While it can be a game-changer to be suddenly watched by the world, most small businesses don’t need this level of exposure to see results.
Eleven years ago today, April 15, 2005, I walked into United Broadcasting Sales Company where I had worked for 13 years and handed my manager my resignation. Despite setting individual company sales records and serving as the default unpaid coach of so many new hires and despite company profitability relatively new company owners instituted a new pay plan that slashed everyone’s pay. Mine would have been cut over 35%.
I had many promises from numerous co-workers to join me in starting a new company, but none followed through. So I was left to fend for myself. Total Broadcasting Service has been like another child to me and grown through tough times, including my divorce. It hasn’t been easy. And despite those tough times and never quite attaining the high income levels I had before I am so proud I walked with wobbly legs to my previous manager’s desk 11 years ago and said I won’t be mistreated and under appreciated by them anymore. The UBSC owners were pissed and threatened me with legal action to stop my entrepreneurial efforts. I believe those threats, in part, scared off my former co-workers.
I miss working with the many who became friends. After so many followed my lead and quit I went a while feeling somewhat responsible, since I had been the first. They eased my anxiety on the matter by seemingly improving their lives dramatically after leaving the plantation. I’m glad at least for Facebook to somewhat stay in touch with some of them. I’ve learned that if you don’t value your best people they will find someone else who does; a lesson that translates into personal relationships too, not just business.
I wonder if any parent loves one of their children over their other children. I’m sure it happens, but few parents would admit it. Societally its one of the biggest sins a parent can make; loving one of their own over the other or others.
With Father’s Day approaching I thought I would tell you about my favorite.
I have three kids. Two are grown and out of the house and my youngest is ending her sophomore year in high school.
My oldest daughter, Arica, is my favorite because she was my first. The gift she gave me of merely coming into my life and giving me the title of “Daddy” is not something anyone else can ever claim. I still remember holding her in one arm as we walked or I rocked her or swung her to sleep. She was always an independent child and played well on her own. But our father-daughter time was abundant and a treasure for me. I coached her in softball for years until her skill exceeded my coaching ability and I “handed” her off to a team and a coach more fully knowledgable about the finer aspects of high level fast-pitch. Arica played other sports too. Arica grew into a beautiful young woman. She won a Scholarship Pageant. She became an artist. And she remains passionate about anything she does, touches or says.
My second, Christopher, is my favorite because he is my only son. When he came into my life he proved to be all boy. He was a handful. He wouldn’t sleep at night, and because he was so active he kept hurting himself. We had more trips to the hospital with him than my other two kids combined. And every time he hurt, I hurt…so badly. It was as if I had the broken arm or I was getting the stitches. Christopher was and remains one of the sweetest boys, and now men that I have ever known. And I love his happy friendly demeanor. It became cliche` in our house for him to tell his Mom at least 1-2 times per week, “This is the best dinner I’ve ever had.” And he always said it with such sincerity. Chris became a musician and now leads a band as its song writer, guitarist and lead vocalist. He even has some songs when he’s on the keyboards; proving Mom and Dad’s investment in piano lessons wasn’t completely in vain.
My youngest daughter, Micah, is my favorite because she’s my baby. She’s the last one I’ll ever have. And she assured that we would go out of the baby making business with a BANG. Unlike her brother and sister (and I’d say ME at a similar age) she has not been in a rush to be grown up. She has remained content being young, being a kid. She is Sooooooo funny and makes me laugh all the time. Her innocence and sweetness is something I miss terribly any time I’m not home when she comes bounding in the door.
It’s a blessing to me that I have 3 favorite kids. I love them equally but differently. You’d be amazed how often kids, and adults get the sense that they are not their parent’s “favorite”. And as a parent its important to know that creating that sense in your kids can be damaging to them and your relationship with them. It might be something you don’t know you do and don’t do intentionally. But be observant and aware. They will always be your kids no matter your or their age.
In my on going efforts for fitness, health, and continued youth I woke this morning, dressed in my sweat suite, grabbed my cell phone and ear plug headphones and embarked on a morning run. After I was done I realized what an extraordinary start to my day I experienced.
It was a cold March morning with temperatures in the upper 30s. As I left my Renton home through my garage I zipped up my jacket all the way to my neck. I plugged my headphone buds into my ears, plugged the cord into my phone, and turned on the music. I like up-beat music as I run, and classic rock is my up-beat music of choice. Journey was the first band I enjoyed.
At 51 years of age with arthritis in my hips and a slightly torn right labrum loosening up for anything physical takes a little more time than it used to. The darkness of pre-6am enveloped me as I awkwardly began running out of my driveway. The first few hundred yards of my runs see me looking quite geeky as I shake off the cobwebs of a nights sleep and free-up my muscles and joints. I’m flapping around like a fish out of water, and my legs are rotating as a wheel with no lug nuts.
After the first song had played Led Zeppelin was in my ears and head. Good Times, Bad Times. I wasn’t feeling great. My hips were growling at me and the cold was nipping at my ungloved fingertips.
I then looked up from the sometimes dangerous cracked sidewalk and saw a beautiful full moon through the Douglas Firs setting in the west. It shown through the trees and was hallowed by a cloudy mist. It was my beacon lighting my dark path on my journey. It inspired me. Between looking down to watch for missteps on the uneven sidewalk I would look up at the glowing orb. Sometimes I had to search for it as it ducked behind a tree or apartment building. Cars whizzed by at 40 mph when I finally grunted my way to a main road with a smooth level sidewalk, the moon still glowing in the west, descending over the Olympic Mountains.
I run a route that’s about 3.5 miles. It takes me about 30-35 minutes. I’m not fast, just steady. As I rounded the Fairwood shopping center I began the journey home. That would take me east. No longer fighting to keep running or feeling stiff from old age and a thorough nights sleep I am quickening my pace. And a funny thing happened. Dawn had broken.
Rush, Seal, and Pink Floyd sang in my ears as the sidewalk became more easily visible in the growing light. As more hills, and the start of a side-ache begin to challenge me I begin reciting the Hail Mary, over, and over, and over again asking the Mother of Jesus to bless me in my efforts and carry me through.
The final 2-300 yards to my home is the steepest hill on my route and a real struggle as I’ve already run over 3-miles. But not this morning. My eastward trajectory and up hill slant had me peering into a glorious sunrise. Pink skies and some blue clouds inspired me to sprint. It was a beautiful morning.
Sunday, daylight savings time begins. So my next run will be in what is now the 5am hour. It’ll be dark, and I won’t see a darkness and a full moon followed by a beautiful sunrise in the east. I realized and asked myself how often, in the Pacific Northwest, will I run on a clear sky morning, with a full moon, and clear starlit skies followed by sunlit blue, and biting and exhilarating cold all during the same 30 minute run.
Is it pessimistic to say I may never experience this glorious combination again? There are only 12 full moons each year, the number of clear skies in Seattle are notably few, I only run 2-3 days per week and because of my age and my arthritis that amount is going to decrease as time moves on.
My morning run was extraordinary, special, inspiring, fun, and possibly one-of-a-kind.
When considering those in poverty it is far too common to think of them as perpetually poor and forever on the public dole. This sentiment has long existed and been perpetuated by claims of generational poverty; families that have nothing and leave nothing for their kids, thus creating a cycle that keeps the kids poor as adults and their kids raised in unrelenting poverty as well. These people are forever a burden on society and forever in need of our tax dollars being redistributed to them in the form of low or free rent, food stamps, medical care and more. Or so the myth goes…
While its true that many in poverty can stay poor for a significant portion of their lives, that’s often not the case. A 10+ year old study found that a significant percentage of those who were in the bottom third of income earners in the 1970s at some point over the following 20 years actually attained a level of income putting them in the upper third of income earners. This illustrates the point that those in poverty and receiving assistance are often only in that financially troubling position for a short time in their lives.
This makes sense when you consider that many of those who are poor are young adults or young families who have not yet attained the wisdom, experience, resumes or income to keep them out of poverty. But as they age and gain work experience and the wisdom on how to earn and save money they lift themselves out of poverty and often into financial well-being.
This was certainly true for this author. I have worked in the radio industry for my entire adult life. I began professionally in 1985 as a 21 year old country music DJ and part-time high school sports play-by-play announcer. This auspicious position paid me the awesome sum of $600 per month. A little extra scrambling for more work usually got my check up to $650.00. And that was gross income, paid to me with only one pay check per month. I worked 50-60 hours per week, 6 days per week; thus not allowing me to hold a second job. I was poor. I didn’t qualify for food stamps. At the time I did apply and was told I made exactly $5.00 too much each month to qualify. I lived on Top Ramon, Mac & Cheese, and Cheerios. Oh…and beer. Priorities, right?
Twenty years later my income climbed to a level in 2004 where my earnings put me in the upper 2-3% of income earners. I owned a home, a rental property, and was raising a family. In 2005 I started my own business, Total Broadcasting Service.
And I’m not special. Lots of people can tell the same story.
The myth that poverty is a life sentence has two deleterious effects. If believed by some of those in poverty it helps keep them in need. It also discourages generous giving from many who could dramatically impact the lives of those in poverty. “Why give if these lazy, drug using poor people are only going to use my money to get drunk and high and buy tattoos and other frivolous expenses? I was poor and I lifted myself up. They should do the same.”…or so seems to be the thinking.
When its understood that poverty is more usually a temporary condition Americans can feel more comfortable generously offering a hand up while not seeing it as a hand-out. If someone is too young to have learned and earned you are more likely to see their potential and give them the assistance you probably benefitted from in your own youth. When its plain that a medical condition has prevented a person from working and they lost their income and haven’t yet found a means by which they will eventually support themselves, you can maintain a much higher level of empathy for their plight. Even when someone’s own poor decisions or foolishness have driven them to the poor house, you can feel a greater desire to help them get back to being self sustaining if you have the confidence of knowledge that most people in their positions will use your generosity wisely to change the direction of their lives and improve their situation.
My faith tells me that its my responsibility to help those in need. But if my faith (or yours) didn’t dictate charitable giving, common sense would. Few people, regardless of political persuasion, like the government’s gun to your head (otherwise known as the IRS) approach to monetary redistribution. And frankly its terribly inefficient anyway. But many non-profit charitable and church based organizations provide efficient and meaningful help to the needy.
One of these organizations in my community is Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County. I met it’s Director, Glenn Turner, this year. He carefully explained to me and others how EFP fills the gaps in food distribution for the needy. Food banks typically only provide food enough to last an individual or a family for 2-3 weeks per month. The obvious problem being that every month is at least 4 weeks. Emergency Feeding Program will help those who can’t provide for themselves over each month’s final 1-2 weeks with carefully constructed food bags tailored to the specific dietary and ethnic requirements of the recipient. They provide 15 different types of emergency food bags to match their clients. Emergency Feeding Program has been doing this since 1977, and are Washington State’s third largest food distribution service for the needy. And they do it through the generosity of people. They have many people who volunteer their time. And many generous people and organizations who donate food and money. You can help them too. And this writer hopes that you will.
Isn’t it easier to help knowing you are actually helping. Isn’t it best to look at those in poverty as merely folks who are down on their luck and with the kind and generous assistance you provide they won’t stay where they are; they’ll rise up support themselves and in the natural evolution of their lives help others; maybe even you, should you someday be a victim of misfortune, poor health or unfortunate decisions.
We can’t and shouldn’t rely on government to carry us through. We’re a free nation. And we should be free to help those we want to help. And we should help. It’s in our best interest as well as the recipients of our generous money and efforts.
As an addendum: Emergency Feeding Program is hosting its first ever Summer musical event to raise awareness and donations. Jazz on the Houser will be from 3-9pm Saturday August 23rd. Click here to learn more: http://www.emergencyfeeding.org/events-wedge-details/354217/1408824000