The extended family on both sides is from Oklahoma and has been for a couple of generations.  Most of them still live in the small towns around Tulsa.  I was born there though while I was a toddler Dad decided to go to seminary.  That took us to northwest Missouri and then to pastorates in rural West Virginia and inner-city St. Louis.  Last stop before returning to the Tulsa area in the summer of 1969 was Kansas City.

The entire growing up experience was defined by work, school, church, and family.  Not a bad way to grow up except that being a PK is a little strange.  One thing I learned is that being in church doesn’t make you a follower of Jesus anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.

Sports wasn’t really my thing.  Books and music.  Math and English.  Yup.  A nerd.  Enjoyed school.  Especially yearbook, choir, hanging out with this cute girl I met in math class.  Definitely not a jock.  Or a greaser.  Those were the ones who spent lunch near the baseball field smoking.  Given the time and place, not too many left-handed cigarettes around.

And work?  Those small church pastors have never been overpaid.  So if I wanted pocket money, I had to hunt it down.  Paper route starting at age 11, bucking bales at 13 then migrating to construction in my later teen years.  For several years into my early 20’s, I worked as a trim carpenter and contractor, enjoying the process of building and the craftsmanship required of doing finish woodwork in custom homes.

The love of building, whether homes, businesses, or people, and the craftsmanship required, have stayed with me.

My early 20’s saw my first foray into financial services.  Got my insurance license and attempted to sell life insurance to college seniors and graduate students.  Everyone of which were ten feet tall and bulletproof.  Talk about a recipe for disaster!  I just about starved to death.

Just a few years later though, my uncle invited me to join his property and casualty agency, handling life insurance and group health for customers of his agency.  Those two years gave me a solid foundation in building relationships, serving people, and learning to enjoy a family-run business.  And by this time, Teresa (that cute girl from math class) and I were married and had two little ones.

And mixed into all these years were forays into fund-raising sales, three years spent in Michigan where Teresa was girls’ dean at a Christian boarding high school, and other adventures.

Corporate kept calling so I spent most of the ‘80’s with Travelers and USG&G Insurance Companies, serving in a sales and technical support role.  Completed several professional designations.  And was able to learn about retirement plans from some of the old timers at Travelers who had helped craft some of the original ERISA legislation.

The transition to USF&G took us to Savannah Georgia in 1986 and then to Atlanta in 1990.  A corporate downsizing or RIF in January 1991 gave me the opportunity to start on my own, working with clients.  Now I had all the licenses to sell stuff and had or completed a handful of professional designations, including CLU, CFP, and most of ChFC.  Even a few CPCU courses thrown in there.

It was déjà vu all over again.  Really enjoyed working with clients but just about starved to death attempting to pay bills and feed two hungry children selling life insurance and mutual funds.  I discovered what clients were really looking for was advice, direction, and help managing investments.

That led to the formation of a Registered Investment Advisory firm in 1993 and growing it through the ‘90’s and into the early part of the 2000s.  in 2006, Charlie and I reorganized the company into Centurion Advisory Group, where we continue to focus on bringing calmness, clarity and confidence, through the lens of perspective, process, and purpose.  Always with the goal of stewarding well the relationships, dollars, and time which have been left in our care.