From Good to Great

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Passion. When it comes to building a life that’s meaningful, I think this one word has a lot to do with it.

LBM_42_Letter_Alli Tong_By Jody Tiongco-5

If you haven’t read the book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins, well, you should. The main idea Collins implores readers to think about is what it means to build a life that’s not just “good” but “great”—and “passion” has a lot to do with it. While the book is mainly geared toward CEOs or leaders in management, its messages are quite applicable to anyone’s life, from a stay-at-home mom or dad to an owner of his or her own company.

Since this is Laguna Beach Magazine’s “Most Influential” issue, I thought this quote from “Good to Great” was fitting: “When what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life.”

Thinking about this in my own life, I asked myself, “What am I passionate about?” And one common thread stood out: magazines. As young as 10 years old, I recall being sprawled out on the living room floor with stacks of my mom’s subscription magazines laid out in front of me. Vanity Fair, People, Good Housekeeping—whatever I could get my fingers on, I wanted. I loved the gratification of flipping to that last page of a book and beginning a new one. Fast-forward through the years, and it’s still a part of my everyday routine.

In 2012, after traveling a serendipitous road, I found Firebrand and met people who are as fanatical about magazines as I am. It goes without saying that if you find something you truly love doing, you find a way to build your life around it.

Looking at our influential nominees this year (page 54), passion seems to run through the veins of each and every person, such as Jodie Gates, the founder of the Laguna Dance Festival, who brought her love of dance to Laguna after retiring from a prestigious dance career. Subsequently, she has greatly influenced the community’s interest in the art. Or, there’s martial arts master Jacob Cho, who strives to change the lives of younger generations through his classes. He says, “It’s a victory every time I help a weak kid grow strong, a shy kid grow confident … and, for those passionate about martial arts, a lifetime pursuit.”

It’s clear that all of these individuals lead meaningful lives around their passions. On that note, I hope the stories and paths of your fellow community leaders and neighbors in this issue inspire you to not just settle for a life that’s “good” but “great.”


Alli Tong

Editor, Laguna Beach Magazine

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