It was the same plane that he crashed into the mountains killing his wife and dog..
The question was posed, "What accomplishment did I experience together with a friend, colleague or family member? I have had so many accomplishments and failures in my life it would be impossible to choose just one so I'll share one that stands out.
I was building a marketing company, LTA Media, from my apartment kitchen table right after suffering a devastating bankruptcy due to the Savings and Loan debacle in 1989. The complete story goes beyond belief but for the sake of brevity this story is about the accomplishment itself rather than the incredible events along the way. That story WILL be told later.
I started the company with $500 loaned to me by my brother Jim. Christine and I booked well-known motivational gurus on radio talk shows. Instead of charging my gurus a placement fee I made a deal to share in the revenue generated from sales of their books and tapes from the shows. It was a breakthrough idea at the time and attracted the biggest and the best to my roster. Nobody had offered such a risk-free opportunity before. I was confident enough to try.
I grew the company quickly and was doing well. In fact, so well my phones rang beyond what Cristine, Justin, my brother Joe and niece Heather could handle. We needed someone to build a call center. Our sales manager from my sign business, Rob Graham, was struggling with a start up at the time and he agreed to use some of his office space to take the calls. Rob was amazing. Eventually he built one of the largest centers in the country with over 1,000 seats. We made a lot of money together proudly.
Then the first Gulf War hit when all talk shows focused on the war. I couldn't place any of my roster on their shows and it pretty much put me out of business instantly.
That is, until one of my clients, JB Lauchner, asked if he could become a partner to bring his skills at building business after the sale. He believed I had the best front end business model he had ever seen but nothing was being done to nurture the customer after they had their product.He said that if we had a continuity program in place we wouldn't have been so devastated by world events such as the war or others. So, we made a deal where he would share all additional revenue 50/50 beyond the front end sale.
Here left to right is Me, JB at the helm of my boat, and Rob, together at the lake house. Amazing ideas flowed from these caual think tanks.
It was excruciating trying to get the business growing without any real revenue flowing at the time. With persistence and his amazing marketing skills we broke through and ended up building a marketing empire which included my own hosted radio talk show, "Let's Talk America" that aired on over 450 stations in the US and Canada.
It was a real challenge that JB, Rob and I managed to adapt to and flourish. With his profits JB bought an airplane franchise, Lancair Southwest, to sell the most sophisticated private plane ever built. Tragically, it was this very airplane that he crashed into the mountains of Southern California, killing him, his wife and family dog.
It shocked me and Christine beyond measure and took away any motivation to continue the business. Our attention turned to making a difference in a vintage mountain village in the foothills of the Smokies where we could help the locals build an economy and preserve their heritage. This led to my interest in preserving the heritage of the world and the development of the Living Legacy Project.
JB's influence played a key role in this Project too. After his death it was his estate planner who introduced me to Dennis Stack, who had been training hospice volunteers to record stories for their patients to be given them to the family. He had the experience I needed to build the "purpose" of the Project and I had the experience to bring it to market.
A lot has happened since we began and the challenges have been far greater than anticipated with the economic crisis and all. I expect to be writing another accomplishment story about this project one day soon. Only this one will be about moving a mountain against and economic tide that has never been seen since the Great Depression. In the end we'll make a real difference in the world and I have JB, Rob, Dennis and Christine to thank for putting me in position to do it.
Entrepreneurs, unfettered by governmental regulations, are what made our country the greatest in the world. I dearly hope that the "Legacy Project" is successful, not only in being profitable but in providing a true legacy for future generations that may well exist nowhere else. Thanks for starting it.
Little by little, I'm learning about a man who has been knocked down, got up, knocked down again; and gets up ready to face the next punch.