My Story:

Jason Farler points to some of the experiences that have had an enduring effect, lessons that have taught him the values of working hard and respect.

His daughter, Abby, is at the heart of one such experience. At the time of this writing, she was seven years old. All girl, all grin. She was born prematurely, one of a set of twins. Her brother, Ben, lived a life of only 20 minutes. Abby weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces, small enough to wear Jason’s wedding band around her wrist.

“She persevered. I watched her fight through what was a tough, tough time. And now, she’s growing like a weed. She has the same fire I see in myself from time to time, from being introspective to being really tender-hearted, a caretaker.

“Abby taught me that, yeah, life can be difficult – but barring catastrophe, there’s not much to complain about. You work, and you get through it.”

Jason also sees much of himself in Abby’s little brother, Nick. “Even before he knew how to swim, he’d dive right into the deep end. Even after various scares, he continued to do so. And he always jumped in headfirst. It’s a trait he and I share.”

Jason’s father was an embassy Marine in Brazil, when he met Jason’s mother, a native Brazilian. It was a regimented household, Jason says, but not so regimented he didn’t enjoy childhood. The one non-negotiable was that he and his brother, David, today an engineer for Apple in Silicon Valley, had to work hard in school.

Jason spent his early childhood in Brazil. He speaks fluent Portuguese, the official Brazilian language. This was in the early ’80s. The family lived comfortably. Still, as Jason recalls, they lived a stone’s throw from grinding Third World poverty.

The family moved to the U.S. when Jason was about Abby’s age. They settled in Fairfield, where he was a starting linebacker and engaged in the theater program at Fairfield High. One day, he sassed his mother, actually made her cry. It was a boy thing. He remembers his father coming home, by which time Jason had basically forgotten about the incident earlier in the day.

“Dad said, ‘Let’s take a drive.’ I said sure and hopped in his pickup truck. He drove to a cornfield, put it in park and stared hard for a long moment at the steering wheel. Then we had a talk. Dad made something very clear to me. He knew how to make a point. The lesson was, know your boundaries. That, and respect.”

Jason doesn’t like sitting around. He loves to cook, do white-water rafting, and spend time with his wife, Sarah, and the kids. He enjoys traveling with his family, but he’s likely to feel homesick after three days.

“I find it hard to relax. I like checking things off lists. I think part of my role here is to stray from the recipe, to deal with situations that require creative thought. I don’t believe the same set of tools apply to every job or every situation. Each is different.”