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Episode 73: Evolution, Sacrifice & Grit in Family Business

In this episode of the Family Biz Show, host Michael Palumbos from Family Wealth and Legacy in Rochester, New York, welcomes the Wheeler family from Tennessee. The Wheelers own a fourth-generation fishing business, which they've expanded into a full-circle operation—from catching to processing to selling fish directly to consumers. Their company, C to C, emphasizes sustainability, traceability, and personal connection with their customers, offering top-quality wild Alaskan seafood.

Sena Wheeler shared her family's journey, highlighting the generational knowledge and the unexpected discovery of their business's depth through family history. The discussion delved into the specifics of their operations, including the challenges and intricacies of fishing, processing, and selling their product in a sustainable and customer-focused manner.

Rich Wheeler provided insights into the family business's evolution, transitioning from primarily fishing to integrating processing and direct sales. He also touched on the importance of goal setting and personal development within their team, emphasizing a culture of hard work and resilience influenced by his involvement in wrestling coaching.

The Wheelers' story is not just about a family business in the fishing industry; it's a narrative of adapting to modern demands while maintaining core values of quality, sustainability, and community connection. Their venture, C to C, is a testament to their commitment to delivering exceptional seafood from their family to kitchen tables, fostering a deeper appreciation for the source and quality of the food we consume.

Episode 73 Transcript


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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Welcome everybody to the family biz show. I am your host, Michael Columbus, with family wealth and legacy in Rochester, New York, and today we got the Wheeler family with us from Tennessee. I just did it. I knew I was gonna do a. C to see

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: wild Alaskan Fish Company, and we're really excited. This is a fourth generation fifth generation business now, right? 1, 2, fourth generation business. So you just pass in this tradition of fishing down for

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: years and years. Now, Rich. Cena, welcome aboard. Nice to have you here.

 

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Sena: Thanks for having us. Yeah, hi there, thanks for having us. So is it my generations. Well, actually, I was saying 3 when we first started a website, because that's who I knew my grandpa, my dad, us, and then I found an obituary for my grandpa.

 

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Sena: dad, and it talked about learning from his dad.

 

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Sena: So i'm calling that 5,

 

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Sena: and then, in fact, my parents are saying it goes many more beyond that. But I i'm going with what's recorded so easy. 5. It's funny. I had another client there they were.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: the the the community that they lived in want to do, you know, verify

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: when it really when the company started? So she's digging through all kinds of documents, and finally found, like the first

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: pay check that was written to her father for work that you know that he did 65 years ago. What is like? See? Yes, we really are this old. So we have. We have a tradition on the show where we just ask you guys to talk about

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: your journey

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: and getting into the family business. It's different for everybody. Some people it's, you know you were. You have, you know, in your circumstances, might have had fishing in the blood for other people, you know it's like, what is this fishing thing? And what do you really think? I'm going to like it? And you know. So for you guys.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: each of you. What was the what was the root into the family business?

 

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Sena: Well, I think one first off. I think this surprising thing. People are often assume that it which is the fisherman, and they might assume that it is through his family line, so it's. The generational aspect is on my side, and Rich is the son in law. And what's interesting is that my dad was also the son in law.

 

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Sena: so actually come from a line of

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: fishing wives. We just kind of find a fisherman hooked your guy. Sorry I couldn't help, but but you it's really interesting, because I've spoken to lots of families through the years, and sometimes

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: they're like You can't come into the business unless you're a blood relative, and it's a they they! They they keep it in that line and passing it that way.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I have always said that you know we choose our spouses so they or or you know the

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: they don't come in because they have to. They're not blood. And so if they want to come into the business and be part of it, they're doing it because they want to, not because they have to.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: So that's pretty interesting, that that same on that way.

 

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Sena: And and i'll go back to You know my interest in fishing started obviously before in and I had met. You know I'm

 

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Sena: I I was encouraged by my high School wrestling coach that you know that that maybe this would might be something I might be interested in, and he did it himself, and

 

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Sena: you know. And then one of my you know, great best friends growing up on the High school, wrestling team, college, roommate, and everything else. He actually went out and did it, and it came back and said, you need to go. Do this, give it a try. And then at at that time scene and I were dating, and

 

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Sena: and so, fortunately, I I enjoyed

 

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Sena: the work, and you know, thought that I could make a career out of it.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: That's interesting. Tell us about, you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I don't think most people know.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: you know, unless you're watching, you know some of the re reality TV shows that are out there nowadays. But

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: what is the life in the day and what you know. How does business operate for you guys? And what does that look like? Because I think it's totally different than a lot of other business owners.

 

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Sena: in my opinion, and I don't think it is too far off on this is the greatest thing ever I don't know. If I could ever go back to work for anybody, you know one. I I have a both of us have a very strong work, ethic.

 

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Sena: and we're very disciplined. We're you know. I get up really early, I am at my computer. I get my computer work done. And then, you know, this is during the off season, of course. And then when i'm up in Alaska.

 

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Sena: you know it's. It's tremendous amount of work, and you have to be self disciplined.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I it's are you 7 days a week on the water.

 

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Sena: No, no, my my fishing now is that where I am probably more behind the the computer at at the desk, and we'll we'll dive into the whole progression. So he started. He broke in on

 

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Sena: my dad's boat, the a rita on that boat for 10 years.

 

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Sena: and that is a long line boat. So the long line crew has a very specific. Typically, it's about 5 guys, very specific crew. They're They're working together seasonally, and they have the winters off.

 

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Sena: and that looks I mean deadly. This catches a little bit dramatized, but it's not that far off. They're on boats just a little bit smaller. They're fishing in the summer, though not the winter, and there you would be gone maybe 5 weeks.

 

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Sena: and then back for a little bit, and and back and forth. So they take kind of big trips up to Alaska.

 

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Sena: And then, when our youngest was born, or we have 3 kids when our youngest was born. He started salmon fishing, and the

 

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Sena: the idea or the dream was salmon. Fishing is smaller. Bo. It's more personal. You kind of you own your own boat, and you'd run your own schedule, and you could bring your family out, or do kind of whatever you want. And so the idea was to get the family more involved by

 

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Sena: entering into the salmon fishing.

 

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Sena: and that's what we did.

 

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Sena: So he was doing some long lining still on other boats, but then also salmon fishing. So you were doing a quite a bit.

 

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Sena: and then

 

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Sena: several years. Into that we started doing. Seen a. C where we're selling our own fish

 

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Sena: and

 

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Sena: 4 years into that

 

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Sena: the processing plan that was cutting our fish said, hey, we're gonna be selling

 

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Sena: and in in this tiny town that we're in. It was like, Well, the the big guys are going to buy it, and they Won't Want to cut any little guys fish.

 

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Sena: or you could buy it, and we're like us.

 

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Sena: So you do. I mean, really you you from catching it to processing it to shipping it out to places. Yeah. So now we did, for in an investment group, and we bought the facility. So now we fish, we catch it.

 

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Sena: cut it freeze, it sends it down to me. I'm in Washington State. We have a warehouse down here where we store it.

 

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Sena: Take the orders, ship it to your door, and so

 

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Sena: we're actually doing the entire theme, which I think I can safely say I have never heard of anybody else that does all the way from catching to being the last one to touch your fish.

 

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Sena: and nobody.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: That's pretty cool.

 

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Sena: It's an immense amount of work, and I I think i'm entering into my 20 fifth year of fishing, and as the progression goes from, you know, starting out working on deck

 

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Sena: to, you know, getting your skipper slippers, as they call them, you know. And so the and that's what I've kind of found myself particularly. Last year. I I stayed back

 

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Sena: and and didn't fish as much, and ran the the processing facility more

 

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Sena: so.

 

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Sena: which I really

 

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Sena: I enjoy. I enjoy the work, and I enjoy

 

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Sena: being around people.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Good. How many people! So between processing and you know the the boats. How many people are on the team now?

 

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Sena: Probably like a 60 North Seafood is the the the name of our facility. We we employ about 25 people there

 

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Sena: and then. We on the boats, you know generally now, with my long landing i'm a rider on a lot of these boats, and so it's. It's myself, and it might be for the guys. But you don't have to employ them. I just go get my my quarter cott, and we? You know it's it's pretty

 

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Sena: laid back pretty easy compared to where I started in at, so

 

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Sena: it's been a really interesting progression of you know

 

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Sena: how we do things. You know. This is an amazing platform to leap from. It's brought us a lot of connections.

 

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Sena: and you know it's. I think we're both really happy with what we're doing right now

 

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Sena: forever. They've been coming out on the boat and fishing. They know how to be on the boat now, with the processing planet. We will get in, and they just immediately put the boots on and start shoveling ice, or they know the jobs at the processing plant. And then when they come home we we also run farmers markets. They'll come to the market, and they'll sell the fish, and i'm telling you I have gone to, you know. Use the restroom, and how, my son there at the booth, say, okay, you know, and and I come back. And this guy is saying, there he goes.

 

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Sena: Is your son serious? Did he catch this fish?

 

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Sena: Well, yeah, probably I mean, we did just get back from Alaska, and he goes. I just take my money. Give me whatever this is incredible. I love it, I love it. Well, let's take. Let's take a shift for just a second. I want to come back to what you're doing in just a second. But on

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: compare what you do today

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: to how your grandfather, what was what was it like when they started that business or your father? What were the

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: what was it like that? And what you know? How did they make money? And you know they're all you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Tell me in, fill it, you know. Teach us. This is interesting.

 

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Sena: I I I I I think i'll speak to that. Yeah, I think that. So these guys went out, and they were fishing, for you know they would

 

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Sena: back prior to my involvement, and i'll speak specifically, maybe that even soon as Dad's fishing was they? You know it was a Derby style. They'd go out and it's like Olympic style fishing where you had an opener for

 

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Sena: 24 h, 48 h, and you

 

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Sena: ran as much gear as you possibly could

 

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Sena: to bring as much fish on a board, and then that was it. Then they would close, and then you would wait, you know, a week or 2 weeks, or whatever it was for the next opener, and then the entire fleet would run out and do the same thing over and over and over, you know, throughout the season, and to tell you that the quality of the fish probably wasn't the best.

 

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Sena: and you had Probably the the work was immensely difficult and challenging

 

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Sena: all at C for a month.

 

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Sena: and

 

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Sena: it was all about. That's where the terms highlighter. That's how low the boat is when it comes in. How much fish you have on the boat. That was kind of the the era. It was like loading this boat. How how much fish! And and they they might be out for 4 weeks! The bottom fish! It was just

 

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Sena: it. It was horrible, the qualities so it wasn't a quality this could be like in the seventies or 60 so. So then it went to my dad who it? The Times shrunk. So okay, you have a week to catch it.

 

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Sena: You have it got shorter and shorter until it was these really intense, dirty days like which was saying right, really high stress. And you have to make I mean they it's not. Sometimes people see it as a greed thing, but you have a family. This is your

 

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Sena: livelihood, and you have to earn it in a couple of 24 h windows

 

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Sena: for the season. And so it's stressful, and it's dangerous, and you can't get the quality. So luckily those Derby days, they they worked really hard to change that to the quota system, which is much better. So now a fisherman knows how much fish they're allotted to catch.

 

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Sena: and it's just much more

 

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Sena: better regulated that way. So now, when rich does it? They know how much they can catch. They get to decide when they go out. So if it's blowing in gale, they don't have to go out.

 

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Sena: You know they have more control around their own schedule, and they can.

 

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Sena: Theoretically, they can sleep at night.

 

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Sena: We'll be sleep and rest, and and you know, back when seen as they had first broken, they would make, you know, 21 day Trips they would, you know, leave Seattle.

 

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Sena: go up the inside, and then go right out to you know, out West.

 

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Sena: up to Dutch, or something like that, and and fill the boat.

 

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Sena: and then drive it all the way back down to Seattle and get paid, you know. Probably

 

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Sena: maybe 90 cents a pound

 

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Sena: for their halibut or something like that. So you know the the today.

 

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Sena: I think the last trips of this season were, you know, the guys were getting 6, 50 account or 7 bucks a pound, or something like that so?

 

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Sena: But they go out now. How long is it, Guy? Out Couple of day?

 

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Sena: Better price, better quality. So the whole industry has shifted from quantity to quality. That's great.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: And one of the things I want to say, you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: in the construction industry we're in upstate New York. So we get this time from May to about August, or you know September depending on You know what our weather is breaking, and a lot of times they'll call, you know. That's silly season. So silly seasons a couple of months.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Your relatives had silly season for weeks

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: or days, and that's yeah, that's pretty intense, because you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: in the construction industry again. Upstate New York, where I you know we're dealing with people a lot there. You know it's make or break it in those couple of months. Everything's gotta go right, and you've got to get your jobs in on time. You talk about pressure.

 

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Sena: Yeah, you could you? You could imagine trying to fill a crew of knowledgeable men that know how to do this sort of work. And this is, you know this is where I

 

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Sena: was on the outerator for 12 years, and I worked with these men, for you know that entire time.

 

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Sena: and there was obviously some real disagreements. But I am forever grateful for the trade that they taught me.

 

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Sena: and very thankful for. You know the opportunity to learn something and go out, and I can provide. I can step on any boat today, and I know how to bet a hook. I know how to dress a Hal, but I know how to, you know. Run the roller, and you know I can provide for my family, you know, regardless of

 

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Sena: we 60, nor are seen to see. I can. Still, you know I know a trade

 

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Sena: not many people know it's. This is a very, very small group of people that know how to do this.

 

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Sena: you know. Do you want to take a new guy that you have no idea how he's going to do when it's make a break. Not really that that young person that the or older guys sitting at the you know, taking a wheel watch, and not knowing how to drive a boat at night when you have you know your crew down sleeping

 

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Sena: that decides to, you know. Pile it on a you know a bunch of rocks. It's it's it's a really kind of it's an interesting business

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: walk us, through. You know, through the last

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: 2530 years, what were some of the challenges that arose? What were some of the things that came up

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: that the you know the family is overcome.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: you know. During that time

 

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Sena: the my time I I would have to say, probably

 

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Sena: splitting the time between work

 

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Sena: and home, and and I think that we're dealing with that today. Even. Say that again for me. I I missed that being gone. It's it works out to be about 6 months of the year.

 

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Sena: and you know oftentimes, you know, we're up there in the throes of it, and just going, boys, it's all really worth it. And then

 

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Sena: I come home during the winter, and I'm really involved with, you know, my family

 

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Sena: and I coach wrestling, and I, you know Stina makes dinner, and I make breakfast, and we have these meals together, and

 

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Sena: you know we have teenagers that that

 

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Sena: interact with this, and it's just at the end of the you know, in the morning time, particularly, we sit and pinch ourselves and go. And

 

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Sena: wow! That was an amazing conversation that we all got to have together for a hit here for it. We didn't have to run out the door.

 

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Sena: but it is interesting. I'd say I mean the lifestyle of just a rich being gone and coming back I mean it. It's different.

 

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Sena: And as kids grow, I mean, you think well we get used to it, but the challenges just kind of change. I always kind of Jo the First. The first year when I was pregnant with our first I was like oh, I, you know I felt really sorry for myself.

 

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Sena: And then the second year I was like, Wait a second.

 

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Sena: Now I have a this

 

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Sena: toddler i'm dealing with.

 

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Sena: This is way worse than sitting there with a big belly, and then it was like, then i'm pregnant and have a kid at home, you know it's like. Oh, why was I crying about being home pregnant? That was actually really easy, I mean, every year was a new, bigger challenge. And so it's like you look back and go

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: yeah, realistically half the year. You're single parenting, right?

 

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Sena: Well, we're always. We'll always step in on that. We never call it single parenting, because I have the support of rich.

 

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Sena: You know he's. He's a phone call away, and we talk multiple times every single day, so I never am alone or doing it on my own fully supported. Just it. It's something that you know. We purposely talk about, and we

 

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Sena: note to each other that we're, you know, in each Other's corner supporting each other, and at no point should

 

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Sena: I've seen it ever feel that she's parenting alone, and I am very, very, very involved, even up in Alaska, you know, if they need something, you know there's certain roles that we each take on.

 

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Sena: and if they the kids need. I like, I'll go to Amazon and buy in some damn shoes or something like that. Yeah, I do. I do. I do. My, that's weird. So it sounds like that. So you know, we have, you know, zoom calls or conferences, you know, you know. So I am really involved.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: That's really neat that you you put together a a rhythm

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: even while you're away. That works really well for everybody. And then you just think about that. You know you're You've got teamwork that's happening on the boat.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: If it without teamwork that's happening properly without good communication, things go wrong right the same thing. You've got you to our team with the family as a team, and it's that communication rhythm. And knowing you the roles that you play, and putting that all together and and good communication, and you'll, you know, set it earlier.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: One of the benefits is when you're sitting down, and always, you know, having breakfast together before they go to school, and you're always having dinner together when they're home. And you're getting some really incredible quality conversations and time with them. And really, probably.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: you know, planting seeds to grow these trees right, you know, as they as they would say.

 

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Sena: Yeah, yeah, and and it's really, you know, to to say even further would be seen, and I have learned how to work together, and it's a always progressing progression of

 

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Sena: I can do better, and and and we do. I, you know I really do listen to what she has to say, and I really work on striving to you know. Support her, whether it's, you know, through the business, or, you know, in the home life itself. So it's pretty sensitive to what

 

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Sena: each other's needs are

 

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Sena: he kind of comes and goes seamlessly, which is when he's home. He just is immediately

 

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Sena: immediately within the fabric of They know he knows our routines, and and even though he's been gone, we we? Well, I mean, we do have some pretty solid routines, and he just good. He's just in the flow. The kids will even say you know he's been home for a couple of days. Oh, I feel like Dad's just been home forever.

 

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Sena: and he just kind of right back into the family flow, which is really amazing, because I know that some families in these situations

 

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Sena: it's the Transition Times, you know it's it's the leaving and coming back can be difficult. So I I think you do a really good job of, and he doesn't get all stressed out. But when he leaves, which I remember from my death.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: both like you know it's funny because my wife and I talk about that transition time, and my wife has, you know, a quarter of a mile car ride home, and you know sometimes I have clients that are 2 h away, and sometimes i'm just at the office.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Now i'm mostly working out of my Home Office, which I absolutely love. But it is that changing gears

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: from work mode to you know, marriage mode to family mode to the kid mode. Whatever needs to happen. So if you do that well rich, that's you know. Heads off to both of you

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: for doing that. Well, that takes again. I go back, and I think it's that solid communication and trust, and putting those pieces together to say, I know my roles, and I gotta be able to, you know, be there and and

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: and change the role that i'm in

 

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Sena: depending on where Matt so and and part of that is because we share the same goals.

 

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Sena: you know. I mean really it. It's the alignment of our

 

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Sena: for lifestyle, you know, accepting that, you know there's no resentment that we're in this lifestyle, because it's a at times it's, it is challenging, and it oftentimes it is.

 

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Sena: And

 

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Sena: but at the end of the day we both appreciate where we're at, and what we have

 

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Sena: like. What is this? And for me it's very different, because I did grow up in it. My dad was gone, and we did have a choice, and there was a moment like, is this what we want to do?

 

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Sena: And my dad called me and said, is this what you want

 

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Sena: for your life.

 

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Sena: You know what it is. And I said, yes, and so

 

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Sena: that simple

 

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Sena: that choice I would say, You know we don't

 

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Sena: we, I catch myself or we. We don't slip into this victim mode because we chose this. This is the like we chose. I chose it, knowing full well

 

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Sena: what it entails. And so this is our chosen life. And so let's just make it be our chosen life. This is what we choose. It's not a

 

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Sena: We we have evolved this silly ass career of ours, and it is something that either of us really kinda, You know, when we started when I started fishing 25 years ago. We had no idea

 

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Sena: that, you know we were going to even be

 

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Sena: remotely

 

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Sena: my running a processing facility and and C to see you doing doing. It's just like, Are you kidding me? No way could we ever imagine you know such grandeur? And and to tell you that it's always evolving, too. I mean it. I'll come up with some stupid ass idea.

 

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Sena: and it was just like well, that was dumb, or it just took a lot of our time

 

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Sena: we I mean our my dad and grandfathers. They fished, and

 

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Sena: we're like the modern era. I think of us as like a family rancher that maybe has ran for generations, and now they're selling their own beef, I mean, and that's the modern arrow with Internet my dad, my grandpa. They They fished. They went to the dock, and they sold the fish, and that was it. They didn't see that fish.

 

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Sena: Think about that fish. They are paid and done.

 

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Sena: and we have to, you know, because of the the Internet and all of that, we can sell our own fish. It's extremely gratifying to fill that whole circle and sell our own fish.

 

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Sena: but it's extremely takes a lot of time. I mean. I have a full time job now doing that and selling our fish, and so it's. It's

 

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Sena: we're definitely, you know.

 

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Sena: going harder, I'd say, than than what generations before at least their off time was. Really.

 

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Sena: This is what fishermen dream of like selling their own fish. And what a better I to have your wife selling your fish! Are you kidding me? They're it's just like i'll go catch us, and you sell it, and that's how naive we were.

 

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Sena: Holy smokes. This is a lot of work. This is why people don't do it. It's really really difficult.

 

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Sena: you know. They sitting there alone on the boat, and you know, having your family. And then the other fishermen dream is selling your own fish, especially when you see the prices in the grocery store.

 

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Sena: There you go. Oh, yeah, that okay? That would be awesome.

 

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Sena: They're they're missing the work there.

 

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Sena: of course. So we're living the dream. It's

 

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Sena: just like.

 

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Sena: you know, a little more work than maybe what we you imagine, and and to be fair, Cena is a complete over achiever.

 

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Sena: I mean it's just like if you put the challenge in front of her, and she is not going to go, you know just for something that's okay. She's going to go for the best. And this is why the C is where it's at right now. And and quite honestly, it's why we are where we are at, you know, with owning 60 north.

 

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Sena: and you know to see it's just that

 

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Sena: it's the work ethic.

 

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Sena: Yeah, we did take the ball and run with it.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: So the the fishing fishing came first.

 

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Sena: then the processing plant done. Cnc: Did I have that right? No, actually it was the fishing and then seen to see. So trying to sell our fish. Okay, so there's several years in there where we were using a processing plant, and then it was the threat of that vanishing that we grabbed that middle piece. Okay? And then it became the full full.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: So if you're you know, Talk about the Internet business for a while for a little bit. There.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: How do people find you? You know who are your customers? Who do you serve. What does that look like today? Like Who is the core customer for you today?

 

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Sena: Well, we started on. We. We built a website. We had this great idea driving to the Thanksgiving, you know. Hey, You should rich, hey? You should sell our fish. Oh, I want what? Oh, okay.

 

201

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Sena: And then, you know. A few months later we had a website, and I remember the night that our website went live. We we posted with a glass of champagne.

 

202

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Sena: and like waited for something to happen, you know.

 

203

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Sena: and nothing nothing happens. That's the thing about a website. It's just sitting out there. I mean

 

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Sena: you have to do a lot more.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: So what are some of the things that you look? So this is really, I, I think, is a great conversation. So here I am talking to

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: a fisherman fishing family, right? And but you did the the the manufacturing facility. I know it's for processing, you know piece of it, and you know where you're. You're dealing with Osha on the boat and in the you know, in the the processing plan. Then you're a digital marketer. You've got your website and everything that you're doing.

 

207

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: If you look at

 

208

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: like as you're going through.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I am trying to think

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: the the website's full time 24, 7.

 

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Sena: So that's always up and running. Yeah, I mean, I just one of the things that really, when we first started is I I took a business. I took a course. Okay, I'm running an Internet business. Okay? And i'm really grateful for that. I mean, we were living rural in the mountains, and I had to wake up at 6 in the morning because our Internet only was good till 8.

 

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Sena: A.

 

213

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Sena: That we couldn't download. It was a video. Of course, you know that kind of thing, but we just did it, and that course was made all the difference, because I would have put up the website, and I would have just done it like a fish store like this is salmon by it.

 

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Sena: and I didn't, you know. This course taught me. No people want to buy from you. And what are you offering, and to put your personality into this? What you're doing, and why, and when people come to the site, they should understand who you are and why you're doing this.

 

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Sena: And they said to start an email Newsletter: Well, we were living very rule. I'd never been on a list before I didn't even know what it was talking about. But I I just did what it said, and I set up this list, and I had the emails collected.

 

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Sena: and I started writing, and in the beginning there was 40 people, and I knew them all. And

 

217

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Sena: so I didn't feel that bad about like I didn't. Really. It was like, I know it's my mom and dad and some of my really good friends, so you know. Oh, for Thanksgiving, you know, or we cook this, you know, like I just typed what was going on just.

 

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Sena: and it started from there in a really authentic way, and I am really grateful for that

 

219

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Sena: understanding. I would have built something really much more sterile.

 

220

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Sena: but understanding that that people want to buy from us, and Who are we, and why are we doing this and so doing that we attracted

 

221

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Sena: just organically?

 

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Sena: We attracted this, this customer, base or audience base that reads our newsletters. They care about sustainability. They care about what we're doing. They know who we are, and it's it's

 

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Sena: it's incredible, really. I mean, we've had times where it's Copper River salmon, and and it they didn't come in like it. They thought we couldn't provide the fish, we thought

 

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Sena: and I to send them an email and go. I'm: really sorry. You know, this is what sustainable fishing is like. We can't fish if it if it's not open. And for these reasons, and they and I, the responses I get are Thank you. That's why we buy from you.

 

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Sena: And it was like.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Wow, yeah, I I I just booked an episode with somebody who is a really good storyteller.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: and she serves a lot of family businesses in the Ag market. And just she was talking about the power of story

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: and connecting with your customers through those stories to it. It's exactly what you're saying, and you know I I looked at our website, and i'm like my why isn't on there. I've been doing this for how many years, you know, and it's like, I know better. But it's like, okay, we need to take the time. That's one of our goals this year is.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: you know I have a very strong Why, I love serving businesses, You know. My father and I were in business together, and we didn't always get along, and we had different ways of doing things, and

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: and and then, you know as as a parent. I would say, you know i'm not the opposite of you guys, but I wasn't as thought filled.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: as always raising kids. I was very business focus, and I was that I was the dad that was like. Let me get out and make the donuts and do the things that need to be done and not making the transition. So when you know the reason why families in the name of our business today is because

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: it's so important to me, and like i'm doing things with my kids today.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: and being very intentional, even though they're all young adults to make sure that i'm like I'm, you know I told him I said guys don't do it the way I did it when your parenting, when you're doing things I did things wrong, and if I could go back and get that time I would. But I can't. The only thing I can do is go forward, and so i'm going to inspire change within our family, and how we do things, so that you learn some other

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: different ways of doing it. I love that you guys are intentional about how you've done things. And yes, maybe there's a few things where you're like. Yeah, let's just do it. We, you know. Maybe not so intentional. But

 

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Sena: I love it.

 

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Sena: We we get to reflect.

 

237

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Sena: We reflect back on some of the things and the accomplishments that we've made, and to give each other particularly, you know, seen and I a big hug like Wow!

 

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Sena: We've seen it started out selling our damn fish, and literally

 

239

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but

 

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Sena: a 10 by 10 space she would release him. You were leasing some space in a warehouse from a really nice guy that really wanted to see us achieve and accomplish. He was a business man, and was kind of rooting for us, and we'd spent a ton of money on this damn website.

 

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Sena: and we're, you know, sending packages out to

 

242

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Sena: our friends, and you know, to inse it would get to the the warehouse and pulled out her table and set up my folding table and pack a couple of boxes. But I think to what you're saying I I agree. It's. I mean when we think back

 

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Sena: it's those memories of the time on the boat with the kids. You know the the dinners sitting in this. The boat is like being in an Rv. It. You know the galley is tiny, and things like that everybody crammed in, and

 

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Sena: and those moments where you know, maybe we weren't catching as much fish as the other guy. But we we have these family memories that let's talk about it. I mean it. It's ingrained in what we're doing, and and our this is something that, being able to you know, pass things down.

 

245

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Sena: you know, generation to. You know our our kids, and they will have done this business, and you know whether they choose to be a part of it.

 

246

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Sena: We'll see, but it's pretty cool.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: It's very cool.

 

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Sena: Yeah. And you know, in the in the pay homage to where we came from, too.

 

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Sena: you know, from the the 10 by 10 space to where we're at today. You know it's really it's pretty awesome.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: That's fantastic. Talk Talk to me a little bit about the product. So you we've got the fish.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: You know.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: What type of fish do you, you know, be people can go to the website. It's Sesame Cs. E. N. A. S. E. a.com, and they they definitely should go out and and and check it out. But

 

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Sena: what's it like to be a a, a, a a customer of yours, you know. What is. What does that look like? I'm going to jump in before seeing this as anything on this, because I oftentimes, as i'm down at the warehouse on their packing days

 

254

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Sena: on a Monday or Tuesday, I marvel at the absolute beauty of these packages that are set. If I was to receive one of these packages.

 

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Sena: I would be just absolutely honored and going away, and really thinking somebody loves me. There's not much love and pride, and I I cannot believe the amount of work that goes into this.

 

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Sena: So it's

 

257

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Sena: it's pretty awesome. Well, and what we sell, I mean, we like to say the best of the best. So we have Copper River salmon, which is the best salmon that in the world.

 

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Sena: We have wild, it's all wild Alaskan, sustainable black cod, which is called stable fish and halibut, and then we have some some rock fish. So in terms of fish quality around the world. When you're talking, Alaska, it's the cold pristine water that just makes the best fish.

 

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Sena: and we we're selling kind of the elite

 

260

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Sena: of that. So so the best of the best really kind of works for us all of our fishermen are, we know and trust, so rich knows everybody

 

261

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Sena: all the fishermen. It's not this kind of Well, we think it's from over here. We we talk to them. We know exactly who caught what? At what time? So there's that traceability. And then there's the sustainability piece which is really important. It's important for people.

 

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Sena: You know what I kind of like to say

 

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Sena: for our customers. You just you can buy from us and trust us, and it checks all those boxes on what you need out of your fish while it's sustainable, traceable all the things. But then Rich is saying, taking that all the way down to

 

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Sena: how we portion them. So we cut and portion that you're gonna get a 6 or an 8 ounce portion. It's it's wrapped in parchment paper prior to vacuum ceiling. So it doesn't touch the plastic keeps the quality really high through the winter down to we're packing the boxes like, so the portions look beautiful in the box.

 

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Sena: and just and with foam and dry ice. So it it comes totally frozen. And so it's that kind of white glove end to end that we're going for

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: amazing

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: it. I just do. I had a question, and then you I have subscriptions. So if somebody said, I know that i'm going through this on a regular basis, and this is what I want, you know, to to eat. Then they can just sign up for a subscription through the website. That's pretty.

 

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Sena: It's it's it's all about making it really easy. So part of our you know, our mission is to have people just try the fish that we get to try all the time, and we want to make it easy. So you know, I know that people have blocks about fish. It's hard to source. It's hard to cook.

 

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Sena: but we want to make it easy. You get it in your freezer, and you have it. You will eat more of it, I promise.

 

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Sena: So we keep it really flexible. You can get a box every 1, 2, or 3 months. You can get any size, 4 portions up to 12, and

 

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Sena: and I allow it to be changed and people email me, and and we look at like, what do you like to eat? How do you like to cook it? How many do you want? And let's spread it out? And so it's not about cramming fish down people's throat and going like every month is coming. It's really you know how much you want, and let's get it going every month, and it's like my dad gets a subscription because he doesn't want to go on the website and plug in his card. It's too much work, so it's it's about that kind of ease and convenience.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Love it.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Talk to me about what is the vision for the future. For you guys, what do you? What are you looking at? You know. What are you thinking about? 5 years down the road? Besides college

 

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Sena: for the kids, or whatever they decide. Yeah, that's what we're looking at in the camper and driving around and visiting them at college.

 

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Sena: Pretty pretty awesome. I think, that 60 nor

 

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Sena: is going to be, you know, here again, just refining our our offerings and offering, you know, a great product, you know, building a business to, you know, one day sell what it might be. You know something that we're looking towards.

 

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Sena: I seen to see is one of these really special businesses that because of Cena, you know it, it would be pretty tough to run without Cena in her voice, so

 

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Sena: I think that probably in the next. I I would probably say in the next 5 years we could probably see, maybe some. You know, other

 

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Sena: branding opportunities with, you know, selling cooking items. You know that we're kind of looking into it's that it goes back to. What do people need to feel? Comfortable cooking fish? You know we can provide the fish. And there there's this known kind of

 

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Sena: uncomfortable in this or trepidation about cooking fish, so for seen to see, we might lean a little bit more into that cooking side. More clicking, Demos. We already do a bunch of recipes on the site, but just helping people feel comfortable cooking it up.

 

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Sena: We've we have, I would say, what we have done well, and we'll carry into the future is on both 60, north and seen. The sea is

 

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Sena: is leaning into that quality over quantity for one thing, kind of doing more with less utilizing the whole fish.

 

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Sena: It's something that

 

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Sena: because we had seen a scene, we had an avenue to kind of. We. We scraped the backbones with a spoon, and we make paddies out of them. We had this avenue to do that already, and that's where the big guys are still way behind, and we will be more.

 

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Sena: you know, already have been, and we'll be leaning into that quality over quantity, and doing more with less. And what can you do with this amazing resource

 

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Sena: that if you just put a little more time and energy into it, you know. How can you

 

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Sena: get more out of it? Yeah. And then you know, of course, passing the word along that you know this this is really us. This is the conglomerate that, you know, is so big that you know they they can't reach us. The the beauty of what we do also is we get it.

 

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Sena: The customer response has a question or a complaint, or something like that.

 

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Sena: We tech team it. The customer service is probably the biggest and best thing that we do.

 

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Sena: and because it's really seen, and I answering the phones, and we'll tag team, you know, a concern or a question, you know, if it's on the processing side, I oftentimes

 

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Sena: we'll call the customer themselves, and we'll sit down and have a great conversation. Take the opportunity to learn, and you know, then secure the customer for life.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I love it so. All of your business is direct to consumer. Do you do some? That's

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: you know 2 resellers at all

 

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Sena: in the immense amount of a problem. So if you think about it as soon as he is kind of like a best customer of 60 North, but seen 600, and has other wholesale customers.

 

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Sena: you know fairly. I mean, we're going through millions of pounds of fish.

 

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So

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: yeah, so you got it.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: What else? What haven't? I asked you that I should.

 

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Sena: Oh, how people can get in touch with us

 

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Sena: like I mentioned before our email list is the place where we kind of. I've always originally communicated with people and direct to people, and that's where you can get to know us. And so I always love to tell people to go to our website. You'll see the pop up, jump on our email list, and we will just. We'll let you know what what's coming up and what's going on

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: great. And then are you available on any of the social media platforms as well or no?

 

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Sena: Yeah, we're we're most active on Instagram.

 

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Sena: We have our daughter doing our reels and some posts when she turned 14 and figured out that money is something that. So she's going to become your social media director. Yeah. Well, we call her little. Her nickname is Lm. Anyways for Little Mom, and she's just the

 

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Sena: and she loves to cook, and and her contribution is like when we are out out fishing. And the the other kids, you know everybody has a job on a boat, but she says i'll be the cook inside, so

 

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Sena: there's a place for everybody, and whatever they like to do.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: how's the wrestling season going

 

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Sena: good. We just had an amazing dual meet last night, and it came down to the very last. Oh, the last 2 matches! I everyone on their feet. It was incredible

 

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Sena: it it was awesome. Just we. We won, and it was down to the last match of the last guy, and I mean, whoever wins this match will win the the whole duel, and

 

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Sena: and the other one went into over time with it over time, the second to last match. One over time I lost a team point I would, you know, was shaking my fist at the rep, and maybe had a few words that they should not have said, but

 

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Sena: but it was just nothing but passion, and it was pretty amazing. Yeah, Well, we had this. The senior loses in over time, the second to last match right, and now it's down to a freshman.

 

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Sena: and he's like a. A. Jv. Freshman thrown into line up because we have a spot, and now the whole thing rests on this freshman, who is not one very many matches before, but

 

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Sena: everybody like it. This is it. This is the match, and he stepped up, and it was down to the wire, and he did with the Panda bear.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: So I I told I had told Tina before we started. You know the show that both of my boys wrestled, and I just logged. I didn't, you know I I grew up with a not a distaste for wrestling, but it was definitely not on my radar as something I would want my kids to do, and I will tell. I just think it's such a great program. I you know it doesn't matter what side you know, I haven't met a a, a, a coach that I didn't really like and didn't love

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: the kids. It just really wanted them to be their best, and it was just fun to watch them, because so, even though it's a team sport, there's so much individual piece to it. So it was just. It's such a different sport. I really really learned to love watching them wrestle.

 

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Sena: Yeah, yeah, it's it's one of these is, I have my parent meetings, and and I talked to these kids. This is the the repeating

 

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Sena: of

 

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Sena: We talk about how special these kids are just, you know, if you took a look at the big picture of life

 

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Sena: in our little high school that has 450 kids, you have a wrestling team of 30 kids.

 

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Sena: and you're already completely different from everybody else, because this is a crazy sport, and you know, so there's already this inherent grit that this kid is going to step it up, and he knows what he's already stepping into, and it's not going to be fun, or at the time.

 

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Sena: you you know. When is the When is it fun getting your nose ground into the mat? Having a coachail at you? It's a 100 degrees in the room. You're losing £5 of practice, and it it's just like these. But these kids keep coming back and back and back.

 

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Sena: and I love hiring up in Alaska when my facility is running at its best. It's when I have wrestlers, and you know I I I mean no offence to anybody out there who's listening? But nobody talks about having a team of basketball players work for you. Everybody

 

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Sena: talks about having a wrestler work for you. I mean it is that much different. And these kids are different, and they will be great people.

 

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Sena: I know that. So it's it's it's a great sport. I really love, having the opportunity to be able to work with young people.

 

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Sena: If I had to choose my career again, I might go into teaching, you know, but I really enjoy it, and you know very, very thankful. And the school district that we're in right now is just like that hats off there. It's amazing

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: nice. I'll throw a book to. I don't know. Have you read anything, David Goggins?

 

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Sena: So you you you talk about the the you know the the pain and the the you know what a wrestler goes through, and it's like You'll read David Goggins book, and it's like, oh, my gosh! I wake! I wake up every morning. I'm like if I don't get on the treadmill, i'm like goggins, is going to come and kick my back side. Well, another great book would be a chosen suffering by Tom Ryan, the Ohio State Great story, and probably a little bit more relatable to

 

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Sena: you know. Really, the you know, David goggins is amazing. The guy is bananas, but who's to run on Broken Lake right for 240 miles and 60 h? Come on, and I think i'm pretty tough.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: but it's it's that entrepreneur piece where you hear that stuff, and it's like just being an entrepreneurial entrepreneur. Is tough being a business owner is tough. You've got to be made out of something different. So it's just nice to listen to somebody else that has been through a hard life and and gone through some things that we all love, whether it's the football team or the wrestling team or the the runner. You know we it's those stories is what makes us get up in the morning.

 

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Sena: Yeah, yeah, really, really cool. But listen to Tom Ryan, the chosen suffering. And then I think resilience. Is it? The resilience was really good? And then but 10 rules of resilience.

 

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Sena: and it takes what it takes with them.

 

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Sena: We're we're. We're in all this stuff, and you know it's a lot of my messaging and practice. And you know you can. I'm really really big in the goal setting.

 

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Sena: Yeah, we talked about it's mandatory. If you do not have a goal or or your goal sheet, you will not rest on our team, but he does that at 60 north, too. So what it is like you're saying entrepreneurship. There's there is a real crossover with.

 

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Sena: With all of this it it's all personal growth. Whether you're stepping out in a

 

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Sena: on to the mat in a single it for the first time, or you know you trying to launch it. It's all just digging deep and doing what it takes.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I i'm like. How how did you get to doing what you're doing? Because it's just so hard, and the obstacles that are thrown at you, and you know you just if if you ever had to sit there and say, I think I got enough to cover payroll this week.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I I just once that you know that feeling in your gut, and I've been there. You know it's like me. Oh, my! This is this is gut wrenching. I remember going to my father and saying, Dad, I don't. I don't know how i'm gonna

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I don't know how i'm going to do this. He goes

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: one you'll figure it out, but just tap in your if you have to. I'm like that's my retirement money. What do you know? You always told me, and i'm a financial advisor. You never tap your forward with your business owner, son. That's different.

 

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Sena: Right?

 

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Sena: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And and and it's even it's 60 north. I require my employees to fill out a goal sheet. I I purpose is so important to be floating around in this space without a purpose. It's why there's a drug addicts, and people that you know are just lost in this world.

 

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Sena: So I, I take it real serious, and you know oftentimes

 

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Sena: they don't care, and it's just.

 

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Sena: you know, a a West West

 

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Sena: like Christmas Wish list, as I call it. But I do have those people that do stick to their goals and accomplish, and it's it's really rewarding for them, most importantly, and I I find a lot of gratification it for them also.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: I love it. There is a book out there. I don't know if you have one more book, the Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: Great Great book that you'll get a you'll. You'll love that if if you haven't read it. But it just

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: you you're doing it already. But it's just really nice to be thinking about. What can I do? Meeting these people with what their goals are? We may have a goal as a company, but their goals personally don't match the company goals all the time. So how can I connect what they're doing with their goals?

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: And it's just a really nice. Oh, that sounds perfect. Yeah, yeah, I just wrote it down. Yeah, yeah, that's a good one. Seen it, and Rich Wheeler s to see what's the name of the 60 North that I.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: It's been awesome. This is. This is enlightening. I've got a little bit of a charge right now. Now I gotta go and figure out what I can do for the next couple of hours, because go, do push ups

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: practice in like 20 min, too. So there you go.

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: What thank you for listening in on the family. This show everybody. My name is Michael Columbus, and this is the with family wealth and legacy in Rochester, New York. We can't wait to have you on the next episode, and listen in, and make sure you don't miss some more great guests, just like Rich and Cena

 

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Michael Palumbos ChFC, CBEC: again. Thank you both so much.

 

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Sena: Thank you. I appreciate it.

 

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and where my

 

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there it goes. Stop!

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Michael Palumbos is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Family Wealth & Legacy, LLC is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. and its representatives do not provide legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a legal or tax advisor regarding any legal or tax information as it relates to your personal circumstances.

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