At this point in time we had been in Denver for a couple of years, I’d received two promotions, and we had our first child. Work was you know – boring but manageable.
We made some decent money with the tea biz and got big enough to threaten some bigger companies. Some of them even tried to sue me. One in particular was from Canada. One day I received an email from the owner telling me they were going to sue me. To which I responded bring your ass down to Colorado and sue me then!
I knew that I was onto something, something the big companies don’t want their worker lemmings to ever realize – that you can make your own money on your own terms and be free. However, there were some ethical considerations in selling “weight loss” tea and so we decided to close shop for the time being.
Work continued, Denver was fun, and life was mediocre. The cost of living in Denver is high and rents continued to soar. It wasn’t uncommon for yearly rent renewals to jump $800. So how is someone making $60k a year supposed to cope with this? Very tough indeed.
Over the past two years in Denver I became one of the top employees of the company, participated in Denver Chamber of Commerce leadership programs, etc, all of which proved that I was a leader and good worker.
Then one day a turning point or series or turning points came. As a result of being one of the best employees I was given box seats for a Pearl Jam concert! My wife and I were so excited! We couldn’t wait to go. I took the tickets home and put them in a drawer. A couple of days later the Vice President’s secretary called me and said that I needed to bring the tickets back because her boss wanted to take a couple of his friends. I became insanely angry! How could the company I worked for, who recognized me as one of the best, simply ask me to give them a gift back which they had given me? Bullshit!
I reluctantly gave the tickets back and the secretary pleaded with me to take some floor seat tickets. I didn’t take them. I began contemplating more on the nature of companies. My thoughts were that companies are more like machines than people, whose only mission is to perpetuate their survival.
Not too long after that a job position opened up back in Amarillo, it was a legal one!!! Wooohooo! The pay was great, the cost of living in Amarillo was cheap, and we would be close to all our family again. Perfect! I asked my boss what he thought about me taking the job, and he told me he thought it seemed ok. But he told me to talk to the Vice President about it.
Now here’s where the life lesson came. I asked the VP about it, and he told me that taking that job would be career suicide. What?!?! How in the hell could it be? High pay, low cost of living….seemed like a win-win to me. I went home and told my wife how I couldn’t believe this guy would say something like that to me. He’s giving me the wrong advice I told her repeatedly. Against his advice I applied for the legal job in Amarillo.
I interviewed for the job in a new suit I bought. The two people who interviewed me seemed o.k. but their questions revolved around whether or not I would talk bad about co-workers and bosses…Strange I thought, because these questions were unlike any I had ever heard. I shrugged it off as a confusing thought and answered them with my utmost ability, telling them of course I’d never talk bad about co-workers, bosses, etc. I’ll do whatever they want me to do – no questions asked.
You can see from this that I was young and innocent. And most clearly being taken advantage of.
The life lesson I learned here however is this: when someone makes a claim like “I bet you a million dollars I can throw this baseball into the soup can over there”, it’s a good thing not to take the bet. They more than likely can. In the same light, when the Vice President told me that would be career suicide I took it with a grain of salt. In hindsight, he was 100% spot on correct. It was career suicide. But as it turned out it was also the best thing that ever happened to me (behind wife and kids).