I think it is time: My story part 1...sort of
The last year of my life has truly been something of the story books. While this blog post is labeled Part 1, it is not truly as there were many years and many events that lead up to June of 2010. Here are a few (I will dive in deep later):
- Mr. Neal's Presentation
- Drop out of college twice
- Marry a girl 10 months after meeting her
- Starting a business and family at the same time
- Going into business with my brother
- Being utterly broke
- A business failure
- Food Stamps and WIC
- In laws confronting me
- 27 Ventures
Ok...that doesn't even scratch the surface of the story, but I will attempt to dive in.
Why am I doing this? Well, therapy perhaps. Silence will drive a man nuts. I am also terrible at keeping secrets. And I also know many of you out there have gone through or are going through your valley of death.
Also as a preface, my family has never experienced ill health on any level so I can not relate to the despair a major illness must be, but this has been my entrepreneurial journey. It involved laying on the floor and balling more than once. For me that is about as bad as it gets. My wife says a good cry makes you feel better. I think any guy out there will disagree. I would rather be kicked in the face.
So part 1 already...
Here is a picture I just snapped of a business card that I keep in my wallet. It is for Penny Brandt at the South Dakota Department of Labor. I have not spoken to Penny in 1 year. One year ago this week I stepped into the Department of Labor to fill out the paperwork for Food Stamps. I literally have a tight chest typing these words as they are so embarrassing. I can honestly say you haven't tasted entrepreneurship and chasing your dreams until you have to get food stamps.
At the first of May prior to this happening I left my job as the Director of BNI for the State of South Dakota. It was a position I loved immensely. I chose to leave on my own free will as the franchise owner and I could not see eye to eye as what were acceptable business practices. Little did I know that my wife was pregnant with our third child. Surprise. Little did I know that that decision would kiss all of my income good bye.
As a BNI Director I was paid to grow the region. I was way underpaid because I was working towards owning the franchise someday. I was also part of SendOutCards a network marketing company. BNI gave my SOC business massive exposure so growth in both happened hand in hand. When I left one, the other went with it. Well, when I say went, basically my SOC business just plateaued. While our residual income was only about $1000 or so per month it would be our only income all summer.
So back to Penny. Have you ever been somewhere and you obviously don't fit in? Like a tourist with your camera around your neck and a tshirt of I heart NYC you are obviously lost. That was me. I signed in and was ushered into a room with people who were mostly likely working the system. Now don't count me a snob. I grew up in poverty stricken central New Mexico. My parents were considered wealthy because our house was on a foundation and not a trailer. But there is a difference between the working poor and the "working it" poor. I raised my hand when the class started and said, "I think I am in the wrong spot, what is this?" The lady reassured me this was the right place.
I honestly don't recall a minute of that class. I was then assigned Penny. I walked through cubicle hell in what used to be like an old Sears store or something. I sat down with Penny who was super nice and thorough. I listen to her full explanation. Food stamps in South Dakota require that you are actively looking for work. She said I had to apply at 10 places per week and report to her and fill out paperwork after each application. I had to do this until I was employed at the level they showed on their chart.
Now for those of you who know me, employment is less likely than facial tattoos of Satan. Have I had jobs before, sure. Best Buy, Starbucks, The Real Estate Magazine, First Baptist Church of Moriarty, New Mexico Baptist Childrens Home, Martin-Logan Speaker Company...but I have known since I was 8 that I was going to own my own businesses. Create something special. I drove employers nuts. I out performed everyone but got written up all the time for "thinking too much".
I explained to Penny that I could create the system they used to teach employment skills. Oh...that's right, I had to attend weekly classes on "How to Interview." I told her that I was fully aware of the decisions that I had made to get to this point. While this was never a goal it was always a known risk. You see, when you have a goal, when you know who you are so strongly, submitting to the system is not an option. I told her that I was going to continue to work on my projects because they WOULD work. I asked her what the penalty was for not conforming to the system. She said I would be put on probation for 30 days and then another 30 if I still didn't conform and then 180 after that. I told her that in 3 months I would be off the system and that she could go ahead and mark me as absent now for the classes and checkins because it was a waste of my time to go look for a $10/hour job of which I would need 2 to support a pregnant wife and 2 kids. You see a 2x college dropout has but one option to make excellent money: Entrepreneurship. She said that in 8 years no one had ever "not complied" with the rules. I congratulated her on meeting the first. I thanked her for her time and left.
I don't have a vocabulary big enough to explain what happened in my mind that day. Those of you who procrastinate know the feeling slightly. That "oh crap, it's down to this" feeling. Well food stamps is that times 1000. My option was to blow it up or admit failure and chop wood for a living. I had no idea that almost 3 months to the day I would go to market with Brian Cook and Todd Falcone and change my life forever.
I just realized that most of my friends and family don't even know this story.
Ok...back to work. More later.