Sauk Centre businessman tells life story to help others overcome life’s challenges
By LIZ VERLEY, Staff Writer
Born in North Minneapolis, author Paul Streitz has overcome many obstacles in his life and has chosen to share his experience in his book “Blue Collar Buddha.” Streitz no longer lives in Minneapolis but calls Sauk Centre home.
His book is the result of his journaling. Streitz said, “I was not happy. While seeking help, one of my tasks was to recall my story. To go back and journal the good, bad and indifferent. Anything that was significant. And to congratulate myself for anything that had a positive effect on my life. Forgiving and asking for forgiveness for anything that had a negative in my life.”
The main message of “Blue Collar Buddha,” he said, is, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”
Streitz said, “I was the luckiest kid in the world because Jerome and Carol Streitz were my parents. Simply by the way they lived their lives, I learned how to honor others with love, respect and forgiveness, and how to live a moral, ethical life.”
He also credits his brothers, Mike and Jerry, for watching out for him, “Like big brothers are supposed to do.” Streitz said. “They’ve always supported me, believed in me, and told me I could do anything and achieve anything I wanted to do in life.”
In the fourth grade, Streitz was bullied by some older boys which caused him to withdraw. His grades dropped and he did not want to leave his home. He quit Boy Scouts. He tried to convince his parents he was sick and refused to get on the school bus. His parents would take him to school and he would run out another door. Eventually he wound up in a private classroom with a teacher whom he credits with helping him return to a normal life.
Streitz joined the Army Reserves and completed basic training between his junior and senior year of high school. After graduation, he went on to complete his training and eventually obtained Soldier of the Year status after competing against Navy, Marine, Coast Guard and Air Force personnel.
Describing his experience, he said, “When the announcement was made, I was so surprised I just sat there with a goofy grin on my face. My drill sergeant was dumbfounded. He said, ‘I did not think you had a chance in hell. We’ve never won. We have always been the black sheep.’ I don’t remember much else after that until we were driving back to base. I think I was in shock.”
At 23, Streitz was a car salesman. He left that job to become a flight attendant. Eventually his destination took him into the lighting business.
After being betrayed by various associates in the business, Streitz joined his brother, Jerry, who had started Advanced Lighting in 1993. Three years later, Streitz bought his brother out and stayed with the Sauk Centre business until he sold it in 2007.
As CEO of Advanced Lighting Systems, Inc., a manufacturer of LED and fiber optics used in entertainment and architectural lighting, Streitz established himself as an industry visionary and the go-to-source for high tech, high-touch creative lighting solutions for everything from the Grammy awards, Broadway shows, and major concert tours to unprecedented billboard events for Times Square. Advanced Lighting also provided the technical know-how and lighting products to illuminate the original Declaration of Independence and all its supporting documents at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Having sold his business, Streitz is now a millionaire and has become an inspirational/motivational speaker. He said, “It is easy to be motivated. I want to be inspirational. I don’t want any child to think that they cannot achieve. If I could do it, anyone can do it.”
Streitz battled cancer twice. He said, “I came to realize cancer was a positive in my life.”
Streitz still resides in Sauk Centre. He also has a home in Los Angeles. He said, “I love it in Sauk Centre. It is a place I can come and just be me. I have made so many good friends here. It is peaceful and I can be myself. When I want the limelight, I go to Los Angeles. There I can mix with actors, directors, producers. Here I can be with friends. It is a good mix for me.”
Streitz has several hobbies which include traveling, cooking, movies, running and inspiring people. What are his future plans? “My partners and I own the rights and script to produce the ‘True Events of Howard Lyman’s Life.’ We hope to begin production next year.”
Blue Collar Buddha is available on Amazon or by contacting Streitz at www.paulstreitz.com.