MENU

Don’t DO What You Love. YOLO vs. LIVELIVE

bdc_5452

I Didn’t Even Know How To Say Adirondacks

MoveForward

October 27, 2015 Comments (0) Views: 1434 Stories

How To Keep It Moving… Back to Texas!

I remember 10 years ago, 3 days after I graduated from the University of Houston – I packed up my little Scion XB and drove 30 hours and over 1,800 miles to Block Island, Rhode Island to go work in a moped shop. See, during spring break, I had visited Panama City Beach, rented a moped and decided THAT’S WHAT I WANT TO DO!!! I wanted to live in a vacation destination and be able to be on vacation when I was off.

This story is all so very random and impulsive, but that’s completely the point - so stay with me here.

I worked at Starbucks in college and I spent most of my off time studying at that same Starbucks. It was my last year at UH and I was an Entrepreneurship and Marketing major. I  had my moped business plan ready to roll, just a few months from graduating. I didn’t have the capital to do it yet, but I knew I was gonna go try and figure out how to make it happen.

While at Starbucks, I was also a graphic designer. I got some simple vinyl stickers made and popped it on my laptop and it read: Logos | Business Cards | Design. While I was studying, in a place where people knew me, I was advertising my graphic design services and getting work.

I was also a hiphop artist. I taught myself graphic design, because I knew exactly how I wanted our album, tees and logo to look. But most importantly, I didn’t have money to pay anyone else to do it for me. As I would hand out my cards and flyers, people liked it and asked if I could do their business cards and flyers too. So I made a new business card that said I made business cards. That’s how I became a graphic designer.

I met a few other artists (BBC & Article) at shows and events – we teamed up and started a hiphop t-shirt line called ThreeSunz.

HipHop

This story is all so very random and impulsive, but that’s completely the point - so stay with me here.

So one day, while I’m studying at Starbucks - a customer approaches me and asks if I can make some boat decals for him. He wasn’t a regular, just a random customer passing through.  We talked about the project and just started talking more. I told him about my moped business plan and randomly, he says he knows a guy who owns a moped shop in Rhode Island and he lives in Atascocita, Texas (just 30 minutes from where I lived).

I meet the owner, share my business plan and he agrees to let me work for him with the intention of learning the business operations. I learned the business in a few weeks and then partied for 6 months straight. Block Island is an 11 sq. mile island shaped like a pork chop. I love islands.  We had jam sessions on the beach, bonfires by the city dump, semi-skinny dipping sessions in ponds at night, I hangout with Eastern European student workers, locals and tourists. I caught my first and last Striper there. I turned 25 there.

Towards the tail end of the season, one of the customers I trained at the moped shop got in a bad accident. We rushed out to the scene to check it out. By the time we got there, she had already been flown to the mainland for emergency care. I never did find out what happened to her, but that changed my whole business outlook. Block Island tourists are mostly families, and I had plans of renting out mopeds… to college students… during spring break… at Panama City Beach. While I could easily cover my ass with some strong waivers and liability insurance – I couldn’t shake the fate and my responsibility for that one lady I trained – who was now critically injured. I decided I wasn’t going to be opening up a moped shop. I didn’t want that on my conscience.

Block-Island

This story is all so very random and impulsive, but that’s completely the point - so stay with me here.

I moved back to Houston, without a clue as to what was next.

I got rehired at Starbucks and pushed hard on my graphic design work. I got the music itch again and I started working on a solo album.  Soon, I was making more with graphic design than I did at Starbucks, so I quit, and pursued graphic design and made music full time.

When you are a contractor, some months you make $5,000, other months you make $5. Filled with passion, I put every cent I made into my music and my promotions. I did a couple of shows, one of them opening up for Evidence of Dilated Peoples. But being broke got the best of me, I got depressed, practicality kicked-in and reluctantly, I went out to get a real job.

I half-ass slammed together a resume, hopped on HotJob.com (remember HotJobs?) and submitted my resume to the first company I saw. I crawled back into bed to feed my funk. Literally, 5 minutes later - I get a call.

It was a start-up and they immediately jumped into a phone interview. Well, 5 minutes into that call, the guy interviewing me says, “Hold on, someone wants to say something to you.”

I was like, “Ah shit, this shits a prank call.”

I get put on speaker phone and this dude yells out (while half laughing), “What up Rex! It’s your boy Positive Mike!”

See Positive Mike, was one our our biggest supporters when we were making music and doing shows. Before I even applied, he had already told the owners about me – as they were looking to hire a graphic designer. The guy interviewing me introduced himself as Matt, but actually I had already known him as Rashad. See, I met Rashad at the RedLine Graphics, we were both there to pick up prints and we were talking business and start-ups. Also, Rashad was my high school homegirl’s baby daddy. His younger siblings were my regulars at Starbucks.

I took on the job at Xtreme Lashes Eyelash Extensions as a contract graphic designer. I had no formal education in graphic design, just a solid portfolio. Under a year of contracting there, I started to feel like I had given up on my dream of being self-employed. I put in my two weeks and worked out a deal with the moped shop on Block Island to help run the shop. A week into my two weeks notice and after the company threw me a going-away party, the moped gig in Rhode island didn’t pan out. I had already hired my replacement and I was training her on all the processes and procedures. I couldn’t back track, so I kept the news of not having a gig after Xtreme Lashes to myself.

Then Matt asked me when I was moving to RI and I told him the truth, that I wasn’t going after all and I was just gonna try and figure out what was next.

We had a good laugh. He told me to write up a new job description and he’d schedule sometime with the owners for me to present it.

 XL

This story is all so very random and impulsive, but that’s completely the point - so stay with me here.

When we were graduating from the Entrepreneurship Program at UH, one of the students asked a very real question: What do you do, when you have no capital to start a business and no experience to get funding?

His answer stuck with me and he said, “Go work for an entrepreneur. Go learn on O.P.M. – Other People’s Money.”

I took that advice and went all-in to learn. I created a new marketing role for myself and got rehired. I eventually became the Marketing Director, which included Creative and Public Relations as well. I would end up being with the company for a over 9 years and I still do contract work for them today. I had started contracting with them 10 months after they started and they were doing $1.5 million with around 20 employees. When I left for Florida – we had broke $10 million in revenues with over 75 employees. I was under 30, green as hell – but I was resourceful and could figure shit out and make it happen. In my role, I traveled all around the US running the tradeshow program. I  handled media inquires and coordinated appearances on ABC Nightline, CBS Early Show, the Doctors and Good Morning America.

I worked as Marketing Director for over 4 years, 50 to 60 hours per week and that’s when the depression hit me again. I had found myself in a great career with a full marketing and creative team. I had effectively hired people to do all the FUN stuff  that I LOVE to do and I was now responsible for reviewing their work, managing the progress of projects and performance reviews. It wasn’t any fun anymore. I felt I had learned what I need to learn.

That’s when I started my first blog ilivelive.com, created LIVELIVE, LLC, raised capital and started an electronic cigarette brand called VCIG, short for Vapor Cigarette. I was about to turn 30 and I wanted to lay down a foundation to be my own boss and really change the way I DO things. I hired my replacements at Xtreme Lashes and took on a more autonomous role of Project Manager. Basically, I was assigned any project the owners wanted me to investigate, things like social media, product development, packaging – anything. I loved that role and the ability to do a lot of different and engaging work.

Looking back, VCIG.com was a purely opportunistic venture. I had known that this technology was going to take off! This was back in 2010, when I started it. I was over confident and full of ego. I was gonna be rich off this shit. Well, sales didn’t pan out as I had expected. Personal things happened. I got depressed and I couldn’t muster up the energy to consistently work and build a brand while still working a full-time, real gig. The truth is, I wasn’t passionate about VCIG – I was doing it for money. Ultimately, I would come to find out that I was not really money driven.

 

I’d spend the next 4 years tinkering with ideas and half starting new projects and ventures. This was my hobby. This time around, I tried to focus in on things, products and business I could really be passionate about. Things that I could get completely get lost in, engaged and wouldn’t feel like work.

This is when I started kayak fishing and my life took a completely different direction. I had found my passion, my mission, my purpose and I was all-freaking-in. This is when #LIVELIVENOW truly came to life. Check out the full story on LIVELIVENOW in The Fishermans Journal or read my previous blog post on How Kayak Fishing Changed My Life.

I have always been a DOer. I have always been chasing dreams. Every single random thing that I have done and learned, has lead me to right NOW. By DOing and taking chances, life will prepare you for your purpose. Just keep DOing positive and productive shit. 

I’m just a little over 6 months into my leap into living my life LIVE out here in Florida. It has been an amazing experience to wake up everyday to water in your backyard and fish every single day. To be 15 minutes away from beautiful emerald water filled with Pelagics. It’s been amazing to have complete control of my day and have true autonomy. In this sense, I have made it. On the flip side, it’s been nerve racking and stressful trying to come up with rent every single month. I have every penny in ActionHat and LIVELIVEGEAR. It’s been difficult to juggle the contract work and the unpaid work that needs to be done.  It’s been difficult being away from family and lifelong friends - the people who truly know me.

I moved out to Florida to start a family and start a business. While I am very social and share real stories that people can connect with, I still keep many things personal and to myself. Well, starting a family didn’t quite pan out as I had hope – I did, however; share an amazing adventure, filled with lots of laughter, beautiful scenery and memories, and learned some lifelong lessons with a wonderful, smart and good-hearted woman.

I NOW have a full fledge business on my hands and I have managed to keep myself pretty busy, engaged and out of depression. These past 6 months, have allowed me to truly focus on how I want this brand to be and execute on everything that needs to be done. Look, pride tells me to stick it out here in Florida. Logic, logistics, smart business decisions and family tells me take it on back to Texas. The business could use this rent money and I can live really simply back at The Shack. I can have autonomy without the stress. But I will miss this view, but I’ll upgrade soon.

I remember towards the tail-end of living out in Block Island, looking out at the ocean, high up from Mohegan’s Bluff and thinking: This place is amazing, but home is always where the family is.

10 years later, as I look out this pier in my backyard, I hear myself saying the same thing.

TheViews

They say: The adventure starts, when the plans end.

This is partially true. I’m excited about the new adventure of building and marketing this brand, but the planning never ends.

 

I prefer: You can change the plans, but never the goals.

The new plan is to set up permanent operations in Houston, staff it up and get it running. Then travel the world to fish, film and #LIVELIVENOW!

It’s an ambitious dream, but stay tuned and watch me DO it.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>