I believe that Anything is Possible.
In the beginning: I was born into my family as the youngest of three boys. My mother is an educator, my father a businessman.
Age 5: My family loved to travel. My fifth birthday was in Yugoslavia and the cake had cognac in it. To this five year old, worst cake ever. Maybe that's why I don't drink today.
Ages 7-18: My father took me to work every summer so I could work for him and with him. These are some of my best memories. I learned how to connect and communicate with customers, suppliers, and employees. My father was always genuine, sincere, and an outstanding businessman. My mother taught me about literature, classical music, art, breeding German Shepherds, a love of Lake Michigan, to always be curious, and to have not just the courage of my conviction but the courage to defend it.
Ages 9-17: I learned the value of money. I received no allowance, but I wanted the new Schwinn five-speed, stick shift, red "Apple Crate" bicycle with the chopper handlebars. To earn money, I made sand candles and sold them door to door, worked in the local butcher shop trimming the fat off steaks, shoveled snow, cleaned pools, worked at the local animal hospital, bagged groceries, and waited tables at a rib joint. Through all of this, I learned the benefits (including good tips) of great service and skills in anticipating a customer's needs before they're expressed.
Ages 18-22: I enrolled at Syracuse University, where my love of history, political science, and business grew. My odd jobs and knowledge of commerce also expanded. I worked at J.C. Penney (I was brown badge associate #174 in Dewitt, New York) and trained to sell sporting goods, drill bowling balls, and sell hunting rifles; later I was transferred to the hardware department to sell everything from chain saws to paint. I was a houseboy at a sorority (Delta Phi Epsilon) serving the women lunch and dinner and washing the dishes. I sold storm windows door to door. I was a bouncer at Faegan's Bar for three years, where I quickly gained the appreciation for the power of verbal persuasion. (I'm a lover, not a fighter.)
Age 26: I graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and passed the Illinois bar exam. I joined a Chicago law firm – Katten Muchin & Zavis – and began a career as a commercial litigator.
Age 28: My father organized a leverage buyout of Alco Packaging, and I joined the company in 1988. We renamed the company Berlin Packaging.
Age 30: By this time, I had three daughters. These three girls were and are like a bouquet of flowers in my life, always colorful, always beautiful, and always loving and caring for those around them.
Age 47: I invested in the Chicago White Sox as a Limited Partner and began my journey into the business of baseball.
Age 48: My family has grown. I have a wonderful wife, Courtney, and two sons.
Age 50: A milestone birthday. I looked back and saw my loving family and an extended "business family" with hundreds of employees. Humbled and still hungry, I reflected on a common goal of mine: Never accept the status quo.
Age 51: Further pursuing a passion, on 11/11/11 (Armistice Day for history buffs) at 11:11am (for some fun baseball superstition), I purchased the South Bend Silver Hawks, which was a minor league affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. My goal was to revitalize the team – bringing great baseball to South Bend, making memories for fans, and sparking growth in South Bend, Indiana.
Age 54: I doubled down on the Chicago Cubs, becoming a Partner and a member of the Board or Advisors, and also changing affiliations of and renaming my minor-league team to be the South Bend Cubs. Also, I proudly became a grandfather for the first time.
Age 55: I delighted in seeing the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series – breaking a 108-year drought.
Today: I am totally engaged in leading my businesses, loving my family, and pursuing my passions. My life has been an amazing adventure, and I'm not done yet.
A little more about me:
Town where I grew up: Glencoe, Illinois
Last school I attended: Stanford University, Graduate School of Business
Favorite sports team: A tie – The Chicago Cubs and the South Bend Cubs
Favorite vacation spot: Big Sur, California
Favorite movie: A tie – The Godfather and The Godfather II
Historical person I would most like to dine with: Julius Caesar
Three words that describe me: Curious, Adaptable, Insatiable
Most rewarding part of my job: Working with other curious, insatiable people
Hobbies: My children, baseball, hiking, and reading history and historical fiction