What I’ve Learned: Allan Gray

What I’ve Learned: Allan Gray

Posted 3/22/2015


Co-Founder of Intense Lighting

When I was younger I let things bother me. I was very competitive—I still am—and I often got anxious, and sometimes very angry. Now I try to take things in stride, relax more and have peace of mind.

Never burn any bridges. Someone who is your competitor could wind up being your customer or working with you—people in the lighting industry move around. This is true for life in general.

The death of my parents made me realize how much an effect they had on my life. I learned from them on how to conduct myself in the world. I cherish their memory and have come to accept their imperfections.

What might seem at the time a to be a problem, such as a jobsite issue, often is an opportunity. You never really get close to your customer until you solve a problem together. It also can help you fine-tune your product if you find a field problem and correct it.

We all need to slow down and take time to smell the roses—to enjoy nature, our family and friends.

I learned to have compassion for all—everyone has their trials and tribulations, as well as victories and successes. I believe we are all interconnected in some way and I strive to remember this when someone upsets me. I have been slow to learn this concept.

You learn a lot from your children—like never losing that curiosity that they have. I try to live each day in childlike wonder and live gratefully.

Put the shoe on the other foot. Empathy is important in business and in life.

It is ironic that I’ve inherited some of my parents’ idiosyncrasies that used to annoy me…this taught me to also learn to forgive myself.

A customer can sense if you legitimately care.

Don’t be afraid to take a chance. I would have never been able to start this business by playing it safe.

We all have a creative side. Cultivate it and enjoy it!

Practice equanimity—balance your life between, work, family, and enjoyment. In my spare time, I sail, mountain bike, and trail run. The ancient Greeks in Athens had this philosophy of balance and it still applies.

Watch your health—it’s more important than money. If you don’t, as they saying goes, you could end up the richest person in the cemetery.

Always keep learning! Look at the LED revolution in our industry. We old timers had to re-learn everything. I was really lucky—I used to read the Texas Instruments book of solid-state components as a kid and would build audio amplifiers, so I had a basic understanding of solid state and the digital world.

Be positive. It’s contagious! Negative attitudes never accomplish much.

Being in the lighting industry for over 30 years has led to some very solid friendships. This has been the highlight of my career—there’s no price tag that can be associated with this.

I understand there is a lesson to be learned in all adversity–in my case, a divorce, prostate cancer and the death of a family member at a relatively young age. Though these challenges I think I’ve become a stronger and wiser member of the human race.


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