At twenty years old, I had three or four employees and was running out of cash quickly. I had borrowed a total of $45,000 from my Dad to start a company earlier the same year. I had highly underestimated what it was going to cost me to be in business the first year, and thought my entrepreneurial career was coming to an end as quickly as it had began. However, just a few weeks before Christmas, my only salesman stumbled upon an opportunity that resulted in us merging with another company. Over the course of the following two years, my income skyrocketed, as did my standard of living. I bought a big house, several cars, and thought I had made it. Turns out, most of the money I earned, was not from the work we were producing, but rather from investors. Our intentions were pure, but clearly within a couple of years, we had created a cash eating monster, and we couldn’t generate enough revenue by selling our products and services, so much of our time was spent in front of investors. Over the course of the time I spent with the company, there had been multiple times that I chose to look the other way, because frankly, doing the right thing would have cost me everything. A few months later it did.
Shortly after I moved back to Corpus Christi to work along side my Dad, I witnessed him pay off one of our vendors. I remember our conversation on the way back home like it was yesterday. I confronted him calmly, but he immediately became defensive. He explained to me that it was not possible to be successful in the oilfield by being honest. I was crushed. A year prior, I lost it all to do the right thing, and here my Dad was telling me that honesty didn’t belong in business. I wrestled with how I was going to continue to work for someone that didn’t share the same values as I, and what made it even more difficult was the fact that my boss was my Father. Knowing him was more important to me than convincing him there was another way, however, we did discuss boundaries regarding our differences, and he respected them until his death. I came to realize that my Dad was a Darwinist. With a second grade education, he figured out how he would put food on the table for his family, even if it meant he had to lie, cheat, or steal.
Recently, I’ve been forced into a tight spot, and have once again wrestled with the fine line between protecting my family or doing what’s right; maintaining my integrity, even when no one is looking. Cautiously, I have searched my soul, and have come to the conclusion that I must remain true to my core values. I tell the truth, because I have lied. I don’t cheat, because I have cheated. I don’t steal, because I have stolen. It certainly would be much easier to stand on the corner with a sign that said, “Will Lie for Food,” but for now, I’m sticking to my guns. Hopefully, we don’t starve.