The Bedford file Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2010

Born: Clearwater, Fla.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, Florida State University; MBA, University of South Florida

Who has been the biggest influence on you?

My wife, Maria. We just celebrated 20 years of marriage. She has certainly had the most impact on me of anyone I can think of today. What she has taught me the most is to trust in God.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

I got a job at a company called Piper Aircraft in Lakeland, Fla. I was working on the production line there. I ran into the VP of marketing at the company who knew my mom and he asked me what I was doing working there.

I said, ‘Well, I needed a job and I needed money and this is a good job.’ He asked me, ‘Well, why aren’t you going to college?’ I told him I couldn’t afford it.

His advice was, ‘Don’t let money prohibit you from realizing your dreams. Not having cash to go to school is a poor excuse.’ Basically, he was saying, ‘Get your butt to college.’ I did take that advice and he was right. If I hadn’t run into that guy that day, I doubt seriously whether I had gone to university and turned into the person I am today.

With whom would you like to have met and had a conversation?

Pope John Paul II. It would be an opportunity to have a conversation with such a great and holy person. He was a great man and a great inspiration for a whole generation of young people. He was always a witness of hope. It would have been awesome to have an hour to understand the man behind the pope.