Jean Lund, Writer | home
About Jean | Love Song | Every Little Secret Thing | Published Articles | My Squawk Page | My Drama Life | The Perks of Parenthood in the 90's | Spirit of Success | A Little Poetry | PGAD | My Views on U.S. Government | Contact
Spirit of Success
I'd always heard as a child how my father had become the successful businessman he was with only a fourth grade education. Although I was rather young for it to make an impression, I never forgot the story. Perhaps it instilled something in me as I used my imagination early on to make money. Being raised in a rural area left few opportunities but I found a way to earn some spending cash. At around eleven years old I dug worms and put them in cans full of rich black soil. Each weekend when the men headed to the lakes to fish I'd be on the side of the road with my for sale sign. During August I would ride my bike down the two-lane highway and sell raffle tickets to the church bizarre for no money but it gave me another small sense of working.
I was 16 when my family moved to Los Angeles. Work opportunities were abundant and I seized the moment. Within weeks I had a job after school working in a Mom and Pop neighborhood market stocking shelves. It gave me enough to see a movie or two and buy some records. I never thought about saving any of it. It also gave me just enough feeling of independence to want more. Within a few months I quit and took a job at a snack bar in a grocery store. The work was hard and included taking orders, cooking and serving the customer and all the clean up. All for minimum wage and a share of the tips. Yet it was more money than I'd made up to that point and I was thrilled to be able to buy my clothes and makeup and pay with my own money. After a year I figured if I got a job as a waitress in a restaurant I wouldn't have to do the cleaning or share my tips. Simple enough I thought, but it wasn't. I got fired from the first two jobs within a week. With determination I applied and was hired at a third one. I took with me the knowledge and the lessons I learned from the previous and bettered myself. I stayed for a year before moving on, and stayed in the same line of work. It was a tough job with little or no benefits. As I got older, married and had children I thought many times that if I'd finished school I could have had a better job. Working full time and raising 3 kids left little time for my ideas of bettering myself. Their father never held a steady job and the only benefit of mine was that I had cash on a daily basis so no one went hungry. Living paycheck-to-paycheck was a struggle and afforded me zero to set aside for the future. This was with also having a second job of managing apartments in exchange for free rent.
When the kids were in their teens, I divorced, remarried and decided to switch careers. I knew that at age 37 I would have to start at the bottom. I was willing to do so in order to learn office work. I started watching less mainstream TV and more educational channels. I watched the news read the paper to broaden my conversation abilities. My first office job was for little more than minimum wage as a receptionist, which cut my pay in half, but I would not waiver from the path that I had chosen. I was embarrassed by the fact that my teenage daughter was making more an hour than me by working for a burger chain. At times I felt discouraged but I knew in the long run it would pay off. After the first year I decided to take all that I had learned and move on. I wanted more challenging work in the office. My eagerness to learn along with my acceptance of a small increase in salary had played a good role in my landing the next job. Although I would certainly rather have had a better salary, common sense told me I would have to climb. Much to my surprise my second husband divorced me, leaving me the pressure of needing to earn more. I had moved on to a better paying job while we were married and luckily had benefits to cover the kids and myself. Although I couldn't afford to take advantage of the 401K I was able to purchase some Bonds. Living paycheck-to-paycheck once again, I luckily had my skills as a waitress to fall back on. I took a second job at night in a coffee shop. I had kept the house so both jobs were needed to support my family. We survived but with no savings. It was the first time I really started thinking about my future and retirement.
In 1995 I bought my first computer. I took classes to learn Microsoft Office and Windows and studied diligently. As I familiarized myself with a then still somewhat new Internet, I could see the job future. I taught myself how to search the web and download in every spare moment. I learned about chat rooms and e-mail. I took my office skills and moved into an administrative position but I wasn't satisfied. I had myself tested vocationally and found I had the educational level of a sophomore in college. No wonder I felt unfulfilled in my job! I continued being drawn to the Internet at home as that was the only place I had access. I felt the Internet was my calling.
One day while lazily sifting through the classifieds, not in need for once, I spotted an ad for a job with an Internet company. My interest was piqued so I called. It was a start up Internet Company for an online auction. They needed someone with Internet and e-mail experience to handle the customer service. The pay was about the same but the sense of excitement was one that no other job prospect had ever given me. I feigned sick to go for an interview. I had skills that not many had at that time because of my perseverance The President interviewed me and was impressed enough to call me later the same day to make an offer. I accepted the offer and gave a two-week notice. It was the best career decision I have ever made. Being a part of a new generation of work was exciting. We all learned by trial and error. But it was fun! We dressed casual and worked hard. I started the customer service department and eventually had eight people reporting to me. My income increased four times in one year. The financial pressures were finally easing and I gave up my night job. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a long time. A year and a half later things changed dramatically. Bad decisions were ruining the company and it quickly got to the point where I knew it was time to leave. I gave notice and two weeks after I left with my final paycheck the company went bankrupt.
I was very disappointed as even in a metropolis the size of Los Angeles an Internet job would be hard, if not impossible to find. I went back to Administrative work and was miserable. The job I took was a temp to hire and would pay well with great benefits but I felt completely bored. I had kept in touch with the Vice President my previous job and he gave me a lead on another start up Internet company. I contacted the President of the new company and went in for an interview. A week later he called and made me an offer. I accepted the position heading up the member support and am still there to date. The company is and educational site for trading on Wall Street. I have learned so much regarding investing for my future. My salary is such that I am completely independent. I have sizable stock options and have attained a broker. In the past two years I have built a nice portfolio. I have purchased a Roth IRA. Slowly I invested some money in mutual funds in addition to opening a money market account. I enrolled in the company 401K opting for the maximum deduction from my check. I have a savings account, a checking account, a car that's paid for and zero balance on my credit cards. I have come a long way and am very focused on my future. The point I am making is that it is never too late. Just shy of 49 years old, I am proof of that.