There are so many reasons why I decided to start and build a cleaning company. I want to talk about an internal motivation that's always been beneath the surface. And I suspect it's in you as well. What does your name mean to you? I want to inspire you to desire a good name. This is called legacy.
First, I want to read you a quote from King Solomon. Now who is King Solomon? Let me build up his credibility. King Solomon is the richest and the wisest man in human history. He reigned over the Kingdom of Israel from 970 to 930 BC. Scholars have estimated his wealth in current dollars around $2.2 trillion. For perspective, the richest man in the world right now is Bernard Arnault, who is worth around $200 billion. If King Solomon were alive today, he would be worth 10 times that of Arnault. Here's more perspective. If you search Google for the richest man of all time, they seem to omit King Solomon. You will find Mansa Musa who reigned King of the Mali Empire from 1280 to 1337 AD. His net worth in today's dollars is estimated at $400 billion. This is two times the richest man today. Yet King Solomon is still five times wealthier than Mansa Musa. I have even more perspective. Do you know how King Solomon got so wealthy? He inherited some from his dad, King David. But did you know that world leaders at that time would literally travel far distances via camel, I suppose, just to hear his wisdom and learn from him. They would bring him the wealth of their country and give it as a tribute just to hear him talk. This is mind-boggling to me. I shared all this because King Solomon wrote a book that I read often. It's called Proverbs and it's found in the Old Testament of the Bible.
"A good name [earned by honorable behavior, godly wisdom, moral courage, and personal integrity] is more desirable than great riches; And favor is better than silver and gold." – Proverbs 22:1 Amplified, Attributed to King Solomon
I first read this at the age of 25, when the Bible was still new to me. But this verse really captured my heart. I wanted to make a name for myself. I wanted to make those that poured into me and made our name valuable, proud of me. I wanted to carry on their legacy. Here's a few examples of men who knew their name and purpose.
"Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die." Inigo Montoya knew his name and he knew his purpose.
"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife." Now that's a man who knew his name and his purpose.
The first one is a little bit silly from "The Princess Bride", but it does show the power in a name. The second one from "Gladiator" is just chilling and awesome and gets men to want to fight for this man.
Now it's my turn. My name is Kenneth Joseph Carfagno, III. I was named after my Pop-Pop, Kenneth Joseph Carfagno, Sr. My father Kenneth Joseph Carfagno, Jr. named his firstborn son after his father. My Pop-Pop, Kenneth Sr. was the sixth child, and fifth son of Genaro Carfagno. Genaro was the firstborn of eight kids of Giuseppe Carfagno. Giuseppe is Italian for Joseph and Genaro is Italian for Jerry. So I carry the name of four generations of my fathers. My middle is Joseph, the English version of my great-great grandfather Giuseppe. My first name Kenneth is the same as my father and grandfather. That is so cool to me. So much has been poured into me and into that name. I feel the weight of responsibility to make that name even better!
Giuseppe, my great-great grandfather, came to Philadelphia in 1881 from Montella, Italy. He laid cobblestone on the streets of Philadelphia, which is the foundation of our historic district. He later moved on to work for Schmitz Brewery in Philly. Guiseppe lived a decent life, enjoyed time at the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey with my great-great grandmother Rosina. They raised eight kids with strong family values. That's a good name. My great-grandfather, Genaro was a first-generation Italian-American who valued the American dream. He was an entrepreneur. He owned a very successful trucking company before World War Two, and then a small mom and pop grocery store after the war in North Philadelphia. He named his firstborn son Giuseppe, or Joseph, his father, and he named his second-born son Genaro, after himself. Sadly, little Genaro passed away at the age of two. And when my great-grandfather had a third son, he named him Jerry because carrying on his name and the names of his fathers was important to him. Jerry is the only one alive of Geraro's 6 children today. Then he named his last two sons, Ronald and Kenneth. That's my Pop-Pop. I've already done a full episode about my Pop-Pop and how important he was to me in my life. This episode is called "Tribute to My Father". It really was a powerful and emotional bit of grief counseling for myself to do that. I was able to give my Pop-Pop's eulogy at the funeral, and I poured everything I could into it.
My Pop-Pop raised me. He mentored me. He affirmed me. He taught me to be a man. I have made it my mission to make him proud of me in life (even though he is gone). And really, it wasn't until about a year after he passed, and that was in November 2020, that I finally realized that I didn't have to strive to make him proud of me anymore. I realized he already was proud of me. And I didn't have to earn it. I can already see his pride, just exuding from his eyes. Every time he looked at me and smiled at me. I have pictures of him. And I can see the look in his eyes as he looks at me when I'm a 12 year old boy. I can see the proudness of a dad to his son. He's my father. He worked as an electronics engineer for Panasonic and also worked for the Philadelphia Electric Company for 35 years where he retired. He made it to the power director position, so he was in charge of distributing power all over the Philadelphia area and suburbs through a vast network. So that was pretty cool. I thought that was awesome. My dad, Ken Jr, was 19 when I was born. He taught me a lot of things too. He taught me hard work ethic and loyalty. Unfortunately, my father has mental illness. And over the past 15 years, he's put a tarnish on the family name. I don't hold that against him. It is what it is. Mental illness is very difficult. If anyone out there is dealing with it, you know what I'm talking about. There were times in recent years when googling my name, because I have the same name as my dad and grandfather, that would bring up court records and sentencing records and felony charges.
And it was kind of weird and embarrassing because I'm thinking how am I going to show that I'm not that Ken Carfagno. I am the one over here with the podcast and the cleaning business. That is part of my name. The whole story I just shared makes up the name Carfagno. I have all of these things that the fathers in my life poured into the name. Some added value to it and some took value away from the name. I also want to be fair to my dad. He was totally awesome to me. He was there for me as a kid. He took me on adventures. Right now. He's 64 years old. And he's living a difficult life. And it's part of my name now. I do the best that I can to serve him, show him unconditional love, and help rehabilitate his life. These men handed me the name, Kenneth Joseph Carfagno, III. The first act of legacy for me was to name my firstborn son, Kenneth Joseph Carfagno, IV to honor my dad and my grandfather.
I know every one of you has a genealogical history. You can look back to your fathers and grandfathers and so on. And you can see what your name has become. What's the value of your name? Is there amazing people in your past? Or is there people that aren't so amazing? Whatever is in the name that you have right now, do you desire a good name? Do you want to appreciate that name, meaning to add value to it and grow the name? I can remember as a high school student, the name Carfagno was on the backs and plates of my friend's cars. It was on the scoreboard of the local Little League. You see, Carfagno Chevrolet was a local company in Norristown, Pennsylvania. We have no direct relationship to the owner, Frank Carfagno. But it still gave me more identity in my name as a kid besides what my father had given me. I used to think. 'What if I could build a company with my name like Frank Carfagno and Carfagno Chevrolet. What if I could build a company like my great-grandfather Genaro Carfagno? What if I could sponsor a little league team?'
These questions as a teenager lead to the naming of our first company names as a 25-year-old adult. Carfagno International was our Amway business. Carfagno Writing was my writing journey, when I wrote the book "Arctic Land". And of course, Carfagno Cleaning was the solo cleaning business we started in 2005. Today, we operate as Carfagno Commercial Cleaning, and we just won Small Business of the Year in the Indian Valley Chamber. For the first time, our family name was recognized in front of 150 fellow business leaders in the community. I got to tell my kids and my wife. "Look, the community values the work that we do. The community appreciates us and that appreciates our name."
My opportunity now is to continue to build that name. I desire to have a good name so that I can pass on the family name to my kids and have it be something already worth a lot. Recently, my wife and I prayed and released Carfagno Commercial Cleaning back to God. We truly believe it's His business. I run a business owned by God that has my name on it! That's powerful to me! Of the 4 generations of my fathers, I am the first to become a spirit-filled, born-again believer of Jesus Christ. That's who I am and it carries on into my children.
I take this very seriously. We even created a family code with a mission and several core values. I wanted our kids to know who they were and who they serve.
A CARFAGNO is:
a DISCIPLE of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
GRATEFUL for every gift we have.
Unconditionally HONEST, no matter what!
FUN to enjoy life at its fullest.
UNIFIED with our brethren in the bond of perfection.
HEALTHY in body, which is the temple of God.
EXCELLENT in our work, decision-making, and personal development.
DEBT-FREE and generous in our finances.
Our Family Mission Statement
The CARFAGNO FAMILY spends time together, laughing, and creating memories. We LIVE by our Family Code, LEAD by example, and SERVE with our time, talent, and treasure.
I have the opportunity every day to appreciate or add value to the Carfagno name. Or, I have the same opportunity every day to depreciate the Carfagno name. I choose to add value to the glory of God and for the future of my children. What about you? What will you do with your name?
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"Helping cleaning professionals make the impact they were meant to make."