The John1911 Origin Story
The best way to answer this question is to tell a story from my past. Initially you will think this is scorekeeping. But I promise you, by the end it’ll end up looking more like a confessional. While working at a company in the firearms industry some years ago, some very tough issues came up. Very. Issues that frankly, if not handled correctly, could’ve been the catalyst for making or breaking that company.
I was neck deep in, “this problem”. Why? If I am honest? My personal ambition. In many ways, my work during the preceding years made this crisis inevitable. I saw serious flaws in the company’s long term business strategy and I was given a long leash by my boss to try and change it. So I ran with it. For a while…
Eventually senior office staff got wind of my activities and went bonkers. Jealously, rage, backstabbing, Machiavellian: are only some of the adjectives I can use to describe the heated conversations that morning. It was bad.
But what soon became apparent was legal was using this as a mean to take me out. To settle scores. And in my opinion, try to feel important. The old Washington DC saw of, “Nothing solidifies ones power like a good, public killing” was this attorney’s battle-plan. And my boss, only hearing one side of the argument, was to put it mildly…apocalyptic. Had he made a mistake in trusting me? Hell! Had me made a mistake in even hiring me?
A face to face meeting was demanded. Myself. My boss. And legal.
And if you guessed that my job and reputation was on the line, you would have guessed correctly. I knew driving in, that was going to be my last day. But I wasn’t going out without telling the boss what needed to be said: The truth. Always the truth. As I had always seen it.
It’s during moments like these, no matter what the outcome, that true personal growth is possible. All one has to do is open your heart to it. BTW…in literature they call this paragraph foreshadowing, but I digress.
So now is where I write the sad tale of the good fight. I walked in. The lawyers ran me out on a rail. How “they screwed me over”. And the lessons you should all take away about standing up to the man. But it didn’t quite go that way.
The short version is this: The attorney wasn’t fighting for what was right. He wasn’t fighting for what was just. He was there merely to play act in front of the boss at my expense. His motivation was office politics. My motivation was integrity and moral obligations to my company, my boss and our customers. The result was a thrashing so thorough that the attorney, my former company and one of the biggest defense contractors in the world would still be mortified if I expanded on it further.
So…what’s the lesson? And how does this describe the John1911.com origin story? So glad you asked! It was after this meeting broke up, the lawyer was sent away, and I was invited to sit in the bosses’ office and chat. It was a very relaxed and non-confrontational atmosphere. The boss smoking a cigar, sitting back in his hair, made chit chat and small talk. Words such as appreciation and thanks were proffered. He asked me about my plans, career goals and, “What I wanted from this company?”. He listened to me discussing deals and potential deal with groups in the US and Iraq. Long term plan. Medium term plan. Short term plans. The list was long and exhaustive. But I was in it to win it. See comment above about my ambition.
But then I unknowingly stepped on a landmine with both feet. Blowing my entire career path to smithereens. I told him what I wanted wasn’t really the most important question. He was the boss. He was the owner. It was his company. I asked, “What did he want?” After another puff on his cigar, he sat forward in his chair. Leaning much closer to me with that wry smile and twinkle in his eye he said,
“I just want to shoot guns and have fun”
I wish I could tell you at that very moment I got the message. That some great wisdom was shining down upon me from on high like a beam of light. But I didn’t. My ego and ambition had no room for such frivolity. Instead, I smiled. Nodded politely and thought, “What the f**k does that even mean!?”
As you could have guessed, later that year I left that company, striking out on my own. And with every passing day since, the wisdom and meaning of that comment has been unfolding. However slowly.
Thanks for the lesson, Boss.
”Shooting Guns & Having Fun”