Coaching Lesson from Grandpa Joe: Invest in People

The main lesson that I will take away from my grandpa Joe’s life is: INVEST IN PEOPLE.

The accolades that Grandpa earned throughout his 83 years are staggering.

  • 1st hispanic to be elected to the Arizona State Senate
  • Acting mayor of the city of South Tucson
  • Entrepreneur – Astro Blueprint
  • First hispanic chairman of the Pima County board of supervisors
  • Volunteer fireman
  • President & CEO of Grand Canyon Minority Development Council

When my brother and I write a screenplay of Grandpa’s life it will be of the inspirational blockbuster variety.  A’la Rudy or Remember the Titans. Denzel would be the star. (We would make it work)

With all of his success no one would ever consider my Grandpa a win at all cost business-man, slimy politician, or even a millionaire.  Something else was fueling his drive and success.

When Grandpa became very sick I had the opportunity to speak with my Dad at length about Grandpa’s life.  What Dad said was simple; Grandpa believed in a life of service.

Since Grandpa’s passing I have been reflecting on his life trying to distill out the magic so that I could apply it.  Why did he devote his life to service?  What was Grandpa getting back in return?  What was his drive?

I couldn’t put my finger on it until I remembered a story that my father told me years ago about an employee he had at the old blueprint shop.

Carl Edmiston was a knucklehead of a teenager.  Carl’s family didn’t have much and without structure in his life he was falling in with a bad crowd, eventually dropping out of high school. By that time, Grandpa had moved into politics full time and my father was running the family blueprint business.

Carl was hustling to try and make ends meet by painting the addresses of buildings on their front curbs and then asking for money on a job well done.  Carl did this in front of our families blueprint shop and came inside looking for payment.  Dad checked out the work and since it wasn’t too bad dad gave Carl a five spot.

A few day’s later Carl appears in the back of the blueprint shop doing the same sort of thing.  Dad becomes suspicious because Carl seems pretty young and school is still in session.  Dad asks what’s going on, and Carl tells him that he has dropped out of school and is looking to make ends meet any way he can.

It just so happened that the blueprint shop was short one employee and Carl’s drive struck a chord with Dad. Dad offered Carl a one week trial to see how he would work out.  Dad says that Carl was “eager to please” sometimes doing tasks too fast in order to move on to the next job.  Dad took time out of his day and gave Carl a little extra guidance. After that week Carl was doing fine.

When grandpa moved up to Phoenix in order to continue his political career and open up a second blueprint shop, Carl moved up with him, acting as the lead blue printer.  He would be mentored by Grandpa helping my grandparents remodel their house and eventually buying a house in Scottsdale for himself and his family.

Carl’s story doesn’t happen if Dad views Carl as a nuisance and chases him off the property instead of talking with the young boy.  Carl’s story doesn’t happen if he get’s fired that first week because he required more attention from my Dad.

After remembering Carl’s story I quickly realized the “why” behind Grandpa’s life of service.  If you serve others they can serve themselves.  Invest in others and they will thrive.

The investment my family put into Carl allowed him to change his life.  Because of Carl’s change, the people that surrounded Carl were affected. The ripple will continue on and on.  The investment in Carl will lead to a return 10x over.

I heard this story when I was a young boy and to this day I feel the power of the message.  The message has informed the choices that I have made in my life.  Choosing to coach and teach is an investment in others that I hope will continue to ripple on throughout my lifetime and the lifetime of my athletes and students.

I challenge you to invest in someone this week.  Even if the investment is in yourself, make an effort to invest time, a compliment, a smile, or advice to someone that you come across this week.

Everyone deserves to be invested in.  From the most athletic to the least.  From the quickest learner to the slowest reader.  Everyone needs to be invested in.  The lesson my grandfather taught my family will be remembered through my actions, and hopefully my investment will pay out 10x more in many other peoples lives.

Thank you for the lesson Grandpa. Love you.



Carl Edmiston’s entry in my grandfather’s obituary:

I am so sorry for your loss of a great man. Words alone just can’t describe how great Joe was. He gave me my first job in the Blueprinting business with Astro Blueprint in Tucson and then moved me to the Phoenix office in 84. He was a hard working man that taught me what working truly was. I remember working many nights and weekends on projects at the shop with Joe he made it fun to be there. He treated everyone very kindly. Joe and the whole family treated me like their own family. He helped me so much in life. I am lucky to have know Joe and I will miss him. Rest in Peace Joe.

~ Carl Edmiston, Scottsdale, Arizona

Grandpa Joe’s Obituary