A year ago I suddenly blurted out that I was going to sell everything in Montana, get an RV, and travel about the country interviewing people. Here is a look back at the life events that prepared me for this adventure and life purpose.
Hindsight is always 20/20.
As I look backwards from the high ground of 2020, I can see that the path to American Gumption has been a life long pursuit.
A year ago I suddenly blurted out that I was going to sell everything in Montana, get an RV, and travel about the country interviewing people. It was a pivotal moment but it’s delusional to believe that the idea suddenly popped into my head when I blurted it out that warm spring day.
The reality is it’s been a lifetime in the making. Below are a list of memories or events that somehow in their own unique – and small – way contributed to this moment. I won’t try to justify or explain why they were significant, but trust that the experience itself did contribute.
I feel it’s important to acknowledge a few things before getting to the contributing list.
- I believe we all have a life purpose
- I believe all events in a person’s life occur for a reason … even if that reason is not understood at the time of it’s happening
- I believe events and experiences build upon each other. In other words, it’s impossible to go directly from A to D, but it is possible to go from A to B, from B to C, and then from C to D.
- Attempting to force things to happen from a thinking and doing mindset is difficult and takes a long, long time.
- Allowing things to happen by trusting one’s instinct and intuition and then recognizing opportunities and seizing them with action is a quicker and easier approach.
If all of the above is true, then I’m at the perfect place at the perfect time to begin this American Gumption project.
Here is my list of significant life events – or moments – that form the genesis of the American Gumption project:
- My father was a planner and builder and doer. At my core I’m similar.
- My mother was a thinker, feeler, and communicator with a rock solid faith. At my core I’m similar.
- Age 18: I purchased a Dodge van, customized it to travel, and planned a cross-country trip over the next three years.
- Age 21: I took a 3-month trip cross country visiting all the major National Parks. During the 90-day adventure, 32 nights were spent in the backcountry backpacking and camping.
- Age 22: Returned to school (community college) after a 4-year sojourn following my HS graduation.
- Age 22: Transferred to California for a 6-month assignment. Upon arrival, the job was cancelled, rather than return to Pennsylvania I quit the job and stayed in CA trusting I was intended to start a new life.
- Age 22: Quit my first job in CA after 1 day because it was too much like the job I had the previous 5 yrs in PA. I knew I was destined for a change.
- Age 28: Left a 6-yr job as a facility manager for my first sales position. This was a shift from blue collar to white collar.
- Age 32: Left paid jobs (i.e. working for someone) to becoming an independent, commissioned-only sales or independent contractor.
- Age 35: Graduated San Jose State (B.S. Business – Marketing) after 13 years. This proved my ability to set a long-term goal and practice the skill of stick-to-it-tive-ness.
- Age 37: Began 15-yr career as independent contractor working for Bubba Gump as their Forrest Gump. This represented a shift from selling to performing/entertaining.
- Age 38-51: Made 100s of live TV & radio appearances representing BGS. Perfected ability to both stay-on-message and improv
- Age 37-52: Had 1 million plus interactions on-the-bench as Forrest Gump. Learned how to read people, control situations, and remain present.
- Age 48: Decided to become a professional speaker in my post Bubba Gump career
- Age 48-50: Commuted between California and Montana living part-time in both.
- Age 50: Moved full-time to Montana. Went from not knowing a single person in the state a few year earlier to providing leadership in my local community a few short years later.
- Age 50: Spent a year of intense personal development work under the tutelage of Landmark Education
- Age 53: Post Bubba Gump and living/feeling very alone in Montana — realized I didn’t have a clue who I was after 15 yrs of portraying a fictional character
- Age 55: Recognized I was excellent at big-picture analysis/planning but not so keen on the nitty-gritting implementation and execution of other’s ideas
- Age 56: After 5+ yrs of development my message of Gumption and the Movie Life Lessons crystalized and became truly my own
- Age: 56-58: Mastered hosting of conferences and events in addition to keynote speaking
- Age 58: Stopped drinking alcohol reasoning that I’ve already consumed my fair share to age 80 in only 58 short years … open to becoming a social drinker again at age 81
- Age: 58: Shift towards Ambassador where I could work for one (or a few) organizations on a long-term, on-going basis
- Age: 55-59: An overwhelming feeling that I need to do something important with the remaining productive years of my life; aligned with the concept of Saturn’s 2nd Return
- Age 59: Resigned from two different long-term volunteer positions knowing that my continued involvement would not give me the freedom necessary to act on a future – yet-to-be-determined – opportunity
- Age 59: Started selling equipment and things that had been acquired for my Montana move but were sitting idle, rusting, and feeling like an albatross
- Age 60: Received a visit from a friend traveling the USA in a mini-camper seeing sites and friends … recognized the beauty and freedom of his adventure
- Age 60: While walking my property with a couple who was there to purchase some of my woodworking equipment, they inquired about the property – and if it was for sale – that was moment I blurted out I’d like to sell the property, walk away, and travel the country for the next several years in a RV
- Age 60: Made decision to sell all the rest of my Montana stuff and go on the road full-time
- Age 61: Publicly started sharing my intentions to leave via FB messenger on my 61st birthday
- Age 61: Left Montana; temporarily landed in Pennsylvania with family
- Age 61: Put in place the technology backend for Gumption Brands and membership websites
- Age 62: Publicly announced the official launch of my American Gumption project on the new AmericanGumption website in conjunction with my 62nd birthday
- To be continued …