135) Can Re-Invention of Self Push Start-Up to “Success”?

Greetings new readers!

I am glad you are here.

In my last post you read about my short journey with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), in Fort Collins, Colorado during 2011. In this post you will see me back in the “fray” again, returning to the mission and set of activities that provide a healthy American with the highest probability for financial and time freedom – starting a home-based business. Yes, another one.

And of course, the best time to start a business is when you have reached middle age and convinced yourself you have become “unemployable” by any reasonable definition.

So in the fall of 2011, after declaring to my work buddies at AMD that I had lost the passion for semiconductor chip design (layout) and without prospects for a job of any kind, I tapped the entire contents of my 401K from AMD and began my search for some unclaimed “words” – keywords, that is.

Did you ever want something so badly, you ignored expert advice in pursuit?

This part of my story leaves me vulnerable – and you may be thinking stupid – for including it here on this page. I certainly could have left it out.

Funny thing, after so many business failures I have the confidence not to particularly care what people think anymore. No, I care. But I  don’t let people’s opinions stop me.

Classic Swiss Watches (formerly ClassicSwissWatches.com) was my next venture. It is enough to say that it failed badly because I ignored my own advice about entering a market where the strength  and volume of competition was unfavorable. Looking back, I did a lot of things right, however not the former.

The big thing I learned from developing  and  operating this  e-commerce site was the big “players” in any industry operate by a different set of rules, which afford them certain “advantages”.

From time to time I post on the Full Sail University blog, the institution where I earned my graduate business degree. It is a place where – I am sorry to say – sometimes the blind lead the blind. That is to say, the smartest and most outspoken graduate student bloggers often hold considerable sway over the less opinionated. It is a venue that is not tolerant of truly experienced business practitioners who are not blindly positive – not “BRIGHTSIDERS”, if you will. I have considered that if not for the untempered optimism of these individuals, no businesses  would start. And I have come to realize our nations business schools serve that function very well – however misguided some of us may think it is.

My visits to The Full Sail University Alumni Forum are less frequent these days.

Funnier still, I remain optimistic.

134) A Very Special Call from My Friend at AMD

Towards the end of 2011, my friend (who probably wishes to remain anonymous) from AMD offered me a full-time position at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) back in Fort Collins, Colorado – a location our family now called “home”.

The project to which I was assigned turned out to be very difficult. But our team was tremendously successful.

During some of the more stressful days of our team’s efforts, I began to realize that at age 61, my cognitive skills were no longer the same as they were when I began my career in 1985. In terms of my experience, I was totally comfortable in my role as the lead designer (layout) where I was planning and organizing the work flow to a set of technical and scheduling expectations. After all, I had a great team around me. But near the end, growing project complexity and frequent specification changes seemed to get the better of me. And I decided those few months were something I never wanted to go through again.

So in April of the following year, 2013, to the surprise of everyone in my group of 20 or so, and without any other prospects for employment, I gave my two weeks notice.

About three months later, the entire group was let go.

133) Another Visit with IBM

Hello new reader!

Welcome to my autobiography.

Posts 128-132 provided updates on Nadine, Jenna and Stevie.

In this post you will read about why I returned to IBM,  in Rochester, Minnesota for a third contract – again in the dead of winter.

First a little background.

The little marketing consulting company I had formed in 2011 had successfully launched a start-up – at least the affiliate marketing campaign – but through a few other encounters with small business owners, I had soured on the idea of helping folks get their online marketing going.

Most Mom and Pop businesses I had encountered – I surveyed over 300 of them by phone during the summer of 2011 – were absolutely clueless about internet marketing. Worse, they had no stomach for listening to an “academic” like myself provide untested theories about why they needed a website.

At age 60, I had tons of experience in all realms of business and a very expensive masters degree in Internet Marketing. None of this mattered.

At that point, I had to  admit the futility of my mission. My mission was to clean up a small corner of the online business arena and  provide a safe, sane field for a business that wanted to stake out a well-grounded, sustainable, legal online presence. Bad idea. Or so it seemed.

It wasn’t long after that when I decided I would do whatever it took to secure another mask design contract. Yes, the very 25  year career I loathed – no, not loathed, but was no longer suited for.

Heck, I missed the paydays.

So in November, after a disastrous short-term job as a weight watching clinic, I drove my 2011 Hyundai Accent to Rochester, Minnesota to once again, work with my friends at IBM.

In the next post you will read why my contract with IBM was cut short and phone call from a very special friend.

132) Stevie’s Remarkable Transformation

Welcome to my autobiography!

Glad you are here.

In my last post I told you about my wife’s amazing feat of work during a 4 month period during the summer of 2013.

Note – All of the posts in this blogged autobiography are in order. The first few posts try to paint a picture of a crummy childhood. These last few posts highlight my life after I turned 60 years of age.

You will notice the posts from number 130 and higher, jump around. This is for no particular  reason except that life isn’t always linear. Stuff just happens.

Plenty of drug addicts kick their habit. A few of them, like my son, first get so low they try to do something dramatic to end their hopelessness.

In Stevie’s case, he was addicted to pain meds from the age of about 9 to age 22. What happened after age 22, in my opinion, became a remarkable transformation.

In post #125 I shared with you how I came to respect Stevie.

Stevie had been a pretty scrawny kid. Chronic pancreatitis had ravaged his slender body. And he will himself tell you he will never play in the NFL – it just doesn’t happen for 99% of the population that is “normal” in physical stature. But during the summer of 2013 Stevie transformed his body in a way even a father didn’t think was very likely.

Here is how it happened.

Stevie hit the gym – in a big way. In the same way I had become a gym rat in 1977 (fitness trainer and yoga instructor), Stevie worked out at CrossFit day and night until I no longer recognized his skinny butt. I’m talkin’ chiseled.

Stevie also hit the books at his junior college, won a math scholarship and was accepted to The University of Colorado at Boulder’s Electrical Engineering program.

“You see Dad, it’s pretty cool when these equations work out the way they’re supposed to,” Stevie told me, just yesterday, while we were watching the 49ers get clobbered by the Carolina Panthers.

“What do you mean, son?” I asked, as I glanced at the title text he was referring to. “Linear Circuits”, was the title.

“What  I mean is,” Stevie answered, showing me his equations and hand scratched drawing of an amplifier circuit, as he explained, “I’ve proven here the voltage is not dependent on the load.”

“Whatever,” I said, not totally understanding what he was trying to tell me.

In only three months of coursework in the electrical engineering program at the university, Stevie has met and surpassed the knowledge I had gained in 25 years designing integrated circuits (semiconductor chips).

My son was imbued with something I could never grasp; an innate ability to derive mathematical equations, quite effortlessly.

Stevie’s transformation from a chronically ill, drug dependent, lying punk to something quite different was off to a good start.