JA Alum Shares His Life's Journey
Sitting on a bench at Klein High School as a freshman, a very close friend of mine Jack mentioned that he's going to join the Junior Achievement afterschool program. At that point I said, “Okay, I’ll try it, too.”
The first year, I was the secretary. We created teddy bear baskets with candy in our school’s colors. Second year, I skipped out. Third year, my company sold Valentine candy grams.
Fourth year, was a great year with Christmas wreaths. I entered the sales competition with the Sales and Marketing Executives group in Houston. I came in first place selling the wreaths (while wearing a tie that would play a Christmas jingle).
After, I was selected to go to the Indianapolis University to enter the sales competition and came in second place. What an awesome experience!
One of the judges in Houston, Mike, was very impressed by me and pursued me to go sell books door-to-door. At that time, I managed six dry cleaning stores for a family friend and had a pager (I thought I was on my way to millions!). So I declined.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), Mike was very persistent. He called again so I told him, “Fine, if you can talk my dad into this I will go.” Of course, my dad called him. I underestimated Mike’s selling ability. My dad hung up and said, “I think you should go.”
Dad convinced my mom, and I started packing for sales training in Nashville two weeks later. I didn't know what the future held for me.
My first summer selling books door-to-door was challenging yet very rewarding. I was in the top 25 first-year dealers. Towards that last three weeks of the summer, I started to miss home and remembered God. I went to the local Mosque and ran into a college student Nasif. In the book business, I “got off schedule from the 80 hours a week knocking on doors” and spent some time with him developing a lifelong friendship.
During the last summer and on my way to graduate University of Houston, I was recruited to work for a sister company--Tom James Company--selling clothing to executives (B2B).
After putting in my time for 3 years, they offered me a choice: San Diego or Toronto. Since I was a mama’s boy, my mom reluctantly conceded for a five-year move away and conclude I should go to San Diego.
As this was being tossed around, my friend Nasif got in touch with me. He clearly stated he found the “perfect young lady for me” that lived in Toronto. A little late as I had just moved to San Diego! Nevertheless, my bride and I talked on the phone over the next few months. I went to visit her in December of 1997. She was everything I was looking for so we got married in July of 1998. Lucky for me!
While I was getting ready for marriage preparations in San Diego, I decided to get involved with the community center. In that involvement I met Mahmoud.
In 2002, I told Mahmoud that I wanted to start my own business, he said, “I am, too!” His plan was that he and his brother can run the operations, and I could run the sales. We eventually repositioned of the retail and converted our business to the hospitality industry. That original business was a diamond in the rough!
In essence, by joining Junior Achievement on a whim has led me to the bride I am married to today, the business we operate and to the lovely two children I cherish.
Did you have a Junior Achievement class in school? Then you're also our alum! Register as a JA alum today at www.JAAlumni.org.
Thank you, Junior Achievement!