I Gave Up A Pension for This?

Posted by Tom Scarda, Certified Franchise Executive on May 10, 2018 8:29:29 AM

I once heard a story that went something like this: Jeb and Bubba, were sitting on a porch drinking sarsaparilla on a hot summer’s day. Jeb’s hound dog was lying beside them. Every once in a while, the old hound let out a howl. Bubba asks Jeb, “What’s wrong with your dog? Jeb looks down at the old hound and says, “Oh, he’s just lying on a nail.” Bubba exclaims, “Well, why don’t he get up?!!!” Jeb shrugged and says, “I recon it don’t hurt enough yet.”

When you come from a blue-collar family with depression-era thinking, like I did, you’re told to get a good city job with a pension and be happy. Just “do your time” and when you retire you’ll get a check every month for just having done your job for 20, 25 or 30 years. So, when I landed a job as a New York City Subway worker, the celebration was on par with the second coming of Jesus. In my family’s eyes, I made it! My mother no longer had to worry because I’d be taken care of for the rest of my life. Wait…was this a job or welfare? “Do my time” actually sounded more like a prison sentence.

In 1987, I was hired to be a New York City Subway Conductor and the train buff in me was thrilled. I got to open and close the doors and make announcements on the trains. Primarily, the conductor is charged with the safety of 2,000 people on their 10-ton train powered by 6,000 volts of electric. No wonder I was being paid three dollars more than minimum wage – this was huge responsibility! 

It was all very exciting to me. I was captivated with working in the belly of the beast which was the heart and soul of New York City. I loved being a part of moving five million people per day in the greatest city in the world, but something was not right. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was laying on a nail.

One day, working a Sunday night shift on the R Line, from 95th Street in Brooklyn to Continental Avenue in Queens. I hated working the R Line because it never comes out above the ground like almost every other line that runs up on an elevated section of track at a certain point. Plus, it was a local – making all of the 44 station stops. Sensing my unhappiness, a senior motorman looked at me and said, “Kid, don’t be down, this is a great job. You will always have a shirt on your back. It will never be a silk shirt, but you’ll always have a shirt.” Screeching train brakes went off in my head! It was a sobering moment. The more I thought about it the clearer it became to me. He was right, my bosses were not wearing metaphorical silk shirts. And that was ok, for them, I suppose, but for me – I wanted a silk shirt. I started looking around and noticed who was wearing silk shirts. It was lawyers, doctors and business owners. That’s when I decided that I am going to get off of my nail become a business owner.

Then the head-trash began – you know - that little inner critic that starts talking to you when think about starting something new. “You are a government worker with an Associate’s Degree. You have no business experience, no real education and certainly don’t have the millions of dollars required to start a business. How are you going to make such a drastic career change?" So, I set out to learn what I needed to know. Over the next few years I read dozens of business books and attended seminar after seminar. I learned that a franchise is a business with training wheels and most importantly - I didn’t need a million dollars to start.

After completing 13 years of my ‘30-year pension sentence’ I quit my city job in 2000. I left my government benefits behind to own and operate a franchise called Maui Wowi Smoothies. Everyone thought I was nuts. Some probably still do. But I took a stand for myself and my family’s future.

As I reflect on my decision now, I realize that the decision was not about leaving a good stable job verses having a business with no safety net. My decision was really the choice between unhappiness and uncertainty. Now I coach people to do the same. I have discovered that most people will choose unhappiness and never take a chance on themselves. They justify the choice in their mind by telling themselves that they have bills to pay and responsibilities to live up to. Yup, can’t argue with that. However, you’re not on this earth to just make a living, pay bills and not make an impact. I have found that people who don’t take a chance on happiness experience a low hum of frustration and dissatisfaction in their life. If the hum becomes too loud they’ll tone it down by drinking, smoking or some other vice. Sometimes I think settling for “the known” is like breathing carbon monoxide. It kills you slowly and you don’t even know it.

I have had good times in business I was earning on a monthly basis what I used to earn per year as a government manager. I have also had bad times when I’ve lost a ton of money. But loss of money is temporary if you keep moving forward and choosing uncertainty. In the words of the immortal Jim Morrison, singer and lyricist of the Doors music group; “Is your life enough to make a movie about?”

I suggest taking a chance on you once in a while. It is where faith lives and magic happens. But, I won’t lie. It’s scary to choose uncertainty which is why only one-percent of people do it. 

There is a saying that goes; eventually everyone regrets the things they didn’t do not the things they did do. I promise you, at the end of your life you will not say, “Boy, I wish I gave more to the seven jobs I’ve had in my life.”

I encourage you to take one step out of your comfort zone right and experience a little uncertainty. Sign up for a class in something you always wanted to do. Get a Groupon for a single flight lesson you’ve always wanted to take. Apply for information from that franchise you’ve always wondered about. You can even sign up for a time to talk with me personally. GetWithTom.com. Hey, ya neva know what could happen! Just take that first step. Everything else will follow. I urge you to get off of your nail and choose uncertainty because the world is waiting for you.

I have written extensively about the tools I have used to take chances in my life. You can read about it in my book, The Magic of Choosing Uncertainty: How to Manage Change, Embrace Fear and Live a Fulfilled life. Additionally, in my book, Franchise Savvy, I recount the successes and failures I’ve had in franchising and share lessons learned.

Pick up both books on Amazon now!  Get Tom's Books

Since you stuck it out till the end of the blog, here is a FREE download of my Franchise 101 Guidebook just in case you decide to change your life through Franchise Ownership. :)  https://info.tomscarda.com/download

After all that, if you still want to talk to me, book a time now: