Updated: Jun 1, 2018
As I enjoy a delicious White Mocha at Carl's Coffee on the Oregon Coast on a dreary Thursday morning, I can't help but reflect on everything that has happened in the past 2 years that influenced me to make a GIANT life change. That life change? Quit my job, sell my house, move into a camper trailer, become an entrepreneur, travel the country, simplify and BE FREE!
It's been almost 3 months since I sat across from the VP of Sales and Merchandising for Albertsons Intermountain and gave my two months' notice. She asked why I was leaving, what I was doing and asked if there was anything Albertsons could do to keep me... but there was nothing. Two months seems like a long time, but to replace a Marketing Director in the hometown of the 2nd biggest grocer in the US, it actually wasn't quite long enough. I stayed a total of 9 weeks to help hire and train a replacement from a fantastic pool of candidates. It was really important for me to find the best possible replacement and have them ready to make an impact for my team on day one. I truly cared about the folks I worked with in that office and in the stores and I didn’t want my departure to be a distraction or a detriment to them running their business. Working with my Albertsons family for those 4.5 years was truly a pleasure and an honor, and I will forever be grateful for those relationships and the acumen that position gave me as a business professional.
In those last nine weeks of verifiable employment, I worked tirelessly on coordinating home improvements, cleaning, and simplifying my life to fit into a 25 foot camper trailer. Simplifying meant selling, donating, storing or throwing away EVERYTHING in my 1,800 square foot home that I’d been filling with meaningless (and meaningful) shit for 4.5 years. Some of the items were easy to rid of, while others held emotional and practical value. Even in it’s current disheveled, unorganized state, the feeling of getting everything I need for an amazing, fulfilling day to day life into a camper and my truck is truly indescribable. It’s amazing how therapeutic intentional minimalism can be, and I admittedly still have much more I can live without that I packed along with me.
So now the million dollar question: what made me jump? Although many experiences, observations, and discussions influenced this decision; the biggest event was the loss of my father Al Jantz on January 10, 2018. My father was the best man I’d ever known and I dedicate everything I do to him (everything positive least, he doesn’t have to take credit for me being a dumbass). My father did everything right in life, from health and finances to family and relationships. He’d been an exemplary mechanical engineer (and project manager) at the INL and was still working part time into retirement, because his old boss couldn’t live without him in the year he was fully retired. My father exercised regularly, ate well (not a vegan, but didn’t eat out all the time), drank moderately and never smoked or did drugs; but in January of 2017 he was diagnosed with a rare blood lymphoma with a grim prognosis. My dad was tough, the toughest guy I’ve ever known, and we were sure that his healthy lifestyle, combined with his stubborn demeanor would allow him to bounce back from a tough battle with this deplorable diagnosis. It didn’t take long before the chemotherapy knocked my dad’s immune system and energy down to record lows. He kept a pleasant demeanor through it all, and the whole family rallied around my dad till the very end. I had many conversations with my dad in that year he was sick, some minor and some major, and in general my father was happy and fulfilled by his life. He wasn’t filthy rich, he had many trials and tribulations, but the love of his family and a career he was passionate about brought him joy. These discussions with my father turned the volume up on what WAS a quiet voice in the back of my head, begging me to drop the security of my work a day job and find my passion. I’ve had many losses in my life, my biological grandparents passed when I was very young, my oldest brother passed away in his late 20’s and my mom passed in her 50’s. Now my father, who was my rock and did everything right, was gone at the young age of 66, two years after retirement. What’s the point of working a job that isn’t your passion if you can’t at least enjoy a long and happy retirement with the ones you love? Nothing in this life is guaranteed, and I decided after dad passed that I was going to CREATE the passion I was looking for in my work.
As I was evaluating many much larger entrepreneurial ideas, it dawned on me that I had already invented a product I was super passionate about and that was nearly ready to launch. I’d thought of the CajonAlone 2.5 years ago while driving back from Idaho Falls to Boise after a refreshing winter vacation. I’d worked hard to come up with a prototype, figure out production, create a logo… pretty much everything right up to launch, but I stopped short. Why? Energy Vampires. Negative ass-hats that poked holes in my idea, questioned the feasibility, market size, marketability… pretty much just pissed all over my product to the point I didn’t even believe in it any more. I don’t think some of these folks meant to crush my product, I think many of them were sincerely trying to help me think about the business challenges I was going to face with my product. Maybe I was being sensitive, or maybe a product in it’s infancy isn’t really ready to hold water. Regardless, that experience caused me to lose enthusiasm for my first patented invention and business idea. Shortly after that my father got sick and my free time became much more sparse. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t try to launch when I first came up with the idea, because I would’ve been on the road while my dad was diagnosed and would’ve struggled to support my family the way I was able to thanks to the lucrative nature of my position with Albertsons and the flexibility my superiors provided me to go see my dad any time I needed. I’ll never be able to express to the leaders of Albertsons how much that meant to me, but in 4 words… it meant the world.
So here I sit, looking out over the ocean, 4 days into my first 4 week promotional tour to launch the CajonAlone Hands Free Drumming Accessory. After some initial motivation struggles, I feel like I’m really starting to hit my stride with the launch of my website and social media sites last night, procurement of business cards this afternoon and gearing up for my initial performances once the weather dries out here on the “sunny” Oregon Coast. I apologize for this lengthy first blog, but I had a lot to explain and get off my chest to launch this bad boy. I’m not sure what the future holds for the CajonAlone (or for me) but I can guarantee I’ll be putting everything I have into building my life and career around my passions for as long as I’m able. For those of you who feel the same way, hang in there. I’ve worked really hard and been very fortunate to land in a position where I can attempt something like this, and at the end of the day, the time just felt right to jump. Brainstorm, prepare, plan, finance what you can while you’re employed, make connections, do research, talk to mentors, do everything you can to be prepared for your time when it come. But when the time feels right, and your gut tells you it’s time, JUMP!
So that’s it, my first blog ever! I’m traveling into California this next week, then over to New Mexico and then to Western Colorado. If anyone wants to meet up on my adventures, shoot me an email, call or text; I’d love to hang out with some familiar faces in these strange places! Much love to all, and thanks for your love and support.