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Book 1 - Debts and Lessons: Travis Stoliker
Inspired by the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
"Meditations" is a series of personal writings by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius written around 170 AD. It’s a reflection of his Stoic philosophy and guidance for his own self-improvement. I first encountered this profound work at the commencement of my "Year Of The Opposite," and its wisdom left an indelible mark on me.
What I found particularly striking about "Meditations" is that it was never intended for public consumption; it was a deeply personal journal, a dialogue between Marcus and his inner self. The first section of this book resonates with me profoundly, as Marcus took the time to express gratitude and acknowledge the individuals who shaped his life. Inspired by this, I've embarked on a similar journey, penning my own "Debts and Lessons" to honor those who have influenced and guided me.
Please know that this is not an exhaustive list of all of the people that have influenced me. This was just my first list and in no particular order. If you are not included on this list, it is likely because you will be included on the next list. It in no way diminishes the important role you have had in my life.
Debts and Lessons: Travis Stoliker
Laken Stoliker (Wife): Laken, the love of my life, completes me in every sense. Her kindness and dedication to connecting with family are unparalleled. She challenges my certainties, making me introspect and grow. As an incredible mother and provider, she's the cornerstone of our family. Knowing her has made me a better man, and I often find myself wishing I'd heed her wisdom even more.
Lane Stoliker (Son): I have never loved anything as much as I love and cherish you. From you I have learned a deeper understanding and appreciation for the many sacrifices that my mother and father made for me and my brother. From you I have learned the importance of patience and understanding. You have given me the greatest joy of my life, being your father.
Dorothy Sweeney (Grandmother): Grandma Sweeney is the heart of our family, connecting us all at the Cabin on Peach Lake. Every handwritten note she penned for my birthdays was a testament to her love and thoughtfulness. The memories forged on Peach Lake remain the most cherished of my childhood. The weeks spent on the farm with her and Larry were not just fun but also lessons in hard work and understanding the origins of our sustenance.
Mike Brady (Grandfather): Grandpa Mike Brady stands as a paragon of virtue in my life. The simple joys of helping him mow the lawn or polish the floors in his high-rise building are memories I hold dear. As he spent his twilight years with my family, our bond deepened. His stories, rarely shared with others, became treasures he confided in me, making me feel truly special. His love and trust have left an indelible mark on my heart.
Bobby Ray (Grandmother-in-Law): Bobby's perpetual positivity and class have always drawn me to her. Her excitement to see her family and her ever-present happiness make her one of my favorite people in the world.
Mary Jo Stoliker (Mother): From my mother, I learned the invaluable lesson of cherishing time with family. She instilled in me the importance of creating memories and the joy of travel. Through her, I understood that life's moments are fleeting, and it's essential to make the most of them with those we love. If I ever needed anything, I know my mother would be there for me and I feel so lucky for that.
Tom Stoliker (Father): My father exemplifies the essence of hard work. Observing him, I often found myself in awe of his laid-back nature, a quality I've come to admire and aspire to. More than anything, he taught me that dedicating one's life to family is of paramount importance. His commitment and love for us have been unwavering, showing me the depth of familial bonds.
Steven Stoliker (Brother): My brother, with his infectious humor, has always been a beacon of light in my life. His easy-going nature and ability to connect with everyone are traits I deeply admire. Beyond his sociable nature, he possesses a unique talent: the skill to craft and create with his hands, especially with sheet metal. His blend of humor and craftsmanship serves as a reminder that we can find joy in both our interactions and our creations.
Dawn Blakslee (Mother-in-Law): Dawn is the bedrock of her family, always supporting and standing by their side. Her unwavering support for her family's businesses and her readiness to help anyone in need showcases her dedication and love.
Chris Strandt: Chris is one of the smartest people I have ever met. From him I have learned the power of asking questions and being genuinely curious about the world. Chris has inspired me to travel more and he has served as a role model for me as a father.
Ryan Cook: My oldest and dearest friend. Ryan's genuine kindness and unwavering loyalty have been constants in my life. He's been a part of most of my cherished memories, and his recommendations for movies and TV shows have never steered me wrong. His presence in my life has been a source of joy and trust.
Ben Wahl: Ben's genuine care for others shines brightly in all he does. He's my go-to for career advice and has been the linchpin in connecting our group of friends, from initiating weekly Zoom calls during the pandemic to founding our cherished annual tradition, the Summer Throwdown. His dedication as a father and husband is admirable, and his strength in facing the profound loss of a child has taught me about the depths of faith and resilience.
Mike Laur: Mike's exceptional memory and genuine kindness make him one of my closest and most cherished friends. Our deep conversations, interspersed with light-hearted banter, have been a constant source of joy.
Stefan Nava: Stefan's dynamic approach to life, from mastering multiple languages to experiencing diverse cultures, is truly inspiring. His success in various ventures, from restaurants to real estate, coupled with his kindness, makes him a role model.
Matt Tubergen: Matt's humility and kindness, despite his numerous accomplishments, are a lesson in grace and modesty.
Paul Cole: Paul's infectious laughter and penchant for humor, especially his mom jokes, have taught me the value of not taking life too seriously and finding joy in every moment.
Sarah Cook: From Sarah, I've come to truly understand the essence of friendship and the invaluable role of a connector. She consistently places the needs and happiness of family and friends above her own, embodying selflessness in its purest form. Sarah's efforts in bringing together groups of friends are not just acts but a testament to her dedication to fostering bonds. Her vibrant presence always adds joy to any gathering. Her deep respect and honor for her parents, especially the remarkable way she celebrated her father during the golf outing, is a testament to her character. In her actions and values, she beautifully carries forward her father's legacy, reminding all of us of the enduring impact of love and memories.
Bil Moore: Bil stands as a beacon of fitness inspiration. His ability to voice disagreements without causing discord is a trait I deeply respect.
Greg Farhat: Greg's relentless pursuit of self-improvement and boundary-pushing inspires me. He's a trusted confidant, always ready to offer advice and support.
Jenn Middlin: Jenn's insatiable thirst for knowledge and her adventurous spirit in trying new things have always impressed me. Her influence played a pivotal role in my journey at TechSmith, and she's been a guiding light in my understanding of marketing.
John Douglas: John's courage in expressing his feelings, even when they're controversial, and his openness to my ideas, challenging the not-so-great ones, have enriched our friendship.
Mark Szymczak: Mark's passion-driven approach to life, from technology to beekeeping, from real estate to being an incredible chef, all showcases his commitment to lifelong learning and exploration.
Oshan Weerasinghe: Oshan's brilliance and unwavering positivity serve as a constant motivator. His zest for life pushes me to achieve more and reminds me of the power of a positive outlook.
Marvin Williams (Pastor): Marvin's oratory skills are unparalleled, but it's his light and guidance during my challenging times that I cherish the most. He uplifted me when I felt low, making me feel valued and special.
Matt Gillett (Business Partner): Matt's humor and work ethic are unmatched. His belief in himself and his friends, especially during challenging times, is a testament to his character. His diverse interests, from hunting to raising chickens, highlight his ability to master anything he sets his mind to.
Bill Hamilton: Bill, the founder of TechSmith, was not just a boss but a mentor who profoundly influenced my personal and professional trajectory. He ignited in me a passion for reading, introducing me to a world of knowledge and perspectives I hadn't previously explored. The library he provided to his employees was a testament to his commitment to continuous learning. One book, in particular, "The Tipping Point," stands out as the catalyst that transformed reading from a chore to a cherished hobby. Beyond fostering intellectual growth, Bill also recognized the importance of formal education. He not only encouraged me to complete my bachelor's degree but also provided tuition reimbursement at TechSmith and financially supported my academic journey. His belief in me and his commitment to personal development have left a permanent mark on my life.