1. End of the [car] world
I’m from Detroit. I watched the car companies crumple.
The crash happened a year or so after I graduated high school.
Before the crash, the school system LOVED the big car companies. I’m actually from a Detroit suburb called Dearborn.
Dearborn is where Ford World Headquarters is stationed because that’s where Henry Ford launched the auto industry from.
The schools LOVED the idea of us working for Ford or one of the big companies.
If you weren’t working for Ford, they wanted you working for one of the companies that Ford subcontracted.
They wanted you working for Ford. They didn’t know the car companies had big problems and would take us down with them.
I did actually end up working for Ford, in fact I worked in the world headquarters’ building. It was 2006 and it was cheaper to hire a 19 year old to teach the latest multi-media tricks, than it was to hire someone who knew how to negotiate for a higher salary. I was getting paid double minimum wage and was happy as a clam. Eventually I learned they had hired me to avoiding paying someone more experienced ten times the minimum wage. Oops. But that’s neither here nor there.
What I got paid is not the point of this story.
The point of this story is that the sub-contracted company I worked for, that brought multi-media to Ford, folded before my 21st birthday.
“Job Security,” the high school guidance counselors had called it. You want to work for the auto industry because of “job security.”
This was also the time of the birth of the Social Internet.
We’d had web access for a decade by that point, but it was around this time that people were figuring out blogging, and YouTube, and MySpace and Facebook.
Civilians were being granted the right to become publishers.
That looked like real job security to me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the people who were succeeding at making a living online had one or both of two qualities that I lacked:
- They were older than me and had an actual BUSINESS PLAN for what they were doing. (Whereas I was winging it and assuming that mimicking people would be enough to get their same success.)
- They were in the right place at the right time. (I seemed to show up places early, and get discouraged, then leave, and then later-still the same things I was offering were the new hottness, but I was not around to reap the benefits any longer.)
Eventually, after years of chasing my version of, “job security,” I was getting more and more suggestions that I might think about giving up on this online-business thing, and use my talents to make a lot of money at a “real job.”
People had high hopes for me. I had all these skills and brilliant ideas. I was supposed to rocket to stardom. What nobody seemed to specify was that they expected me to join up with a company, and let them ride me to stardom. When I went off on my own, a lot of the supportive attitudes of my friends and family dried up.
I don’t believe that entrepreneurs are trying to get out of having a job. I had a great job at Ford. I had an actual good boss. Most people hate their boss because most people have an idiot for a boss. I had a wonderful boss.
And I still didn’t want that job.
We had two hour paid lunches. We had very little interference from bureaucracy.
And I still wanted something else for my life.
When the crash happened, it helped solidify the idea that maybe I should look for security by working for myself. When I had spent years and years trying to work for myself I still wanted something else for my life than to work at somebody else’s company.
Failure hadn’t made me into an employee, because entrepreneurs aren’t an employee throwing a tantrum saying, “I’ll be my own boss because you’re such a bad boss,” entrepreneurs are different.
Entrepreneurs find problems.
Entrepreneurs cannot abide those unanswered problems that no one has gotten to yet. “If it is to be it is up to me,” we say.
I didn’t enjoy the financial hardship I was putting on my family by being an entrepreneur, but I also saw no way to change my nature to be someone I’m not.
2. Birds of a[n] [entrepreneurial] feather
The email that changed my life came at a time when I was afraid to open my email.
I had made a grievous error in my personal life (my failures at business spilled out into most areas of my existence) and had acted reprehensibly toward someone.
It was under that condition that I saw the email that a class was opening up, hosted by one of my favorite business teachers.
She had a great pitch, it was a class unlike anything I had heard about before, and we marshalled the money within my family, and signed me up.
The class was heaven. Entrepreneurs. Other people like me. Other people who saw the problems of the world and couldn’t help but try to do their part to fix something.
And we all were in our own way. I wasn’t the only person who found navigation through the world of online business to be harrowing.
I got to be a rockstar.
I’m not trying to solve a small problem. I’m trying to build a new genre of video game that as you play it, helps tone and shape your character into the person you hoped you would be.
That’s like fucking difficult to invent.
It wasn’t the difficulty that made me popular, but rather that since my endeavor was such a lost cause impossible-task, I had learned plenty of tricks for keeping my spirits up and returning myself to my confidence when obstacles shook me.
And the tricks helped.
Whichever person I talked to, their problem was something I could help with, because while none of us were doing something easy, they all had more straightforward business plans than I did, so I could see all the ways that they were poised to succeed if they kept up, and I’d say so.
When people have stopped believing in themselves, they don’t always need more ideas of what to do, they often just need a way to refuel so they can do the things they know they need to do.
That class was half-a-decade ago.
I’ve spent that time building a tool that would induce the same support and direction that I was able to give to people, by simulating other-people’s-business problems as a sort of game or training simulator, where you are able to practice the actions needed to run a business, without the actual shock and horror of facing the consequences of the mistakes that we’re all bound to make.
If you’d like to read a more detailed account of my Business Fear Simulator, you can do so by clicking this button.
Or if that sounds neat but you just read my like whole life story and want to get on with other things in your day, you can sign up below as I have updates on my progress. I like high-quality emails when I’m a customer, so I promise to send as high-quality as I can when I send emails to you.