Finding Out Who I Am

The search for meaning has consistently been one of mankind’s biggest distractions and aspirations. The questions “Who Am I” , and “Why Am I Here” resonate with most people. Like many people, I have grappled with both of these questions for most of my life. I have gone through thoughts and exercises to explore the “why” of my life, but until recently, the question “Who Am I”, had felt somewhat incomplete.

Who Am I?

Sangiorgi coat of arms

Sangiorgi coat of arms circa 1669

Recently I had a revelation about who I am, and where I came from in relation to my ancestry. My father’s family to be exact. The information that was shared with me has deeply affected me and gotten me thinking about my family history and my relation to others in ways that I never imagined.

Like everything these days, it all started with facebook. I was checking recent facebook messages when I saw that I had some unread messages in the often-overlooked “other” tab that is reserved for people that aren’t your friends. There I read short month-0ld message was from someone named Chuck St. George and was asking who my great-grandfather was.  He was asking the right person. I’ve been trying to track down information on the SanGeorge family, and specifically my great-grandfather, for years.

I knew that my great-grandfather Orazio SanGeorge and his wife Madeline Zanghi immigrated to the US from Sicily, but that was pretty much all I, or the rest of my family knew. The family tree stopped at the US border.

It’s not that I felt unconnected, but something felt incomplete because I didn’t know any more than that.
Who were my great-grandfathers and great grandmother’s parents? Why did they leave Sicily? I felt deep gratitude and curiosity towards these two, who at a young age decided to leave the old-country behind to risk everything on the dream of America.

my paternal great-grandparents Orazio and Madalena Sangiorgi

My great-grandparents, Orazio and Madalena Sangiorgi

It turns out that Chuck St. George was indeed my cousin and he  had done some extensive family research and tracked the SanGeorge family all the way back to the mid 1700’s in Sicily!  His research revealed many of the things I was looking for all of this time. One of the big revelations to the whole family what that for at least the past 300 years, our family name was Sangiorgi, not San Giorgio as we were all told, and not SanGeorge, Saint George, St. George or San George, as we are named now. If you are interested, here is a copy of the Sangiorgi family tree (click to enlarge).

I also learned that my great, great grandfather Francesco Sangiorgi had nine children, all of whom were born in Valledolmo, Sicily, and most of whom settled in the Western New York/Buffalo, NY area, where my family is from.
In the past I’ve met people in Buffalo with the name Saint George or St. George, or people with family with those names, but I never knew that they were actually my cousins. In one odd circumstance, it turns out that one of my closest friends is actually my cousin.

Another interesting fact is it that the town of Valledolmo, Sicily experienced a mass exodus in the mid 1800’s. Record indicate that up to 8,000 people left that town to arrive, and settle down in the Buffalo New York area. Suddenly my home town and my life seems much smaller, and more connected.

Not only does this information give me more complete vision of my family, it also connects me to a much larger Italian-American community in Buffalo. I’ve been given a gift of a window into the past. A vision of the the faith, the risk and the sacrifice that my fore-fathers took. It gives me a greater appreciation for my current life and the privileges I have because of them. I owe them a debt of gratitude for having the  foresight and courage to endeavor for a better world for them and their families.

Since then I’ve recreated the Sangiorgi Family Coat or Arms, Click here to see it and/or and buy a sticker.

Sicilian Proverb:“ Chi lascia la via vecchia per la nuova, sa quel che perde e non sa quel che trova” Whoever forsakes the old way for the new way knows what he is losing, but not what he will find.” Sicilian Proverb

Brontosaurus is Back

The Brontosaurus is Back!

Remember the good old days when the furthest planet in our solar system from the sun was the planet Pluto, and the biggest dinosaurs were called Brontosaurus?

Then came the uncertain days. Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore, and poor old Brontosaurus (which means Thunder Lizard) went the way of the dodo bird. Even worse than the dodo, the Brontosaurus wasn’t extinct, scientists told us it never even existed. They told us that these dinos were actually Apatosaurus all along. How disappointing!

Now these things are coming back to us. Pluto is once again a planet, not just a lump of ice. And as of today the largest of the dinosaurs, the mighty and majestic Brontosaurus is once again validated as its own Dinosaur! The young scientist inside of me suddenly feels at peace with the world again.


The Future Begins Now

Happy New Year

Each new year brings new hardships and new opportunities. I’ve recently heard many people express their relief that 2014 has ended. At first I was inclined to join them. This was a difficult year for me in many ways and when I look back, the bad things tend to stand out more than the rest.

But in many ways, 2014 was also a very good year for me. There were plenty of professional and personal achievements this year, as well as fun times with friends and family, yet these things seem less distinct to me that the hard times. How often do our reflections take the good things into account? It seems like looking forward is always through a positive lens and looking back is through a negative lens.

Then again, don’t we grow and learn from hardships? Isn’t it the difficult times that build character and perseverance and motivate us to try harder next time? I don’t know many people who succeeded without failing first. It’s life’s hardships that give us the education and motivation to build future success.

The Future Begins NowAt the very beginning of 2015 my perspective is this; yes 2014 was a hard year, but I’m going to learn from each hard lesson and use them to fuel education and motivation for the coming year.

We don’t know what the future has in store for us, but if we make a solid plan with realistic goals we are in much better position to shape our future. We are always on the threshold of our own futures, but on New Years day it is more obvious than ever that the future begins now!


This post originally appeared on the Magnetic Blog.

Comfort Zone

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. –Brian Tracy

Some of us work our whole lives with the goal of being comfortable. We strive for a comfortable home, a comfortable car, income, etc.
There was a time that I subscribed to that type of thinking; life would be better if I could just be “comfortable”.

I think it was the cable TV show What Not To Wear that first woke me up to this deceptive word. Whenever the person getting a fashion makeover tried describing why they wanted to hold on to one of their old, beat-up, pieces of clothing they almost always described the clothing as comfortable. At this the show hosts would cringe and go on a rant about why comfortable is not on the list of criteria for looking good.  In the same way, comfortable does not make the list of criteria for being successful!

Move out of your Comfort Zone

I get it. Life is hard and it’s easy to become complacent. I’m that way too.
I remember seven years ago I was not only complacent, I was stubborn about being complacent. I was seeing signs at work that my job may be eliminated, but I was choosing to ignore them. I remember telling my wife, “It took me two years to find this job, I don’t have the energy to look for another one now!”.
Yet despite my will-power and determination, and (especially) despite my complacency, my job was eliminated, just as I knew it would be. Because of this I was in the worst position of my life; No job and little preparation for finding another.
I’m not sure what I could have done at that late date, but whatever it was  it would have been better that doing nothing and pretending the problem didn’t exist.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
–Brian Tracy

I love that Brian phrases this quote so well. He uses real words like awkward, and uncomfortable. Brian is right, it is awkward to put yourself out there. When you’re on a new path you’re out of familiar territory. You may venture off of the path and you may get bumped and bruised, but there is something that will surely happen: you will move forward, and you will grow.

What are you doing to get out of your Comfort Zone?


“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald Walsch

Eat Good Feel Good

eat Good, feel Good. We Are What We Eat
In this day and age there is enough information available for us to make some pretty strong conclusions about the relationships between our diets and our health. For my family, eating organic has gone from an occasional thing, to 90% of the food we buy. Besides that our family has gone from just me eating gluten-free, to a “mostly” gluten free and a vegetarian diet.

My kids are quick to say that they aren’t vegetarian. They jump at the chance to eat the chicken, cheese and hamburgers that we don’t feed them anymore. I’m glad that they can enjoy other foods when were eating out, or at friends house. But when it comes to our house, they eat what we eat.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to convert others to this diet. I believe everyone should be aware of the things that are in our food that makes it bad for us and ,eat what they think is best for them. I am advocating understanding what you put into your mouth.  

We Are What We Eat
Since we have made the switch this past summer I feel much better than I used to in many ways.  I’m less tired, get upset stomach less, and I haven’t been sick a day since I’ve started it. These days I’m much more satisfied with a kale salad then I would be having a greasy cheesy steak. Eat Good, Feel Good has proven a true statement for me!



Putting the Pieces Together

fitting the Pieces of your life Together
When I was a child my life was whole.
Everything I did revolved around: my parents, my house, my brothers, and my friends. They all fit nicely together. Then as I grew older pieces of my life started to stand on their own, apart from each other. School became a place that was separate from the rest of my life. My school friends were different than my “home” friends, and the two didn’t mix, except maybe once a year for birthday parties.

As I became a teenager, the things I talked about with my friends became separate from what I talked about with my family. My basketball friends were different than my “hanging out” friends, which were different from my “home” friends.

This type of fragmentation continued and reached a peak when I was in college. I related to people based on how I knew them; work, school, family, friends, church, sports, etc. The contact I had with people, and the way I acted, varied with each group. My life was fragmented, and at times I really didn’t know who I really was. At my core I was a whole person, but the different facets of my life were very different, and sometimes at odds with each other.

After College, I moved to a new state, I had a new life, and I began re-arranging it (sometimes unconsciously) into the things that were important to me. Now that I’m married with children my personal life is on an even keel, family mesh nicely with my friends and and their wives and kids, and my parents, etc.

My professional and “online life” was altogether different. My web presence was divided into my different online activities. In one place I would talk about upcoming public speaking events, in another I would write about gluten free news, another graphic design, and just about anywhere else I would be discussing internet marketing or social media. We all wear different “hats” throughout the day, but in order to simplify my professional life, and my online activities I created this website that allows me to put the pieces back together.

Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Photo by: csaila

As for the iPads… my kids are 2, 5 and 7 and the moment either of the older one’s get their hands on an ipad that’s the last we hear from them.  That is, unless they are fighting over whose turn it is to play a game.  Angry birds, Smurf’s, racing games, puzzle, games, unicorn games.. The kids love them, and they suck up their attention.  The kids aren’t the only ones, the main culprit for the adults was Facebook, and I’m one of the guilty parties. We may have been closer to our facebook friends, but while were interacting with them we’re not interacting with out family members sitting besides us on the couch. And this is the problem for me.

When Did the Isolation Begin?

The walkman first became popular when I was in high school. Back then it was the radio or a cassette tape, (not mp3’s). After seeing a few of my friend’s with walkman’s my first impression (after the initial coolness) was, “how selfish”.  This was surly not everyone’s reaction, but I couldn’t help feeling cheated and jealous of my friend sitting next to me, jamming to some unknown tune, while I was forced to look-on, un-engaged and un-entertained. Later I got my own walkman and that feeling was erased, but my initial reaction was valid. This new device was creating a separation between the walkman user and the the rest of the world.  Flash forward to the present, our held-held devices not only play music anymore, they do about 100 other things as well. the amount of time and the amount of isolation we experience from those around us has grown exponentially. 

Because of technology we can have, and maintain relationships with thousands of people online through platforms like facebook and twitter, but is it robbing time from our friends and families?   Through our mobile devices we can be engaged and entertained every waking moment of our lives, but how do we balance this with being engaged with those who share proximity and a “flesh-and-bones” relationship with us? This may be one of the great challenges of our generation.

Career Coaching and Layoffs

Last week I volunteered as a career coach for an event called “Passport to Success” that was produced by a local TV station. As I told my friends, I’m not really a career coach, I just play one on TV! Actually I was very comfortable slipping into the role of coach to help this group of 130 recently unemployed professionals.

As a technology coach I met with people for 6 minutes each in a “speed dating” type of format. Throughout the morning I met with 32 people. Afterwords my voice was hoarse and I was exhausted, but it felt great to help people with their career search. The biggest thing I did was to encourage people to establish a personal brand and bring it online through social networking sites like, (amazingly 90% of the people I met with didn’t have LinkenIn profiles).

As someone who was laid off from a real estate marketing position just two years ago, I felt a real empathy for their situation. This is a terrible time to be in their position, and their road is bound to be hard in many ways, but it’s also a potential opportunity for them to grow personally and professionally.

In the two years since my layoff I have grown professionally in ways I couldn’t have imagined previously. Being a pragmatist I would have never taken “the leap” to venture out on my own without the firm shove given me by my previously employer. Here is a link to a video clip from Durham, NC where I talk about turning my layoff into an opportunity.

The other side of this is that I’ve suffered huge personal and financial hardships during this same time. I won’t go into these, but suffice to say that it “ain’t been easy!”
I’m not sure what the future will hold for me, but I know for sure that I have been changed by the events of the past few years, and I will never be the same!

As I think about the people who have been recently laid off I know that some will find another opportunity right away, some will stay in their industry, and some will not find anything for a long time. But I know that some will, as I have, use this opportunity to transform themselves an reinvigorate their career. But for almost none will it be easy!

The following link has a video from the  “Passport to success” event with a short clip of me talking about the power of blogging.

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