I am excited today that I am embarking on a new chapter in my life book. Each of us has a book inside of us; we have things that happen along the way and it’s always a common saying, “another chapter in my life”. Now, as I once again turn the page and start a new chapter in my life, I will also share some of my experiences along the way.
So I am going to write a Blog about my Business experiences. I will leave it up to you to determine if I am simply sharing information, providing coaching, or just telling my story my way.
“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge”. – Plato
First, I will share a little about who am I and what inspired me to write this Blog. We all have a story or two from growing up that we remember, regardless how silly or stupid it may sound, that affected our lives. Here is my story.
I was a small boy, in a small town with a job to do. My father was a member of the local American Legion and had me join the Sons of the American Legion. This is where I started my young business career, in the mid to late sixties. Each member had the opportunity to sell a box of a product—spray on band-aide. As we all know, as a child, when tasked to take on these opportunities, you get your parents and relatives to buy your product and you’re off the hook—that’s just the way it is with selling stuff for organizations when you’re a kid. Well, I had to be different. I went out and carried my box of spray on band-aide product and started knocking on doors. People listened to my pitch and were not interested, so I immediately knew I had to do something different. I did not want to go home with this box full of product, so I adjusted my pitch after about ten houses. I started demonstrating the product and saw immediate success. People were buying the product! I was so happy after I sold the last spray on band-aide can that I immediately went home and asked my mother to call the legion and get me more product. If I recall correctly, I sold more cans than any other member and then I forgot about it.
My next life changer was being an inquisitive boy at an early age. Somehow I got to know a new neighbor, struck up a conversation and convinced this guy to take a liking to me. Through our talks I learned that he had a very unusual job—he sold people. At least that was how I understood it. His name was Mr. Wilson (RIP), and no my name was not Dennis but in some ways I was a bit similar to the Menace. I was always fascinated by people and what they were doing.
“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing”. – Warren Buffett
Now let’s fast forward a few years. The Draft was being operated under a lottery-like system and I graduated from high school unsure of what I would do. After talking to friends it seemed that the Military was the thing for me, seeing as I was always interested in being different. No one was just voluntarily signing up unless you were on the run or something.
I made the decision to go visit the local Army Recruiting Station to discuss what I would like to do. They will tell you anything, or so I was told, but I had to find out on my own. I was tested and given a physical and I was the only one there that day who was not trying to find ways to flunk the test and physical. I passed with flying colors and was told, “just sign here.” Being different, I told them to wait because I wanted to tell them what I wanted.
A big man, bearing a remarkable resemblance to Rambo looked at me and said, “What did you just say?”
Of course, being myself, I held my ground and ran through my list of demands which were the job I wanted, the basic training where I wanted, and my first duty station where I wanted. This was unheard of and of course Rambo told me, without hesitation, that I was crazy and things didn’t work that way. Unwavering, I left without signing and met with my Army Recruiter later.
My Army Recruiter told me that I passed and if I didn’t join right away, I would be drafted in a few days since they had my name and information. I knew my options might run out quickly, but what the hell did I have to lose at that point? Sticking to my guns, I turned down the recruiter and ran through my list of demands again. He made the same comment as Rambo and told me it wouldn’t work.
When I went home, my mother was certain that I was shipping off soon, but I informed her and my father of what I demanded. My Dad, being a former Marine, thought I was crazy. The end of the month was fast approaching and I had not been drafted. The next day, my mother told me that I had a call from the Army Sergeant and he wanted me to call him right away. Deep down, my mother was thinking that I was getting my notice and I began to think the same.
Of course, I called the Sergeant up that day. Surprisingly, he told me I could get everything I asked for, with the exception of the location I wanted for my basic training. Being the headstrong person that I was, I told the Sergeant that I thought it sounded great, but no thanks. I told him that I would just wait to receive my draft notice. Now, consider this – the Vietnam War was still going on and some young kid was demanding things to the military while people were still protesting in the streets. I recall telling the Sergeant to call me back when we had a deal.
The following morning, I received another call from the Sergeant. He told me that we had a deal if I reported to the station immediately and signed the papers. His one condition was that I had to leave for training that day. I knew I had dug a big hole for myself by making demands and that by them giving me everything I asked for, I had no choice but to accept. I said my goodbye’s and left to pursue my new career.
Sometime that night, I arrived at the Reception Station at Fort Knox. In those days you were either an RA or a US. I was labelled an RA. That instantly told all of the others that I volunteered. Oh, the looks I got, and I can still recall them.
What does all of this have to do with Business? I will explain that as we go along. Remember, events in life are just another chapter within the book of life.
“All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Up until the point that I joined the military, everything I had learned was fairly small. I had the ability to be creative by selling cans of spray-on band-aids, I had the ability to decide things on my own, I was crazy enough to demand what I thought I wanted (from the military, no less), and most of all I knew the importance of following through on my commitments. Still, good ol’ Mr. Wilson and his job selling people was in the back of my mind.
After a successful 20+ years in the Army, I decided it was time to try something else. As I have always had a tendency to do, I left my mark on people I came to know. A good friend of mine at the time had just gotten out of the Army and gave me a call, asking me what I was going to do with my life. I had no plans at that time, so my friend said that she knew someone who was looking for a person with my skills and connections.
My first thought was, “What is she talking about? I am in the Army, working in the Headquarters of the Military Recruiting Command. What possible skills do I have to offer anyone in the outside world?” I listened to her and had a life-changing phone conversation with a guy who later became a trusted partner and is still a good friend to this day.
I was being offered the opportunity to join a start-up company, assisting people who were leaving the Military and going into the civilian sector. The company would become well known for placing top military talent in civilian jobs worldwide. It all sounded simple at the time and quickly reminded me of Mr. Wilson. After much consideration, I decided to take the leap, beginning my career as an Entrepreneur.
For the next 20+ years, I was involved in three successful start-up ventures. The most notable of these three ventures was the second company which became an INC 500 company, later selling to a multi-billion-dollar international company.
Through this blog, I will share with you some of my experiences and answer your questions along the way. I believe that I have some insightful information that can help you in growing your business and I promise to be honest and straightforward.
I hope that the information I just shared about myself has given you the opportunity to think about your growing years and how you’ve gotten to the place you’re at now. I will do a weekly blog about what worked for me in the business world and I hope you will come back and follow my story and the tips I will share.
“The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability”. – Henry Ford