How to be Immortal


How to be Immortal

My editor reached out to me today and asked for next month’s submission. This guy is a slave driver, keeping his columnists busy all the time. It’s not that simple to come up with a topic each month to write about, especially when a deadline is looming. Despite the pressure to perform month after month, it is an honor to write for this guy. He is a legend not only in his own mind, but in my mind and most of the parking industry’s minds, as well. 

My editor is no spring chicken, but I’m no spring chicken either. There are select individuals who seem to peak and stay at their peak well into the years beyond their eligibility for free McDonalds coffee. I might remind you of a former actor and governor who once, in a presidential debate, challenged the voting public not to make age an issue in the election, and not to be critical of his opponents’ youth and inexperience. The youthful one? Walter Mondale. The senior? Ronald Reagan. 

What a brilliant line and one that stopped that campaign issue right in its tracks. That line will live in infamy. Not everyone in their senior years can continue to perform at their peak. One might just refer to fuzzy white leg hair standing straight up to prove that point, but this editor is performing with class.

For some reason, I continue to get asked about this editor’s next move or in more direct words, his succession plans. Honestly, to have a plan for succession would imply that there is in fact a need or a reason for one. If you are immortal, does there need to be a succession plan? 

I got to thinking on what it takes to be immortal and on why John Van Horn is in fact, immortal. For one, you have to be honest, painfully honest. Next, you have to have a passion for what you do in your career. Can one make his passion, his interests, his hobby, his career? Ask John if you can, he knows the answer well. 

Business immortality requires delivering a product that has value, sustainable value. Your product has to stand out on its own and be different. One of the attributes of immortality is how you value other people. One of the standout character qualities of immortal John is how he doesn’t believe in the Caste System where the vendor sits on the lowest rung of the ladder. John lives an upside down or inverse world. John knows who butters his bread and this is why vendors love his product and love John. I’ve learned a lot from my senior editor. 

An immortal invests in his community. The annual Temecula Think Tank, the brainchild of John Van Horn, is a gathering of Parking Industry thinkers and leaders who spend their own money to get together annually to process the activities and concerns of the industry and come up with ways to support it and defend it. John has annually hosted this event and it is sincerely a highlight of the parking calendar for this parking person. 

A passionate immortal is a risk taker. A passionate immortal isn’t afraid to fail and if he does, he gets, brushes himself off and takes another shot at it. A passionate immortal doesn’t plan his life around retirement Tee Times or Tea Times. He always thinks of his next adventure and when one day he sees his name in the obituary section of the local paper, that’s the day he decides to call it quits. 

So, Dear John, on behalf of the Vendor Community, stay long and stay forever. Stay young through useful and fulfilling work and Thank-You for your risk taking, your vision, and the opportunities and support you have given to so many of us through our Parking careers.

Note: Of course, every spot where the pronoun He was used in this writing, could as easily and equally been the pronoun, She. I only chose to use He because the subject of course was a He, John Van Horn. Live Long and Prosper.

Jeff: You turn my head. Thank you for the kind words. Comparison to Ronald Reagan, please. Someone asked Larry Donoghue how he made it to 104 years old. He said, in typical Larry fashion, “Don’t stop breathing.” I was asked, I think it was in my 40s, what would be the perfect retirement. I said I would like to live in a small town, edit the local newspaper, have enough income to cover expenses, and be able to read and write as little or as much as I liked. Somehow, by accident, I think, I have gotten it all but the small town. You can’t have everything. 

I guess when people start talking about you to other people, you have to admit you have some kind of reputation. Until recently I never thought about what others had to say about me. I really didn’t think they said anything, and frankly would prefer they did not. It’s embarrassing. But it is what it is. Now, I have a magazine to get out – yes, the April issue – I am blessed with a solid crew. They need to be stirred up from time to time, but that’s what I’m here for. 

 OK, Jeff, you have had your fun, now get back to work…JVH

Article contributed by:
Jeff Pinyot
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