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  • Just Give People an Opportunity, and the Rest Will Take Care of Itself

    I read an op-ed in my local newspaper recently that got my attention, and not in a good way. (Yes, I still read the newspaper. I look forward to it each morning, in fact. There is just something so familiar and communal about sharing the different sections with my spouse and commenting on what we read. It’s a quieter, less-distracted morning ritual than sharing links on social media.)

    What grabbed me was the op-ed writer’s declaration that the United States of America is no longer a land of opportunity. I disagree! At least in terms of the opportunities I’ve been afforded and how they equate to something beautiful and great in my life. This is not a political statement; it is only how I view things as a small business owner who’s celebrating 30 years in business.

    Having the ability to start your own business
    is an incredible opportunity.

    Don’t get me wrong: It has been very tough at times to run my own business, and at times I have wanted to give up. But I didn’t. I work in an industry that can be male-dominated, but I did not go in to business to compete with men; I got in because I wanted to do what I love to do and I thought I could do it as well, and if not better, than most of my competitors — men or women.

    Let me be clear: Having the ability to start your own business is an incredible opportunity. In this country, you can be or do almost anything you want, if you set your mind to it. That’s as true today as it was three decades ago, and with the help of technology and other tools, maybe more so. I am not sure how many other places on the planet you can do that.

    For many years, I heard the voices whispering: “What is she thinking?” or “Who does she think she is?” But I didn’t let them distract me from pursuing my goal. Everyone has different goals. For some, it’s to make millions; others, like me, define success not by chasing that big American dollar but by pursuing something that allows me to live my life the way I want to. My American Dream is to live in peace and prosperity. And you can only do that if an opportunity is available to you.

    Anyone who comes through the door of my
    business gets to be who they want to be.
    Because I give them the opportunity.

    Remember when you were a kid and could pretend to be a TV hero, or dream to become a princess, or anything else your imagination lead you to believe? I wanted to be Daniel Boone, because I thought the coon-skin hat he wore was the coolest I had ever seen. And I wanted to chase bad people away and help the good ones to live their lives in peace and prosperity, just like he did. Maybe, in a way, that’s what I’m doing now, and have always been doing. Anyone who comes through the door of my business gets to be who they want to be, too. Because I give them the opportunity.

    If you want to, you can share my Daniel Boone hat, or go find one of your own. All you have to do is give people an opportunity, a chance to pursue their dreams, and the rest will take care of itself. Use your imagination to get started, and then hang out your sign, open your doors, and see who or what comes knocking. I hope it’s something beautiful and great.

    Judith E. (“Judy”) Antisdel is Founder and President of AT Direct in Baltimore, Md. She has earned professional designations ranging from US Postal Service Non Profit Specialist to US Postal Service Mail Manager. She is a frequent guest speaker at symposia and workshops offered by the federal government and various non-profit organizations. Connect with Judy on LinkedIn and find more info at her website.

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