I like my neighborhood. I live in Laguna Niguel. It is close to the beach and close to the stars. Population of 63, 940 and the median household income is $98,072. Laguna Niguel is in Orange County which a lot of people think is white bread and very John Wayne. But perceptions can be thin veneers in our sound bite world.
Over 30% of Orange County is foreign born including me. I was born in Toronto. Laguna Niguel has slightly more foreign born people than California but nobody would know that.
Many people think California is a place where people don’t know each other. I live in a village of three million and it feels like a village because I have an attitude of engagement. I know Derrick the bag person at Vons, I know Nick who owns the UPS Store in the same strip mall. I know most of my Starbucks Baristas. I have a garbage boy who takes out my trash. I know that my UPS driver likes to play guitar. I know that my pharmacy assistant at CVS is from Egypt. I listen to her worry and fell her pain. I don’t care if it leads to business. I want to live my life this way talking to people and not just to myself.
In 2008 I sat down at a Starbucks in the same strip mall with Randy Miller. At that time I had met him a couple of times. He also lived in Laguna Niguel. He was the former CIO of a major technology company in OC and was in transition. As a consultant I constantly live in transition. I said I know a couple of people in Laguna Niguel and he said the same. He introduced me to Gregory Gaines and Dipak Shah and we started Laguna Niguel Connectors in August 2008. We had our first meeting outside the same Starbucks and had 23 people attend. Within a month or two we had over 100 people at our monthly meetings. Why? Because the world melted in the fall of that year and many people in Laguna Niguel and Orange County were no longer making the average income of $98,000. They were jettisoned into the world of transition. Now Laguna Niguel Connectors has over 3400 members. Just from four guys sitting around at a Starbucks. One a Caucasian, one African American, one a person originally from India, and me a token Canadian.
I like Canadians. Somebody told me that there are 800,000 Canadians in Southern CA. I believe it. Many of us don’t like the cold. There are 750,000 Persians in Southern CA I have been told. I think the weather feels like home. I don’t think some can go home. I met a fellow Canadian called Rob Kelle. We talked about starting a Canadians in OC Group. We invited a few fellow Canadians to help. Now Canadians in OC has over 340 people in the group and we have Canadian Thanksgiving events. Over 13% of California’s trade is with Canada. Really? Who would have known?
You see in the end your neighborhood isn’t what other people tell you it is. Your neighborhood is what you create and how you live your life. Want to create one of your own?
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