A true story ripped from The (Mis-)Adventures of The Looney Executive
— By Blake Glenn
It was Spring of 2002, late April. It was a typical beautiful spring Southern California day – sunny, no rain in sight. I was in Los Angeles. So even if it was raining … who cared.
The Pacific Coast Highway, also called the PCH, hovered in the distant background, beckoning like an exotic temptress. PCH was the siren sweetly calling out to all of us working stiffs to break free from the musty office doldrums and make a frantic get-away to the freedom of its beautiful, sexy, writhing coastline.
Upon arrival we could shout to the top of our lungs,
Instead, I sat in my office at the North LA County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Van Nuys, patiently awaiting my next small business client. Van Nuys is in a part of LA called the San Fernando Valley.
Yes, THAT “Valley”. The valley of “Valley Girl” fame.
Though I’d met many girls who were from or near “The Valley”, I’d not encountered any that represented the prototypical “Valley Girl”. Perhaps one or two had a little Valley Girl DNA. But I’d met none of pure-bred Valley Girl stock. Rumors had it that they were becoming extinct. But if you were real lucky, you might be able to spot one during certain times, usually after 6:00 pm. Their survival instincts had driven them to become nocturnal creatures.
This sort of adaptation has long been a part of nature’s evolution. But still, they were a dying breed. It was a shame really. They’d meant so much to our culture. I hoped that cultural anthropologists would find a way to preserve those remaining few Valley Girls, perhaps in captivity surroundings that closely simulated their natural environment.
Just as my daydream about Valley Girls drifted nowhere in particular, a mysterious stranger walked into the SBDC office.
Let’s call him Jimmy.
Jimmy was shepherded straight into my office without delay. I guess they gave him to me because I had a little experience helping distressed businesses navigate difficult situations. Or maybe I was just the only consultant available at that moment. I don’t really know.
In any case, as soon as I met Jimmy the alarms started blaring away in my head. He stood about 5’10″, a little soft but not fat by any means.
His age appeared to be mid- to late-40′s. Jimmy had a receding hairline that was moving backward as if retreating from a more powerful unconquerable enemy. He had a glazed “I ain’t all the way here” look in his eyes. His face was a beet red. He was noticeably nervous. He had sweaty palms that felt like cold, damp sponges when I shook his hand. I wondered where the hell his hands had been. And where was the antiseptic gel when I desperately needed it?
I eyed him calmly but nervously throughout our meeting. I kept a hand by the phone in case he went all berserko on me. He had the desperate look of someone that was ready to take himself out of this world … and maybe take two or three others along with him. And just my luck I was the closest to him at the moment.
No sir. No thanks. While I might not have had the galaxy’s best life, it was the only damned life I’d ever have. And I sure as hell planned to keep it as long as possible! This was only months after the September 911 attacks. The Internet 1.0 bubble had exploded.
The parallel telecom and IT bubbles went Kaboom. And day trading had mercilessly crashed and burned into a fiery mushroom cloud. A recession had ensued and was followed by occasional office shootings and murder-suicides.
So I asked Jimmy how I could help him. He looked at me like a lost puppy trying to find his way. He said that he didn’t know if I could. He hadn’t been to a Small Business Development Center before. He said his situation might be irreversible. He might have to shut down his venture. Maybe no one could help. I told him to hold the horses on the doomsday scenario. And then I simply asked Jimmy to tell me the full story.
In Part II of “Jimmy’s Descent Into Hell”, Jimmy makes a desperate plea for help!
Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?).
If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com
P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.
Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas. Build your connections.
Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!