Category: Life

Fathers Raising Fathers

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This past weekend, I spanked my son, which is one of only a few times over the course of his young life.  It broke his heart, and mine even more.  I lost sleep over it that night, woke up with it on my mind, and have thought about it many times since.  I desperately wish I could have taken it back.  He was over it a few minutes later, which adds to the many lessons I have learned being my son’s first time father.  He didn’t hold a grudge, and later that night told me how much he loved me.  He still smiles when I tell him he’s my hero; he is.

Like so many Dads, I only see my kids every other weekend, alternating holidays, and during the summer.  I’m very sensitive to the time we have together being quality time, free of distractions, or worse, constant entertainment.  We play outside, ride our bikes, go to the park, watch movies at home, and whatever else that allows us to engage as a family.  However, I’m likely more lenient than I would be if the kids lived with us full time.  I know how important discipline is, but don’t want our entire weekend to be full of timeouts, which wouldn’t be hard.  We try to be as consistent as possible, but avoid spankings nearly altogether.  I never want my children to be afraid of me.  I was on the receiving end of a few spankings growing up, one of which still haunts me.  I don’t harbor resentment, but wish I could have been there as an adult to protect the younger version of me.  When I have spanked either of my kids, I’m reminded of how I felt at five years old.

Parenting is the most difficult responsibility I have experienced thus far, and the most rewarding. As my journey continues, I am hopeful that I become the man my son wants to be.  Strong, meak, humble, loving, generous, and kind.  I often feel as if none of those words describe me, but I’m thankful for a child’s grace.

I’m thankful to be part of a generation of fathers who desire to be more than bread winners, but instead, available, interested, engaged, and who most of all put family first.  We are raising more than men; we are raising fathers.

Significance vs Success

It’s been more than a month since my last post, and it certainly hasn’t been because I haven’t had anything to say.  I settled a lawsuit with my previous employer, am back in court with my ex over money and custody issues (why wouldn’t I be,) and got into a bad business deal with my brother, which has caused further strain on our already fragile relationship.  However, in spite of what certainly could be considered a bad set of circumstances, I have been able to stay excited about some of the things I’ve been working on, particularly with acceptance, and my new found love for connecting people and accelerating businesses.  I’m having fun, and that’s ok with me.

However, what I am most excited about is the evolution that is taking place in my heart and mind around significance versus success.  For most of my life, I have pursued success as my ultimate goal, however, I’ve realized that significance is a far more rewarding prize.  There have been many successful men and women that have lived and died, most, you’ve never heard of, however, those that were most significant, who changed the world in some way, were mostly common people with extraordinary dreams and ideas.  I want to be one of those people.  I want to change the world.

When tomorrow never comes, my hope is that I gave more than I took, and led a life of significance in my home, community, and ultimately the world.  I don’t think this is an unachievable feat, as it has been done many times before.  It takes awareness, passion, and action.  Steve Jobs said, “Those that are crazy enough to think they can change the world, usually do.”  He was right.

I’m on to something, and the journey is just beginning.  Keep Calm & Carry On!

Will Lie for Food

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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.

Change Junkies

change-the-world.jpgI’ve joked about entrepreneurialism being a disease, a curse, and possibly even an addiction.  It’s no joke.  It is involuntary, and wreaks havoc on your body and mind.  At times, being an entrepreneur makes it difficult to be in the moment, or maintain a healthy work-life balance.  It requires that you take risks, which often times include those closest to you taking the same risks, whether they agreed to or not.  Entrepreneurs are innovators, problem solvers, have a high need for achievement, but most of all…are change junkies.  I absolutely love challenging the status quo, and exposing complacency.  I love to disrupt rhythms to find a rhyme or riddle for that matter.  Change is the catalyst to solving any problem, no matter the size, scope, or genre.  But change has a price, and it’s too high for most to consider.  For me, fear remains a constant reminder of my past and potential failures, but my disease is what drives me to change, grow, and repeat.  Life is collection of experiences, not things.  Without change, your collection will remain small.

Recently, I’ve been quite discouraged.  My income is hemorrhaging, I’m lacking in creativity, I’ve got writers block (fun to say that,) and many of my most recent deals have gone South.  But…I feel alive, and as crazy as it sounds, it’s times like these that require a tremendous amount of focus, determination, and work.  And I don’t mean mental masturbation…I mean get on the phone, get in front of the right people, ask for the order kind of work.  With cash reserves diminishing, that time is here for me and my house.

As I prepare to change my situation, I challenge you to do the same.  Let’s be change junkies together!  I promise, we’ll live to tell about it.

Also, if you want to help change the way the world looks at you and others, visitacceptance.org or facebook.com/acceptanceisbeautiful.

Write Your Own Damn Book

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Since writing my NTH post, there have been a number of responses; some of which were expected, and others more surprising.  There have been fleeting moments of regret, but I remain steadfast in my mission.  I met with my editor a couple of weeks ago for the first time.  He interviewed me for a couple of hours, and took several pages of notes.  Although we haven’t defined a core message for the book, we have some concepts to begin with, which I think will shape up nicely and be something worth reading.  What’s particularly interesting is that when I decided to write the memoir, I had no intentions of selling the book, or at least marketing it to sell, but I’ve been very encouraged by my supporters, and now feel a higher sense of accountability to ensure that whatever I write will be interesting and worthy of the couple dozen dollars someone may shell out to get a copy.  Nevertheless, I have my first assignment, which is to identify a core message, and write a 10 page introduction for the book.  The non-conformist in me would argue that it would be possible to have more than one main theme, however, I must defer to the experts I have asked to assist me, and wrestle with my conscious to identify the most urgent and important message I want to communicate, considering this may be my first and last book.  Instead of doing this on my own, I thought it might be interesting to request feedback from my supporters by inquiring what you would be most interested in reading about.  Here are my top three potential core messages for the book.  Have a look, and leave a comment below this post should you feel compelled to do so.

  • Importance of self-worth and self-acceptance – Arguably, my low self esteem has been the primary driver to become an over-achiever in anything and everything I have done.  I’ve never been the smartest, or most talented, but my need for approval manufactured a grit-like quality that allowed me to achieve success in many ways, or alternatively blow mounds of money to gain acceptance and/or approval.  Go big or go home is an understatement when fumbling to find the write words to describe my over-the-top style.  However, once I was able to expose this deficiency, it has allowed me to grow in many ways, and redefine what is most important to me while I’m here on earth, and what I want to leave behind when I leave it.
  • Transparency – For the majority of my life, I’ve always been very forward and direct.  I don’t like small talk, and have never been afraid to speak my mind, however, I didn’t come to know the value of transparency until early adulthood.  When you expose your own fears, weaknesses, and sin, it can create a sense of intimacy only described by experience.  Unfortunately, the flip-side is that transparency can get you cut out of deal, betrayed, judged, and worst of all, killed.  Telling the truth can get you hurt, but living a lie is much worse.
  • Doing the right thing – Anyone who knows me well, knows that doing the right thing is extremely important to me.  At times, I have chosen not to do the right thing, but when possible, I’ve made things right.  A person might think that doing the right thing will result in good things happening, but in my experience, it’s been quite the opposite, especially from an outward perspective.  We have opportunities to do the right thing every day, and more often than not, people choose to do what’s best for them.  Yes, we are selfish creatures, but I plan to spend the rest of my life attempting to prove up that doing the right thing is what matters most.

No matter the core message, my life stories will be interwoven throughout the book, as to draw reflection and perspective to the main theme. I also need to identify who my main audience is.  This is particularly tough for me, because I think my story has potential to appeal to many demographics, and especially young adults, as well as men and women alike.  However, it would be interesting to hear from those that do find what I have to say appealing and why.  Thanks in advance for your help, and for being part of the journey.

The Gift of Giving

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Tomorrow is Christmas.  It’s a day of giving and receiving.  In addition to the presents under the tree, perhaps we could give…

  • The forgiveness we’ve been witholding
  • Another chance to a loved one who deserves it
  • A hot meal to someone who is hungry
  • A random act of kindness to a stranger
  • Our kids some quality time
  • Our family a break
  • Our feelings a vacation
  • Ourselves some quiet time

Take a moment this Christmas to remember what matters most.  Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Daniel, Ashley, Kyson, & Sariah…oh and Sadie (our dog) and Kikki Reece (our new cat)

The Secret Sauce

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Many times over my entreprenuial career I’ve been asked what the secret to success is, and most often my response would be…”you need to work hard, work smart, leverage your time…” or some other lame arse answer.  Although all of that may have something to do with it, for me, I think what has allowed me to be successful is a combination of the following, among other things.

Risk Perception – No one in my family had ever graduated from High School, much less college.  It wasn’t something anyone talked about.  Frankly, had I not played baseball at an above average level, I would have most likely never went to college.  I sold candy out of a backpack in Junior High, cut lawns in High School, and started my first business when I was a sophmore in College.  I never thought that any of this was abnormal.  It wasn’t until several years later as I started to become more worldly did I discover that my course was a bit different than most.  However, it would also be fair to say that my risk perception was primarily due to ignorance rather than fearlessness; at least earlier in my career.  The point is that I never perceived any risk to any of my initial endevours; I didn’t know any better or any different.  Thank God!

Failure – Fear of failure is what prevents most people from taking action.  For me, experiencing failure is what has allowed me to survive and thrive.  Failure is part of learning.  No one has ever been great at anything the first time they’ve tried.  Failing in business can certainly carry a heavy stigma, especially if bankruptcy is involved, however, life goes on.  I don’t like to fail, but having experienced it many times, makes it a bit easier to accept, learn from it, and move on.  I’m grateful for my failed experiences.

Narcissism – Earlier this year I was ordered to be evaluated by a pshycologist.  The results indicated that I am slightly narcissistic.  For someone who has spent a considerable amount of time aspiring to be a servant leader, and who values humility above all other human qualities, this was a bit difficult to learn.  I plan to dive down into this more in another blog, or possibly in the book, but for now let’s just say that I am coming to terms with the fact that there may be some truth to the doctor’s opinion.  I am not admitting nor denying, just keeping an open mind.  There’s no doubt I have always had a lot of confidence, which should never be confused with self worth.  I have an average IQ (115,) but although never tested, I would say that I have an above average EQ and SQ.  Put all this together, and you may have a narcissit, or just a healthy balance of confidence and intellegence.  I’m hoping for the latter.

Timing – I responded to a late night infomercial to become an independent Internet consultant when I was 19 years old.  I managed to spread the $3k sign up fee over 3 credit cards and 90 days later the company was bankrupt.  I had sold only one web site, which the company I was selling for was going to build.  Considering the fact that they were now out of busienss, I had to make other arrangements.  I taught myself HTML and managed to put together a website for my customer on my own.  Three years later, I had 100 employees, and was the president of a company I helped take public and had built thousands of websites.  Timing is everything.

Action – I have an attitude of action and a high sense of urgency.  Paralysis of analysis can be fatal.  The guy that cuts my hair is a brilliant entrepreneur that has never owned a business.  I encourage him all the time to stop talking about it, and do something.  Taking action can be difficult, but you can’t steal second with your foot on first.  Do something.

Long before I knew the value of people, system and processes, sustainable financial models, culture, brand building, etc., I could only do one thing, and that was to take action.  If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, or want to be a world champion bobsledder, you must take action.  No one is going to do it for you, and unfortunately, there is NO SECRET SAUCE.

Nigerian Nightmare

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Last night, I watched a documentary on Enron.  It reminded me how hypnotizing greed can be.  It can make even the most scenical of skeptics surrender to it’s charm, and I am no exception.  Ten years ago, I got caught up in a Nigerian scam.  It involved a bogus multi-million dollar contract from a major oil company, $10,000 in cash concealed in two first class dopp kits, a Nigerian chief, and a Montblanc pen.  The story is quite incredible, and ends with me escaping in the middle of the night from my hotel in Warri to avoid being kidnapped.  Perhaps I’ll spend a couple of hours one day inventorying the events of my Nigerian nightmare, but I mainly wanted to make it known that I’m no stranger to greed.  The deal reeked like a dead fish, and I sank my teeth in.

On more than one occassion, I’ve described greed as the gremlin that crawls up your back, looks you in the eye and tells you that you deserve more.  Like the line in the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, when the young actor asks his nemisis what his number is, and he says “more.”  More is never enough.

I’m no politician, nor am I the next Robin Hood, but I think there may be something magical about repressing greed.  I’ve never experienced or heard of anyone on their death bed wishing they had time to earn more, get more, or spend more.  Sure, I want nice things for my family, and myself, but not at any cost.

So to all the other conservative liberals, and capitalistic democrats out there…give generously, do the right thing, and hang on to your soul; you may need your ticket punched some day.

Broke-down, Busted, and Adjusted

At 21, I was the president of a company that I helped take public. We had a couple of hundred employees, several offices, and not unlike most Internet companies, no earnings. A year later, I decided to buy my first home. The purchase price was much more than I could afford, and it took three mortgages to get the deal done. I had five cars that all had notes, and a lifestyle I could not afford. There are probably posters still floating around with my face on them, and the caption, “Live the American Dream; Spend More Than You Make.” Needless to say, less than three years later, I was broke. All of my cars were repossessed, and I narrowly avoided foreclosure. Over the next several years, I painfully managed to pay off all my creditors and become debt free. Thank you Dave Ramsey.

More than a decade later, I found myself in a similar situation for a much different reason. I bet it all on a company that I knew would be successful. However, my lack of experience, and market conditions, put me in a very compromising situation. I owed millions, and the economic vacuum that existed within our company would not allow us to pay down debt, and make money simultaneously. I had two options; sell the business, or file bankruptcy. Each had it’s advantages, and although there were two options, I had only one choice.

Being an entrepreneur, and being a good money manager are two very different things. The former requires vision, dreaming big, and action. The latter requires discipline, determination, and a plan. However, both require math, as does just about every aspect of our lives. I have to work very hard to stay disciplined in my spending, however, in order for us to rebuild America together, we must develop and maintain healthy personal and professional budgets. It doesn’t mean we can’t have what we want, but it may mean we have to wait. Waiting isn’t so bad.

Black Power

Many people in the world have never seen a black American Express card.  I was one of those people up until a few years ago.  It’s interesting however that few people know what really qualifies someone to be “invited” to receive one, and entertaining to hear things like, “wow, a black card? dude that card has no limit. i know a guy that bought a Porsche with one of those.”  The fact is that to receive an “invitation” to receive a black American Express card, or a Centurion card, you need to first have a platinum card, charge $250,000 in an annual calendar year and repay it on time each month.  To be clear, you don’t have to spend $250k per month, but in annual calendar year, which is approximately $20k/month.  You then pay an initiation fee of $5,000 to receive your card, and an additional $2,500 per year to keep your card.

The black card has no material differences than a platinum card, with the exception of the actual material of the card, which is titanium.  It has a limit as well, and is not like any other AMEX card in that respect.  Your limit is established by spending patterns, and your credit profile.  Bottom line, it’s a status symbol.  It says to anyone that sees it or receives it as a form of payment that the person whose name is engraved on the bottom has more money than they have sense, or low self esteem, or both.  For me it was the latter.

My black card represented to others that I was important, successful, and it made me feel powerful.  I would rarely flaunt the card, but certainly wouldn’t be disappointed to see the response on a server’s face when I handed her the card, or the occasional, “Hendu, breaking out the black…big timer,” from a friend who was digging on me, but in some way less secure about themselves because I had a black card and they didn’t.  Silly really, but true.

I cancelled my Centurion card many times and then had it reinstated over the past few years.  I knew that the card represented my alter ego, a false identity, and a shot of self esteem on demand.  It was my Golden Calf.  I must admit that writing this has been something I’ve procrastinated for a long time, but it’s what I’ve needed to do even longer.

No more black card for me.  I plan to continue my journey of self-improvement, which includes establishing a healthy sense of self-worth.  This may be a surprise to many that I struggle with self-esteem, but stay tuned to my blog, and you’ll learn a lot more about me.  You may also learn something about yourself.