Loving Your Work
Posted: Apr 22, 2008 10:20am ET
I had lunch the other day with Litto Gomez, who makes La Flor Dominicana cigars. We ate at Otto, part of the Mario Batali/Joe Bastianich Italian food empire. Litto is as slim as a spear, but you’d never know it if you watched him tuck into a table set with great Italian food. The guy can eat about as much as I can, and that tells you something.
It was a great lunch, with delicious, casual food, some good wine and easy conversation. Between bites of house-made salumi and a plate of spaghetti carbonara that Litto dubbed better than any he’d had in Italy, we got to talking about business.
Like half of New York, I commute to work on a train every day. Litto is also a commuter, but his is a longer, tougher ride—most Mondays he leaves Florida for the Miami International Airport and hops onto a plane to Santiago, Dominican Republic. On Fridays he heads home. It’s a two-hour flight.
Even if you love to fly, that routine can get to be a grind. But it doesn’t bother Litto, because he simply loves what he does. He took a vacation recently, and one night he woke up in the middle of the morning, grabbed the laptop computer and began typing, waking his wife. “I had too many ideas in my head,” he said.
This is a guy who loves making cigars. He’s been doing it since 1994. When he started making smokes (he was previously a jeweler), he was dizzy, unsure of what to do, a newcomer in a strange new world. Today he’s a master of his craft, the man behind some of the world’s best cigars.
I asked him how long it took for him to fall in love with the cigar business. “Two months,” he said with an easy smile. “Now, I’m raring to go on Monday morning.”
Litto isn’t alone. Most of the guys I know in this business bleed cigars, and love everything about the process of making them. Remember—it hasn’t always been such a lucrative career. Many of the men I write about who make cigars got into this business when cigar sales were slumping, not growing, as they are now. Many of them chose this career path when the future for cigars looked very, very uncertain.
Litto is a man who loves his work. I know how important that is in life, because I love what I do as well. There’s a certain peace you find when your career is something that brings you not only money, but joy.
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