Jack Manilla was a Fortune 500 CEO back in 1994 when he was faced with a split-second decision: take part in a lucrative offer that purportedly involved embezzled funds — or quit and let his conscience win out.
In the end, he chose the latter, but the fallout in his own personal and professional life was swift and painful, leaving him shaking his fists at God as he wondered why he was punished after doing the right thing.
Manilla lost his homes, his vehicles and all of the wealth he had accumulated, with both him and his wife moving to a pink house cracker bungalow on the property of an orange grove in Florida. It was there that they were forced to stop, reflect — and start over.
In the end, Manilla knew that he couldn’t accept the offer he was made, which he told Faithwire would have come in the form of a bonus check that was “mid-size five figures.” In addition, he would have received more than a 30 percent increase in company stock holdings. As enticing as it was, he said he just couldn’t do it.
“This was in direct juxtaposition to my core values. To do the right thing and do things right,” he said. “I knew that this was wrong and walking away was what needed to happen.”
But Manilla, who tells his story in the book, “Secrets of the Pink House: From Saltwater to Holy Water,” said that losing everything was absolutely “devastating” and that he was “totally crushed.”
“It did not take long for me to fall into a pit of despair and start feeling angry towards God,” he said. “I felt like he was punishing me for doing the right thing.”
The entire ordeal sent Manilla on a journey of self-discovery, as he found himself rethinking and reprocessing all of the things he had assumed about his life and his faith, particularly when it came to his stance on worldly possessions.
“It made me realize that while I thought I was living my life for God I was actually serving worldy possessions. My life was consumed with material possessions: money, cars, houses and business success,” he said. “It made me realize that and it really humbled me and made me grateful not only for God but my family and friends.”
Losing it all forced Manilla to realize that he needed to change both his attitude as well as the way he was living. So, he found himself praying more and reading the Bible with increasing frequency.
“I grew from child-like faith, to adolescent, to adult,” he said. “It got my relationship with God started and helped it to grow and I learned how to really surrender to God.”
Manilla continued, “It took losing everything for me to finally pay attention.”
While Manilla’s faith grew over that time, he said that it took years before he was able to get back on his feet. Then, when a friend introduced him to the owner of a swimming pool chemical company and then that man introduced Manilla to a pool builder who was looking to sell his business, everything changed.
“Providentially God made all the arrangements. We trusted fully that He had a plan for us,” he said. “We just needed to take one day at a time, trust in God, and all things would come into place.”
Manilla, who is the president and founder of Portofino Pools, is hoping that readers of “Secrets of the Pink House” will walk away seeing the profound lessons he has learned, while also seeing the value in turning over their lives to God so that they can “attain personal peace and professional success.”