Monday, August 31, 2009

The story of Zoom (Day 3)

Wow! What an awesome reunion with my neighbors from the hood yesterday (see my post from day 2). I really appreciate the emails from all of you regarding this blog. It looks like you want to know more about what I've been up to, so here is the story I promised to share about starting up

I was very fortunate to be surrounded by a super talented group of people who were passionate about work and life. Many of us were married and raising families. We loved serving our customers and we were well rewarded for our contributions. We always pushed ourselves to go to seminars and learn how to do our jobs better. Our city was known as the flag ship of the company.

The local owner of the company we worked for was being challenged by a multi-billion dollar corporation. This corporation purchased the national name from the original founder. Our boss was licensed to publish a magazine called Auto Trader in San Diego county. Apparently, this corporation felt that my boss's internet site went beyond the boundaries of his licensing agreement. Long story short, my boss sold out and we got a new boss. Let's just say that the new boss was owned by two companies that didn't really like each other and many of us struggled to figure out how we fit in.

One day, a few of us decided we needed to move on or start our own company and compete. We learned that a secret deal had been made behind closed doors. This secret deal black-balled us from joining the internet division that had been separated from our print jobs. This made some of us very angry because it seemed so wrong. For me, it gave me a burning desire to compete with this Goliath.

The first thing we did was consult with an attorney. We hired him about one year before we actually launched His job was to prepare us for the war that would eventually be declared on our start-up company. He was certain that we were too much of a threat to be left alone and he was regarded as one of the best in the country. We made a lot of mistakes when we launched but not hiring an attorney would have destroyed us.

The first lesson he taught us was about the two types of business interference, lawful and unlawful. Another name for lawful interference is competition. We learned exactly how to move forward without getting into hot water and we were ready when our ex-bosses tried to intimidate us.

Preparing to compete while you are still employed is legal in our state. You just have to be careful not to invent anything because, legally, your boss can claim ownership. The next step for us was to make a plan and then follow the plan. We spent months meeting in secret to prepare defenses for every possible attack.

For me, I kept visualizing the scene from "King Arthur" where the small group of knights are on their horses as they survey the enemy below. The enemy is massive. The year of preparation is what made the difference between success and failure. We swore to 100% secrecy. None of our co-workers, friends or even parents could be told until launch. One slip and we were doomed. We even used code names to keep our plans under wraps.

My next post will talk about the final days leading up to our launch and how we defended ourselves once war was declared by "Goliath". I will never forget the text messages we got in real time as war was being declared. Our attorney was already writing the response before the meeting was over. The head hunt for insiders was relentless but our "helpers" were never discovered.

As I share more of our story, you need to understand that there are certain things that all of us at Zoom are forever bound to never disclose. Let me state up front that we know many trade secrets as a result of our twenty years working for "Goliath". We cannot ever share those trade secrets. These posts are for the benefit of those who may want to go out on their own and are not meant to berate my ex-boss. As a matter of fact, I owe my last boss a big thank you because I am now living the dream.

For now, it is time to take a shower and get ready for my first day back with my Zoom partners.

Please keep up your comments. This whole blog thing is like writing a book and publishing it in real time. I will attempt to write a little bit each day and your comments will help me decide what to share. For now, I want to make sure my friends and relatives know that I am out of the cave. Goliath already knows I am back. I learned some new ways to use my slingshot and can't wait to get back on the battlefield.

Your prayers are much appreciated. God Bless!

P.S. The following video was recommended by a family member. It was made by some high school students and fits into the "David vs. Goliath" story...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Hood (day 2 outside of the cave)

Happy Sunday to my friends and family members. I wrote yesterday that the next post would be about how started. It is an amazing story that has never been told before but I got another flash of light about thirty minutes ago and decided I better write about that first. It is about the original hood I moved into twenty years ago when my wife and I were just married. There are no names in this post out of respect for privacy but these people were put in my life to help me achieve the impossible and the Zoom story may not have happened without these incredible neighbors who continue to touch my life in a very deep way.

After Church this morning we are having a reunion with the original neighbors that were here when we moved in twenty years ago. My wife and I are the last of the originals to be living on the street but we have kept in touch with each of these special people. Each member of the hood will have access to this blog and day 2 of my new life is dedicated to them.

When we first moved in, we were the youngest in the hood. The average age was late 30's. One couple was older with grown kids. Everyone in the hood went to them for advice and they had the best Halloween candy for our kids. It was a sad day when they moved out but the wife needed to be close to a hospital and we live in a remote area. Thanks to a donor, the wife has been able to live a very full life and we can't wait to see her today. The husband got a post-retirement job at a store that we patronize and every time we see him he is surrounded by people and he is the life of the party. He was the same way in the hood.

We have now been through two wildfires that started not too far from the hood. The first one turned out to be the biggest in our state's history. My next door neighbor had to leave the hood because her house burned down in that fire.

Another family moved in a few years after us and what they did for the hood during the first wildfire can never be repaid. The husband had special credentials that he used to get back to the hood during the fire. He hooked up all of our the garden hoses to put out spot fires that kept flaring up after the main firestorm came through. We had railroad ties all around our home and this neighbor made sure that every time they re-ignited, the spot fires were eliminated.

Usually, when you take a vacation, you leave your hood and get far away. Well, this hood was different. A couple of the neighbors were getting together every summer at this really awesome Christian camp. Year after year they would invite us but we thought our kids were too small so we waited until we they were older. Once we joined our neighbors for vacations we got even closer to them.

One family moved away but we would continue to organize our vacations at camp to get together with them. The husband canceled his vacation because he was in the hospital in dire need of a liver transplant. While we were at camp, we got the entire place to pray for him. The regulars from prior years remembered him as the crazy one who organized pool polo games at 7:00 am where you had to play using inner tubes (they found out our neighbor was the ring leader when they questioned all the kids during their daily activities). We were NOT popular!

Within hours of certain death, a liver became available and our neighbor was granted new life. The hospital was on the way home from camp so we delivered cards from all the people that prayed for our neighbor. He was too sick to see us but the cards touched him. Later we learned that most people don't live long enough to get a transplant. You have to be the sickest on the list (near death) to qualify and the day he got the liver he was #2 on the list. #1 died hours before the liver became available.

As I close this post, I would like to ask two things. First, please pray that good health returns to my ex-neighbor that we will nickname "the candy lady". Second, please consider becoming an organ or blood donor. Two people from my hood are alive today because of the kindness of others. The water polo ring leader dedicated his life to serving others once he got his transplant. He is now a full-time deacon. Their family adopted four more kids and now total 8 children. You never know what your generosity can do to make our world better.

Wherever your hood is, may you be Blessed with good neighbors. I promise to write about Zoom soon unless I get another flash of light that inspires me to write about something else first. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 1- Coming out of the cave

 Where can I go from your Spirit?
 Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7

5:37 am-

Every one of us on this planet has a story to tell. I have decided to embrace the new technology that is out there to begin sharing mine. The motivation for this started almost five years ago when I promised my wife that I would write her a love letter each day. After writing her love letter at 4:30 am this morning I suddenly got this urge to start a blog that could be shared with family members and friends.

Yesterday I quit my job. I walked out the door at 5:25 pm after serving my employer for approximately sixteen months. It was hard to say goodbye, especially to my good friend, Cleveland Smith. Cleveland works in the warehouse at ADT Security, the largest security company in the world. Every day he greeted me with a smile and a message, "stay strong"! When I gave my two week notice, I made sure that Cleveland knew how much I appreciated his hard work. I followed up with a letter of gratitude to his boss which made its way to the president of ADT. On my last day, Cleveland received a care package from the vice-president. My letter of appreciation was part of the care package. Cleveland will appear in a company newsletter and his contributions will be made known to all of the thousands of employees.

It was difficult to say good bye to my manager, an awesome leader who really cared. It was even harder to say good bye to my peers, a small group of sales people who worked hard to protect families from being burglarized and who worked an average of six days per week. I tried to control my emotions. The only time I lost it was when Cleveland shared his care package with me and revealed the letter that I had written to his boss. With tears in his eyes, Cleveland hugged me. As I was choking up with emotion, I looked at him and said, "stay strong"! The tears are back as I recall the look on his face.

I have entitled this first entry, "coming out of the cave" for a very special reason. It feels like the first day of something exciting that is about to happen in my life. The reason I quit my job at ADT is because my business partners have invited me to rejoin them at I was shocked to be asked back when the business climate is so negative but I cannot wait to start contributing to this very special group of people that I have worked with for the last twenty years. When we were struggling to survive, we hired a business consultant to advise us and he told us that some of the partners would need to get jobs. I volunteered to leave. When I exited Zoom, it felt like I was entering a dark cave. Thank God for people like Cleveland who encouraged me to keep going.

In my next blog entry, I will share my story about how I left one of the biggest companies in America to compete with them. Many of you reading this told me I was crazy to leave such a great job (Auto Trader). You told me I would go bankrupt. That was four and a half years ago and it was also before the greatest recession in modern times hit us. Without help from a couple of family members, I probably would have lost everything, but even bankruptcy would not have stopped me from fulfilling my destiny. The pursuit of the american dream runs deep in my family bloodlines.

Hope you like this post. The next post will go into detail about the journey of seven people, armed only with sling shots, who took on a multi-billion dollar Goliath. For those of you who don't know me, I had a secret weapon. He has been my mentor for many, many years. I didn't listen to him too much in my teenage years but now I trust him with my life. His name is Jesus and He is my Lord and Savior. He has been with me every day while I have been in the cave. He was the one that promised me I would see the light one day. One thing about Jesus, He is always there.

Before I close, I just wanted to thank my mother who never stopped praying for me and my siblings for their support. I am Blessed to belong to such an awesome family. To my aunts, uncles, and cousins: I am sorry for not keeping in touch. There has not been any free time these last four and a half years but now I am out of the cave. I have weekends off now, so come visit. Maybe we will come visit you.

I will keep adding to this blog. Let me know what you think. Happy weekend and stay strong!