Continued from Chapter 1
The Run Up
Ok, clearly, I had another problem. A $8999.00 problem! But everything is relative and that is actually small potatoes when you realize that I need to raise $1,500,000.00 to launch Lemons2. It’s just timing that makes this one difficult.
But I know FOVC, Problems are Forced Opportunities Viewed Correctly.
Sometimes I really hate having written that ;)
I never said it was easy. At that moment it was not easy! I wanted to cry.
So close and yet another hurdle thrown in!
Problems are a call for creativity, so how was I going to creatively solve this one?
I decided that getting Marc Benioff’s support was the next step.
If I just got his blessing, the traditional meet and greet photo op, I had friends ready to put money in now.
I would be able to pay Tony Robbins.
The Big Question
So, why the heck did I think I could get Marc’s attention?
The joke the Psychiatrist told me after my VA disability evaluation is true. I may be crazy but I’m not stupid!
I believe because I have been doing the work. Building the knowledge and relationships. And I have serious business that actually requires his attention. At least I think there is a credible case to be made for that.
About a year ago I discovered the Salesforce Platform.
Everyone knows Salesforce for CRM. The Salesforce Platform is not that well known but it is awesome!
I was so impressed I threw away a year’s effort on the Microsoft Azure platform, (see In search of the Grail, an ongoing Saga;) to start Lemons2 fresh on the Salesforce platform. It was the smartest decision I have made in a long time for a lot of tech reasons.
Wonderful because we were Atari! The culture was amazing and uplifting; valuing diversity and being out to change the world in a positive way. I found it so inspirational I couldn’t wait to get to work every day!
A curse because after Atari, every other company seemed like just a job. Many of us started companies to try and recreate that feeling with limited success.
With Salesforce, the culture of Ohana and the business as a force for good ethos, recreates that feeling for me. And the extra amazing thing about the Salesforce Ohana culture is that it isn’t limited to those on the payroll.
I found myself loving being a part of the Salesforce Ohana as an ISV Partner. So much so that I started the
Church of Salesforce
Partly serious, partly tongue in cheek I thought it would help me get Marc’s attention. While it got some attention in the Salesforce C Suite; no reaction.
Frankly I was expecting a cease and desist order, if not a law suit. I really expected I had crossed some line somewhere, if not a lot of them. At least a call from someone about what the heck I was doing.
Didn’t happen, no response at all. So we carry on. I’m not really joking, I believe there is a spiritual aspect to computing and what we are doing in this industry. Especially now in 2017 the Year AI Grew Up.
I was perplexed until I remembered Behind the Cloud Play #36 “We’ve seen what happens when bigger companies act defensively and validate small companies.” Marc Benioff
So, All are Welcome at the Church of Salesforce. We are hoping to have services every Sunday Afternoon at the top of the new Salesforce Tower in San Francisco late this year.
I have spent nearly a year now learning the Salesforce platform and making connections in this world so new to me. Because of our unique business plan, we found ourselves in a Catch 22 during our ISV Partner Application.
It required I get to know a number of the VP level people in Salesforce. I really like these folks and they liked what we are doing but...
we are delivering Leads, to SMB Professionals who are on other CRM systems.
Eventually Leyla Seka EVP, Executive Vice President got involved to sort it out. With her incredible straightforward way, it took about no time to resolve. Leyla is such a joy to work with.
Another of my favorite people at Salesforce is Tony Profit, the other CEO, Chief Equality Officer #EqualityforAll I have been blessed to get to know Tony and have his help working through my coming out of the closet.
Coming out publicly about my Mental Illness and medication, Marijuana, is very new. These are the deepest darkest kind of secrets. Career ending secrets until now.
But it’s 2017 and authentic transparence is required to lead a company these days. No more hidden bits allowed.
Tony Profit asks the very best questions.
He never came close to telling me what he thought I should do. But his questions clarified and defined the issues for me.
There will be people for won’t want to work with me due to the fear and stigma of Mental Illness and my medicine Marijuana.
But these things are central fact of my life and has been for over forty very productive years.
It’s 2017 I believe there are more people who will love me for being open and honest; not hold my disability and medicine against me, then there will be who won’t.
Tony Profit’s questions about what I wanted to accomplish with this really made me think.
What did I want to accomplish by coming out of the Closet as a Mentally Ill Pot Smoking CEO?
Beside possible Career Suicide?
Coming Out of the Closet
Beyond that I guess I want to open another door and get Mental Illness out of the Closet, it’s not contagious, it’s treatable and people who do get help recover. Tony Profit indirectly helped me see that my story might unlock someone else’s.
Marijuana is real medicine. It’s time to end the stereotype of stoners in their mother’s basement being worthless couch potatoes.
For those of us that need it, we are Energized not Anesthetized. It’s infinitely better than the V & V (Vicodin and Valium) cocktail the Big Pharma would have me on.
Some estimates are that over 50% of the tech industry has some form of mental illness. We can make a huge difference in over half of the people’s lives in our Ohana by normalizing Mental Illness.
Enough of my Soap Box.
The point is I value Tony Profit’s input big time.
Who the Heck do I think I am?
The other part of my confidence is experience. I have been doing this, working in the industry, for over forty years. Many, many of those years rubbing shoulders with the greats.
After all, I’m a CEO and this is not my first Rodeo! Currently I am building a hot innovative startup, in the Salesforce Ohana. And I am an Elder in the Tribe of Software Engineering. My first job as a professional Software Engineer was at Commodore, I wrote the diagnostic and final test software that every Commodore 64 was tested with.
Given what we are doing and the special dispensation we had required to become a Salesforce Partner; I assumed it would not be a big deal to at least get Marc’s blessing. A classic meet and greet photo op with Marc Benioff. That was all I had to have.
Marc will be really happy to meet me, right?
So, I told Tony Profit I was going to ask for a meeting with Marc. When he said that might be really difficult, I took note. I do the really difficult for breakfast and move on the impossible for lunch. But I took note because after all it was Tony Profit speaking!
My request to setup a meeting with Marc Benioff went logically to Leyla Seka. Since the business aspect we needed blessed was in her court.
Essentially, I asked for the meeting because I felt we needed Marc’s blessing on the agreement we had made. Before I raise and spend a million and a half dollars to launch Lemon2.
Tony’s warning turned out to be prophetic ;)
A meeting with Marc before Tony Robbins in Las Vegas was not happening. Thanks to Tony’s warning I didn’t continue to push after Leyla told me no the second time. I have to apologize to Leyla for my emotional second plea. I freaked out when it was clear she couldn’t get me a meeting.
My belief that getting Marc Benioff’s blessing wouldn’t be that hard to get at this point was dead wrong.
Worse I considered it a gating item, I would not take any investment in Lemons2 without it. I realized we couldn’t do without it, that if we didn’t have his blessing everyone would wonder why we didn’t.
After all, from following his Twitter, he is doing that for somebody multiple times, most days it seems.
So, no Marc blessing. No Money. No $8,999+
Yes, to Tony Robbins Business Mastery! How?
I looked hard at what I could do. I could only squeeze $150 out of my monthly budget. That made me laugh out loud; it was ridiculous!
But I begin to think about how I could leverage $150 to be equal to $10,000? Told you I am crazy ;)
I thought “That wouldn’t even buy the airline ticket!” Or would it?
I decided to check it out and find out just how much I needed to raise for real.
To my amazement I discovered I could fly from San Francisco for $57, one way. And hold the phone when I marked one person traveling, I got a Hostel bunk option that was less than $15 a night. Total taxes and everything was under $150!
I took it as a sign and booked it. It was a gamble I was going to take.
I had no idea how I would even eat, let alone come up with the rest of the money. Or if there was any way I could maybe talk my way in with sheer persistence and resourcefulness. But I wasn’t about to let a lack of resourcefulness or commitment be the reason we failed!
I thought; at worst case, I would have a few days hanging out around the pool in Vegas.
The surprise the universe had in store for me this time was truly remarkable.
What I didn’t realize at all was how horribly wrong it could go. Turning on the most unexpected trivial of reasons into a literal survival endurance and attitude test that would stretch me beyond my limits. Testing my attitude and recovery like none other.
My son said it made a grueling Tough Mudder endurance event look easy!
Instead of a pool, I was to get the unique total Vegas meals included package deal! The all encompassing experience of being Homeless in Las Vegas.
While by day pretending to be just another Las Vegas business traveler having a great time.
As I life hacked my way to Tony Robbins!
Thank You for Reading Chapter 2! in Chapter 3 Yeehaw (my service animal) and I travel to Las Vegas and the Fear, Loathing and Tony Robbins adventure really starts. Thank you for hanging out through the setup, this is the boring bits. It gets a lot more entertaining from here on, promise. Jess