“As you get older, you just grow into more things. I didn’t love wine until I was 30 years old, and now every other post is about wine, National Wine Day. So you learn and you grow, and you know what’s best for you as you get older.
That’s just all of us. I think that’s what being a human being is. You find ways that you feel like you can grow and what you like and what you dislike.
At 18, I don’t think I’m the same player that I am today at 33, and I shouldn’t be...I’m just more seasoned.”
I don’t think LeBron is talking about the end of his career. He’s talking about the different stages in life – something we should all be aware of. I look back on my own life, and I think it mirrors LeBron’s “seasoning” comment. Do you see yourself in the guy I’m about to describe?
On Fire, Out of the Gates
I grew up one of 13 family members in a family business, owned by my father, Carlo LaManna. My father was, and still is, my primary influence – as any parent should be. I was blessed with two amazing parents, and they helped guide a young spitfire through his career.
I’ve admired many things about my father, but two things that have always stuck with me are his willingness to learn and his desire to serve and always do the right thing. These traits revealed themselves over and over throughout his career, in a life dedicated to his faith, family and fortitude.
After attending Chicago Technical School, Carlo’s first job was a folder in a local bindery in the printing industry. The heat of the press room and the job’s long hours only made his fire burn hotter to learn and innovate.
In 1946, he headed north to St. Paul, MN, USA. He bounced around to a few jobs before hooking up with Jack Vomela’s small print and diecutting operation in St. Paul. There my father took on each and every job in the plant, even taking a press apart and putting it back together again so he could fully understand the machine.
He soon became plant manager and later created one of the hallmarks of his career: The thermal kiss cutting process. This and other innovations led to reeling in one of the biggest fish in manufacturing, 3M Company (formerly known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company), which helped Vomela achieve new heights in growth.
Throughout his career, my father always listened to 3M’s problems and provided a solution. He always grew. Then, when the day came that his thirst for new knowledge in the industry waned, he moved on. Like LeBron, he discovered a new stage in his life and embraced it.
He and my mother, Virginia, have enjoyed their retirement, and I see a man truly at peace with his life and his accomplishments.
Growth Means Dealing With Challenges
It wasn’t always easy for Carlo, or myself, along the way. With so many of my brothers and sisters involved in the family business, we at one point hired Tom Hubler, a noted family business expert, to help us deal with internal family conflicts.
It’s a process I’d recommend for any family, and it wasn’t cheap. But it was incredibly helpful.
You see, my father’s career wasn’t just about inventing new machines. It was about inventing new opportunities for his employees, many of which were his sons and daughters.
I took this opportunity to heart. During my young days in sales, I was one of Vomela’s top producers. I’ve always enjoyed the hunt; the spectacular highs you get from landing those big sales. I’ve also endured the lows, like all of us have, and persevered many by following Carlo’s lead by practicing faith, discipline and patience.
That required continuous growth, risk and change. While at Vomela, I completed Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program in 1990, which cemented my understanding of the nuts and bolts of business and leadership.
I was taking my game to a new level, and eventually, it came to fruition when I owned and operated my own company. After the successful sale of Vomela in 1990, I opened Advanced Converting Technologies, and we enjoyed a profitable run from 1996-2002.
I then sold my converting and contract packaging company and formed LaManna Alliance, with the goal of helping other like-minded business owners to learn and succeed through the same stages of personal and business growth experienced by both my father and myself.
43 Years of Seasoning
All in all, I’ve been in the industry 43 years and been involved in over nine business transitions of my own, not to mention countless others with our clients.
I’m on the other side of 60 now, and I feel, like LeBron does, that “the seasoning” is taking my business and my life in yet another direction. I’m fulfilling my true purpose by giving back to special needs and underprivileged families more than ever, and primarily by choosing the people I work with carefully.
We’re helping people with integrity, who are focused on their family, their employees and their sustainable businesses. I still love this business as much as ever, and I’m reinventing myself through my online presence. Podcasts, YouTube, LinkedIn posts – who would have ever thought of such a thing back in the 1980s, when young Rock LaManna was out pounding the pavement?
I’m not at the end of my career. Far from it. But I am in the last stage of my career, as many of you are. It’s a time where I’m excited to pass some of that “seasoning” on to my peers. To help them enjoy the successful stages to the golden years.
It’s time for me to look at my children, and my grandchildren, and for Papa Rock to share some laughs and some wisdom. It’s a time when my business is booming because these life lessons are needed in today’s rapid-fire digital age, more than ever.
I’m at the beginning of the end of my career, and I’m happy about it because I recognize it. I respect it. And I embrace it. You should, too.
Now it’s time to get back to my latest career stage.
See you in the marketplace!
Rock LaManna, President and CEO of LaManna Alliance, helps printing owners and CEOs use their company financials to prioritize and choose the proper strategic path. He can be reached by email at Rock@RockLaManna.com.