Have you ever heard a song, watched a movie, or caught a glimpse of something or someone that sent chills up and down your spine?
Now, I’m not talking about the type of feelings you get when you hear cats fighting or receive a bad news letter in the mail! I’m talking about the "good chills" that often arrive with goose bumps; and, if you’re lucky, they're the type that forge memories in our lives that we never forget.
These good memories change our lives because they remind us of who we are, what we love, and in my case they've served as reminders that anything's possible in life, even for the "underdog."
Before I dive in, try to think of the times in your life when you had these feelings. The times when you were 100% certain that something good was about to happen for you.
Maybe you got “inside info” that the person you had a crush on felt the same or you received the letter of acceptance to that university, or it could even be the shout of “B-6" for that definitive BINGO you just knew was yours, or perhaps you were searching for the right career and something or someone inspired you enough to set you on the right path?
If you can't think of a time this happened, it's time to re-kindle the flame that's still there because these "chills" are not disposable; they are gifts to you and regardless of how challenging times are, by re-discovering your purpose in life these "chills of enthusiasm" are available to everyone who's open to receive them!
The great news is they don't discriminate! Age, ethnicity, or even economic level, are not a factor.
These moments have proven more valuable than any stock or 401K plan in my life; and for a good reason, as you will soon discover, as I share my own cases of the "chills” spanning over 40 years of my life. I look forward to bringing these moments to life for you as I've discovered how to restore and improve the clarity of these memories each year, much like old movies are brought to life with vivid colors and sound.
Much of my childhood's memories have become a blur as I've grown older. One of my favorite Jimmy Buffet songs, "A Pirate Looks At 40" left the dock a good 5 years ago as I approach the big 5-0. While most memories have converted from video to pictures in my mind, the "chills" remain in vivid color for instant replay on demand.
These moments of awareness are as clear today as they were back in 1986, a time of my youth when I began to realize these feelings might bring value to me. I was right. These "instant replays" have brought comfort and awareness in my darkest times.
So welcome to a small chapter of my life, I hope you gain something from my experience. May the "good chills" race up your spine and serve as a reminder that you are indeed special!
My story begins on Dyess Air Force base, in Abilene Texas, where my father was stationed as an NCO (non-commissioned officer). It was there, in the fall of 1983, where I experienced my first "Chills Of Enthusiasm". No, these chills did not involve a crush on a girl or a BMX bike that I so longed for; but rather, they involved a cheesy 80's movie about young people "conquering" the world with technology (Real Genius).
The rivalry, the drama, and to add to the memory the famed Tears For Fears song "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", played somewhere in the movie. That movie was responsible for many daydreams where I imagined owning one of the powerful computers these kids were hacking on.
I was a technology junky early on in life; however the closest thing I had to a computer was a calculator watch that was missing a few buttons. And how can I forget my cherished "Speak & Spell" toy computer which displayed the recommended ages that were clearly below my age group. Adding insult to injury the Texas Instruments calculator my Dad would bring home from his Air Force job each day was off limits, so just dreaming of what I saw in that movie would have to do for a time.
Yes, an 80's movie was a catalyst for the technology field that's been a major part of my life today; and yes again, that movie and THAT song gives me "chills of inspiration" even to this day! Even though I knew absolutely nothing about real computers at the time, do we ever really know anything or everything we become passionate about in life?
Curious enthusiasm for the computer led me to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted one, and if I could ever get my hands on one I'd never let it go. I got to the point where I would do everything it took to understand and learn how and why they were so powerful.
A short time after watching that movie my future was presented to me once again in the form of a refurbished, discontinued Texas Instruments computer that my father brought home one evening. The $50 clearance price tag was a good enough deal for my father to pick it up from the Texas Instruments factory (which also resided in Abilene, Texas) and bring it home.
To this day I don't believe my father knew just how passionate I was about computers and what that "thrifty purchase" would mean to me. Furthermore, I'm not 100% sure this purchase was even meant for me; but, my passion was so strong for this computer that nobody was going to own it but me.
Dad would grace the table wearing a t-shirt, along with the other half of his Air Force uniform, and we would all hold hands singing sweet Jesus songs together! LOL (that's laughing out loud for you non-millennial). It was not like this in our home.
Now that I look back on it, these dinners were more like therapy sessions for my pops. Dad would spill his guts to Mom while devouring his dinner. We'd here all about his worries and challenges at work, and I'm not sure if my brother and sister internalized this but I was the ultimate "eavesdropper." Information was great data, good or bad, but in my parents’ house we were only allowed to listen and I did just that.
Fortunately for my Dad, Mom was a great listener. A woman of opinions, and after listening, she would air them uncensored! Yes, it was entertaining at times but looking back it was these dinner conversations that I took to heart and I found myself fearing adult money problems. I feared these more than my junior high school report cards.
You see, my parents were not the type that micro-managed our schooling. If we had homework it was up to us to do it, and simply passing was more important than getting an "A". So, a "C" was the safety net I strived for because I hated school. I wanted the last 5 years of my schooling sentence to come to an end as soon as possible. Middle school and high school were not great memories for me.
I was embarrassed at the non-name brand shoes I had to wear. The fear of a fellow classmate pointing out something that I was wearing, that his mom donated to the base "Thrift Shop" where my Mom would sometimes find our clothes, was always there.
I was always embarrassed and worried about what others would think of me if the tag on my blue jeans was not RED (remember the 501's?). I'd color the orange tag red, or make KMART Non-Nike’s into Nike’s by using a razor blade to make the square logo into a SWOOSH.
Looking back it was insanity, but in those times I worried about those things. And like father like son, I often worried about not being good enough or losing everything. Today I think about just how much I was like my Dad growing up, yet we rarely compared notes! What a resource we could have been to one another back then but thankfully, my Father and I have grown closer as I've joined the "grey hair club."
These experiences, not "book smarts" taught me to adapt to any situation and to be resourceful because in my mind those things were essential to survival in the school where I was forced to attend.
More Junior & High School Therapy.
Allow me to spend one more paragraph on the school subject.
I didn't dislike school, I HATED it. I thought the home comings and dances and "mums" (who the hell named them that!?) were bullshit. I remember classmates excited for the lunch bell. Why? The food sucked, and worst of all the entire seating "situation" was enough for me to skip lunch as often as I could so I didn't have to guess which lunch table clique I fit in with. And one more thing, my Mom worked outside the cafeteria as a hall monitor, imagine that!
So I was a kid with a MULLET, a few Iron Maiden & Def Leppard t-shirts, bleached out jeans, a dangling grim reaper earring, and knock-off Nike’s. Not much piqued my interest in school; well, with the exception of typing class where Mrs. Shultz taught me how to type 60 words per minute. Today I type faster than I speak! (How cool that Mrs. Shultz and I are friends on Facebook today, gotta’ love technology!)
I viewed school as a prison sentence and was simply doing my time. I firmly believed that when I got out of school I would find my way and it was NOT going to be college. I would someday be in business for myself. But, that’s for another day another chapter.
So what happened, why was I not involved in school? Why was I not on the baseball team and why did I not hang out with the "NERDS"? Why, the computer. The love of my life, the computer, had changed so much from the time of my first contact with that discontinued model. While my father did all he could to provide us with computers, I had forgotten how much I loved them. It would be several years beyond my eventual C MINUS graduation, in which I darted across the stage because I was now free, that we would re-engage.
College was something I was not interested in, especially after discovering the cost (Mom & Dad were not footing that bill!). Coming to the realization that the courses I would have to take all had the word PRE before them (Pre-Algebra etc), I was not going to waste any time in the school environment again, instead I would enter the Texas Air National Guard and accept any job my less than stellar MEPS text scores would allow, until I discovered my purpose in life...
So rolling forward once again, it was 1999 when I caught the tail end of another movie that grabbed my attention. Another movie that featured that "CHILLING" song “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”, “Pirates Of Silicon Valley." As I type this I'm grateful to that movie for reuniting me with my passion and a new passion I had discovered between the age 18 and 30, The Direct Sales Industry.
For the past 20 years I've dedicated my life to connecting these two passions. I experienced success in several Direct Sales industries leading up to 1999 when I saw “Pirates Of Silicon Valley”. Once again I dove headfirst into discovering how I could marry the two.
In 2001 I co-founded a tech-marketing company, and recently co-founded another tech company that makes marketing with technology easier for people from all walks of life and it is worldwide. This passion keeps me awake and motivates me day in and day out to improve and grow within these two life-changing industries. While there is so much more I could share, beyond one chapter, I'll leave that for another time.
For now I must give thanks to the people I attribute the successes to, and overcoming the many failures that these industries have graciously provided me!
First I want to thank my Dad. A man of strong work ethic, integrity, and a love for his children and grandchildren that goes beyond anything I could ever understand. Next, I want to thank my Mom. She supported her husband through interactions and instilled a toughness in me that I'm so grateful for today. I thank my brother and sister who have become successful in their respective industries, carrying on the tradition of self sufficiency.
And who else?
As Jimmy Buffet says in one of his songs, "I've learned from pirates and saints." I'll only thank the "saints" for now. I thank the late Dayle Maloney. I also thank David Manning, Jim Lutes, Dan Wolfanger, James Wiggins (AKA BossiQuit), Brenda Forehand and the humble but wise Jim Britt, for the wisdom they've instilled in me to this day.
In closing, I've learned that it does not take a huge village to build a legacy; but rather true friends like Efrain Valdez , Andre Johnson "FNS", and partners like Doug Saathoff, who've all contributed to a common vision each and every day. People who put others before their own wants in life and lead with their passion for what they do.