This post was written by John Lee Dumas, Founder and Host of EntrepreneurOnFire.
First and foremost mother, I love you. You nurtured me as a child, and you sent me off to college and to war with a weeping hug.
You’ve supported me at every stage of my adult life, and we both know there have been many.
But no, I cannot take you to the airport tomorrow – on a Wednesday – at 2pm.
No Mom, I Can’t Take You To The Airport Tomorrow
Is the author of this post afraid to identify himself after making such a cold-hearted declaration? Absolutely not.
My name is John Lee Dumas, and I am the Founder and Host of the business podcast Entrepreneurs On Fire.
I live in San Diego, CA, and I recently took a two-week (part work, part play) trip to my home state of Maine to enjoy the gorgeous Fall. At the tail end of my trip, my folks were leaving on a mini vacation of their own. One morning over breakfast my mother looked up at me and said,
“Honey, your father and I have to leave for the airport tomorrow at 2pm; you can drop us off, right?”
Just call them later…
She said it in such a matter-of-fact tone – so confidently – that I knew I would potentially be shattering her long-held belief that I would move mountains for her if I told her no.
“Mom, I’d love to, but I have a 12pm, 1pm, and 2:30pm Skype call tomorrow with three clients on three different continents.”
“Skype?” She looked at me, perplexed.
“Can’t you tell your friends you’ll call them later? … It’s not like you’re talking to clients the same way you did when you were at John Hancock or something, right?”
Ahhhhhh, the days of John Hancock still ring proud in my mother’s mind.
Four years after serving our country as an Army Officer, highlighted with a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq, I went off to Law School – a shining future spread out in front of me.
Six months later I was home – a Law School drop out. A disappointment to my parents, who before this travesty had only known success with their son.
You can imagine their relief when I informed them that I had accepted a position to work at the vaunted insurance giant, John Hancock, for a trusty salary of $35k a year.
Once a month my mother would proudly call the front desk’s 1-800 number and asked to be transferred to her son, John Lee.
I’m sure she imagined three phones ringing off the hook and major deals happening in the midst of her interruption.
She would always say “John Lee, I am SO sorry to bother you – I know how busy you must be, but I was just hoping we could see you for dinner Sunday night? You don’t have to answer now – I know you are so busy, so just call me after work and let me know. Oh yeah – and bring your laundry on Sunday if you’d like!”
And BOOM, she would hang up the phone before I even had the chance to utter a syllable.
Then, I would continue simultaneously updating my Fantasy Football team, playing Solitaire, and Facebook messaging my friends to coordinate what happy hour spot we would be heading to at 4:59 pm.
Nothing better to do
So, back when I had nothing better to do than take my mother to the airport at 2pm on a Wednesday, she wouldn’t even dream of “wasting” more than 15 seconds of my “Corporate” work time.
Now, her Entrepreneurial son could surely call his “Skype friends” later and take 2.5 hours on a Wednesday to take his life-giver to the airport.
Now it’s time to be honest with you, Mister or Miss reader:
This post is not a rant from a disgruntled son, although I know it may seem like nothing but that thus far. I’m actually THRILLED that my mother’s generation looks at me this way.
Today’s location independent Entrepreneurs are the first of our kind
We are living in unchartered territory, and it’s exhilarating. This newness won’t last long.
We are the Wild West cowboys and cowgirls of the 1800’s, the rebel patriots of the 1700’s, the pilgrims of the 1600’s… need I go on? Side note: I was an American Studies major in College =)
Most people don’t get us right now, and that’s ok.
In fact, it’s great! It’s kind of like striking gold in the Klondike, but no one really believes you even after you start tossing golden nuggets in their lap.
My mother has always been incredibly supportive of EntrepreneurOnFire, but even after a feature in TIME Magazine, I still think she is waiting for me to find a “real profession” – preferably one with a name she can spell (Entrepreneur is tricky!)
That’s more than I ever made in a year
So back to breakfast that morning in Maine…
As my mother continued to question the Skype calls I had set up the next day “with my friends”, she happened to be reading Entrepreneurs On Fire’s latest income report, which we release monthly in order to be 100% transparent with our followers by showing them what’s working, what’s failing, what activities are bringing in money, and which ones are losing or costing us money.
Entrepreneurs On Fire had a pretty impressive September, topping $50k in revenue for the first time ever.
“Very nice honey,” my mother commented between bites of her cereal. “That’s more than I ever made in a year…”
The remark was made very nonchalantly, almost flippantly.
I looked over at her. She was bouncing my 2-year-old niece on her lap while reading the report on her iPad, chomping away at some cheerios, and keeping one ear open for the ding of the dryer, signaling my clothes were ready to be folded.
A lot of words bubbled up in mind as I watched her… Words that would explain how $50k was also more than I had made during my entire year at John Hancock, and also how I knew that my three “Skype friends” were going to help me exceed that number in our next income report.
Instead, I took my last sip of coffee, placed the cup in the sink, and looked at my mother and said,
“You know what Mom – I’d love to take you to the airport tomorrow.”