Category Archives: Business

Sucked into the dream.

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Walking-meditation

December finally came and with it came the month that Andy had to vacate the office building and begin the next chapter of his business life.

Andy planned on running his business out of his home office and within a week sold all of the office furniture and remnants of his company from the last 20 years to start over and full commit himself to his Pink Town Foundation and charitable event.

I wavered on my commitment to Andy and started looking for a new job with another website company, this scared Andy when he realized that I wasn’t committed to his business dreams anymore and he tried anything he could to lure me back into the business.

After being out of communication with Andy for two weeks Andy called me one day with a desperate computer problem and asked me to come over to his house and help him out. I drove over to his house with the desire to help him with his computer problem, ask him for my last paycheck and go home.

“How are you Jeremy? I haven’t seen you in a while, come in,” Andy said to me when I arrived at his house. It was 5 p.m. and Andy was drinking a beer and asked me if I wanted one, I accepted and kicked back in his house until he was ready for me to look at his computer.

“I didn’t really call you over here for a computer problem,” Andy said.

“I figured you didn’t, what do you want?” I asked.

“I need you to help me launch the Pink Town Foundation,” Andy said.

“What about Mike and Steve?” I asked.

“Mike started his own business venture and I have no idea what Steve is doing,” Andy said.


 

I wasn’t excited about continuing to work for Andy because he hadn’t paid me in weeks and over the last few months had bounced three of my paychecks.

“I don’t know Andy, I’m tired, I just want a regular job where I can earn a regular paycheck,” I said.

“What about your dream to become an artist? What are you doing with that?” Andy asked.

“Hopefully when I get a regular job I can have the energy to get back to that,” I said.

“Jeremy, artists need to make lots of money so they can work on their artwork full time, where are you going to be able to find a job where you can make the money that you deserve?” Andy asked.

“Where had I heard that before?” I thought.

“I have a proposition for you. Would you be interested in owning your own website business?” Andy asked.

“Where would I get the money to invest in my own website business?” I asked.

“It’s easy, you don’t need a lot of money to start your own business, you can start reselling websites on our server under your own company name, you will have your own website builder like do but won’t have the hassle and responsibility of maintaining your own server,” Andy said.

“I don’t know, it seems like I would have to invest a lot of money for that,” I said.

“What would you say if I can make you a website re-seller for only, $500.000?” Andy asked, and then reclined in his office chair for dramatic effect.

$500.00 was money I could easily spend but would I be committed to the business to spending thousands on advertising, marketing and other business related expenses off the ground?

“I’ll have to think about it,” I said.

“What’s to think about? It’s a great opportunity. You can take all of your old leads that you had when you worked for me and sell those companies websites under your own business! You can start making thousands of dollars in sales next week!” Andy exclaimed.

I started dreaming of what it would be like to be making thousands of dollars in my own business and started to smile when I thought about the possibilities.

I could make it happen; I knew how to sell websites and could see myself making money in my own business. It would be a smart decision and I was going to go for it because I thought that if I was in business for myself I’d have the time to work on my art fulltime and develop my art into a full fledged career.

“What do you say?” Andy asked.

“I’ll do it!” I said.

“Great! I already have the contract ready for you to sign,” Andy said.

“What about the $500.00 payment? It’s going to take me a while to get you that money,” I said.

“I owe you $500.00 for your last paycheck don’t I? Well, that can be your payment to me and you can sign the paperwork today,” Andy said.

Andy always seemed to think two steps ahead whenever he owed anyone money. For instance, when he owed the IRS money, he sold his office building, when he couldn’t pay his credit cards, he sold his cars and now when he owed me money, he convinced me to invest in his business venture.

Investing in the website business seemed like a logical step because I knew the business, inside and out and realized that with my sales leads I could be making sales for my business within the next week.

“Where do I sign?” I asked.

Andy pulled out a contract he had written on Microsoft Word and handed it over to me. I signed the contract, he shook my hand, and I was in business.

The next day I went to the county recorders office and registered my business name and opened up a bank account for my new business. The future seemed bright and all I could do was see streets paved with gold in front of me.

A few nights later I went back to Andy’s to help him fix problems with his network and website, after I finished my work a group of Andy’s friends arrived with alcohol and party supplies.

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“It looks like you’re planning a party, I better go,” I said.

“You’re staying, we’re celebrating the launch of the Pink Town Foundation and since you’re a part of it, you’re going to party with us!” Andy said.

I stayed at Andy’s party until late that night and went home with a beer buzz, happy and optimistic about the future and decided to call Mike to tell him the good news about my new business and continued working relationship with Andy.

“You did what?” Mike asked.

“I invested in Andy’s website product and now I have my own business!” I said, excited.

Mike sighed, “Jeremy, you know that anything Andy does in business will fail. How many businesses did he start and give up during the time we worked for him?” Mike asked.

“It’s different now, my business will work,” I said.

“I have faith in your business but since you’re still working for Andy he’s going to keep using you like he used to and where are you going to find the time to make your business work?” Mike asked.

“Don’t worry Mike, my plan will work,” I said.

“Any website you sell is going to be on Andy’s server so what happens when he forgets to pay the bill to his data center and his server gets turned off? All of your websites will get turned off and you’ll have a lot of angry customers,” Mike said.

“I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen,” I said, optimistically.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Mike said.

“I heard you started your own business?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s great, I’m selling ‘how to’ books from home and I’m making a fortune from it. You should consider selling your own ‘how to’ book,” Mike said.

“Maybe I’ll consider it,” I said.

“Have you heard from Steve lately?” Mike asked.

“Nope, I haven’t seen him or heard from him in weeks,” I said.

“That guy was such a loser, I have no idea how he can afford to live the lifestyle he’s living without making any money,” Mike said.

“Maybe he’s a gigolo?” I joked.

“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Mike said.

Mike and I talked about business and old times back at the company and we said our goodbyes and promised to go to lunch in the future.

I went to be that night dreaming of a bright future and looked forward to getting started with my own business.


I spent the next six months working hard on developing my website business but didn’t get far with it because like Mike predicted, I was busier than ever working for Andy, every day, helping him launch his Pink Town Foundation and keep his other business ventures alive.

Mike continued selling “how to” books from his home and made a few hundred thousands dollars in a year and was able to customize his Corvette and buy a new condo in La Jolla, California.

And Steve eventually contacted Andy again, asking for money and Andy hired him to market his Pink Town Foundation but now that Andy was short on money to pay Steve he quickly became irritated when he saw that Steve never actually did any work and he fired him immediately.

Andy’s Pink Town Foundation never amounted to more than a business name and a logo because, left to market the event himself Andy floundered in a sea of paperwork and was unable to turn his idea into a profitable business. By May of 2003 I finally had enough of working for Andy and cut my ties with him and stopped working for him for good.

Since my Dad was re-hired at Rohr / Goodrich Aerospace my Mom was able to retire from her job that she worked at for over 10 years to help support the family and as my Dad got closer to retirement they enjoyed life even more and began dropping hints, wondering when I was going to get married, and hoping that they would have more grandchildren running around in their golden years.

My sister, Becky, was able to turn her life after her marriage to Joe finally ended and got her own apartment and went to college to get her degree while supporting her son Caleb who brought energy, joy and excitement to our family.

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As I got closer to turning 30 years old I started to review my life and asked myself, “What was most important to me?” Was money, security, success, family or wealth the things that motivated me in my life? It had now been almost ten years since I graduated from high school and I hadn’t accomplished much of anything other than learning some important life lessons and gaining a good education in sales and business that I could take with me wherever I went but, was that enough? Was I happy with where I was at in life or was there something missing?

One day, I went out into my garage studio, at the duplex I shared with my cousin Brian, and realized that due to my job, working for Andy for almost two years I had neglected working on my art and had left my paintings and art supplies in the garage to collect dust. I also realized, once again that my goal to be in business for myself, “So that I could have more time to work on my art”, actually took me away from my art more than ever and that if I continued on the road I was on, I would never realize my artistic dreams.

I decided to be honest with myself and realized that if I ever wanted to do anything with my art I had to sacrifice one of my goals for another if I truly wanted to be happy, and so I gave up on my business aspirations, to focus on my art, full time, in the evenings while I worked a regular job during the day.

“That decision was a long time coming,” My dad said one day.

Dad was right; it finally sank in that, the path to my happiness was in front of me all along and that all I ever had to do was be honest with myself and admit what I really wanted.

THE END.

Do it all businessmen

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The next morning Andy ushered me, Mike, Steve and Andy’s assistant, Tina into the conference room to outline his business strategy and plan for the next 6 months of the new company.

We sat down around the conference table and devoured coffee and doughnuts while listening to Andy’s plans for reorganizing his business ventures and keeping the company alive long enough for me, Mike and Steve to turn it around from the sales and profits we would get from the selling websites.

As the sole employees of the company we were expected to do everything ourselves from sales, marketing, advertising, customer service and even website design.

When we would ask Andy if he was going to hire someone for a much needed customer service position Andy’s response always was, “Sell more websites and then we will have the money to hire someone new.”

 The new website business would be called Amazing e Business, and we were going to sell an easy to use, template based, e-commerce website to business owners nationwide.

Andy had bought a license to sell the software from the developer a company in Orange County, California called WebCreators and assured us when he said: “Selling websites is going to be so easy, you guys should be able to sell 3-5 per week!”

By the time Andy formed Amazing e Business do it yourself website companies like homestead.com were going strong and dominating the market.

Andy didn’t anticipate this and neither did we, everyone in the room thought that the new product would be “gravy” to sell and we bought into Andy’s pitch hook, line and sinker.

Andy spent the next 2 hours training us on how the new website software worked and after we felt we were sufficiently trained he ended the meeting and told us all to go sell.

Mike and I walked back to the sales office discussing the good and bad aspects of the new product while Steve, the outside sales manager went back to his office to continue his usual routine of drinking coffee, listening to Howard Stern and talking to his girlfriends all day until he went home at 3 p.m. looking worn out and tired, like he had been working on business deals all day long.

I could never understand why Andy hired Steve or what he actually did for the company.

Once Mike and I were back in the sales office Mike told me how he really felt about Andy’s new business idea and the direction of the company.

“I can tell you right now, I’m not going to be on the phone trying to sell this thing,” Mike said pointing to my computer screen with one of our new websites on it.

“Why don’t you want to sell it? Andy made it sound like we can easily sell 3-5 of these websites per week,” I said.

“Telemarketing isn’t my job, I’m supposed to be running telemarketing rooms not be on the phone calling every day like everyone else,” Mike said.

“Well, so far the company only has one telemarketer, me, so I don’t think you have that many employees to manage unless you count Steve,” I said.

“Steve never does anything but sit in his office, talk to his girlfriends and drink coffee all day,” Mike said.

I sat down at my desk and shuffled paperwork while Mike continued to complain about Andy, Steve and anything else he was upset about that day until he finally ran out of hot air and went outside for his mid day cigarette break.

By 11 a.m. I decided to stop wasting time and picked up the phone and started making my first sales calls of the day and by 3 p.m. Andy walked into the sales office to see how I was doing.

“How’s it going? How many have you sold?” Andy asked.

I didn’t know if he was joking or really expected the sales process to be as easy as he thought.

“I’ve already sold five websites,” I said grinning.

“No, really, how many have you sold?” Andy asked.

“Andy, I’ve only been on the phone for a few hours, it’s going to take a lot longer than that for me to start making sales,” I said.

“I expect good things from you guys, don’t let me down okay? I’ve got a lot riding on this business.” Andy said.

“I know, Andy, but you’re going to have to give us at least a month to start bringing in sales and get this business off the ground.” I said.

“One month? We need money now, I don’t know how I can keep this company going if it’s going to take you guys that long to start bringing in sales,” Andy said.

“Andy, please just give us time to sell and you should start seeing sales come in very soon.” I said.

Andy looked depressed and then a wild look appeared in his eyes and he looked at his wristwatch.

“Oh, shit, I’m late again.” Andy said.

Andy had his briefcase with him and a big stack of unopened mail and paperwork.

“I have a full body massage from this hot Asian chick that a friend recommended to me. Have you ever tried a full body massage before? If you ask them to they will always do a little something extra for you, if you know what I’m saying,” Andy said with a wink.

That was a typical Andy moment. He could be worried about pending lawsuits against him, bankruptcy and financial doom one moment and the next he could be racing off to a party with friends, wild weekend with a new girlfriend or fun and games with his children.

Andy grabbed his briefcase and paperwork and raced out of the sales office for his massage appointment while I continued making sales calls, contacting prospective business owners and sending them information about our new website builder.

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Mike left after having his mid day cigarette break and I was lone employee there for the rest of the day and responsible for locking up the building at night.

Since Andy had laid off almost all of the employees in the company he had rented out all of the remaining offices in the 2 story office building and we now had tenants that paid rent for their office space every month.

I quickly became friends with the new tenants in our building because I always staid late and was the last employee to lock up the building at the end the day.

My favorite tenant was the owner of a small collections business, a middle aged, married, overweight, African American guy named Larry.

After my day ended I walked over to Larry’s office to see how he was doing and to get a dose of his “wisdom”. Even though Larry was a middle aged, married man he still loved women and never stopped talking about women and giving me advice on romancing them anytime I was around him.

“Are you dating anyone new?” Larry asked.

“Nope, I’ve been unlucky with the ladies for a while,” I said.

“Man, you have to get out there and start playing the field. When I was your age I dated a different woman every night and I loved every minute of it,” Larry said.

“I don’t know man, I think I want to wait until I get a better car before I start dating again,” I said.

“If you wait that long, it’s never going to happen! Don’t you have any women you admire now?” Larry asked.

“Yeah, a few,” I said. I didn’t really feel like dating or being socially active since my marriage to Becky but thought I’d play along with Larry.

“I once had a business where I was a ‘love doctor’ and I helped men and women get dates and here’s some sage advice for you. All you need to do to get women interested in you is compliment them, talk with them, listen to them and let them be your muse. Once they see that you listen to them then they will want to spend more time with you,” Larry said.

“I’ve already tried that before,” I said.

“Well didn’t it work?” Larry asked.

“I had a woman friend that I used to work with and I would talk with her at different times during the day. One morning she came to work and told me that she had a dream about me,” I said.

“She had a dream about you? That’s good. Was it a romantic dream?” Larry asked.

“No, she said that in her dream all we did was talk and it wasn’t romantic at all,” I replied.

“She probably only saw you as a friend, you have to stay out there and keep looking for women because there’s ‘plenty of fish in the sea’.” Larry said.

“Larry, aren’t you married?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m married, but I tell you if I wasn’t I’d be out there showing you young bucks how it was done,” Larry said.

“I better get going, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said.

“Yeah, my wife is expecting me home for dinner so I better get going too.” Larry said as he shut down his computer and closed down his office after another dismal business day in the collection business.

I locked up the building and drove home to work on my art and forget about work. When I finally got home Brian was out on the deck in front of our duplex with his friend Sal and his girlfriend Betsy, barbecuing steaks, drinking beer and anything else we had left over in the fridge.

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“Dude you’re right on time!” Brian said as he handed me a beer.

“What am I ‘on time’ for?” I asked.

“Sal bought the latest Tiger Woods game and we’re about to start playing,” Brian said.

Playing Tiger Woods golf had become a fun addiction for us and we played the game anytime we could during the week, sometimes staying up until the early morning hours when we still had to go to work.

Brian’s girlfriend Betsy tolerated our video game playing ways but would quickly become bored and would always fall asleep on the couch while we enjoyed our game.

Our other favorite ritual that we enjoyed during our time living there was watching wrestling every Monday night.

Life was good even though I had the stress from work I didn’t worry about work when I went home at night because I continued working on my art and enjoyed hanging out with my cousin Brian and our friends.

Even though I tried to not let work seep into my personal life it would soon consume a big part of it as I took on more responsibility in the company and I became the company “go to guy” whenever Andy, Mike or Steve had computer problems, needed research done on the Internet or errands run I was the man to get the job done.

I didn’t mind being so busy with work because I felt like I was a part of something special and would have done anything I could to help the company.

The downside of this was that the more time I spent working on other projects the less time I could spend on making sales for the company and new revenue wasn’t coming in.

Mike stood by his word and never picked up the phone to sell websites and Steve continued being Steve which involved staying in his office every day, in his own world.

This upset Andy but he continued to keep Mike and Steve employed because he wanted to believe that they would bring in the one “big sale” that would turn the company around.

With little to no revenue coming in, paydays were always a hectic experience and I always had to rush to Andy’s bank to cash my paycheck before it bounced…

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