Ken’s Story – Firing The Man Podcast

Ken: (00:00)
What else do you do? So I signed up for the army, so I’ve always wanted to own my own business. Since I was picking potatoes at seven, I had my first hundred dollars day. That was a bump my first thousand dollar day, you know, and it just, and it just progressively built

Intro: (00:14)
welcome everyone to the podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and to know you are capable of more than join us, this show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs, David Schomer and Ken Wilson.

David: (00:38)
So on today’s podcast we’re going to talk to Ken, get to know Ken, his background, his upbringing. Ken I think a critical part of your stories, your upbringing. So let’s start there. Tell me about your childhood.

Ken: (00:52)
So my childhood, I uh, I grew up in a small rural town in Eastern Missouri, about 60 miles West of St Louis and there were about 220 people in the town. So it was massive town, we pretty much entertained ourselves by playing in cornfields and, digging trenches and, you know, it was a lot fun, lots of kids in the neighborhood. So yeah. And I have a, I have eight siblings. I had to think about that one. And I have eight siblings. So there was always something going on around my house. There was always somebody to play with, somebody to hang out with, um, someone to get into trouble with.

Ken: (01:34)
So yeah, I was, I spent most of my childhood outside, that’s a terror, terrorizing the neighborhood and getting into trouble and projects. I have an older brother and him and I would always, we would find things, build things. And you know, we played sports just like most kids. I think I was seven or eight and the neighbor, my neighbor said, Hey, you know, uh, I need someone to help me pick potatoes in the garden and I’ll pay you a dollar. And at that time that was a lot of money. I was like, all right. So I would consider that my first job, I was probably seven or eight and I got a, I worked for probably two to three hours and I picked, I don’t know, a hundred pounds of potatoes, load them up, put them on her porch, and she gave me the, it was actually a okay.

Ken: (02:30)
Oh, I think one of those like a golden dollar, like a, like a, a coin, a dollar coin. So at the time I was like sweet, took it home, had my chest puffed out. I said, look mom, I just got a dollar for a picking a hundred pounds of potatoes for, you know, the neighbor. And my mom said, well, you have to get that back. You should do nice things for people. And that was so foreign to my brain of giving money back after working really, really hard. But I did, I listened to my mom and I, and I took it back.

David: (03:05)
Very nice. Very nice. You grew up in a small town. Yeah. What was next? After I went to high school. What’d you do after high school?

Ken: (03:13)
Yeah, so after high school I went to community college for a couple of years. I got a job. So I was working full time going to college. Uh, you know, the job that I had was in a, it was in a, a clean room environment and I mean I, I had multiple jobs, but the, the main, the main job I had a after high school was in a a clean room. And, you know, I was just like any other job that you have, it was not something that I, I was really thrilled about and I needed, I knew I was like, you know, I’m not going to do this for a long time. Mind you, I need to go to school and learn and, and uh, you know, and prove myself. So went to community college for awhile and uh, I actually got laid off in the .com bust of 2001.

David: (04:00)
No kidding.

Ken: (04:01)
And, uh, at that time I, I had an associates degree and I, I was like, well, am I going to do so know I, decided to put the chips on the table and join the army and uh, you know, travel the world.

David: (04:18)
All right and what, year, was that, that you join the army?

Ken: (04:22)
That was in 2001.

David: (04:23)
okay. pardon me. I don’t know my history that well. Where we at war with anybody?

Ken: (04:31)
No, so funny you mentioned that, you know, I signed up personally to, to get free education. Like I said, at the time I had an associates degree and I knew I wanted to go further in my education and I wanted to travel the world. So I signed up in a, what’s called the delayed entry program where you can, you get six months to kind of wrap up your affairs and everything. I had a house to sell. I was I believe I was 24 at the time. So it wasn’t like, I was 18 and at home I had a house and a job. Well I didn’t have a job I was laid off, but I had a house and car and everything. So I spent six months, you know, kind of prepping to leave, uh, getting in shape, running and uh, September 11th, I’m pretty sure everybody’s aware of that.

Ken: (05:13)
I was actually getting new carpet in my house to sell it and I was leaving in less than 30 days for the army and we had no TVs plugged in because we were getting new flooring, in the condo. And immediately, you know, one of the carpet guys said, Hey there’s, he heard on the radio, Hey there, there was a plane that hit the trade center. I was like, no holy crap and then about five, 10 minutes later, another guy comes in and said, Hey, a second plane hit the hit the a building in New York not and so we got a TV out, plugged it in and I knew right then and there I was, I was going to go to war.

David: (05:53)
Now what was going through your head? You have six months to get your affairs in order. And during that time, America is attacked.

Ken: (06:00)
Well, a lot of things like, like what the hell happened? Who did this? I had every intention to travel the world and, but at that point I knew, I always think like, well, someone, someone has to do it, someone has to go. And you know, I have a large family and I thought, well, if someone has to go do this, it might as well be me and sure. It’s scary and you know, you question everything, but at the end of the day, you know, you have to step to the plate and, and deliver, so. I was like, you know, I just bit down on it and I just plowed forward so.

David: (06:34)
All right, now what, what comes next? You sell your house, you show up to bootcamp?

Ken: (06:38)
Yeah, so I sold the house and before I went to boot camp I had a, I jetted away to Vegas and watched a UFC that was absolutely amazing. Before I left for bootcamp. So yeah, show up to Bootcamp, do the, do the whole bit, you know, get screamed at, run around and I had a recurring nightmare at bootcamp where I would dream that I signed up for the army.

Speaker 1: (07:05)
I would, I would have nightmares about signing up for the army and, and that I was in bootcamp and then I would wake up in bootcamp.

David: (07:15)
Oh, no.

Ken: (07:17)
So, uh, so I, yeah, I was in Georgia for I believe a total of 11 months. Bootcamp was only three months. I actually, I think it was 10 weeks, I can’t remember. Uh, and then I, and then I had, um, signal training. I was a communication specialist in the military. So I stayed for about five or six, five, five months for, you know, my job training and then another month for a satellite training. And then at that point they sent me to Germany. So I went to a unit in Germany. My unit, I believe that we deployed within a year of me being in Germany. So went to, we went to a, we deployed to Kuwait and we staged in Kuwait, uh, for the invasion and for the next, you know, in the next 12 months I spent, you know, in various sites in, in Iraq as a communication specialist providing phones and internet to the warfighters.

Ken: (08:15)
And it was quite an experience. And I have a lot of, I have a lot of friends still to this day and uh, yeah. It’s okay. Yeah. It’s an experience that, you know, it’s something that I do not regret it. Something that I wouldn’t want to do again, but um, yeah, I mean everything is for a reason, so.

David: (08:33)
Awesome. Awesome. Well thank you for your service. Yeah. And what comes next?

Ken: (08:38)
I get out of the army and I believe it was 2005, 2006 range. I get, I land a job with the department of defense, you know I had a top secret clearance so that I leveraged that to get a job. And uh, I got a job with the department of defense. I’m working in communications and uh, finished my degree, a bachelor’s degree and I went into a cybersecurity program. Uh, I’m in a master’s in cybersecurity. Uh, I got about a year into that.

Ken: (09:08)
This was all while working full time for the department of defense. I got a year into the cybersecurity program and, and I realized the only jobs at that time for the program that I was in were on the East coast for the department of defense. I saw the writing on the wall that I was going to have to drive an hour and a half or two hours, one way to the Pentagon or to whatever unnamed location that I had to go to for work. I’m sure you’re aware of Edward Snowden and, and those types of programs. So some of the work that I was doing was, was, it was with those types of programs and I had a, the program that I was in was going to push me deeper into that space and I, and I didn’t like that. I didn’t feel good with that. It was, it was that along with, you know, not, not wanting to move, relocate to the East coast.

Ken: (09:57)
That just made me, uh, switched switch directions a little bit. So, uh, I believe it was 20011. I decided to switch from government work to commercial work and then I switched to, uh, working for a commercial telecom company.

David: (10:17)
Okay. Okay. And you’ve, you’ve been there ever since?

Ken: (10:19)
I have been there ever since. Yes.

David: (10:21)
Okay. So when we, we’re talking about starting a podcast, you threw out the name firing the man and uh, we looked at each other and said, that’s it. That’s the name. Tell me about that. Tell me about firing the man, your goals and what ultimately led you to e-commerce.

Ken: (10:40)
Yeah, so, so my father, he, you know, he worked in a factory his entire life actually the same company. So, you know, that generation, I, I don’t want to generalize, Idon’t want to generalize people, but my father’s generation, that’s what they did.

Ken: (10:55)
They, they got a job and they stuck with it and they worked there for your entire career. I saw the writing on the wall. The companies that I’ve worked for, you know, they’re, they’re starting to eat away at the benefits. You know, you don’t get raises, you for our generation, you have to move and switch jobs and, and you know, you have to hustle to get ahead. And I, you know, I just did not want to stay at the same company and just Barely get ahead my whole life. So I had a couple of significant events in my life. You know, I had a, a good friend of mine that passed away with cancer, his name was Paul. And that really resonated with me. Like, Hey, you know, like what am I going to do? Like you know, I, I had all these thoughts, I’ve always wanted to own my own business since I was picking potatoes at seven.

Ken: (11:44)
Was a lack of confidence that always, um, it was in that that little voice in the back of your brain is saying, Hey, nah, you can’t do that. No. Stop. Don’t think that way. Um, well finally, yeah. You know, I said, Hey, it’s, it’s time to, you know, shit or get off the pot. Right, as my mom would say, it was a January of 2018 and I, I was on, uh, Christmas break and I always spend a lot of time with my kids and I think I was thumbing through YouTube videos and I ran across a YouTube video about you know, this, this guy selling on Amazon and in his garage was a Lambo. And I was like, if this kid can do that, I can too and at that point in time, I pretty much drilled into that specific space and for the next three months I learned everything I could about it.

Ken: (12:48)
And within three, I launched my business in February and I believe it was mid-May 2018 I made more, more money on my business than I did at my day job. And at that point in time, I went all in. I knew like I had the confidence at that point like, Hey, I can do this. I know I can do this. I’m going to go all in along the way, there was lots of, uh, you know, mentors and lots of books. Uh, I think we talked prior. Mmm. Rich dad, poor dad. I read that book and that had a, had a massive impact on me. Okay. Tons of other books a lot along the way. But yeah, and in general that, that was kind of you know the triggering events for me.

David: (13:36)
Okay. And you know, in hindsight you’ve been, you’ve been doing e-commerce for quite some time now. Uh, in hindsight, are you glad you did it?

Ken: (13:46)
Absolutely. I, the only, the only regret that I have is not to do it, not to have started earlier.

David: (13:55)
Talking about that lack of confidence and I know that was some certainly experienced, you know, my background is accounting. What, what businesses and accountant have selling online. Would you say that, that your background prepared you at all for e-commerce or was it mostly self taught?

Ken: (14:11)
I have pulled a lot of experience from all the jobs I’ve had in my life. And as I reflect back on, you know, I’ve had tons of jobs. I sold peaches at a roadside stand. I’ve umpired baseball, I’ve refereed soccer, you know, I’ve worked in you know, a half dozen fast food restaurants. I drove a forklift for a while in a warehouse. I was an asphalt laborer for one summer. You know, I worked on roof tear offs. Uh, I was a dishwasher at a truck stop. Um, I had a lawn care business for one summer. Uh, I worked in a warehouse, stocking shelves. I am doing the shipping and receiving and you know, probably the probably the most classic job that I, that I had. Oh, you can laugh, you want it. It’s, it’s all good. Uh, but I went to the store, my, my older sisters were in girl Scouts and I think I was probably like six maybe or seven in that range. Eight, something like that. And they were just standing there like standing there with the with a stand and a box, a stack of cookies, hoping that someone would stop by and by , you know, and I was just sitting there and I was like, how are we going to, you know, I was like, how are we going to sell those?

Ken: (15:25)
And my mom’s like, they’re selling them like that. And I was like, Oh hell no. So I grabbed two boxes of cookies and ran out to where the shoppers were coming in and out. And I started saying, you want to buy a girl scout cookies? And within two hours I sold more girl scout cookies than any of the girl Scouts. You know, David. And another thing that’s been very crucial, you know, in my life and in certain sections is to surround myself with likeminded, positive people. You know, my girlfriend, she’s been super supportive and it’s really nice to have that support system surrounding you. You know, in fact, it’s crucial to have a good support system to support you and motivate you and you know, just kind of build your momentum and, uh, you know, believe in you that you’re going to succeed. So you, that, like I said, that just surrounding myself with, with supportive, positive people has been a game changer. If you liked today’s episode, please smash the subscribe button.

David: (16:21)