Full Circle: Bob Poznanovich

I interviewed Bob Poznanovich, Executive Director of Business Development at Hazelden, for a Minnesota business magazine article titled “Full Circle.” Bob’s story is a perfect illustration of the adage, “What goes around comes around.” In other words . . . a full circle.


Androcles, the Roman slave who removed a thorn from a lion’s paw, was later spared from death when the lion recognized him in front of a bloodthirsty crowd in the Coliseum. If Androcles had been a Twin Cities business leader, a seemingly isolated incident early in his career would undoubtedly have led to his company capturing the lion’s share of the market years later.

These three stories from Twin Cities businesspeople illustrate the inscrutable relationship between connection and coincidence. Call it karma, reaping what you sow or what goes around comes around; inexorably, like a circle completing itself, scales are balanced and debts repaid.


Bob Poznanovich

Bob Poznanovich

I was the first kid from my family to go to college. I had grown up in a ghetto-like neighborhood in Chicago without a father in the house or any good male role models. I literally didn’t know how to behave in college. Hanging out with decent, successful people as opposed to hanging out with neighborhood guys on street corners was all new to me.

Jerry was a member of the fraternity I joined. He was two years older than me and was well known, well liked and well connected. He was a member of the student senate, active in other university organizations and very much a leader on campus.

For whatever reason, Jerry saw potential in me and became a mentor and friend. He helped me fit in by showing me how to get involved in the student senate and other campus events and activities. With his help, I started to develop on a personal level and discover my own leadership capabilities. The year I graduated, the faculty and staff selected me as Greek Man of the Year within the fraternity community. As a result of Jerry’s efforts, I left college with some recognitions, skills, successes, pride and confidence. He had helped me grow up, mature and become a good student and a good man.

By the time I hit thirty, I was the vice president of sales at Zenith for their personal computer division and a rising young star in corporate America. That’s when cocaine started showing up everywhere. I became addicted for five years and lost pretty much everything—my job, most of my money, my fiancé, my relationships with family and friends and my value system. Like most people who have an addiction problem, I eventually lost enough to where the pain got so bad that I sought help. I ended up in Hazelden for treatment.

During the last few years of my addiction, I had isolated myself. Early in my recovery, I still didn’t have much contact with people who were important to me because I was still very vulnerable. Over time, as I reintegrated back into society, I would see Jerry occasionally at sporting or social events. There’d be some small talk and maybe a quick hug, but that was about it.

About 15 years after getting sober—and 30 years after college—Jerry called me out of the blue. He said, “My family’s got some problems and I need your advice and guidance.” One of his kids was having an addiction problem and there was all the family chaos that goes along with that. As happens in many families, when one member gets addicted, the whole family gets sick. The balance of power tilts toward the sick and not the healthy; the struggling kid gets the attention and the other kids don’t. In many cases, husbands and wives seem to have different opinions about what to do about it.

I met with Jerry and his wife multiple times and spent a lot of time on the phone with them. I provided as much support, direction and resources as I could and coached them to have honest, intimate conversations. I stayed with them throughout the journey and I’m happy to say there was a positive, happy ending. His kids, his marriage and his family are all doing well now.

I feel grateful that Jerry trusted me enough to let me in on what people usually keep as a secret. Being able to help him in his time of need was important to me because I don’t know if he ever knew how much he had helped me. It was my way of saying thank you.

Click here to see all my posts featuring cool synchronicity stories.


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