In Honor of Vernon Lavia July 15th 1963 – Sept 17th 2023

Today I’m grateful to share a story about my mentor Vernon Lavia—avid bird watcher, entrepreneur, and a man with an unparalleled joy for life. Vernon’s story isn’t just about birds. It’s about the choices we make in our lives, the kind that can turn our paths around even when things look bleak. Click here to watch the full video where Vernon shares how to choose joy, despite the circumstances

Early on in life, Vernon was popular—senior class president, a stint at Duke University, even served in the Navy ROTC before a mix-up with his health cut that short. But instead of getting knocked down, he used his love to be outdoors to thrive in flexible sales jobs, even while juggling ulcerative colitis.

Vernon often says joy is a choice. He’s got this knack for shaking off the bad vibes, a trick he picked up from a book by Dr. Hawkins titled “Letting Go.” 

Professionally, Vernon’s done a lot. From big insurance companies to starting his own businesses—a chain of coffee shops, a pizzeria, a martini bar,  a defibrillator company, movie production, you name it.

But here’s the clincher: In Dec 2021 Vernon was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. When this interview happened in Jan of 2022, he reported that it was the best year of his life! And even with chemo sessions and all the tough stuff that comes with it, he was still out there, living with gusto, and sticking to his belief that life’s about choices.

Vernon’s got this magnetic way of winning people over with stories, laughter, and shared passions. That’s how he’s led such a rich life, not just in spirit but in success, too, with an impressive portfolio of properties and businesses.

And he’s not just about making money; giving back is part of who he is. Vernon’s been donating to food pantries and other charities for years, all because he’s seen enough of the world to know how much we’ve got to be thankful for.

Now, this man’s got a perspective on living that’s all about embracing the now—even if the now isn’t perfect. He  treated his cancer with love, keeping up with his life’s work, and encouraging us all to build a future in our minds that we can stride toward.

In 2022, Vernon had the time of his life, planning trips and tackling life head-on. He’s taught me that whatever we face, we’ve got the power to choose our outlook and happiness.

So there you have it. Vernon’s living proof that life’s what you make it, and joy? Well, it’s always there for the choosing. Now, how about you? What choices are you making today?

Click here to watch the full video of Vernon’s story and learn how you can choose joy, health, and vitality in your life (regardless of the circumstances).