I grew up a “military brat” who found himself moving two weeks before the end of a class year every year. I actually started the first grade speaking not a word of English and would spend a total of 9 years in
Europe by the time I graduated from high school. Between the family set of encyclopedias (which I could bury my head in for hours at a time), summer reading programs at public libraries, and of course my trusty basketball that pretty much defined what I did for most of my youth.
I realize that moving so much has given me a unique perspective in regards to change and the future. With my basketball I would have a totally new group of friends within days of arriving in a new town and so the ability to fit in and relate to people is very easy for me. Then all the time spent with books has given me a deep curiosity and a life long desire to “know.” I can pretty much land on my feet in any situation and or place!
I am very thankful that I listened to my father all those years ago and accepted a scholarship to attend a small liberal arts college rather than pursue basketball at a Division I university. I am also thankful that he taught me to work hard, and to do your best and make a difference in everything you do.
Observe, analyze, gather data, plan, implement, follow up, and then repeat. That is the process that I take to everything in life. It’s also the easiest way to turn the question of "why?" into "why not?" and thus the surest way to bring change and innovation into even the most moribund of organizations and or operations.
I found myself in
Saudi Arabia after receiving a phone call asking me about an article I had written for a professional journal and would I want to see if my ideas worked; two weeks later I was in . This gave me the opportunity to work with people from all over the world, and to travel for two weeks every three months! Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
I found myself managing convenience stores while going to graduate school at
, because I was challenged by the chain's owner to quit wasting my time on third shift and actually see if my ideas worked. I realized that my dream of a PhD was not what I really wanted but that I actually was better fitted to making things happen rather than studying what happened. Vanderbilt University
I found myself at a not-for-profit after a friend called me and said he needed my help for a year.
I found myself in apparel because during a six hour job interview I made the owner a proposition: Try me for six months at half the salary that I want, if I am successful then pay me what I asked for in six months, if not then we can shake hands and go our separate ways and it only cost you half of what it should. That turned into an 18 year 'career'.
This career included creating a human resources department from scratch, building a computer system that spanned from locations in California, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Germany, and India; an information system that began as an order entry program on one workstation, to the ability to manage inventory as raw materials at our suppliers, to manage production at multiple facilities and subcontractors, and to a payroll system that not only managed labor efficiencies but also made sure that all goods were completed "just in time" and allowed us to track sales of our products on the floor of our major retailers. It included the direct responsibility for various distressed companies, troubled brands, and new start ups both in the apparel and the gift industry. It involved finding ways to remain competitive in a low paying, low skilled industry, that also had to deal with NAFTA, and this in turn led to the establishment of two daycares with over 150 children each, the majority being non employee children, and the switch to a self funded insurance plan for both employee health insurance and workers compensation.
For the first time in my life I find myself at a crossroads: With the retirement of the owners of the apparel manufacturer I was asked what I wanted as 'severance' to which I asked for the right to own a label and continue with a brand of big and tall tees; I wanted to grow what I believed was a 'sleeper' through the establishment of a totally new 'sized centric' Web 2.0 business model. Now I find myself with an overwhelming success that requires more funds than I have. Or, I find myself seeking other opportunities through employment.
I have no idea what the future holds, but I am excited with the opportunities that always lie ahead; I am packed and ready to take on the challenge, whatever it maybe!