Lessons From The Fields: What My Grandfather Taught Me About Life And Business

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Hello everyone, my name is Clay Collins, and welcome to this episode of the Marketing Show. Usually, we have a weekly marketing quiz, and usually, we have a number of transitions and special effects, but I really want to pair this one down because something significant personally happened to me that I want to share with you and that I think is going to benefit you quite a bit.

So in between the filming of the last episode of the Marketing Show and this one, something significant happened. I celebrated the birth of my grandfather who died just over a year ago. You’ve probably heard me talk about my grandfather. I talk about him a lot. In a lot of ways, he has affected me more when it comes to business and entrepreneurship than anyone who’s ever lived. As a child, I grew up standing in fields with him while he worked. A little bit about my grandfather, he grew more citrus trees than any person who has ever lived, you know, in the history of this earth. He grew over 600,000 citrus trees per year, and those citrus trees served hundreds of millions of people. Those citrus trees fed hundreds of millions of people.

So in honor of my grandfather and the legacy he left, I want to give you two takeaways from his life that have impacted me quite a bit. The first is that you do not need to ever justify doing work that makes you come alive. My grandfather didn’t have a narrative surrounding the work that he did that was sacred to him. He didn’t talk about purpose-driven tree growing. He didn’t write manifestos about purpose-driven tree growing. He didn’t start revolutions about it on Twitter. He didn’t talk a lot about why he did what he did, but he gave almost more than anyone else, and it meant more to him as a result. So that’s takeaway number one. You don’t need to justify doing what you love to do and what makes you come alive, and you don’t have to create a narrative around it.

The second takeaway comes from something that I remember my grandfather saying quite a bit, and that is that he wanted to die in his fields growing trees, doing the work that he loved, surrounded by the mountains of California and the earth that he had worked on for so long. He started Young’s Nursery, his citrus nursery with my grandmother immediately after their honeymoon. They had a very short two-day honeymoon, and then the next day, they started planting citrus trees together. And he lived on his nursery and he worked on that earth for multiple, multiple decades, over 50 years. And so, sort of with that memory of him saying that he wanted to die working in his fields, I’m left with the second takeaway, and I want to share it with you. Life is way too short to spend working in a field that you don’t want to die in. I want to say that again. Life is way too short to spend one minute, one hour, one week, one year, and especially one decade doing work that you don’t want to die doing. Life is too short to spend it working in a field that you don’t want to die in.

So in honor of my grandfather, I want to challenge you to not spend one more day doing work that you don’t want to die doing. So in closing, I want to say this. Happy birthday, grandpa. I miss you quite a bit, and you are missed incredibly.

  • Jackieflashgoldstein

    Clay, thank you for sharing that incredibly personal story. I can tell from your voice that he is a very special person (especially to you). The love and respect you had and have for him is just beautiful.

    • That means a lot, Jakie.  And yeah . . . he was a pretty good guy 🙂

  • Pulled some serious heart strings with this. Reminded me of my pappy who worked tirelessly and hunted just as hard. He loved his work and his family. My pappy is an inspiration to me as well.

    • That’s really awesome, Ben.  Thanks for sharing.

  • Drjeffwilde

    Great job clay!

  • You are planting seeds of joy in others lives every day Clay, just like he did.

    • Thanks, Natalie.  He set a pretty high standard . . . so it’s a good thing I have a lifetime to do this work.

  • Eoin Small

    Absolute words of wisdom!! Our slogan is “seek the joy” – very much along the same lines. Thanks Clay!