SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 41: Johnny Be Good


“Live life to the fullest, Time to work is time to work, time to play is time to play.”
Johnny’s mantra.

Driving home after a dinner with friends and family. I come across a group of bikers. Actually my second group of bikers. It was only 20 minutes ago when I was rejected by about a dozen of them. Let’s just title that group, “we’ll never meet who’s behind curtain one.”

I’m a little set back by this first encounter, not one of the group was willing to partake of 365. It was a rather large gathering. “They looked so like a willing bunch,” I told myself.

For your reference, the scene: Picture a casual outdoor gathering, killer bikes parked along the road, and a group of leather jacketed bikers sharing stories over after ride coffee. At the time it seemed to me, “in a gathering like this, someone will gladly volunteer to be featured.”

What I do find is a gang very hard to break into, with several cliques huddling around tables or reclining on steps, all deeply immersed in their own dialogue.

I do; however, presenting business cards to introduce 365, manage to talk to two guys.  They are definitely not interested in being photographed and I can tell by the tense stare from one of them that my presence is tolerated, but not welcome. Who knows maybe we will get a call and be invited to a future event? Something that I will wholly accept. So keep reading, maybe there will be a re-visit in later blog entries.

Deflated from that rejection, and with about 20 miles of pavement behind the experience, I come across a second gathering of bikers mingling in a parking. Again, as did group one, they are in cliques sharing post ride stories.

What the heck! It takes three missed swings to strike out, I have more swings left and I’m not striking out on day 41.

I line up for pitch two, pull into the parking lot, promising my family this one feels right. To the trunk I go, grabbing my 35 pound back pack of photographic power. I approach the plate. “Hey bear with me, It’s not easy writing a personable and sometimes witty blog entry every night.”

So if I want to write a baseball comparison for soliciting a group of bikers to get involved in 365, humor me.

The lot is dim, the sound of revving bikes fill the air. Spotting an amazingly painted Suzuki 750, I approach, complimenting it’s cool factor as I tell of 365. Without division, all hands point to Johnny, our man of the evening.

Johnny is engaging, warm and articulate. He is completely into the 365 project, liking the outreach factor it presents. “I’m in for anything that brings people together,” he says.

It is obvious he is liked by the group, of which many contribute with team spirited comments as he and I talk.

Johnny is a very smart cat. At 24 he has already capitalized on international commerce, building a very successful import/export business between the United States and Vietnam. What is highly interesting is that he mostly imports product to Asia. Quite the opposite of many in his trade.

By the looks of the custom paint on his bike, hand painted by a tattoo artist, he is doing quite well. paint jobs like that, do not come at a small price.

There is no guile or ego in his attitude. He talks of values that his father instilled in him. Values that have led him to the balanced perspective he lives by.

A few of Johnny wisdom’s:
“Work hard, play later.”

“Money is not everything. Health is golden.”
“Be willing to sacrifice wasted time to stay focused.”
“Live life to the fullest.”

So what with the bike?
I learn of the closeness of the biker community and how it sticks together. “It’s not an unusual thing to get a high-five from an unknown fellow biker,” Johnny explains.

“As a kid I liked speed.” By the looks of his bike, I think he’s found fast, and it seems to be his release. “Biking is a big part of my life, it free’s me and allows my to relax.”

The group is pushing to leave and it’s time to wrap. One more question to ask.

“Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

With understated humility, and in honor to his father’s advice, “be your own boss,” he answers, “based out of my home, Vietnam. To be the biggest import/export business in the world.”

Johnny, Thanks for the interview!

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