Back Where I Come From

49+ years ago I was born in Billings, Montana. I moved a few years later but have always been proud of my Big Sky roots. There is really no place on Earth that can compare to the part of our nation they call “God’s Country.”

Sun setting on a barn overlooking the Swan Mountains

Today I write this post from the state where I was born. I’m out here for a short visit as I get my Mom settled into her summer home in Kalispell, where she comes to both enjoy the solitude and beauty of Northwest Montana but also avoid the heat and humidity of Central Ohio during June, July & August.

As loyal readers of this post know, I like to focus on a few things. Of course, my philosophy of building relationships, solving problems and having fun is always at the heart of every post but the themes of customer service, memorable experiences, great stories and the mixture of passion, enthusiasm, and transparency are critical to making it a post I want to write. I have to feel the post before I sit down to write it. Tonight, at a local pizza spot here in Kalispell, I was inspired to write by someone who reminded me that being proud of where you come from is at the heart of what “home” means.

Emily was our server tonight at MacKenzie River, a local pizza and pub located in the northern suburbs of Kalispell. From the moment she greeted us, you knew she was fun, personable and honest. I asked her about the three different local craft beers I was trying to decide between and she admitted that she didn’t like any of the flavors I asked about…but she’d bring me samples of all three. (Admit it – you’re liking this girl already too, aren’t you?)

Awesome service and local stories from Emily at MacKenzie River

Throughout our visit, Emily would stop by and check in, ask about us and what brought us to Northwest Montana and simply let us know she was there is we needed anything. We chatted about the small area of Montana she was from (she said it’s not really even a “town” because there is no stoplight) and talked about her graduating class of 12. She was one of 5 kids and they lived and grew up on a cattle farm.

Emily is now a proud mother of 4 and is working hard to make sure her kids grow up understanding the lessons of respect and discipline that she and her husband are trying to instill in them. We discussed how big Kalispell is compared to her hometown and she discussed the growing area that has become the Flathead Valley but also smiled as she talked about where they live and how they are still trying to make sure their kids grow up in a small town.

As I drove away from the restaurant, I was full thanks to a good meal but I was fulfilled by the experience at MacKenzie’s thanks to Emily and the stories she shared with me. I couldn’t help but hear Kenny Chesney’s “Back Where I Come From” playing in my mind.

Back where I come from
Where I’ll be when it’s said and done
And I’m proud as anyone
That’s where I come from

Where are you from? Do you still live there or have you ever been back? Have the people you knew from there impacted who you are or how you treat people? How different – for better or worse – would your life be if you were “from” somewhere else?

In the profession of real estate, we get to help people every day figure out that place they will someday be “coming from” or other times help people leaving the place they soon will be telling others they “come from.”

…But I make it a point to say
That’s where I come from

We can always change the road we’re on and where we’re headed but we’ll never be able to change where we came from. When you truly own that history and make it part of the story you tell every day, it’s amazing at how quickly you can get people leaning in and listening to what you are saying.

…and that’s the perfect time to start building relationships, solving problems and having fun.


(Click here to see the video below and feel the emotion from Kenny Chesney singing his hit Back Where I Come From in front of a crowd of 60,000+ fans at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee – Chesney’s home state…where he came from)

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