, and who is responsible for a lot of the life and career choices I’ve made. My dad showed me the importance of fitting your career plans into a greater scheme for the life you want to live.
When my father had a career change in the 1970s, leaving the hair salon he owned in Brooklyn to buy a motel/marina on the Jersey Shore, people thought he was courageous. And a little crazy. He had a thriving business, yet was ready to toss it aside for a pipe dream.
My mother’s rich uncle owned a hotel on the beach in Miami, and that hotel is where we went on our occasional family vacations. Uncle Benny and aunt Helen lived above the hotel in a sprawling penthouse apartment, and Benny was a gadfly about town (and later, literally its mayor). He worked in shorts and took a swim each morning in the pool after his walk on the beach. My dad wanted Uncle Benny’s life.
Being a fairly persuasive guy (who always had good business instincts), my dad convinced my mother to abandon her dream of becoming a suburban housewife to join him in building what she liked to refer to as “his” dream.
Rather than moving into a penthouse above a hotel though, my parents, my brother and I (along with the family dog) settled into an efficiency apartment at The Trade Winds Motel and Marina in Sea Bright, NJ. We lived in that one-room apartment for several months until my parents were ready to give up some income and move us into an apartment above the motel. That apartment was a huge upgrade, but even though it was at the top of the building (2 floors, no elevator), it didn’t feel like much of a penthouse. Still, we had views of the bay and the 100 boat slips where our customers docked their boats. The dream was beginning.
For the first six-months or a year, my dad commuted back to Brooklyn where he continued to cut hair for his customers in the salon. He wanted to build up some security before he severed ties completely. He was a weekend entrepreneur.
In my writing travels, I am meeting increasing numbers of folks like my dad with “businesses on the side.” And I just discovered a blog written by Michelle Anton, completely dedicated to this popular breed of slash. This particular post is loaded with smart tips about building a business on the side. Anton also wrote a book, Weekend Entrepreneur, which you might want to check out.