Peer to Pier--Interview... Lynn Pirozzoli ~ Part 2
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We courted for two years and decided to tie the knot. After helping so many brides plan the details of their weddings over the past 14 years, I had a new challenge–planning my own. Our wedding odyssey began at the Black Horse Inn where we were married for the first time about a month before departing for Rome Italy where were married a second time in a 14th century church near the Vatican. Following the ceremony, a reception was held at Casina Valadier, a restaurant located high atop one of Rome’s famous seven hills in the Villa Borghese, a 17th century park and unparalleled views of the city. Jimmy and I shared a horse and carriage ride through the city, stopping at all the magnificent sites in the city. Since many of our family and friends could not join us in Rome, our third and last wedding was held in the fall of 2006 at the Black Horse Inn, for the entire cast of family and friends. So…Jimmy and I have been married three times now as respective spouses!
Meg: You came to the conclusion that corporate life was not for you and deciding to pursue your entrepreneurial instincts. Since then, you have successfully created a livelihood that combines a life-long passion with service to others. Any words of wisdom to others who seek to create a meaningful vocation from their passions?
Lynn: Corporate life ceased to be of interest to me when I was asked to do something that I considered unethical. I was at the top to the top as VP of a large environmental consulting firm based out of Sacramento, California, and I suppose that the closer you get to the top, the more management pushes you to pursue opportunities that they see as profitable, no matter what the cost. I was not willing to compromise my morals and ethics. Subsequently, I decided to become an entrepreneur and start my own business with the proceeds of the gold mining options that I had exercised. The change in lifestyle afforded me the luxury of setting my own schedule and enjoying the sports that I was passionate about. I would ride frequently and enjoy participating in the hunt.
Weaning myself from the comfort of corporate life took some doing. It was uncomfortable at first not having a corporate office to go to daily. I was restoring an old inn with my business plan literally penciled in on the back of an envelope. I had no cushion to pad myself with. There was no steady stream of income and I had to watch every dime to ensure my success. It was scary when the phone didn’t ring, because I would ask myself if I had taken the right course of action in marketing properly. It was scary when the phone did ring, because I was a single woman running the entire show and the success or failure of my new business was completely dependent on me. It took some time before I felt comfortable with the freedom of not having a 9-5 job anymore, but as time progressed, I finally got into a groove of enjoying the business and creating a wonderful life for myself.
As the business has become more successful, life has come full circle. I struggle daily with running the business and taking the time to enjoy family and friends. There is less and less time to enjoy those things that I value most highly and I know that I will soon need to readjust the way things are done to allow myself time for the important things in life. As I stated before, time is a thief and we mustn’t let time pass us by without enjoying the fruits of our labor. We must learn to smell the roses along the way and cherish our family and our relationships with others. The most gratifying thing about having the Inn and working with brides on their weddings is that I can give something back to them in this regard. Their perfect day is one day where I can help them to slow down and relax and enjoy the ones that they love the most. When they arrive on property they put their cares and troubles behind them and focus on the most important things in life– including family and friends. When it all comes down to it, these are the treasures that we have in life and if I can play a small part in assisting them with one of the most momentous occasions in their life, then I a m proud and honored to do so.
Meg: It seems your career has involved a willingness to take calculated risks. Would you agree and if so perhaps talk a little bit about your process and how you balance your “head” and your “heart”?
Lynn: My words of wisdom: timing is everything! There are ebbs and flows in business and in the economy and you must take advantage of the moment. Calculated risks are successful if all the key elements are in alignment. However timing is one factor that must not be overlooked. Building a nest egg while the economy was on a high was key to my success, much in the same way that investing wisely in times of economic downturn. Buy low; sell high is the old adage.
However, knowing when to take advantage of the crests and troughs of the economy is like reading a crystal ball. There have been many instances where my heart has urged me to make a move, but in my heart I knew that the timing was not appropriate. I would override my desires with my head and wait for the appropriate moment to make a move. Balancing my heart and my head has not always been easy, but being able to chart a course with the appropriate timing has certainly been a key to my success.
When I bought the Black Horse Inn in 1992, the property was in a shambles and needed extensive renovation or as we would call it in the mining industry “reclamation.” I had waited nearly a year and a half to make an offer, and finally did so at the appropriate time, when the real estate market return would be at it’s highest for my investment. At my first party at the Inn, prior to its restoration, my friends laughed and told me to step outside, that they would be happy to torch it for me. I said, “you have no vision…this will be a jewel someday.” With my earnings from the mining industry, I started restoration of the Inn and reclamation of the grounds. Fortunately, the timing was right and today my initial investment has turned into a “gold mine.”
History repeats itself and my husband and I recently restored a “shack” in St. Michael’s, MD. Fencing on the property was deceptive and most buyers never looked beyond the fence to see that the property boundaries just happened to have one of the prettiest views of St. Michael’s harbor. My husband and I both realize that with a little “reclamation” a minimal investment could become another gold mine–in time. Our purchase of this property in 2009 was when the real estate market was at an all time low, and contractors were hungry for work. Our “shack” is now called “Second Wind” and is a respite for us from our hard work and busy schedules. We hope to retire there someday.
Meg: Your life seems to have been a successful combination of drive and karma, with the latter being evidenced to a certain extent by