I’ve already written about my personal growth philosophy and the investments toward my health and retirement I make on a regular basis, but as I thought more about the single best investment I’ve ever made, I remembered something about how I got into my career in the first place.
About 20 years ago I spent $1.00 on a copy of the local newspaper, took it home, and started reading the “Help Wanted” section. I had jumped through 3 different jobs in the last year or so trying to find my passion, and it wasn’t working in a warehouse. Printed there in tiny text in a small box containing less than 20 words, was an ad that said “Looking for Computer Technician. Desktops, Servers. Bob’s Computers. Call Bob at (phone).”
I checked the phone book for the company address. Bingo. I wrote the address down on a piece of scrap paper. I typed up a short resume and printed it out.
I wasn’t going to call, I was just going to show up, because that’s what really ambitious and serious people do, I told myself.
I spit-shined the one pair of dress shoes I owned.
I ironed a pair of slacks. Being pretty hot out I thought I would skip the jacket.
I threw a tie on.
I drove to the small office park where Bob’s Computers was. Or, as I would soon find out, where it used to be. I walked inside and down the hall to the correct suite, there was even a small sign on the wall, “Bob’s Computers, Suite #”. It was around 10am and the door was locked and the lights were off.
I rang the doorbell.
I knocked on the door a few times.
I waited maybe 2 minutes which felt like 20.
I knocked on the door a few more times. Rap, rap, rap.
I slouched and thought about what to do with the rest of my day.
A tan gentleman in his early 40s wearing a white polo tucked into blue jeans stepped out into the hallway from the suite across the hall.
“You looking for Bob?” he said.
I looked past him briefly, “Joe’s Computers, Suite #”. I stood up straight, looked him in the eye, and responded, “Yes sir, is he out with a customer?”
“Nope, Bob’s out of business. Just the last week or two. You aren’t a customer, are you?”
“No sir, I was hoping to apply for a job. He put in an ad in the paper looking for a Computer Technician.”
“Well I don’t think he’s looking any more. Where are you from? What’s your background?”
“About 10 minutes up the road. Mostly Windows, some business software, I’ve written some small business tools mostly in VBA, accounting automation, that sort of thing,” I handed him my resume. He glanced at it for all of 10 seconds before turning and opening the door behind him. He held the door open with his foot, turned back to me, and put out his hand to shake mine. I shook his hand, of course.
“Good. Come on in. I’m Joe. You know all this stuff? Why the heck have you been unloading trucks? And lose the tie, it’s like 95 out!”
I shrugged, pulled off the tie, and followed him in.
I started the next day and worked every minute he had work for me. Early mornings, nights, weekends, at first under his other Engineers with anywhere from 10 to 30 years of tech experience, and then with him directly. First for $9/hr and soon for $20/hr. When everyone else was done for the day, we’d stay late and talk shop.
Only three months later, with a $1500 bonus and at Joe’s insistence that I was brilliant and could do better than a small computer shop in town, I went back to college. I continued working. Sometimes on my own, or with partners, or as an employee, rolling each of those experiences into the next one, and here we are today.
Best $1.00 I ever spent.