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Taking the Helm

That is a managerial style more than a philosophical style. The philosophy of the business is always going to be the philosophy of the business.

RC: The idea is that it perpetuates and continues after you are gone or retire, or whatever.

Exactly. This is his legacy, for our future, for the community. He left us the gift of Sober College. And hopefully Sober College is a legacy to the world. People want to partner with us, to open in other places. But we have responsibility; I have a business responsibility to people who give me their children. When a mom drops off her son, I feel personally responsible. I can’t protect everything, but I’m not going to have a franchise of McDonald’s that don’t do the same thing. If I’m going to open [satellite centers], I have to know that the person representing this company does it the way we do it. The same philosophy, the kindness, the care.

One day it could go international. Who knows where it might go one day. The Sober College name is trademarked and hopefully it always will be associated with Robert.

And with that, Mindi and I head to a community meeting where current clients and alumni share what has been going on in their lives during the week. It’s clear from the jokes and gentle teasing that this is a loving community of recovering young people who clearly support each other. They’re also candid and authentic. One young man sums up his current approach to living: “Try to do good. Do your best to help people and try not to be an asshole as you move on with life.” Somehow, without ever having met Robert Pfeifer, I think he would smile. At least one young man is finding his ship and leaving the harbor. And so is Mindi Levins-Pfeifer as she takes over the helm of Sober College.

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