Friday, 16 April 2010


So, how did we start down this road to success (or ruin)?  Neither of us were raised to be entrepreneurs or business owners.  My biggest ambition at the age of 8 or 9 was to become a stewardess and travel the world.  Mike had more of a e-streak than I - he cut grass and trapped rabbits as a kid. (He lived in rural Nova Scotia).  Our families come from peasant stock from England and Scotland, although there was a history of school-teachers on his mother's side, and somewhere in mine there is ship's captain.

But I distinctly remember reading a book at about 19 called something like "Make a million dollars investing in Real Estate", and becoming enthralled.  It opened doors in my mind.  I realized that the 20 unit apartment building I was living in (having just moved out on my own after college) in Toronto was actually a gold mine. And it was - if I or someone I knew had bought it back then (zero money down as the book said) in 1978 (its still there), well, I can't begin to tell you what it's worth today.  I contemplated talking to my parents about the idea back then, but only for about a minute.  They would have thought I had completely lost my mind.  Mike has had similar experiences.

Mike and I didn't meet until he was 40 and I was 37, in 1996.  Both of us had ended our first marriages a year previous and were living on our own.  I found him on the net if you must know.  Early days for internet dating but I was always a maverick.  I don't know if I believe in destiny or soul-mates (I gag when someone else uses those words), but that's what it felt like.  We were never apart again after the third date.  I had the bigger place so he moved in with me.  It turned out that we HAD met before.  Five or six years previous, I had taken a computer course on this new thing called Microsoft Windows and he had been the instructor.  There is also some possibility we had met another time, a long time ago, when I was 16 and he was 18, but that's another story and too "woo woo" for my rational mind to believe so I'll keep that to myself.

Six years later, in 2002, we found ourselves living in North Carolina after a whirlwind of moves for financial and career reasons.  From Halifax, Nova Scotia (where we were both living at the time) we went to Bahrain in the Middle East for a year, Livermore, California for two and a half years, and then across the US to Raleigh, North Carolina.  Mike's career in software (after teaching college level computer technology for several years)  had started with taking a contract in Bahrain as Training Manager for a company selling and installing California-based software called Documentum.  From there, he went to work directly for Documentum as Sr. Curriculum Designer in Pleasanton, California.  It was our introduction to the heady world of silicon valley, internet startups, the Nasdaq, high-flying stock options, and - the stock market tech bubble.

By late 2001, the bubble had burst and Mike was laid off.  It took several months, but he finally landed a job at an international electronics company in North Carolina as Documentum Administrator.  It was there that the proverbial light-bulb went on in his head one day, while sitting on the john.

Next post: What was I doing all this time?

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