Success comes down to persistence. Don’t stop!
Luiz Rigney served his community as a teacher and athletics coach for over 20 years. He gained a passion for swimming during his childhood. His passion for swimming grew when he swam for his local summer league swim team, Diablo Valley Recreation Association. Summers were spent training with his team, and spending time on the pool deck with coaches and friends. He went on to attend De La Salle high school in the East Bay Area.
Luiz Rigney continued his education by attending the University of Nevada in Reno where he studied Economics and Communications. While at the University of Nevada at Reno, Luiz worked at the local ski resort, Mt. Rose. He and his friends spent their winters instructing skiing, continuing with another of his childhood passions. He ultimately earned his degree in Communications and Economics from San Francisco State University. During his college years, Luiz earned a living as a swim coach during summers and a ski instructor during the winter.
Luiz continued coaching after college. He trained 250 children year-round for 20 years. Lou Rigney also started a sports camp and swim school, working with many local families as well as families with whom he coached in swimming. It was during these 20 years that Luiz truly developed his organizational and communication skills. He helped prepare for each season, working with a team of coaches, his swim team board, and the families that took part. His attention to detail allowed him to succeed year in and year out. But winning the league championship wasn’t his sole priority. Lou Rigney wanted to create a culture where his teams were balanced with both recreation and competition. He created this type of program with a lot of positive energy, events for all age groups, social activities that brought the whole team together and an overall positive, fun energy at each and every swim practice.
As priorities changed, and his family grew, Luiz Rigney returned to school and earned his multiple subject teaching credential. He has been in education for the past five years, spending two years as a teacher and the following three as an administrator. While working as an administrator, Luiz was able to combine his passion of working with children and his passion for business.
In his free time, Lou Rigney enjoys spending time with his family. He and his family spend a lot of time at the beach, up in the mountains skiing, spending time around the town they live in or just playing at home. Luiz’ passions also include volunteering for Hospice, for his daughter’s elementary school, and for his local Catholic church.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
As a child, I spent my summers swimming on a recreation swim team in Walnut Creek, California. I was a part of the Diablo Valley Recreation Association Sun Devils. Some of my best memories were had while on this swim team. I’d hang out at the pool with friends from the team, and the coaches, and I found that the pool was kind of my second home base for those warmer months. When I was in college, I started coaching summer league swim teams, and found that it was still just as much of a passion as it was earlier on in my life. Working with children and being a part of recreation swimming became something that I wanted to have be a part of my life for many years to come. I went on to coach for another 20 swim seasons and truly enjoyed each and every year I was involved. Once I got married and started a family it was time to change gears, which brought me to the idea of pursuing a teaching credential where I could continue to work with children.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start my day between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m meditating and praying, and then either heading to the pool to swim with the local master’s swim team, or going on a jog. I make sure I am right physically, mentally, and spiritually before my family wakes up. Once I get back home from exercising, I make a big breakfast for the family and I make lunches for the girls. After everyone is off to school and work, I start my work day and find that I am in a much better place having completed my morning routine. I take a break to pick up my girls from school, and then we are off to after school activities or we are headed back home for a little homework, playtime, and dinner. After that it is time for family time and bath, book and bed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
After careful thought and planning, I bring ideas to life by trial and error. I believe it is the way to see if a new idea is going to work. If the idea is valid, I usually bring ideas to life by incorporating them into what I am doing.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One of the things that excites me is the various options available for education currently. Online classes are readily available, as well as blended models that allow to have some of their schooling take place at home and some in the classroom. There is also homeschooling. Some students choose to homeschool, yet still participate in some school activities. When faith is important to a student, they can choose from various religion-based schools as well. It is not a one size fits all for all children. Many parents are much more aware of these different solutions. Children are unique and there are solutions to fit their needs. So, I guess I would have to say the different option within education to our children is what excites me the most. Some states are a bit behind in rolling out more options, but the trend is headed in the right direction and it is a movement that thankfully cannot be stopped.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think starting my day off early and making time for prayer and exercise makes me productive. Having my mind and body right before my family wakes up allows me to be of more service to them, and to others.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to focus on my career when young, there will be plenty of time to play later.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe communication is critical. Some people think “less is more.” I believe the opposite is true when it comes to persistent conversations with family, friends, and students. As a teacher with an independent study program, persistent conversation created better attendance for online courses as well as field trips. I believe that going above and beyond is beneficial. For example, my daughter’s school required donations. I met face to face with business owners in an effort to acquire donations from 150 businesses. I didn’t just try to make phone calls to get them to commit over the phone. I actually went business to business. Taking extra measures proved to be very successful.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make a concerted effort to communicate and get to know each and every family. I believe it is the most important thing to do as an educator. I have always worked in online education. With online education, it is very difficult to get to know the families. It all comes back to consistent communication and building relationships.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When you’re first starting a career, you need to be extremely organized. Speak with as many people as possible within your industry. Dot every “I” and cross every “T.” When you start your career, you’ll have everything you’ll need to be successful. You can begin your career with confidence.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I know there are many instances where I have failed in my work life, but I can’t think of anything quite that glaring at the moment, so I am going to answer that by talking about my personal life. I am constantly striving to be present with my family. It is not always easy to accomplish that. It is easy to get distracted by work. There are times where I feel as though I failed, but I am constantly trying to correct it whenever possible and improve. You don’t get your time back with your family and so that is why this topic is much more of a focus to me than anything that has happened to me within my work life.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One business I would love to see come to fruition is to create a seatbelt or some other device to use that will not destroy a laundered shirt. It would be fantastic! I cannot enough how frustrating it can be to wake up and put on a laundered shirt just to have a seatbelt ruin it in a very short period of time. After a brief car ride your shirt looks like you’ve been wearing it for an entire day. I hope this one comes out soon…or I will just have to buy all wrinkle free shirts.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
We spend quality time as a family on puzzles and games. I am sure I have invested at least that much on puzzles and games. Puzzles and games allow for our family to have quality time where we are all present, focusing on each and other. Our time is so limited with everything that is going on in each of our lives and these games are a much-needed tool to bring us together.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google docs and Sheets are the software I use the most. While Excel is a great tool, I think we all now appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with others in real time. Excel unfortunately creates more work for us, whereas Google Sheets and Docs allows us to tackle various parts of a project at once.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Papillon – an autobiographical novel written by Henri Charrière. Papillon is about a small-time crook living in France that is framed and convicted of murder that he didn’t commit. Papillon is sentenced to life in prison and is sent to the penal colony in French Guyana. This book talks about Papillon’s time spent in the penal colony and discusses his various escape attempts and the people he meets along the way. The book is a great reminder of the need to take what God has given us and make the best of it and keep pushing on.
What is your favorite quote?
“The greatest message will be spoken by your life not your lips” by Steven Surciek. I truly do believe that actions speak louder than words and it is up to each of us to leave this world a better place by the time we pass on.
• Nobody is going to hand you success…you need to go out and get it.
• Effective communication is the key to success within any working or personal relationship.
• Success comes down to persistence. Don’t stop!!
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.