two men standing next to each other in front of a tree

Born in northeast Ohio and raised in a large extended family, my dad passed along so much more than his affinity for Cleveland sports, charcoal grills and an unrelenting work ethic. A tireless provider, Dad would either be working or available for his kids and family – rarely taking time for himself or any hobbies. Now a grandpa, his support, love and words continue to help me. 

Picking up a skilled trade while in the military served me my whole life. I knew it would help me, but I thought it would just help me get a degree. I never did go back to school, but I learned how to make a living. 

My first job was at a service station and I was told by the owner I would never be a mechanic. By the time I left there I was rebuilding generators and doing tune-ups. Never let anyone tell you what you can’t do. 

I learned whatever you are paid, you have to earn it. My first job out of high school was a laborer for a plumbing company. And my work didn’t end at the shop. When his yard needed mowing, I grabbed the lawn mower. When his car was dirty, I washed it. They fired me at the end of the summer because they wanted me to attend college. 

The one thing college taught me was that college was not for me. 

Pick a car that matches your personality. If you like to go fast, don’t just drive fast – go fast everywhere you go. 

You can learn by watching. I watched my dad and uncles build their own homes and learned by asking them to let me swing a hammer, put mortar on a brick and run electric. 

Leaving home is like going into the unknown. You will make mistakes as you gain experience. This is part of life. Don’t cry about it. Learn from it, fix it and move on. 

To quote someone else, “Growing old is a fact of life. Growing up is optional.”

Watching my kids grow up taught me to enjoy the small things, like playing catch and going fishing. You don’t have to take an expensive vacation to Hawaii. Just enjoy the moment. 

Watching my mom die from cancer when I was 18 taught me life is just not fair for everyone. Meaning her, not me.  

When you have a family you have a responsibility and you push yourself to give your family everything that you can. 

I learned to never stop learning. 

Helping my kids with their math made me worry about their future. I learned later there are a lot of ways to succeed at life without having to do calculus. 

If you ever get a disoriented moose stuck in your garage (or carport) I know how you can safely remove him. Just ask Jason for my number. 
Anyone who gives you a “one time offer” should be shown the door.

Jason Koler
Jason Koler, born in Florida and raised in Ohio, is the “better looking and way smarter” Keys Weekly publisher. When not chasing his children or rubbing his wife’s feet, he enjoys folding laundry and performing experimental live publishing.