WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE…OR RIOTS AS IN THIS CASE
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!
26 years ago on my birthday May 17, I was lying on my hotel room floor crying all alone feeling like I failed my family big time.  Okay, let’s backup and tell you “how and why” I was on the floor in my hotel room feeling so bad and in misery on my birthday no less.
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A couple of months earlier I had made the biggest sale of my life, or so I thought. QVC decided we had a great product (which we did) which was back when we had a licensing agreement with the men’s professional tennis organization to use the ATP Tour name on a line of skincare products we developed. back when I had played on the tennis tour I couldn’t wear sunblock or lotion because every product at that time was too oily and greasy. In other words, if I had, when playing a match and I began to sweat I couldn’t hold on to my racquet. So seeing a need my wife and I got together with a chemist and developed the first truly non-oily skincare line. It really was incredible and even won a national packaging award for it’s innovations. So funny now because many of the major companies followed suit once they knew it was possible. We were doing well selling to such accounts at Nordstrom and boutique style spas and resorts.
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BIG OPPORTUNITY  STRIKES
I was flipping through the TV channels one night and stopped on QVC for a moment and watched hundred of thousands of product being sold over a 20 minute span. I thought wouldn’t that be cool to do? I went ahead and contacted QVC then flew back to Pennsylvania where they are located. Had great meetings and sold them on our product. Not a easy thing to do as there are tons of products that would love to have that kind of air time and opportunity. But doing things not so easy ran in my veins.
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The meeting went so well that QVC had us develop special custom packs for them exclusively as they wanted a version that was not offered in retail stores. So we “bet the farm” so to speak and made special sizes and packs just for QVC at the tune of $250,000.00 in material cost of goods. Oh, did I tell you that QVC buys your product on consignment? Key point to consider when making business decisions. Just like signing personal guarantees, but that story is for another time (lol).
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THE FUN BEGINS
We found a packaging company that would put these custom packs together in for us in Simi Valley, California. Now here we were in a mad dash to get everything produced to ship off to QVC for our first air time of May 17. What a great way to celebrate my birthday. I contacted friend and fellow tennis pro, Jimmy Conners to see if he would be my “pitch man” on the show. When dealing with Jimmy on a business matter back then you went through his manager who was his mom. After working the details out with Jimmy’s mom, Jimmy called me all excited. He had just won his match in Scottsdale and was on a high from the win. I thought WOW he would do great he was on fire in his excitement. We agreed to meet the next week at the Indian Wells tournament to finalized the details. When Jimmy and I got together he had just lost his match and he was a completely different person (funny how outside circumstances can color your world). He was the complete opposite of being on fire. I realized I couldn’t put my product on live television at the risk of which Jimmy Connors would show up. So, when I spoke to QVC about it they said they would rather have me anyway, because I was the founder and one who had developed the product. So everything was still moving forward and on schedule.
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OH NO…SH*T HAPPENS
On April 29th I was working out at the gym when I looked up at the TV screen and couldn’t believe my eyes. LA was on fire and crazy mad fighting was going on in the streets. The verdict of NOT GUILTY for the officers who had been accused of beating up Rodney King had just been announced and “all Hell broke out.” As I watched the TV screen, I came to realize that where Rodney King had been arrested was on the very same street as the warehouse where our product was currently being packaged. OH NO!!! What to do as buildings were on fire all around the very building where we had sunk a quarter million bucks into production? Our dreams and big opportunity was about to go up in smoke.
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INTO THE NIGHT
Making a quick decision and taking action…we decided to get a semi-truck to go in the middle of night pack up everything quickly to get it the heck out of there. We instructed the driver to drive our product out somewhere in the desert and just park until the smoke had cleared and things settled down. That cost us another pretty penny to be sure. A week later when the fighting and burning had come to an end with the now famous words of Rodney King “Can’t we all just get along” had been said, we had the truck driver bring our partially packaged products back to finish the special packing. Losing a week of packaging time, we were now really on a mad dash to get the product off to QVC. We all chipped in helping packing the product, my wife, the kids, along with my wife’s parents. We somehow got it all done and the truck got off to Pennsylvania just in the nick of time. QVC had a policy that if the product was not there by a certain date you lost your air time and that was just not an option since we’d practically put our last dime into this project at this point.
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I OWE, I OWE, SO OFF TO QVC I GO…
I arrive in Pennsylvania on May 16th and checked into the coolest hotel, which the room is etched in my memory for ever now. On May 17th, my birthday celebration is to be on air and sell hundreds of thousands of dollars of ATP Tour skincare product. But, as things often happen that present a curve, I get a call and they have changed my air time slot from prime time to a slower time slot. Not knowing why this has happened, I am still okay with it because we have several more time slots scheduled over the next few days. I go “on air” ready to bring my best to the live broadcast (heck I was an actor so I know how to do this sort of thing right?). I feel the show is going well, but I notice that the numbers are not “flying off the shelves” as expected. Sales are coming in, but not like I saw when I watched products “hit big” and they keep talking about all the sales that are taking place in the moment. When my time slot ends the host congratulates me for a job well done, but something feels off. I see the buyer and she looks sick. She tells me we only sold $500.00 a minute and we needed to sell $5,000.00 a minute!! That being the case, the producer pulled all my other time slots. I am devastated and don’t know what is going on.
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CAUGHT IN A CROSSFIRE
Come to find out later on, the producer and the buyer don’t get along so well, and he wanted to prove her wrong. Purposely, he gave me the worst time slot to show her that she had made a bad choice in choosing our products. Later I found out from the host that our numbers were actually the best they had ever done in that time slot (so I am certain if we had kept our original time slot it would have been the “hit” we all had expected). So, now I am back in my hotel room learning all of this and that I have to ship the product back to California to who knows where (who has space like that in their garage?). This all begins to sink in and it hits me how I had just lost a ton of money because I was caught in the middle of a storm that I knew nothing about and quite frankly had nothing to do with. I will always remember that hotel room (the carpet especially) as I laid on the flow in defeat and feeling the disaster it had all become. That certainly wasn’t how I had planed to celebrate my birthday!!
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THE GOOD NEWS (AND HAPPY ENDING)
The good news is that I survived that moment (and didn’t suffer a heart attack or stroke or something as horrible as that) and went on to have a lot of great moments with my family and friends in the years that came afterwards. Life sometimes take funny curves and turns, but it is how you respond that matters most. Perseverance, determination, and resiliency are great traits to carry you through setbacks such as this story illustrates so beautifully. In hindsight, perhaps beauty care items weren’t exactly what my path was supposed to be. I know now that is true and I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had in life that have provided such great inspiration for me and others.
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All in all I feel grateful to be doing what I am dong now. I feel good about my life and the direction I am heading.
So, my birthday wish to all of you is to celebrate your life each and everyday. Even in the darkest of hours, the light will undoubtedly shine once again. We recovered from that disaster and you will too if disasters strike for you. Let hope and faith be your guide on this journey we are on. Focus everyday on that what which you are grateful for. This is a key to success in anything you do. Always remember this, “Feed appreciation and starve disappointment” and you will certainly be on top enjoying the success that you seek.
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