This is an open letter I wrote to an old dear friend from England. His name is Edem. When you haven't spoke to someone in 20 years, the letter becomes more of a mini-biography.
Open Letter to Edem
Hello Edem! My dear friend. And I mean that with complete earnestness. It was a pleasure to receive your response. I must say, you were not so easy to track down. I would look for you every few years. But alas! Here you are! Okay, first I have a few more questions to ask you about those Mongolians who would eat their captors. Was it the cannibalism that gave them such power or simply having protein in the midst of winter? Ha ha. That imagery has stayed in my mind ever since we had that discussion on the boat. Wait, what? Did I live on my father’s boat? Oh geez, I had balls.
So much has changed. In 1998, I moved to Seattle. And within done week, I found myself in the midst of the 1998 WTO riots. Martial Law for 3 days. Then, in 2001, I moved to Manhattan; on September 1st, 2001. Fortunately, I had just left NYC a few days prior to the tragic event of 9/11 and I was back in Seattle to close up loose ends.
That was when life became real for me. I had two choices: I could either wake up or hit the snooze. Well, I was 33 years old so I hit the snooze button. But not before quitting the software industry and a major way. At least that happened. Shortly thereafter, I ran out of money. You’d be surprised how fast money goes in Manhattan when you don’t have an income. Well, that was fine with me. Now I was 35 and I had seen enough of the world so I wanted to move back to Oregon anyways.
But before leaving NYC, I learned that my friends were not actually much of friends at all. Believe it or not, Dan and Greg abandoned me in 2002. I was shocked. I did not understand why. They said it had to do with hiss girlfriend, his sister, some drugs at my cousin Carlos’ wedding in Las Vegas. All I remember was a damn good time.
Looking back, I firmly believe that it had to do with the fact that they swindled me (and you) for nearly $100,000. I cannot prove it, but I recall when Dan Nieder and Mike McCann surprised me and Greg Hedges with this huge contract to sign. It was literally 8-12 inches thick. We were planning on exchanging money and then going out to dinner. We were going to eat at that Asian Bistro - was the name? Ginger something.
Anyways, when Greg and I arrived to pick Dan and Mike up for dinner, they presented this huge contract. There was no way Greg and I were going to read that contact. And they knew that. But we had to sign it or the whole deal would fall through. I remember Greg being extremely frustrated and questioning why the money goes to McCann Cadillac (Mike’s family business) first before they disperse it to the investors. They said, it’s a formality, don’t worry about it. Greg was hesitant. I pushed Greg to sign it. Boy, was I was naive.
They used my trust. Ummm… What was that word you taught me on the boat? Shysters.
I learned a lot about people. I did not understand how people, even best of friends, could be so greedy. It was then that I realized that I was the only one who had a concept of a friend. Dan used that concept to swindle me out of nearly $100,000. What’s even worse is Dan Nieder and Mike McCann were born into wealth. They have never had to apply for a job so you won’t find them on Linkedin. That’s because their families own a large portion of Seattle. Yet, they felt the need to steal from me. But they didn’t steal it. Stealing would require them to come up with a plan. And that would require Dan and Mike to work. It was easier to swindle me.
I am greatly sorry I got you involved with that deal. Of course, I had no idea at the time. I thought we were all going to be billionaire tycoons.
That was bigger than 9/11 for me.
In 2003, I learned a trade. I learned to bartend. Best job I ever had. Cash basis. What you make that day is what you need. Loved it. Eventually, I worked my way up. In 2004, Ianded a gig at The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado. I had never heard of it. That’s because the rooms start at $5,000 per night. Some of my clients were Ivanka and Ivana Trump, Robert Wagner, Robert DiNero, Al Greenspan, OJ Simpson, Carrot Top and all the people who pay their salaries. I met the CEOs of cellular companies. If only I had something to sell them. Now, there a gorilla marketing idea. Offer bartenders to generate leads by giving them $500 for every valid contact. It would work better than your top paid salesperson cold calling for hours.
In 2008, my father became with cancer. My sister became full fledged schizophrenic, wandering the streets. So I took over the family business. My father moved to Las Vegas with my mother where she had some family.
There I was running a hardware store in a small town called West Linn, Oregon. I moved sales online and I tripled revenue with 5 years. Willamette General Store went from $1.1M to $3.2 million in annual sales. The industry was stunned and opened 3 different hardware stores in the neighborhood. Talk about not researching your data. They only looked at the revenue.
With all the hype and big sales at the Hardware Store, I managed to sell the business to pair of greedy Californias looking to capitalize on the next “cute little neighborhood”. Last I checked in 2015, there was a big FOR LEASE sign. I guess I did learn something from Dan and Mike after all.
After my father died, I sold their businesses and their Oregon properties. I gave all the monies to my mother and sister and I moved to Panama with my soon to be wife, Joy.
And that’s how I ended up in Las Vegas. And that is what I have been doing in a nutshell for the past 20 years. Great catching up. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Jedi Rich Lightowler
Former banker and CEO, JediRich Lightowler changed his life at age 48 to follow his passion of photography, music, video and production. He visits Las Vegas during spring and fall, the tropics during the winter, and travels during the summer to New York and London.