Quality of Life Perspectives: Matthew Coleman

The other day I was chatting with Matthew Coleman, a landscaping specialist from southern California.  He was helping us with some work and we got to chatting.


We started talking about parenting and before I knew it we started getting into one of those deep, fluid, interesting conversations.  The kind you wish you could do more of but find yourself not having the time for.  [In fact, I started to tell myself I didn’t have the time on a busy work day to chat – but thankfully I decided to chill and enjoy the rich experience presented to me.]


A minute into our conversation I realized some gems were forthcoming so I decided to record the conversation (with a phone video camera).  Below is a link to the conversation, in which Matthew shared his perspectives and practices around parenting.  CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO.










Here are some things that stood out from our conversation:

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Treating People with Respect

I’ve learned that having a huge ego or treating people in a derogatory way is simply going to leave you alone and stunt your growth. It’s also a realization that you can’t be successful on your own. I am totally aware of the handful of people that believed in me and took those same risks in me that I did.

Those that want to trip you up

I have a way of dealing with people that don’t have my best interests in mind. There are those that just want to trip you up. I can usually sense that type of personality after one remark from them. I want to say, “Hey, you don’t need to do that with me because I’m not judging you.” I’ll try to bring them onboard and be a step ahead. I don’t really want a sparring session; that’s not what I want to spend my time doing.

Avoiding toxic people

Avoid toxic people and toxic ideas. Run, do not walk away from them. It’s important to have the ability and willingness to exclude those things from your life. They can absolutely diminish the quality of your life. What is a toxic person? It’s all values driven. You know it when you see it.

Type of people I admire

There is a lovely passage in Arthur Mills’ Death of a Salesman that will answer this question for you. The protagonist in the play, Willy Loman, was visiting a former neighbor, now a flourishing attorney, essentially looking for a handout. While waiting, he catches up with the attorney’s son.. Finally, the attorney ushers his client out the door, turns to Willy and says, “What do you think of that boy? Do you know that tomorrow morning he will plead a case before the Supreme Court of the United States of America?!” Willy is aghast, “We spoke for 40 minutes, he never mentioned it.” “Hey Willy, he doesn’t have to mention it, he’s doing it!!” I love that story. I am definitely attracted to the type of people that do not need to tell you how consequential they are, but are more focused on doing it. I deflect the blowhards, the guys who buy up art by the square foot and build libraries by the yard. Whose response to what they do is to tell you how much they’ve made. The rest of the world I embrace. The people who’ve worked in our companies have, I’m talking about the guys on the floor, they’re not replaceable parts of the machine, they are the stuff out of which I’ve prospered.

Not imposing one’s views

The nature of my personality is to be controlling, and if I see a situation that needs help, I want to be the person to get involved and make things better.  With family members I want everyone to prosper and I want to see them integrate in every way they can.  What I’ve learned is sometimes the best course of action is no action at all.  And imposing my views on how they should do things and handle themselves isn’t always the best way to deal with that situation.  Speaking specifically about my brother, when we were younger I wanted so much for him to be a certain way.  At some point, I realized it wasn’t working and he wasn’t happy with my approach.  I then consciously decided to hold back my opinions and to just focus on unconditional love and being there as a brother.  And now he’s flourished into this beautiful person.  I don’t know what effect my different approach had but I know that what I was doing wasn’t working for him or for our relationship.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt

I don’t hold grudges but once I determine that someone has a flawed character, is selfish or creating havoc, I usually think why should I bother reevaluating. If they change, that’s great, but why should I spend time being part of that person’s process. Once I’ve decided their character is wrong, I don’t have anything to do with them again.


I think it is very important to be choice-full with your friendships not who is there. A measure of friendship is two things I believe: 1) Do you become a better person by spending time with this person, and 2) Are they people that in many ways you would like to become. I am drawn to people who have a similar set of ethics and who see life is more than just about themselves.


If you look at my close friends, they span a socio-economic line from someone who is just above the poverty line to someone who is uber wealthy. Several of my close friends are guys I’ve known since the 1950’s. They are not financially successful by any stretch, but they have cared about my family and I trust them. My closest friendships are the ones that, besides the good times, have experienced pressure, tension, and challenge—and survived them.

Acceptance and expectations

I think what’s important, whether in business or personal, is accepting people for who they are and not who you want them to be. There are certain people I know that are unbelievably arrogant and I know that about them. So when I deal with them, I already know that that’s who they are, and it doesn’t even bother me. I mean this is who these people are, these are their character traits. They may evolve but seldom will they change. So I accept people for who they are and in turn, I’m much less frustrated.