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My Path to Manhattan Beach

I grew up in a small town environment, just a subway ride away from one of the biggest cities in the world, the “other” Manhattan. My home town, College Point, in Queens, NY, was a closely knit neighborhood community of mostly blue-collar Irish, Italian and German immigrants in the 50’s and 60’s. I walked to grade school and later rode the bus and subway system to high school and college. I played sports, ran high school track and played keyboard in a rock & roll band throughout much of my high school and college years.

My first job out of college was as a wind tunnel test engineer for Grumman Aerospace on Long Island. I worked on Navy fighter jets, small commercial aircraft and the space shuttle. A significant downturn occurred in the aerospace industry in the mid 70’s; and I found myself laid off and unemployed. What an opportunity!!! I went back to school, earned my Master Degree in Computer Science and never looked back. Closed doors lead to open doors if you look for them. Then its just a matter of walking through one.

I had a similar experience in my Junior year as an undergraduate, life changing one might say. I was playing in my band four nights a week until one or two o’clock in the morning. Then getting up and commuting an hour and a half each way to college pursuing my degree in Mechanical Engineering. A reasonably difficult curriculum, to say the least. I went to register for the next semester and the note said “must see the Dean before registering”. That could never be a good thing. He gave me the expected bad news, my grades were not up to the standards of the institution. My first thought… my dad, a blue color laborer at Grumman, was working overtime to pay my tuition. My dad never finished high school, but he made sure his three sons all went to college. One of the smartest men I ever met. As the sweat rolled down my brow, the Dean delivered some more news. He told me they had never thrown a student out of the college for bad grades; and then he paused.

My Home Forever

“I grew up in a small town closely knit neighborhood community similar to Manhattan Beach”.

“Earned my degree in Mechanical Engineering and Master Degree in Computer Science in the seventies in New York”.

“I played sports, ran high school track and played keyboard in a rock & roll band”.

“My dad never finished high school, but he made sure his three sons all went to college. One of the smartest men I ever met”.

“My dad … taught me about character and respect and responsibility. He taught me to be trustworthy and fair, to do what was right. He gave me the tools to make tough decisions”

“I was recruited by one of the most prestigious executive search firms in the world to take a position as Vice President at a software company in Santa Monica, California”.

“With so many great places to live in the South Bay, I chose Manhattan Beach”.

“And now 20 years later, all spent living in Manhattan Beach, I am blessed to have made the right decision”.

Great news, if just for a moment. He then went on to hand me a pencil and paper and asked me to go outside and write him a letter of resignation from the college. He told me that at the end of the semester he would look at my grades, 3.0 index and he rips up my letter, anything less and he reads my letter and accepts it. Brilliant! That day I made one of the toughest decision of my life to that point. I quit the band, ended my “career” as a rock star, and started studying with conviction. Graduation was bitter sweet. My dad had died just five months earlier, but he was by my side. He taught me about character and respect and responsibility. He taught me to be trustworthy and fair, to do what was right. He gave me the tools to make tough decisions, like the one I made that day after leaving the Dean’s office — a decision that changed the rest of my life for the better.

I have enjoyed a very successful career in the high tech industry. First as a software developer, then as manager, and most recently as corporate executive. I have flown around the world as a business traveller, North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. I have met so many wonderful people and been immersed in a multitude of diverse cultures. I was woking for a computer hardware company based near Boston, Massachusetts in 1988. A small group of us were traveling with the VP of Sales as we made a five day, five city trip across the US to do regional sales reviews. We ended up in Southern California on a Friday evening, 3000 miles from home. One more night, a layover at LAX, and we go back home. On advice from our local sales office we headed to Manhattan Beach for dinner, my first visit here. And to no ones surprise, not my last.

Some eight years later, I received a call from one of the most prestigious executive search firms in the world. “We have a Vice President position at a software company in Santa Monica, California. We think you’d be a great fit.” I was honored to be offered that job and moved West. The company temporarily located me in an executive suite complex in Marina Del Rey while I looked for a permanent place to live. Completely transplanted, I was lost and sought advice from everyone I met… where should I live. It was amazing to me (at least at the time) how many times I heard Manhattan Beach. Oh sure, there was the occasional Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades or Palos Verdes, but always Manhattan Beach. Why? I had to ask… and over and over I heard the same thing… its beautiful, the beach, sense of community and lifestyle, the schools, property value, convenience, proximity to LAX and Los Angeles. And now 20 years later, all spent living in Manhattan Beach, I am blessed to have made another right decision. Thanks again dad…

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