Monday Morning Mojo – The Gift of Struggle

Monday Morning Mojo logoBy Tom Tognoli, COO & Founder, Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

mojo struggleHe was good kid that always got along with everyone and loved sports, but he struggled in school and could never sit still…he was hyper. He was a “special ed” kid and his parents spent years and thousands of dollars on tutors because he had a very hard time reading and writing.  They tried medication to stop his wiggling in class, but that only made him a zombie, so his dad flushed it down the toilet.  They even tried coffee because the doctors said caffeine can work different on kids who are hyper and can’t sit still.  It helped a little, but an elementary school kid does not like coffee too much.  Somehow with the love and support of his family and friends he made it through elementary school, then middle school, then high school.  He even went to on to Chico State and studied Business/ Finance/ Economics.  All the time he struggled with his reading, writing and his hyperactivity/ wiggles…they did not know about ADHD and Dyslexia back then.  In 1987 he went through graduation ceremonies at Chico.  His grade point average in college was about a 2.5.  A solid C.  Not stellar by any means but for a kid who was ADHD and had Dyslexia, that could not sit still, had a hard time reading, and had a hard time putting two sentences together, much less an essay, it’s not too bad.  After going through the graduation ceremony, before he could receive his actual diploma, he still had to take a writing proficiency test because he took one of his college writing classes at a different college over the summer.  Unfortunately he failed the test and never did get his diploma.  They wanted him to come back and take one more class at Chico in the fall of 1987 so he could get his degree but for a kid who struggled, he shelved it and started his career. 
He was always entrepreneurial and after working for 15 years he started a company with some of his buddies in 2002.  5 years into their business venture his phone rang and it was the Dean of the Business School at Chico State.  He asked him to come back to Chico and speak to the students in the business school.  The Dean said they liked having graduates from Chico State who have been successful in business to come back and share their story with the students.  He told the Dean he would be happy to do it, but he never actually received his diploma.  They went back and forth a bit and talked about how the Dean could help him actually get his degree, but it fizzled out.  He never got his diploma and never did go talk to the business school…too bad.  I think some day he will.  To this day (27 years later) he still carries his college transcripts with him in his brief case everywhere he goes…really.  He will get his degree one day I have no doubt.

12 years after starting that company with his buddies they sold it to Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway.

If a kid born in 1964 with an ADHD and Dyslexia who could not sit still, had a hard time reading and writing, and was a “special ed” student can do it anyone can do it.  Although it did not feel like it at the time I really do believe those challenges and struggles are the things that set him up for success later on in life.  At the time they appeared as obstacles but now he knows they were his gifts.  They were God’s way of preparing him for future success.  It is the struggle that made him stronger.  He had to learn how to battle…how to work harder than others just to keep up…how to adapt and capitalize on his strengths.

How ironic is it that today he writes Monday Morning MOJO every week?  I really do think there is some Divine intervention in it.  Do forgive me for my typo’s, and mixed up words…it is just who I am :).

Grind through it, grow, and succeed!


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