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What I Know, by Todd Mielke

Today, I have the privilege of leading Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), the Spokane region’s Chamber of Commerce and economic development organization. I get to lead an entire team dedicated to the success of others, who help businesses thrive and succeed, and who work to transform this region.

Like everyone, I have learned a lot during my lifetime, and those lessons have contributed to who I am today.

Listen to your grandparents and learn from their life experiences. My grandparents played a major role in my life. They lived through the Great Depression and often spoke of the things that truly matter. Both of my grandfathers were “jacks of all trades” and could fix just about anything. One grandmother stressed the importance of education, acknowledging that no one can take away what you’ve learned.

Family is important. Family can be defined in many ways, but typically they are the constant in our lives—loyal and tolerant, helping us find our way when overwhelmed. Being a member of a family means putting the needs of others in front of our own, and ultimately sets the tone for how we look at, and treat others. My family has always been amazingly supportive. My daughter is approaching her 24th birthday. I’ve been raising her as a single parent since she was four, and I couldn’t have done it without the assistance of my “family.”

Be an Optimist. I am the eternal optimist. Life is too short to be anything else. What I love most about my role at GSI is that I am surrounded by optimists. These are people who had a dream and started a business. They risked everything, they have abundant energy, and they think outside the box to find solutions. When you put people like that in the same room, the energy and enthusiasm are contagious.

Parenting is an amazing experience. But it goes way too fast. My daughter is such a blessing. I am proud of the person she has become—she is creative, has common sense, is intuitively bright, and genuinely cares about others. My advice to new parents—I know life is busy and stressful, but make that time with your children. They are the most important investment in your life. Your life will be that much more fulfilling, and our society will be better for it.

Find the wisdom in famous quotes and song lyrics. Throughout our lives, we are inundated with quotes and song lyrics. Here are some we can take to heart: “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”; “your word means everything”; “treat others as you would want to be treated”; and the one for every politician—“God gave you two eyes, two ears, but only one mouth. Do the math.” And then there was my grandmother’s favorite: “There are three kinds of people in this world—those who make things happen, those who watch what happens, and then those who simply wonder what happened. Which one will you be?”

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