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Tom & Bob then and now _ inspiration _ hug _2

“I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.” – Ann Hood [Tweet this.]

We met in a boardroom.

He came in with a big smile. After short introductions, we started talking about business.

Tom Manenti is the Chairmen and CEO of MiTek. It’s an arm of the Berkshire Hathaway family of businesses. His boss is someone named Warren Buffet. (Yeah, I’ve never heard of him either!)

The more we talked business, the more we realized it wasn’t just business that motivates us.

It’s a love of people. Focus on mission. Desire to inspire others to live up to the fullness of their potential.

We finished our meeting talking about family, faith and our inflection points, or the moments in time that change the course of our lives.

For Tom, it was losing his mother when he was just nine-years-old. He remembers most vividly the first day back to school after the funeral.

As a 4th grader at Middle Road Elementary in Hazlet, NJ, he was totally overwhelmed with grief. No one knew what to say, so no one said anything. Everyone in class pretended it was just another day.

The final bell rang. The kids grabbed their stuff. They raced out of the classroom toward their homes; toward their families.

This day Tom walked home with a classmate named Bob. The two friends walked together in silence. Tom was too sad. The woman who always greeted him at the front door, would not be at home today. Or ever again.

When they got to the corner where they parted ways, Tom kept his head down as he continued towards his home alone.

After a few steps, Tom looked up. To his surprise, Little Bob was standing in front of him. He looked Tom directly in the eyes, and gave him a big, sincere and much-needed hug.

No words were exchanged.

The hug ended. Bob turned and walked toward his house. Tom continued toward his.

That was more than five decades ago.

The boys grew up. They got through school, started jobs, grew businesses, moved states, raised families and enjoyed life.

Last summer they reconnected with old friends for a weekend of golf. At a quiet moment, Tom brought up that day back in 1960. They’d never discussed it. Tom asked if Bob still remembered it.

“Rock,” Bob replied using Tom’s old nickname, “I remembered it vividly. I’ll never forget it.”

My friends, frequently people ask me what to say to a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer, what to say to someone who has lost a spouse, what words to say to someone who is struggling.

Difficulty, challenge, strife and loss are absolutely part of life.

Hopefully this story reminds you that it’s seldom the wisdom of the words we speak and much more frequently the gift of the time we spend, the love we share and the hugs we give. [Tweet this.]

Keep your head up and seek opportunities to give away good, strong hugs.

Stay on fire and live inspired.

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