The Full Story
I had decided to put down the guitar. It was time to grow up and focus on my real job. I was a young attorney who after ten months without a single job offer, suddenly found myself starting my first professional job at a small law firm in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. It became real when I received those business cards from the owner of the firm, with my name and the word "attorney" next to it. I would get paid six figures a year to sit at my desk in my little office and watch the world go by, as I advised the rich on how to get richer. This continued for about two and a half years. While thankful for the job, my life seemed to amount to little more than 52 weeks per year, 40 hours each week, in a prison of glass walls, and conversations about money, money, money.
And then I had a bigger "problem." The Founder, who worked in the basement of the law firm that doubled as a CPA firm, would not leave me alone. We hit it off right away, talking about his time growing up in Hawaii, surfing, playing guitar and how "they" wanted to take our freedoms away. It was very obvious to us. I think the boss of the law firm/ CPA firm preferred we pipe down and get back to work.
Still, I was intrigued by his story. He told me, years ago, he teamed up with two of his buddies with little more than a dream and managed to build many of the biggest condominium complexes at the lake and he made a boat load of money doing it. But he told me a fancy boat, big lake home, and fat salary didn't make him happy. In fact, it was often the opposite. Soon, the economy tanked. To build the condos, his company had taken out loans from banks. But the condos were no longer selling in a bad economy. Seemingly overnight, his money disappeared and his marriage, too.
I got the sense that through all the highs and lows of his life, there was one thing he always truly wanted to do. Make music. He would come into my office, hand me a CD, and encourage me to listen in my car while I drove home from work. The CDs had songs he had written. I soon learned he had lots of songs he had written over the years. He used to tell me, "They're all good songs."
Sometimes he performed the songs using his own vocals and guitar, but he also recruited others into his world of music and art. Really, anyone who would listen. His daughter drew art for his CD cover. A Grammy-winning artist performed an instrumental on one his songs. A lady who had appeared on the X-Factor in front of Simon Cowell performed vocals on his CD. The lead singer and guitarist of the best bar band in town performed a searing guitar solo. An entrepreneur and coffee shop owner that slapped a little bass guitar, and general jack of all trades, eventually became the bassist of his band.
But what were all these people recruited to exactly? What was the goal of all this effort and energy that The Founder had put forth? To make great music? To make money? To actually start a business? He got people to participate through sheer persistence and enthusiasm. There certainly wasn't any formal business plan, and no one got paid to my knowledge.
The Founder and I met at a cafe one afternoon and he told me about his concept of the Shark Country Survivors. He was nothing if not persistent. Day after day, week after week, The Founder would show up in my office telling me about his music, handing me a CD, or one time even showing me the beginning of a book he had begun to write, which he called The Great Emp. It was unusual, and I was genuinely intrigued. Deep down, I think our unifying bond was the desire to do something different even if we didn't know exactly what that meant. Maybe we just wanted to escape a life of 40 hours a week in a prison of glass walls and truly live.
But I had a job, and I guess my own life to live. As much as I was interested, I was also disinterested much of the time. I paid attention to him, but not fully. And yet, there was something very strange about The Founder. Whether I was interested or disinterested, nothing stopped The Founder from sharing his music, his book, or his idea of the Shark Country Survivors. I realized no one could take his dream from him.
One day I sat down, and I made a list of reasons to stay at my law job versus reasons to leave. On one side, I could come up with only a singular reason to stay at my job. Money. On the other side, I had countless reasons to leave, including all the cliches like purpose, to make a difference, destiny...to chase my dreams. The decision was clear. A few months later I exchanged my Toyota Camry for a White Transit Ford Connect van, gave my boss four-weeks-notice. Slapped a Bible verse on the side of the van and hit the road traveling. I had a life ahead of me to live, and I wasn't looking back. But like The Founder once told me, "It's a fine line between being the genius that everyone admires, and the village idiot."
So what is this company all about? I would describe it myself, but I think The Founder does a much better job. Imagine you're me for a second, sitting in an office, staring out the window, watching your life go by when someone walks in and hands you a CD day after day, telling you that you must listen. That's him on the vocals, and that's me on the lead guitar, and a cast of characters on the rest.
Clikc play below, have a listen and enjoy some blue, blue water. "All we need is the grace of God, and a strong...trade wind."