I’ve mentioned before that Rich is a serial entrepreneur, having started almost 30 companies in his life, but haven’t really told the story of how he got started – originally. Rich opens the book by describing the life experiences that led him to entrepreneurship, or in his words, how he ‘got a life’….
Get a Life!
At the age of five, my workday started in the early twilight hours of the evening. I would drag my parents’ faded garden hose out and let the cold mountain water loose on the front lawn. A thorough soaking was all I needed to procure my product. I then crawled across the saturated lawn, pulling reluctant night crawlers from their earthy habitat.
My marketing manager, Mom, helped me paint a huge yellow sign depicting the happiest, juiciest worm imaginable. A large red arrow worthy of any Las Vegas casino pointed potential customers to our house. As advertising demands required, I hauled the sign down to the canyon road in the morning and propped it up against an old cottonwood tree in an effort to attract the attention of anglers on their way to favorite fishing holes.
I don’t recall which aspect of the venture was more invigorating: digging out worms or collecting the 50 cents for a dozen night crawlers. Regardless, before my sixth birthday I had swallowed the bait of being my own boss—hook, line, and sinker.
At the age of 32 I found myself working as the General Manager of USA Operations for Mitsubishi Electric, PC division. My MBA and my BS in Electronic Engineering Technology were behind me. Working my way up several corporate ladders, I experienced big wins with Novell, Mitsubishi Electric, and About.com.
Along the way I discovered my natural aptitude for leading teams, particularly while kicking off new and innovative technology products. These successes filled me with a sense of accomplishment, and I valued the knowledge gained from the experiences. However, I grew increasingly dissatisfied with the politics and red tape and felt held back by the rigid, unresponsive nature of big corporations in general. At a fundamental level, I craved facing the market forces eyeball to eyeball.
Even amid my success in the corporate world, I eventually came to see that corporate life had begun to demand more than it offered. I knew a decision had to be made. I knew that it was time to return to my roots. That it was time to get a life!
And that’s just what he did – we’ll pick back up with Rich’s experiences in building businesses in the next blog!