I've been blessed. In more ways than I can count, but that realization and the reasons why it happens hit me between they eyes again tonight.

We started our business over 10 years ago and I remember getting a visit from the Executive Director of the local Chamber of Commerce. I didn't know him well at the time, but I felt a connection with him. Even though I couldn't quite see how a membership in the chamber would help my business I felt his passion and agreed to give it a shot - after all, I'm wrong as often as I'm right, right?

I started meeting wonderful local business owners and before long I was on the board of directors and even spent a year as the organization's president. As an organization, the chamber provided value to my business, but the real value was in the people that I met over the years because of my association with the organization.

The Executive Director - a visionary, in case I didn't mention it - started something he called "The Owners Forum". It was a group of local business owners - large, successful owners - that met monthly as an informal board of directors to share issues, ideas, and solutions. My little business was the smallest in the group and to this day I'm pretty sure that the only reason I was invited to join the group was because I was the current chamber president, but for whatever reason it was one of those things that shapes the direction of things.

The real value of joining the chamber and becoming a member of the "Owners Forum" was that I got to know this group of people well,  that I shared thoughts and challenges with have them and that I count them among my friends.

Tonight I was blessed to share some time with them again and as always, deeply appreciated the time we have together. We toasted the holidays, talked about a wide variety of topics, and agreed with vigor just how lucky and blessed our lives have been.

After all but one had departed tonight, the same one that made the invitation that led to so many meaningful relationships in my life, shared something with me that touched me deeply. It turns out our children have faced similar challenges in their lives and my friend has dealt with it in the best possible way - as I would expect.

Thank you, Roger, for the invitation and for being such an inspiration. You're a good man and a fantastic parent.