I remember the first time I heard that expression, “The Man.” I had been talking with a high school friend of mine and he was referring to his current employer. At that time, it seemed sort of odd and awkward, like walking with a cane. Who was this “man” I wondered. And why hadn’t I connected with his existence in this way yet?
Well, for starters, I think I was still in grad school living the good life. Nothing to do but study, drink beer, and teach while learning how to write very long papers about muscle fiber types, caffeine and performance and any other topic that I found of interest and deserving of my time spent in the library.
At that time, I really wanted to finish grad school, find a job teaching and coaching and take my summers off to surf and live the good California life I had grown up in. Of course, destiny had other ideas and like so many others before me, I was drawn in to working for “The Man” without even realizing it.
Slowly though the entrepreneurial fire burned inside me like a bonfire on the beach and during long walks in Golden Gate Park with my wife Laura, I fantasized about the business I own today. It took about 15 years, a move to Madison, WI and a final job for “The Man” at the University of Wisconsin, but I finally mustered the courage to go it alone, leverage my entire financial life and make something of myself.
It Hasn’t Been Easy…
For those of you who have shared a similar journey, I know you can relate to the challenges. Small business is a soldier’s work. The problem is that an entrepreneur is as far from a soldier as that old surf board in my office is from the beach. There’s more to running a business than fire and creativity. There’s a discipline that I’m still trying to come to terms with. Not to mention an entire set of business skills that they don’t teach you in an Exercise Physiology program at San Jose State.
In spite of these sobering truths, I wouldn’t trade my position for the one that no doubtedly awaits me underneath the watchful eye of “The Man.” The fruit is harder to find here, but when you do, it’s the sweetest around.