Sunday, May 01, 2005

Things turn out differently.. or do they?

The first time I recall something I’d ‘dreamed of’ coming true was in 1989.

In 1987 the owner of the computer store I was running managed to sell it. Initially when I’d taken the job as Director of Operations he’d promised that if I helped him get the company into a financial condition stable enough that he could find a buyer he’d pay me a bonus that would be 10% of the selling price.

Well, I worked day and night and 18 months later we found a buyer, agreed on a price and the deal was done. Shortly after that he took me to lunch to explain that he’d not gotten as much as he’d wanted, so, he wouldn’t be paying me that bonus… not the 10% (which would have been about $50k), not $100, not a dime! A lesson in there… get everything in writing!

Undaunted, I decided I’d just continue working for the new owners, after all if I’d survived the ‘bad’ times managing the place now should be a cinch! Shortly after that, I’d say about 8 weeks or so, the new corporate VP informed me that my commission structure was not something they were going to continue paying, that my base salary was sufficient compensation for the job, in their minds.

I was totally depressed. Here I’d had this ‘dream job’ one I’d struggled to get in the first place, and it was falling apart before my eyes.

You see, the night before my initial interview, my father passed away very unexpectedly. I was actually getting dressed for the interview when I got the call. I remember sitting on the floor, crying, an emotional wreck, torn between doing what I thought I should do (go to Chicago and be with my Mom) and landing that job at the top computer place in town (something I’d been working towards for 6 months or better).

I picked up the phone, called the airline (no internet in 1984) booked a flight to Chicago and a rental car (that I couldn’t really afford), called the company and informed them that I wouldn’t be making the interview, that I’d be back in a couple weeks and they should do whatever they had to do. Then I called the school (I was teaching college at the time, in addition to running my consulting/programming company) explained my Dad had passed away and I’d be taking family leave for a couple weeks.

Fast forward… after the funeral and such were done, and I got back home, there was a message on the answering machine… The potential new employer had called and said essentially that the job was mine if I wanted it, call when I got things settled and we’d find a way to make it happen.

Short story, at the end of that semester I went to work for the Computer store. A dream comes true! Maybe…

About two years later, my consulting business all but closed, most of my clients moved ‘in house’ and I’m a lot less ‘in demand’ as a result of sitting behind the scenes for better than a year… Not knowing exactly how I’m going to work and support my family with the current turn of events…

I decide to rededicate myself to building my own business, taking my skills and becoming the #1 consultant in Central NY. From 1987, through 1989 I worked days, nights, weekends… whatever it took… and it began to show. I was definitely the top local FoxPro consultant, a preferred vendor with Sears Business Systems, SBT Accounting Systems, Novell and several other well known operations… I had clients like Carrier Corporation, Haircrafters, Pillsbury, Mutual of New York, as well as 100’s of local companies and I was starting to actually make some money!

Then, out of the blue, in late spring of 1989 I was referred to a local manufacturer about some contract programming work. During the initial consulting visit the owner started asking me about buying my company. I was stunned, shocked and frankly unprepared for his inquiry. When I got home that evening I was discussing this turn of events and saying I didn’t know what to do. My then wife (now my ex) went into the filing cabinet (the office then was at the house) and produced my original business plan. There, in black and white, in the 1st paragraph was the statement “build the business to the point it can be sold”.

I didn’t remember writing those words, hadn’t really acted on that premise (in a conscious manner) day to day… but here I was… I’d reached this earlier written goal. Two things happened then; first, I set a price, went back and sold him the business agreeing to stay on and work for him in the process and second, I began to do some research into the power of goals.

The results?

Well selling him the business was not entirely a good decision, once the first Gulf War started, business dropped off dramatically and he had no ‘war chest’ of reserve funds. He ended up shutting down our division, I ‘repossessed’ the business as he had no intention of paying the balance of what he owed me and struck out again on my own. Eventually ending up here in North Carolina and once again 13 years later working as a contract consultant… a few rough years and a marriage in between… all in all not as bad a result as I’d originally worried about!

The goals research is what really paid off though. I read, and listened to, everything I could get my hands on. Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, source.com audio tapes, Wayne Dyer (who if you haven’t read, you should!) and others I can’t recall at the moment… It changed my life. I found that by thinking carefully about what you want, being very specific about how you ‘see’ things when you get to where you want to be, and, (and this is very important) writing those things down… your mind will guide you to that place you’ve drawn out.

That’s precisely why folks say “Be careful what you wish for”. When you decide you really want something, it’s very likely you’ll find yourself there. However, if you’re not very specific, you might find that what you got is not exactly what you’d thought it would be.

The ‘moral’ as they say? To me it’s the power of your thoughts, to bring you up…. Or bring you down. So many people today are so negative… so caught up in the belief they “can’t”… not knowing that if they believe they can’t, they won’t be able to… on the other hand… if you believe you can… Nothing is impossible!

I don’t remember who I heard say this first, but I truly believe it!

What your mind can conceive, your body can achieve!

Thanks for reading… I hope you take something useful from this rambling recount of a portion of the winding road that’s been my career.

Oh, one last thing... and totally off topic... to quote Cedric the Entertainer:

"What's up with that woman who kidnapped herself?"

5 comments:

Firehawk said...

Bill,

As usual, I find your autobiographical sketches fascinating. Knowing that so many others have that "long and winding road" behind them, and that they've been okay through all the heartache and struggle, good times and bad, is really heartening.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with those who can benefit from them. After all, that's what storytelling is all about--the passing down of knowledge so that a different person can go on and make their own signature mistakes and have their own unique victories, rather than the old, familiar ones. By the way, good job on the upcoming publication, and many happy returns!

Trevor Record said...

In 1987 I peed the bed regularly and was barely able to construct a coherent sentence. At least now in 2005 I don't pee the bed any more.

Bill said...

firehawk: Thanks, if one person takes something good away from a post, I'm pleased. I'd like to be a 'storyteller' one day... I've had, IMO, an interesting, if often strange, life. It never, ever, goes as planned, but, it's always an 'E' ticket ride!

Trevor: I'm glad you're gaining on life's little problems! :) Just think, one day like when you're older than dirt like I'll be soon, you'll be expected to pee the bed again! Thanks for stopping by!

Greg said...

So you are about to be published? I must be a prophet...or...a seer! That's it a seer! With a hooded cloak and blind ambition for you.

Cool dude!

Bill said...

Greg: Glad you finally left a comment! I thought you got rid of that cloak!! I added some links to your sites... everyone should see your photos!! and read your stuff as well!

I'll forward you a copy of the magazine, if, and when she actually puts my article in!