“I’m from Florissant, born and raised, but I hate the area now,” he explained matter-of-factly as we struggled to be heard above the din of the Ladue Starbucks. “This is probably the most douchebag thing you’ll ever hear me say, but I want to be around successful people and people that are trying to move forward. The people there, and in other areas, they’re just not motivated. On the other hand, a lot of my family and friends are there, so I do have to love it.”
Curious, I asked Lou why he thought that was the case. One of the biggest problems, he thinks, is parenting. “You’ve got kids having kids, which doesn’t really work. I’m not a parent, but don’t be your kid’s friend. You’ve got to be a parent, I don’t care what age you are.”
Lou’s strongest feeling towards the changes he’s seen is disappointment. “I grew up where you went down the street and people were riding bikes and kids actually outside… you go through those same neighborhoods now and it’s not like that.”
So, he’ll soon be moving to somewhere like Webster Groves or Chesterfield where he believes there is a stronger sense of community. While he doesn’t have a family now, he hopes that will change and wants to raise his kids around motivated, successful people.
Quick to humility, Lou gestured wildly as he explained that he doesn’t believe he’s better than his neighbors. “I’m not saying I’m better than anybody or worse than anybody, but that’s what I want to be around and it’s more prevalent out here.”
Almost Like A Daughter
While he may not have kids of his own, Lou is incredibly close with his 12 (and a half) year old niece. Three years ago his brother struggled to make one of the toughest decisions of his life. His fiance received a job in Texas and he was struggling to find work here, but had many offers in San Antonio. So he decided to make the move.
The decision made, Lou’s brother approached him and asked Lou to take care of her. Now Lou has her 4 days a week and loves the time he has with her. “She’s my best friend, hands down. She calls me her BUFF - Best Uncle Friend Forever.”
But Lou is careful to define his role because he never wants to usurp his brother’s place as her father. “I love her like she’s my daughter. I don’t think, like, if I even have kids that I can physically love them more than I love her. She’s a part of my conscious and subconscious thought 24/7, but I don’t want her to ever… I don’t think she does…” he trailed off before picking up his train of thought again. “They’ve got a great relationship. They talk all the time.”
Charity As A Hobby
Lou’s response to my question about his hobbies was immediate. Charity. For quite awhile now he has hoped to start his own charity and one of his ideas was to do recycling around the city and then collect the money from the recyclables to give to “honorable, real charities”. “I hate the fake charities. You have some charities where the CEO makes $500 grand. I’m like you’re taking that money from people that are way less off than you to buy a house. That’s a disgrace.”
But his other idea revolved around police officers, firefighters and military. “I have a huge affinity for Police Officers because they don’t get the respect they deserve. If you think about it they are Military but on the home front. Without the law life would not exist, it would be chaos. So for the longest time I’ve wanted to do a charity where we give back kind of like a support for the back stoppers because back stoppers they’ve got to say no at some point; they only help people if you’re injured in the line of duty. But there’s tons of Firefighters and Police Officers that suffer issues that they don’t have help with because they didn’t get injured in the line of duty.”
“So that and there’s a lot of Military projects. I met a gentlemen who missed his daughter’s whole high school life. He was back like for three weeks, during the whole time she was in high school and he comes back and thank God he is A-Okay and because he came back 100% healthy, there’s no scholarship or anything for her, there’s nothing they do for her. Now if he had lost a limb or if he had gotten shot or anything like that there’s all these things, there’s all these Government programs that they give. And I found out about things like that and I was like ‘oh my God’.”
One of these days Lou will take the leap to do his own thing. “I’ve always envisioned starting a charity. I haven’t done it yet.” He may not have started his own yet, but he inspired someone else to start a bullying awareness and prevention charity called Team Bully Response Line. Social media has created an easy way for kids to be bullied and Lou informed me that there are whole networks or groups who attempt to get kids to kill themselves.
“It’s disgusting, it’s cruel and I don’t even want to try and get in that mind-set but I mean this is a reality of what’s going on. I mean and the bullying it’s insane. Right now I think we’re in six schools. From there we just need funding because unfortunately it takes money. But I envision to hopefully be a nationwide charity. Sounds like delusions and grandeur but I really thinks it’s possible.”
A Tough, But Life-Changing Decision
In the meantime, he’s organizing and hosting fundraisers and benefits for people who need help, including: a 31 year old friend passed away very suddenly so he hosted a benefit for him and his son, he ran into someone he hadn’t seen for 3 or 4 years and found out her mom had cancer so he hosted a benefit for her family. “It was a lot more than I ever anticipated work wise, if I had hair I would’ve lost it by pulling it out. I mean it was nothing but pure stress. I can’t even begin to say how stressful it was but we pulled it together. We raised like over $7000.”
The planning and hosting of this event was made even more difficult by the fact that Lou had recently made a huge career change to start his own insurance agency. “Starting in insurance is not easy. It’s not like there’s a lot of money.” He’s been doing sales his whole life, but despite his struggles as he got started, he enjoys it. “I mean… I care about people. I’ve always been customer service based. I’m like the extra mile cliche guy.”
Making the decision to go into insurance sales was a long road for Lou, but after he met with a recruiter his life was changed forever. “I had this whole misconception about what it was and honestly my favorite part about what I do is I actually get to help people and I’ve always been that person.”
The transition has been incredibly worth it for him. “I love what I do because I get to go out and create relationships with people. I talk about some of the most intimate details, protecting their most valuable things and we create a relationship!”
We stood and stretched (it had been a long, interesting conversation) after we finished our drinks and meandered towards the door as Lou told me his favorite thing about St. Louis. “Diversity! I mean, I love it! There’s so much culture here and I feel like more is coming.”