Ok, so hopefully you read Part 1 of Almost there! and learned how Lucha Comics will be a real thing in a matter of days, so I just wanted to touch on the professional path that brought me here in Almost There! Part 2.
9. Customer Service Guy
It was time to move away from home after being PC Exporter guy didn’t pan out. I left London, Ontario for the big city of Toronto, and my first job was that of Customer Service Representative at Nikon Canada. I worked with some great people, but soon found that the pay wasn’t very competitive, and the IT systems really needed updating. I also learned that Mexican work ethic could outdue the Japanese if it was needed, and I was fortunate enough to learn a bunch about digital photography. I also learned that my gut wasn’t particuarly bad when it came to tech: I remember making the argument for better connectivity, and being told that Digital Cameras would never really be consumer goods, they were more the high-end amateur. I was allowed to borrow some sweet digital cameras (keep in mind that this was over 10 years ago; a D-SLR was probably worth about $20,000 and shot at between 2 and 4 Megapixels). I got to meet pro-photographers, but after being passed up for promotions, I decided to move on. Lesson here: don’t wait to get pushed out of job. Jump – you’ll be far better off.
10. PC Wholesale Guy (Again)
I connected in Toronto with someone from my old gig, and under better leadership I was made Internet Sales Manager, learned a ton about eBaying, and about standing your ground. There was a ton of conflict between the guy that brought me on, and the owners (husband and wife). They also over-expanded. Unfortunately, the razor thin margins in the PC industry really impacted the place, and so I lost my job as the company massively down-sized. Lesson learned: don’t over extend, and don’t let someone else’s personal conflicts drag your career down.
10. ESL Instructor
With nothing left for me in Toronto, and just being fed up with the life that I had, my (future) wife and I decided to go to Korea to be English teachers. Our concerns over North Korea never happened, and overall we had an amazing time! I learned a tiny bit of Korean, learned about Korean and Asian culture, got to work with kids, and just had a great experience. There were definitely some negatives here, but this is something I’ll never forget. Lesson learned: go abroad while you can; I would have hated to look back 20 years from now and say “Gee, I wish I had gone to Korea”
11. Insurance Agent
My wife and I decided to leave Korea early, because she received the opportunity to do a Master’s at Queen’s University on a scholarship. So, time to leave the surreal world of Korea which offered tons of wages, the easiest job I’ve ever had and bizzare little adventures. Now I had to re-enter the real world. I applied to work with a wonderful woman named Mary Quist, who was like a mentor, a mother, and who showed me that I could have a better career then just above minimum wage. I was taught to be professional, to listen to people, and how to really work in a team to achieve results. I knew nothing about insurance going in, but more importantly didn’t know anything about sales. With Mary, Nicole, Melissa and Karen, along with all the other great people that I met, I really had a chance to grow professionally. Leaving this job to move closer to home was heart-breaking. It also killed my love of the insurance industry. My professional development took years to recover from this, because I knew that I was leaving something that couldn’t be re-created. I can’t do this part of my career (like many others, such as Korea or Mexico) justice in one blog post. Lesson learned: it’s tough to let go of a good thing.
12. Insurance Agent (again)
After moving to London, I became an insurance agent again. My heart just wasn’t in it, despite working with some fantastic people. Lesson learned: it’s good to specialize but know when to move one, because after this I decided to move on to…
13. Insurance Agent (yup, again again)
I tried going independent as an insurance guy. I had grandoise visions, but with my kids being young, I was losing their childhood to something that made me little money. But more importantly, I didn’t love the financial industry anymore. It was time to move into the world of consulting, where I took the best of this industry (working with Small Businesses) and got rid of the worst (doing the same thing over and over). Lesson learned: failure isn’t always bad, but know when you have failed.
I played landlord with our rental property, and all around just got screwed by business partners who pretended to be friends but turned out to be terrible human being. I hate that I wasted time, energy and money with them, and again missed time with my babies. Long-story short, it took nearly 5 years to smarten up and get out, and culminated with my “partners” fleeing the country on fraud charges and their proceeds being paid into the courts. Lesson learned: bad partnerships can’t save an otherwise good project.
15. The Non-Profit Sector
This is what helped me to find my passion again. I focused my efforts on the non-profit world, where I had the opportunity to learn something new, work with great people, do social good, and really take ownership of something and create it. This still is a very important committment for me, and I still love it. Lesson learned: new career paths & industries can revitalize you.
16. Project Manager/Consultant (again/concurrent)
…and this is my night job (which I just finished at about 1:00AM). I am part of a start-up with some friends of mine looking to take EHR functions and data into the cloud. I am learning about software development, MYSQL, HTML5 and some other really cool stuff. It’s a lot of fun, but like a lot of tech startups it doesn’t really pay. I do really enjoy it though, and it doesn’t detract from my day job so it can’t hurt too much. Lesson learned: bootstrapping.
This has been part of my professional identity for over 10 years, and something that I am proud to be part of thanks to my beautiful wife. She has always pushed me to do better, and through our firm Reimar Group, I have learned how to write effectively, grow businesses, and just work with people to help them reach their goals. For those entrepreneurs getting started, we also developed an inexpensive way to lend them our expertise – BizMula – start-up business plans in about 2 hours for $199.This has been a fun, but long process, with the software taking way longer then anticipated. Lesson(s) learned: software dev takes forever, entrepreneurship is awesome, and most importantly, be professional and always give truthful advice to your clients.
I think that just about does it. I really don’t want to sell any particular aspect of my professional development short. It’s been a long path, and each part has been integral. I’m glad that along the way I have picked up the skills needed to fulfill a boyhood dream: to be involved in the comic book industry.
Senior VP of Arms about to fall off after a day full of typing, Lucha Comics