32 Jobs by the Time I was 20. 2 Jobs After That. Then into Business for Myself.

Morning Folks!!


If I give you a dollar, you have a dollar. If I show you how to make a dollar, it unleashes your inner strength and power. It takes you from a path of dependence to independence. It allows you to focus on things other than that dollar. But when you have no dollar, that may be the only thing you can focus on if you want to eat and have a roof over your head.


We can all say it is not about the money until we are blue in the face. But it takes money to do the good things in our heart. To protect and support our families. To give to those that are less fortunate.


My way of giving back is sharing the path I used to get where I am and hoping just one thought, one idea, one sentence, changes a life. Simple. I also do it for me. This is my personal diary. I just happen to share it with the world. There are stories within the stories. But that is for another day.


My friends go back to my first real job. We are still close. That’s the best part of the story as I look back. I can tell a story from business from 1973 and stand there and share it with others as the person in the story is also standing by my side.


I was fortunate early on to be a totally clueless moron with virtually no talent other than a desire to make money and have a comfortable life not to dig ditches in 100 degree weather. That was the only thing that motivated me. I worked various low paying part time and full time jobs. Always looking to improve where I was at. By the time I was 19 or 20, I had 32 different jobs in a dozen industries or more.


I flipped hamburgers for a McDonald's copycat. I made tacos at a Taco Bell. When I applied they asked me if I could make Tacos? I said sure, even tho I had never even seen a taco coming from New Hampshire to Southern California. I worked at a factory making aluminum railings for a hotel chain. I drilled the holes in bowling balls for K-mart while working in the sporting goods department where we also sold rifles and shotguns and handguns along with everything else you can imagine.


I learned that K-Mart worked on an 18% markup across the board and when they had their lost leaders, they worked on nothing. I never forgot what I learned at K-mart. The good and the bad.


I worked in a deli at a Farmers Market. I was a box boy at a supermarket. I worked in 2 liquor stores 4PM-2AM shift before I dropped out of college. I hated college. I even went to the same school as another fellow domainer. But I knew I was marking time.


One day I came home and my mom asked me if I wanted to drop out? I was shocked. Truly shocked that she would ask. A Jewish mother asking if I wanted to drop out of college. That was the greatest moment of my entire life. YES! YES! YES!! Are you serious I would ask? I could not believe my ears.


FREEDOM!! For the first time I had known there was no burden of school on my shoulders. I was FREE!! I went to the school the next day and by 11AM I had every signature I needed and I was no longer a servant to something I did not like nor believe in. My education had to come from experiencing as much as possible and do it as quick as possible. The college was holding me back and getting in the way. I was learning a rehash of what I was already learning in High School. The computer was some 60 feet long. These guys were teaching me Cobalt and Fortran when it was obvious it would be obsolete by the time I even graduated. Sorry, but it was not a leap to figure out what was coming. I was wasting time and I had no clue what I wanted to do to begin with.


I started seeing the difference in each industry and business and also the earnings capability and potential. When I was busting tires for Firestone at The Broadway Department store that was a dirty job and that was bottom for me.


I went to work for Fuller Brush. I took the 1 week sales program and made 2 calls and retired from the Fuller Brush Co. I then went and landed a sales job at Kirby Vacuum Cleaners. I went thru the 1 week training program, made 2 calls, and retired from the Kirby Vacuum Company.


Next was selling Cars for Pontiac and American Motors. I lasted there 6 weeks. Went through sales training 7 days a week, sold my first car, an AMC Gremlin that was bolted to the floor (Meaning you should never sell that vehicle) and earned a $25 commission. Me and the Gremlin basically left at the same time. I was persona non gratta and knew when the check came in on Friday I was gone. And I was. But not before I landed another job. One I had been working on during my 6 week tenure at the auto dealer. So at least at 19 I knew I did not want to sell cars for a living.


Here is my first chapter of a life changing story.


Next stop was retail furniture. I called them from the auto dealer and got an interview. I went, they said they would call me. I never heard back. A week later I saw the ad in the classifieds again. I called. He said I was supposed to call him back and I said I was waiting to hear from him. I made an appointment for another interview. I never showed up at that interview. I just blew it off. Then 2 weeks later I had a dream. True story. I had a dream I could sell furniture even though I had never been in a furniture store in my life except for the one in the interview. I called the guy back for a 3rd time. I told him about this dream. He said come in right now.


So I left the auto dealer and made a bee line to that store as I knew the next day I was going to be without a job. He hired me. His name was Frank. He was slick and polished. I was not. But like many others, I spoke to Frank just over the last few months. We still keep in touch. He changed my life. He didn't even like me too much back then. Still can take me with a grain of salt lol. But hey, our paths have crossed many times and to be able to reach back to the first guy that ever gave a kid at 19 a break, that's cool.


It does not stop there. On the way home that night I passed by the store I was going to work at. It was a 5 store chain in Southern California. Mostly mattresses and bedroom furniture. So not knowing a thing about furniture, I decided I better find out quick. So I posed as a customer and walked into the store I was supposed to report to in the morning. I said I was looking for a mattress. The salesman's name was 'Dave'. I found out later that he was the store manager. So Dave pitched me for an hour on the different mattresses. I soaked it up like a sponge.


The next day I reported for my first day of work on my first real job in life. Of course some would not agree as there was no base pay and what I earned was on an 8% commission.


Dave looked at me. I told him who I was and the first words out of his mouth were, 'You son of a Bitch!' He thought he was going to make a sale and I had to tell him that when I was in last night I was just 'Stroking' him so I could learn what I was going to do. After a few minutes he laughed. He said what I did was smart and he took me under his wing. Dave was about 10-12 years older than me. Still is. lol


That night I made my first sale. A bedroom set that had been on their floor for 2 YEARS that they could not get rid of. I got lucky, sold it and I was on my way. From that one sale I earned like $250 which was more than I earned selling cars for the last 6 weeks. Dave is still one of my closest friends in life to this day.


That sale was the first success I ever enjoyed in my entire life. After going through the intense training programs of these companies, selling furniture was easy. Something clicked. I had found something I was not only good at, and not only was I the youngest as most were 35-50, I was top dog out of about 50 salesman when I left 9 months later as I left California to come to Florida.


But before I left Al Heller, who owned the chain, provided me with the best education I had ever had. About 4 months into the job Dave got transferred and a new manager came. His name was 'Ben.' Ben did not like me very much. So one day he fired me because my hair was too long. So I left, I called Frank, and the next day I was rehired and working in the Main Store where the offices were and the owner was. Frank also worked out of that store. Al Heller was an incredible businessman. He believed that everyone that walked into the store was there to buy. And I mean everyone. He explained why. He said 'after they have been to all the department stores and then they come into my schlock house, that means they did not find what they want and all they want to do is find what they want, buy it and go home.'


In the months after I watched him take customers from time to time. He closed every single one he ever took. I mean EVERY one. So it proved if a customer did not buy something, then 'We' as sales people did something wrong. In each case when a customer walked out without buying we would role play with the other sales people to see where the deal went south. In each case the weak point was identified.


I remember one time there was a sales meeting and Al said 'One day you will come back to thank me for this opportunity.' He was right. When I got on the road I went back to personally thank him about 10 years later. Those days changed my life. His thinking changed who I was and what I saw and what I believed. He died a couple years back.


And let me not go on without mentioning Bob Hayde. Bob was a generation ahead of him time. He was like Tony Robbins before Tony was Tony. Bob was imported by Al from Silicon Valley before there was a Silicon Valley. He really was the one that introduced us all to 'Positive thinking.' For that, I will be ever grateful. I got to thank him years later but sadly he died many years ago no older than I am right now. Al eventually married Bob's sister Lynda. I think they are all deceased.


But the few months I spent there was more like 2 years because I worked 75 hours a week. I worked 9AM-10PM, 5 days a week. 9-6 on Saturday and Noon - 6 on Sunday. I had 2 days a week off, but I worked almost every single week I was there. Except one. That weekend I drove from Los Angeles to mid Oregon and back. They were shocked that I could actually make a trip like that in 2 days. More than shocked, they were puzzled because why would anyone do that? I was 19. I just wanted to see new places.


And then came Florida. Kind of like the lyrics in a John Denver song. I was 'Going home to a place I've never been before.' But it was not West Virginia, it was Florida. I had never been to Florida but my parents moved there nearly a year earlier. I loved my job, but I did not love California. There was something about it that I did not like. The smog for one thing. Even though some of my closest friends are there and I have spent a good deal of my life there, I prefer life in the east.


I left at midnight on Valentine's Day and drove from L.A. to Miami in 2.5 days. I think I spent just one night (5 hours) in a motel room. The rest of the time, I just drove. 1-10 was not even completed in many places along the way.


In Florida I had a job kinda lined up there. But it was selling an intangible as a “Middleman,” a “Jobber,” a “Wholesaler,” representing ourselves as the “Factory.” I became a “Packaging Engineer.”


The way the concept worked back in the 1970’s is you would wine and dine your target clients. Salesman would offer kickbacks to the buyer and all types of stuff that today would be frowned upon . Back than, it was common practice. It went away with the 3 Martini lunch in the 1990’s. But I am getting off track.


I was now 20, I looked 15 and the thought of me trying to pull that off were unlikely at best. I stayed there for about 12 months until I called on a lighting and furniture factory one day in Hialeah, Florida run by 2 energetic but crazy Cubans that were just a little older than me but we had some things in common. So I would call on them and I am not sure if they ever ordered from me or not but they started to offer me a job every time I would call on them. I would always decline because these guys were crazy.


Meanwhile I hated my job and wanted to get back into furniture. I had a $150/week “Draw” and all I would do is go to the bowling alley and play the pinball machine and wait for lunchtime so I could take a client to lunch so that I could eat a meal myself. Then I would goof off in the afternoon until I would have to go to the office at about 4PM. I really hated it. Then I finally closed a really big deal and the credit got turned down. A huge linoleum company was going to buy all their tubes that they roll their product on. It was a biggie. It would have given me a base living for years. I was pretty dejected when a competitor walked away with the account because they took their credit.


I had always wanted to get back into the furniture business and so I had a 1 week vacation coming in May. I went to my Cuban friends Andy and George and agreed to work a test week with Andy to see if I wanted to do this and if I could actually make money. I started the day before my 21st birthday.


So in the first week we hit the road and worked the west coast of Florida. I made $1000 and each night we went to the clubs and we got laid. So I had found a new avenue. I went back home, quit my job and headed on the road. A trip that lasted 15 years with only a few weeks a year in Florida. I tell the story of my first few days on the road in my DomainSherpa interview. I was intimidated to put it lightly.


I worked for them for over 5 years and then eventually went to work with the competition who offered me “Carte Blanche” to do what I had done for the first company to do for theirs. And so I did. 7 years following the same path, calling on the same people. From Border to Border and Coast to Coast.


That was the last “Job” I ever had. In 1984 I was fired for making too much money. They had tried to cut my wings the year before after 5 years there. They saw I was about to make some serious dollars so they figured out a way to screw me….or so they thought. They dangled this carrot in front of me THINKING there was no way for me to achieve what they set as targets. The plan was for me to make less money not more.


Bad move! So I sign this 5 year contract after being there a little over 5 years. 9 months later after opening warehouses in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and landing some of the largest accounts in the country, they were stupefied. Instead of their plan to keep me earning under $100k, I engineered a formula for growth that would get me $750,000 in the second year!


So they decided to bring in this pipe smoking , 55 year old Sales Manger to replace me that never had a job for more than 2 years in his life to become the hatchet man. I told him to go fuck himself. I told him he was just going to bury them with his ideas. So after a few weeks, I got fired. I hired a lawyer a few weeks before and had kept a diary of events. To make a long story short, I sued them. Did not get a lot of money. But I got enough money to print brochures, go to some trade shows and put me into business on my own. I was about 31 or 32 at that point.


18 months later the factory I had built in sales collapsed and went out of business. At 31 I was not sophisticated as you all can plainly see I have gotten no better. But I made sales and they decided they wanted a “professional” image. So the pipe smoker that looked the part of a great leader has another addition to his resume. And the guys I worked for, well then they worked for others and our paths have only crossed once. Me going up, while they were going down. That’s payback because I devoted my soul to a company I had no financial interest in and then just got thrown to the curb after making them all a lot of money. Transforming them from a local supplier to one that was nationwide.


There are more stories to tell as I go into business for myself for the very first time. I had to learn and learn fast. And I did. This is still before Fed Ex and the only lifeline I had was an 800 number. I ran my business via an 800 number answering service. I would do trade shows to the tune of 55 per year. You name the industry and I was at their trade show. I had no home but pivoted out of my brothers house in Cape Cod.


Things were going well in the mid and late 1980’s. Then a severe recession hit. The trade shows I was doing were no longer profitable. The worst part was I had to pay for these shows as much as a year in advance. By 1989 I was going broke. I had already paid for the shows but by the time I paid for hotel, car and airfare, I would lose even more money. What to do?


Then on the way to Houston Texas driving my 35” Bluebird Motor home, my back went out. I think the event actually happened several days before when I slipped hard on some ice. I finished the trip but by the time I returned home several weeks later, I was a mess. I ended up in bed for 6 straight weeks. I was 60 miles from the closest hospital and if I even moved I was in excruciating pain.


To this day I have never experienced such around the clock pain. Then add to the at the very worst part. As I am laying in bed, I learn my mother has breast cancer and I can’t even go down to be with her. That was with out doubt the low point. I cried every time I thought of her because there was nothing I could do. I had to literally crawl to the bathroom.


After 6 weeks I was finally able to walk about 25 feet to the front of the motor home. So next I get to a car and get driven to the hospital. The Doctor there said if I did not have surgery immediately I would never walk again. I had ruptured my disk. But since I had been improving and walking a little for the first time I decided to get a second opinion at the Lahey Clinic in Boston. Their conclusion was they “Hate to operate on people that are starting to feel better.”


So I went back to my motor home and rested for several more months. But I was in bed about 50% of the day. The shows I had already paid for were going on and I was losing all my money. I went broke.


So I moved from Cape Cod back to Florida. I had to reinvent my business and do it without trade shows. Without traveling. That was a challenge. I thought for months how can I still make a living and be bed ridden? So I started to advertise in trade publications instead of doing trade shows. It worked, but I was still a mess as my back stopped me from living life.


That was when I found a chiropractor about 2 years later. The first guy I went to would never ask me if I was feeling better, he would tell me. Problem was it was only marginally true. Then I found another chiropractor. Results were different. I would go as much as 3x in one day. But in time I went less and less and started to improve. I did not have to take any pain killers or lay in bed for 3-5 hours each day.


Little by little my back started getting stronger. 3x a day went down to 3x a week. The 1x a week. Then 1x a month. Today, I still have a very bad back. I can’t lift anything more than 5 or 6 lbs without doing damage. But I have learned to deal with it. I go to the chiropractor when I need to which over the past 5 years has been about 1x a year. So don’t believe a word you hear about chiropractors. I learned that doctors just mask your pain with drugs but never alleviate it. My friends that have had back surgery are no better off that I am and in most cases, much worse.


My back episode changed my life and while it cost me a great deal in the beginning, it forced me to do business in a different manner. To work smarter. The advertising led me to the 800 numbers and the 800 numbers led me to domain names. The rest is well documented over the years and via my posts.


Have a GREAT Day!

Rick Schwartz


Update: First job (not counting being a paperboy) was at Dairy Whip. $1.00/hour. After 30 days my name was no longer on the schedule. I guess I sucked really bad at 15. Then the box boy gig that lasted until they wanted money for the union at 60 days. So I got a job at W.T.Grant's which was a 5 & 10. I was there for 2 hours when they gave me a 15 minute break. I went next door to 'Bradlees' and got a job for $1.50 which was 25 cents an hour more. So I went back to W.T. Grant's and gave them my 2 hour notice. So that was my shortest job. I lasted at Bradlees for a couple months which lead to my job flipping burgers, my first 2 girlfriends since I was 13 and all in the same small shopping center because not a store in the mall would hire me. I hitchhiked in those day to and from work every day unless I was lucky enough to catch a ride with someone part of the way and then hitch a ride from there. I'll probably think of some more things I did in time. lol

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27 thoughts on “32 Jobs by the Time I was 20. 2 Jobs After That. Then into Business for Myself.

  1. mano

    Rick, at times you’re seen talking to yourself, but this post is to everyone. There’s nothing more valuable than accumulated real life stories that tell’s life would never be an easy road. Thanks and I wish to have some sort of story later in my life to talk about…

    Reply
  2. Ron Jackson

    Loved this post – so many things in it that will help young people looking for their calling in life if they pay attention. Where you said”So at least at 19 I knew I did not want to sell cars for a living” was a KEY point. You can and should learn SOMETHING from EVERY experience in your life, good or bad, that will refine your search for what you are meant to do.
    The lessons that stick are the ones you learn through personal experience. Everything you did and hated showed you what you did NOT want to do or be – that is vitally important and made that time in those many jobs time well spent.
    I’m always fascinated by how people got from point A to point B and it is rarely a straight path (especially for the most successful entrepreneurs). Yours has to be the most twisted path I’ve ever seen (actually multiple paths – in fact it seems like there aren’t ANY paths you haven’t been on!), but look where you are now. It’s a remarkable story – thanks for taking the time to put it down in print. I’m sure it will inspire a lot of people who find themselves in a place where you’ve already been. If they don’t like that place – that’s good – they’ve learned something that has taken them one step closer to where they want to be.

    Reply
  3. Uzoma

    This read like a manuscript for a great movie & best seller. ‘Twas so intense and riveting, I finished it at 4.30 in the morning…

    Reply
  4. steve

    Well after 5 failed companies and broke I found some Christian radio stations. So I just prayed and said God kill me or get me a job painting houses I don’t care anymore. And my life turned around where good things just happened out of the blue. People who told me things told me they were all wrong and they could use me.
    Thankfully I didn’t have to go through everything you did.
    That is how life goes but you didn’t lower yourself to these scumbag levels that surrounded you. That is why I believe you have been blessed so much.
    I’ve met people that have begged me for help and how I can trust them and they will owe me so much…blah blah blah
    So I helped them and now they just ignore me and won’t return my phone calls because its a year past the due date for payment.
    First rule in business always pay your debts.
    Now look at America and the losers we have in Congress and answer the question of what is to become of America. You should be very scared.

    Reply
  5. James

    @Ron Jackson -”You can and should learn SOMETHING from EVERY experience in your life, good or bad, that will refine your search for what you are meant to do.”
    Reminds me of a quote by Dr Robert Anthony -”there is no failure, only feedback”.
    If all you learn from something is not to do it that way again, you’ve still benefited from it.

    Reply
  6. luizh

    It was a good description about your past.Nice to hear stories like this, mainly because after the top you still can keep a mind unrealistic about your success and about yourself and it helps me to believe in my own way too. After several challenges, I hope you are now a more happy person. Thanks

    Reply
  7. SEO GOD

    So you’re a buddhist now?
    Xtians give a homeless man food and makes him dependent on charity of the church
    A buddhist sees a homeless man and teaches him to fish, so he can feed himself
    NMRK

    Reply
  8. Rob Sequin

    WOW! Great story… or should I say stories?
    Thank you for all the life lessons along the way.
    The career path of a true entrepreneur.
    I like the Cuba and Cape Cod connections.
    Congratulations.

    Reply
  9. Melodramatic

    You make a great motivational speaker. Yesterday’s and today’s post should inspire even the laziest person on Earth.

    Reply
  10. todaro

    nice read… read the whole thing. saw how long it was before i started reading and didn’t want to but i did and i’m glad i did.

    Reply
  11. Domains, Oil, Gold, Land, and Food

    One of the better posts you have ever made. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was a long one to read. :)
    That’s true entrepreneurship, you can’t buy those experiences in school.

    Reply
  12. ScottM

    “Suceess is failure turned inside out” is what Joe Sugarman used to always tell Gary and me and the many others who worked for/with him, read his books or attended his seminars over the years. So true. Once you learn to tweak your failures you inevitably end up with success. Same as how a baby first tries to stand up, falls again and again but eventually learns to stand up and walk. That’s you Rick, very inspiring what you have shared, you have a great story telling gift; you really should sit down with a writing assistant and get to work on your first book!

    Reply
  13. Sai Pola

    Rick,
    The BEST of all the BEST posts. Bookmarked this post so can reread it many times.
    Every word in it is worth its weight in Gold

    Reply
  14. Brett Lewis

    Amazing. The fact that you remember everything in such detail is remarkable. I have to differ in that I loved college, but nothing that I learned in college makes me successful at what I do. Ok, maybe critical thinking, but calculus? Anthropology? What your post makes clear is that nothing is a substitute for experience and perseverance.

    Reply
  15. stevev

    Well people that succeed have worked very hard to get the skills they need. I watch the government hand out contracts to women and blacks under some minority program. They always point out the 1 or 2 that succeeded. But the truth is 98% fail and lose all their money because they didn’t acquire the skills they needed. Then they blame this or that. Yet I have seen some women, blacks, whatever, start with $2000 and make a strong business. The government just wastes money.

    Reply
  16. Richard St Cyr

    Hi Rick,
    Quite a story and I am sure many other people have similar stories
    some even a lot more challenging, but I enjoyed your story.
    The road to the top can be rough but it can be summed up in one word,
    called PERSEVERANCE.
    Congratulation on your success,
    Dick St Cyr

    Reply
  17. Joe Ray

    Rick, you need to write a book, I’ll buy it. We all have stories and it would be great if we could share them. My story is not unlike yours.

    Reply
  18. Meyer

    Rick, That was a great article.
    I agree with Brett. I don’t know how you remember all of the points in your life and emotions.
    I also had some of the same experiences. (For example, having a ruptured disk while attending the Nat’l Hardware Show in Chicago. You were probably there at the time. )
    Thanks for taking the time to write the article. I know it took a while.
    Keep them coming !!!

    Reply
  19. Rick Schwartz

    @Meyer, The National Hardware Show was one I hated when I first did it and came to love more than any other show I did next to the National Restaurant Association (cuz they had some good food!) and CES because there was huge action there and all the cool new stuff.
    I think I must have done the Hardware Show for about 5 years. 1984-1988. One of my very first shows and I had a booth in the tunnel near the restaurant year after year. I would not be surprised if our paths crossed.

    Reply
  20. Lucas

    great to know your personal experiences Rick,
    thank’s for sharing, surely very inspirational!

    Reply
  21. Bob

    Hey Rick! Isn’t it funny what a small, interconnected world that we live in? I still chuckle when I think of you and I crossing paths many times at Mt. SAC without meeting! But at least we did finally get to circle back in the domain world and becomes friends!

    Reply

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