I first heard about Mr. Croce when Audrey told me about his book I Feel Great and You Will Too. It had been given to her by a high school teacher and she fell in love with the man's message about optimism, attitude, and pushing our perceptions of what is possible. She let me borrow the book and I couldn't help but fall under Pat's spell. Though I'm usually not one for particularly motivational pieces and I never would have picked this one up on my own, it really challenged me to think about what I wanted out of life and how to get there. Croce stresses again and again the importance of attitude, of never taking no for an answer, of relentlessly pursuing your passion, of taking advantage of every opportunity life presents to us - it's hard to not feel motivated to do something when you put this book down.
When I say that I've "come to know" Mr. Croce, I don't mean simply by having read his book. No, Audrey and I were lucky enough to meet the man, but it was not nearly as difficult as you would imagine. One of his major philosophies is, "If you don't ask, the answer is always no." Inspired by this credo, we sent a message to Mr. Croce through his website. At the time I helped plan events in the dorms, so we sort of exaggerated my role and asked if Mr. Croce would come to speak at our campus. Within a few hours we received a kind reply from Pat's secretary. Rather than have Pat come to us, how about we come to him for an interview? We were absolutely ecstatic and could barely believe our eyes. But Mr. Croce lives by the words you'll find within his books and I truly believe it would never have occurred to him to turn us down.
After emailing back and forth with Mr. Croce's secretary, we set a date to head to his office for our interview. Our excitement was infectious and there wasn't a single person living on our floor who didn't have at least the slightest notion of who Mr. Croce was. We made countdown calendars and marked off the days... This was obviously a big event in our lives.
|A countdown calendar displayed for all our hallmates to see.|
|The second of three countdown calendars we had.|
When the interview day in November finally rolled around, we headed up from Delaware to Pennsylvania and found ourselves driving through some of the most beautiful and tastefully grand homes we had ever seen. It was a perfect fall day with brilliantly colored leaves adorning the trees and scattered over the lawns of the nearby houses. The closer we got to our final destination, the more we began to suspect the Pat hadn't just invited us to his office, he had invited us to his home.
|Audrey and I on our way to Pat's house.|
Finally we pull up to the house. Large and gorgeous, it was unlike any home I have ever known. We got inside the attached office and waited downstairs with a man who turned out to be Pat's son. Mr. Croce is a huge pirate guy, and actually told us that he was behind a pirate film in the works with Steven Spielberg - but that's the kind of guy he is and those are the kinds of connections he has. The office was decorated with pirate paraphernalia everywhere. From the books on the side table to the woodworking details on the staircase, pirate life was positively channeled in every last detail of the office. It was quite a sight.
After a few nervous minutes we were led upstairs to the man's office. At first we bumbled awkwardly around for a few minutes - we weren't really sure where to start. Mr. Croce thought that we were going to have set questions and materials for an interview, but we had nothing prepared. It wasn't like we had any forum to write and publish a piece on our visit at the time - we didn't work for the newspaper and this blog was years away from being born. We simply saw an opportunity to meet this amazing and inspiring hero of ours and took it. Despite the minor miscommunication, we sat down and talked with him about our lives and our plans for the future. Like Croce, Audrey wanted to become a physical therapist and he was nothing less than absolutely encouraging toward her and that goal. At the time I was pretty set on completing a cross-country bike tour and though my plans significantly changed by the time summer rolled around, Croce made me realize that I should not let anyone or anything stand in the way of an opportunity that I have to do what I want to do.
I worry that my story reads cheesy and sentimental, so I won't regale you with too many more details from our visit. Nonetheless, Mr. Croce was a truly inspiring person to meet. He would not allow us to make any excuses when it came to perceived obstacles standing in the way of our goals. Warm, welcoming, friendly, and encouraging - these were all the things this most wealthy, powerful, and busy of men embodied to us young college girls who simply wanted to meet him in the flesh.
I'm not suggesting you all contact Pat and expect to be invited for a personal interview, though if you even so much as suggested it to the man, I'm sure he would welcome every last invitation with open arms. Rather, I want to stress his philosophy and attitude about life and suggest you give his book(s) a try. All too often I make excuses and don't take personal responsibility for my happiness which is unfair to me and the people around me, as well as a pretty unrealistic way to lead your life. At other times, I make big plans with little follow through, usually because I don't believe in the possibility of realizing them. But if you don't try, you'll never know what actually is possible. It's little morsels of realistic encouragement like these that make Mr. Croce's message so important.
|We sent Mr. Croce a thank-you note and then got one in return!|
Though my goals and interests have changed a bit since that fall day when I met Mr. Pat Croce, I can still apply his opportunistic message to my new plans. For me, blogging and writing are passions that I tapped into relatively recently, yet hope to continue pursuing for many years to come. There are times when I worry I don't reach enough readers, that people won't be interested in what I have to say, or that there is no place for me in the already crowded blogosphere. But then I think about Pat and realize that if I don't at least try to see where I can take this, I'll never know for sure. And I think we can all benefit from a little bit of his philosophy in our lives every once in a while, if not everyday.