#10 ~ Motivation Monday – Interview with Mike Pernatozzi

I am excited about the feedback I’ve received for Motivation Monday! Several bloggers have contacted me with their very own touching stories of achieved dreams. I’m looking forward to sharing their adventures with you each week. If you or someone you know would like to be interviewed, please contact me.

Today’s interview is with a man who will, without a doubt, leave a prodigious impression on anyone who is in the business of making their dreams come true.

—————————————–

Bucket List [buhk-it list] – noun

  • a wish list of things to do before one  ”kicks the bucket.”

—————————————–

Melody: Mike, tell us a little about yourself.

Mike: Here are the vitals.  I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and am now 63 years of age.  I was married for 37 years to my childhood sweetheart (I was 15; she was 14 when we met) until cancer took her away from me in 2005.  I have two wonderful children, a son 39, and a daughter 34.  And they have given me three incredible grandsons.  I recently divorced my second wife and am in a warm, wonderful relationship with a woman right now.

I served in the USAF for nearly 11 years and among many jobs and occupations, have enjoyed the labors and fruits of entrepreneurship twice, most recently with the opening of Dad’s Grilled Cheese in Las Vegas.

Melody: What is one item you’ve checked off your bucket list? 

Mike: Actually, I’ve checked off several.  I always wanted to be in broadcasting and the Air Force granted that wish and I was able to satisfy my desires over a twenty year military and civilian career.  I wanted to be an actor/entertainer and was able to do that by both acting in and directing little theater productions – many Neil Simon plays – both overseas and stateside.  I also always wanted to write a book.  I had made several attempts over the years, but never quite crossed the finish line.  But in September 2008 I published my novel Collusion on the Felt and that was a very satisfying achievement.  Not to mention the fact that the story is excellent!  My bucket list also included the invention and development of a casino table game.  In 1995, while waiting for my wife to get her hair done, I sketched out on an envelope my idea for a casino table game that incorporated baseball and poker.  The game became known as Grand Slam Poker and has been approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission.  I always wanted to own a restaurant – but not just any restaurant – and Dad’s Grilled Cheese is a monument to that wish. 

Melody: Absolutely amazing. Being able to accomplish so much in a lifetime is truly inspiring! When did your most recent dream of opening Dad’s Grilled Cheese become a goal of yours?

Mike: About six years ago, I was growing tired of “working for someone else” again and began thinking about what opportunities there were in developing a restaurant.  I did not want to do chicken or tacos or burgers or pizza.  I wanted something unique.  The idea of a grilled cheese enterprise came to me and I dusted it off last Fall.

Melody: I can definitely relate to not wanting to work for someone else. Being your own boss is so rewarding. Other than being the boss, why was reaching this goal so important to you?

Mike: I love a challenge.  The first question people ask you when you’re opening a restaurant is “have you done this before?”  They’re intimating that you must be out of your mind if you haven’t done it before.  My feeling is – everyone has a first time.  But the challenge here is having total say in how my business operates and is run.  In the past, I’ve had a business partner – and we’re still great friends today – but compromise can be just a little tiring.  It’s great to be on my very own.

Melody: “Everyone has a first time.” I love that quote…and I’ll be keeping that in the back of my mind. Very inspiring! At any point, did you think you wouldn’t be able to reach your dream?

Mike: Well, just because I got the restaurant open and running, I don’t know that I’ve actually accomplished the goal.  The goal is really to have a lot of franchises of Dad’s Grilled Cheese all over the country.  And the jury is certainly still out on that.

Melody: I’d like to place a bet on the jury’s verdict on this one. 😉 What has kept you going?

Mike: Lots of things.  I received a lot of encouragement from my lady friend and I wanted to show her what kind of guy I am, so success was important to me.  My kids were a driving factor, though they don’t necessarily know that.  My son was out of work for nearly a year and had difficulty making ends meet.  I thought that if I could invest my money in a venture like this, it would give him a job and an opportunity to flourish after I’m gone.  I guess I figured I could leave them a sum of money or give them an opportunity to make a lot of money.  Sort of like the Rich Dad; Poor Dad book I read a few years ago.  So, their welfare and love kept me going, and continues to keep me going.

Melody: What advice would you have for people striving to reach their goals?

Mike: Get ready for lots of people to wish you ill.  I’m serious.  There are an awful lot of people out there who don’t like seeing others become successful.  That’s a grim reality of life.  It’s those people who drain the enthusiasm out of the rest of us – if we let them.  My advice is to totally ignore the negativity that is inevitable.  If you need an emotion, feel sorry for those people.  The other advice I would give is do it for the right reasons.  Whatever the right reasons are, let that be the motivator.  If you don’t truly love the idea and if you don’t want to pour your heart and soul into it, don’t attempt it.  Because success requires heart and soul.

Melody: What is one more thing on your bucket list you still have yet to accomplish?

Mike: Stand-up comedy!  I would love to be a stand-up comedian.  I dabbled in it a bit in high school and performing in comedies brought me closer.  But that’s one thing I still have on my bucket list.

Melody: I’m putting in my order for front row seats at our first performance! What’s your favorite inspirational quote?

Mike: I have two of them.  “If you haven’t got time to do it right, how will you find time to do it again?”  and “If I continue to do what I’ve always done, I’ll continue to get what I’ve already got.”

———————————————————–

Mike’s novel, Collusion on the Felt, can be purchased at the following locations:  amazon.com barnesandnoble.com, and iuniverse.com

Dad’s Grilled Cheese is located at 5255 So. Decatur Blvd. Suite 115, Las Vegas, NV 89118

Mike, thank you for taking the time out of your full schedule to share your story in order to inspire others. Your drive and determination to pursue your dreams has ignited my passion to strive ever harder to reach mine!

—-

©2010 Melody G. Fritchley

Advertisements

22 Comments »

  1. Karen said

    I am Mike’s daughter, Karen. One thing my dad has always been, is an inspiration. With all of the negativity in this world, dreams are put to rest quickly as we try to exist in this society. But I was one blessed enough to be raised to believe that I matter. My dreams matter, and if ANYONE can do it, why couldn’t I? This is a great blog about my father. Everything he “dabbles” in becomes a masterpiece. His book is amazingly thrilling, and his restaurant is a hit! Thank you so much for sharing his story!

  2. What an interesting concept. Coming over from SITS to say hello! I liked reading about Mike. Everyone’s got a story, don’t they? I am always reminded of this and I love it.

  3. Mari said

    I enjoyed reading Mike’s story and would like to visit Dad’s Grilled Cheese!

  4. Tricia said

    Wow! What an amazing story and guy! Now I HAVE to go ” Dad’s” for a grilled cheese! And get the book for an autograph!! 🙂

  5. Tiffany said

    Wow… what a great story!!! He’s truly an inspiration to all who have a “what if I…” dream. Thanks for sharing it Mel!!!

    We still have to visit Dad’s Grilled Cheese…. I’ll put it on our menu for next week!!

  6. Jordan said

    Dad’s is AMAZING. If I lived closer to it, I’d be in real danger of going everyday. Loved reading the story behind its owner!

  7. Crystal said

    That was a great story. Loved reading it, and I LOVED his advice. It’s SO true, my husband and I have been very fortunate and thankfully have been pretty financially successful at a young age. We are always coming across those negative people who just tear you down in any way they can. It’s sad that there are those people out there that cannot be happy for others success. It has taught me a good lesson though, it helps me to try harder to lift others and not to let jealousy get in the way.
    I REALLY want to try Dad’s Grilled Cheese, yum, sounds so good.
    And I just LOVE comedy, I’d love to see some youtube video’s of this guy sometime, come on Mike, let’s hear it 🙂

  8. Crystal said

    Oh, and Melody, I was going to tell you that you are in my top 5, lol. If you read the Saturday’s tips on SITS, then you know what I mean 🙂 I loved that idea of finding your 5 favorite blogs and supporting them like crazy. I plan to do that with yours for sure!

  9. Tinka said

    Stopping by from SITS and wishing you a great week!!!

  10. Mike sounds wonderful and I will have to stop by his Grilled Cheese place next time I’m in Vegas. Thanks for the wonderful interview.

  11. Joey said

    Very inspirational interview – and a Pittsburgh guy too!

  12. Hi, Melody! First of all, thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed your time there! 🙂

    I love your blog. What a great idea to interview people marking things off of their Bucket Lists! Quite clever. If you need someone sometime, I have quite a story…:)

    Have a wonderful week and so good to “meet” you!

    • Melody said

      Hi Natalie!

      I’m intrigued … do tell what your story is. I’d love to hear about your bucket list item that has been checked off!! If it works out, I’ll interview ya!

      Melody http://www.6feetover.wordpress.com

  13. KellieS said

    Mike is definitely inspiring! I hope he makes good on the stand comedy…that’s a really scary one to engage. Good luck! Great idea to interview others. We do something similar at Women’s Life Link called Beautiful Women. The interviews always reveal something inspiring or at least a nugget or two.

  14. Roz said

    What a series of accomplishments to have in a lifetime! Great story and definitely pushes all to work harder and smarter 🙂

  15. ALE518 said

    Great to see an American Hero become successful in the ‘real world’…thank you for your selfless service to our country Mike!

  16. Kristin said

    Put one of those bad boys in my town and I’d be there all the time. Good for him!!

  17. michelle louise pernatozzi said

    I have been reading on all that Mike has done over the years and must be honest to say that I have to get over to vegas and possibly get to see him. i sure do need some of his drive that has given him all that he wants in life. Sure is hard when so many people are always negative. I have had enough of that so its up to me to go and grow.Best wishes Michael to you and your wonderful family. Michelle Pernatozzi ( i live in scottsdale arizona now)

  18. Tom said

    I had the good fortune to work for Mike when we were both stationed at AFN-TV Berlin Germany in 1975/76. He’s a great guy and a tremendous teacher. I wish him success and happiness. Thanks for everything Mike!

  19. SHIRL MARIE BLODGETT / REALTY ONE GROUP said

    DEAR MIKE
    I LIVE IN LAS VEGAS – LOOKED YOU UP ON THE NET – IS YOUR BOOK AVALABLE IN ALL THE BOOK STORES? – OR EXCLUSIVELY IN GAMBLER’S BOOK STORE?

    YEARS AGO I WORKED AS BLACKJACK DEALER FOR 10+ YEARS. THEN OWNED MY OWN BUSINESS. CURRENTLY IN REAL ESTATE AS REO AGENT – LIKE SO MANY OTHERS RIGHT AT THE MOMENT!
    IF YOUR NOT CURRENTING DATING ANYONE – WE SHOULD MEET FOR COFFEE – OR WE COULD GO RIDING ON TOP OF TAXI CABS!

    LAS VEGAS GIRL LOOKING FOR A BIG GUY WHO MAKES ME LAUGH !

    REGARDS
    SHIRL

  20. SHIRL MARIE BLODGETT / REALTY ONE GROUP said

    DEAR MIKE
    I LIVE IN LAS VEGAS – LOOKED YOU UP ON THE NET – IS YOUR BOOK AVALABLE IN ALL THE BOOK STORES? – OR EXCLUSIVELY IN GAMBLER’S BOOK STORE?

    YEARS AGO I WORKED AS BLACKJACK DEALER FOR 10+ YEARS. THEN OWNED MY OWN BUSINESS. CURRENTLY IN REAL ESTATE AS REO AGENT – LIKE SO MANY OTHERS RIGHT AT THE MOMENT!
    IF YOUR NOT CURRENTLY DATING ANYONE – WE SHOULD MEET FOR COFFEE – OR WE COULD GO RIDING ON TOP OF TAXI CABS!

    LAS VEGAS GIRL LOOKING FOR A BIG GUY WHO MAKES ME LAUGH !

    REGARDS
    SHIRL

  21. Mike was my original mentor at AFTV Berlin. I wrangled an internshipt there while I was at Berlin American High School. I had just completed a summer internship at AFN Radio Berlin, and I really wanted to play with the big boys at the TV station. The station transitioned to the Army and changed its call letters to AFN-TV Berlin. Mike left the group right about that time. He was sorely missed! Fond memories for me, though. I kept in the industry after that experience. Thanks, Mike!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: