Charles J Read | Peace Amid Conflict, Losing Loved Ones, & Using Adversity to Our Advantage
Can you imagine riding cross country 2000 miles on a bicycle? What about doing it for your 40th birthday? That’s right. This week’s guest talks about riding cross-country by himself at 14, graduating from high school a year early with a D average, joining the military, seeing things that no human should have to see learning to deal with the trauma.
Starting a business, growing it with his wife, having amazing future. Even though his past had heartache. So in this episode, our guest is going to teach us how to take adversity and use it to our advantage, to find peace in the middle of conflict and how to just keep moving forward, even when life’s tough.
So all this and more in this week’s episode of the [00:01:00] remarkable people podcast, the Charles Reed story, enjoy.
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INTERVIEW Charles Read Peace Amid Conflict Losing Loved Ones and How to Use Adversity to Your Advantage: Hey Charles, how are you doing? David. I am. Excellent. Thank you for having me on. Oh, thanks for being here. I’m excited for the episode. I just told our audience about you showed them your fancy book because not only is a contents great, but the way it’s delivered is amazing.
It comes in a high quality box and you have great information resources within it, tools, bookmarks, and we’ll get to the book later, but this time, what share your life story with our audience. [00:02:00] So what we’re going to do is start off in your childhood because our formative years are very important to make us the men we are today.
So just go through the highs, the lows, the everything in between your life. And we’ll just chronically walked through Charles’ life and glean from your knowledge and experience, and hopefully all become better people. Sounds good. Not a problem. Alright. So where’s Charles from, are you from Zambia?
No, no, no. I’m a Midwestern boy. I grew up in Iowa. I was born at university hospital, Iowa city. I grew up in Davenport. I was a swimmer and I was a dramatist. I, we had a children’s theater in town, so I was in drama from the time I was six through high school. I was a swimmer all the way through high school as well, a bicyclist, a poor student because I found school to be boring.
I graduated from high school with a, a D average, but I graduated a year early, [00:03:00] so graduated in 16. I was too young to do anything. Wasn’t ready for college. Worked for a few months and joined the United States Marine Corps. All right, well, Hey, before you go on into that, we’re in a pickup, the Marine Corps, let’s backtrack really quick.
You said you had a DBA graduate a year early. I want to hear about that, but background, you have mom, dad, brother, sisters. What was your actual family structure? Okay. I have three sisters, no brothers. So I was the only boy in the family. I have two older sisters and one younger. So I’m the third child, which has some issues of its own.
You’re not the baby. So you don’t get everything after everybody else has gone. You’re not the oldest. I’m the only boy. So my hand me downs with girls clothes, you know, that’s a big deal in a no-no. It was. Yeah. Well, when you’re, when you’re 11 years old, it’s a big deal. Let me tell you, so you know, it was, it was five.
My [00:04:00] father was both my parents or UCLA graduates. They graduated class at 36. Dad was Navy during world war II. So there was a lot of discipline in that. We had a plan of the day posted in the upstairs hallway every day with activities that we had planned and scheduled, just like you would want on a Navy ship, you’d have a plan of the day.
So that’s how the household is run. My mother had had a heart attack when I was relatively young and was semi invalid. So all of us kids cooked for the family as we grew up. And as my sisters aged out of it, I became the cook for the family for a few years, which led to me cooking after high school professionally.
So you know, we, we, we were not rich by any means but we weren’t poor or middle-class. Dad knew a lot of people in town. We had a Christmas party every year for all the clients [00:05:00] Christmas Eve they’d come over. Which is why I hate Christmas. The only time of the year, the house really got clean was prior to the party on Christmas Eve.
So we spent the four days before Christmas, out of school cleaning the house in, in detail. So I might, my wife had to really push me to celebrate kids with Christmas, with the kids. So, you know, that’s just one of those things. But so we grew up in the big house in Iowa and I walked to school and got a motorcycle.
And when I was 16 and drove it to school, a little Honda you know, 50 CC you know, pretty much a, a Midwestern life was a bicycle. So I did what I was started. And 14, I rode the bicycle from Iowa to California to see grandmother. Wow. How long is that in [00:06:00] distance? About 2000 miles. And you were 16.
I turned 14 on the way 14. That is crazy. Even back then. That’s crazy. So did you have anybody with you or did you go a hundred percent on your own? Just on my own. Okay. So what was that like? Like what made you want to do that? What lets your parents allow you to do that? Well, I wanted to do it. I was a cyclist.
I’ve been cycling long distances. You know, and I just wanted to do it. It was dad had been a cyclist when he was young, so it was a thing and they just said fine and we just erase it and I burned the money that to cover the cost. And just did it one summer. And what was it like when you got out there on the road?
You’re 13 years old becoming 14 and you’re traveling 2000 miles on a bicycle where you at any point, like, wow. [00:07:00] Maybe this was a bad idea. I can’t wait. What was your emotional state and your mental state like, well, frankly, you’re, you’re busting your ass physically. I was consuming about seven to 8,000 calories a day.
Because I’m bicycling for, you know, 10, 12, 15 hours a day. It’s lonely, frankly out there that’s that’s the biggest emotional problem was, was loneliness. So it was no better. Yeah. Now it just, it boggles my mind. Cause I’m mindset today. You never let your child do that. They’d be abducted or kidnapped or hurt.
Even adult cyclists, they go on trips together. They have cars that follow them. I only have so many safeguards in place and you’re just like, Hey, let’s do this. I mean, 60 years ago, the world in a different place. No. And that’s what I’m saying. I’m just reflecting on how different it was just in our life.
How different the world [00:08:00] was and in a lot of ways better. All right. So you’re growing up. You’re the third child with all sisters. So it was just you and your dad as, as the, the males. And you’re moving through life overall great life and, you know, get into, grow into a man, even at an early age, become independent.
And then you graduate from high school. Explain how you had a D average, but graduated a year early. Well, I could obviously do the test. I just, I got into trouble with the teachers. It was so bad that they were going to make me stay another year because no English teacher would have me for that last semester of English.
So I took a class in night school to get my last English credit. And it was 12 women, the youngest, which was 25. And now I’m 16. Remember, and a woman teacher and I had a black. They wouldn’t let me get away with anything. You know, I was [00:09:00] basically, most of them had kids my age. So I made an a in the class is the only a in English I made it was just a fabulous class.
So, you know, it’s not that I’m not intelligent. I mean, I graduated from college with honors in, in less than two years. So it’s just, the school was the conformity they insisted on was just not me. I’m a, non-conformist always have been anti-impact over. I remember when I was six years old and I wanted to cross the street and walk with my friends at school.
And the school sent a letter to my father saying I wasn’t allowed to do that. And he sent a letter back saying that I can cross the street and wherever the hell I wanted to. And it was none of their damn business. So I got, I got the anti-authoritarian. From, you know, honestly from my father. So I will not put up with petty bureaucrats [00:10:00] pushing nonsense rules.
I I’ve, I’ve always refused to do that. Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And people know my stance on the podcast. It’s like, I don’t care about the legal side. I care about the moral thing. And when people are trying to push agendas on us, I don’t care if it’s Republican Democrat, libertarian, God gave us free will and we should give each other that.
So I’m tracking with you now, what branch of service was your father? Navy Navy. So now you go to high school, you go to college, you knock out college in two years. I don’t go. I don’t go to college until after my service. 24, 25 years old. Oh, I apologize. It’s because let’s go back then. So you graduate from high school a year early and then where does.
I’m working for at and T is a long distance told Testament, and I’m working in the evenings as second cook and the Blackhawk hotel, which is the best hotel in town. So I have two jobs I’m working full time and two jobs [00:11:00] and having a great time but not ready to, to, to don’t know what I want to do with myself.
Military sounds interesting and I want to prove myself. So I joined the United States Marine Corps at 17 about 17 and a half. When I joined no back then, did you have to get a parental waiver, which yes. And your parents had no problem. So that’s great. Well, we we’ve been in our family, citizen soldiers since the revolutionary war.
My grandfather was a military doctor in both world war. World war one and two, my father served his father served. It goes all the way back to George Reed who distant, distant relative of mine who signed the declaration of independence. So that’s just been us of my three sisters. Two of them served in the military and the other one used to fly Mac flights in and out of [00:12:00] Vietnam for Pan-American.
we’re just, we all are citizen soldiers. We just believe in it. Amen. That’s love God loved country law, family, man. That’s how it should be. So, so when you joined the service, you went in and enlisted. I take it cause you came right out of high school. And then where did that journey go for you? Well, I did my boot at MCRD San Diego.
My ITR had penalties. Almost immediately after being assigned a Pendleton within a few months, I got my orders for overseas that December let’s see, 67 when I joined I was on a plane to Okinawa. So I spent 16 months in Okinawa. I kept putting in requests for transfer to Vietnam on my fourth one.
Well, let’s [00:13:00] go back out of bootcamp. I was trained, I got signed to data processing. There were four of us out of our battalion. They got assigned and we were in data processing. So I was in data processing in 1967. And once I got the Okinawa, I was sent to IBM for training as a cobalt programmer. So I became a programmer and later systems engineer while in the service, which was great.
And then I got my orders to Vietnam. Came down there was assigned to the data processing. There didn’t want to be in Vietnam and not be in combat. I was young and stupid, of course. So I got transferred to a rifle company and spent most of my tour in Vietnam as a combat increment. And radioman, since I was the data processing guy, they stuck me with the PRC 25 and prick 25 radio.
It’s a backpack radio with a whip antenna. [00:14:00] And the nasty thing about that is if you’re in an ambush, the first person they shoot is the radio guy, because they want to take out the radio. But that was okay. I didn’t get shot in that much. So now the radio man, are you at the point, are you at the tail or you were in the, between, where do they put you in the line?
You’re in between right next to the squad leader. So he can tell you what to say, eh, okay. So definitely a place of you gotta be close to God and that’s position that yeah, you, you are St. Julian was our appointment normally. He was incredible. Loved him. But no, I, I don’t, I don’t want to do point.
We lost our platoon guide to booby trap because he was left-handed he [00:15:00] stepped off of the wrong foot and he was about the fist guy in line. And when the movie he had the booby trap blew him away. So, you know, it was combat, ah, I am sorry to hear about your loss and thank you for your service because most people see this on TV and the thing, it’s not a big deal and you’re losing real friends and real trauma.
So thank you Charles. Very much. It’s, it’s something I live with to this. Yeah, but there’s good and bad. You learn a lot about yourself. You learn about other people you learn to depend on people and trust people. Also Vietnam is a very beautiful country. One of the most peaceful scenes in my life was in Vietnam.
We were going on patrol. We’d gone north from red beach to excuse me, a small village where we’d gotten out of our vehicle and we’re going in to do interdiction. [00:16:00] And it’s sunset. We’re all walking along the dike, the rice, Patty dike, 10 yard intervals on the daytime insects that basically settled down for the night.
And the nighttime insects are just beginning to, to buzz out. It’s warm, but not hot. The sun is setting and it’s turning purple over the mountains to the north of us, north of the. And the Buddhist gong in the village behind us begins to sound. And that just reverberates that deep sonorous sound just reverberates across the rice patties, across the water and in the middle of combat in the middle of the combat zone, in the middle of a combat assignment, the pace that that scene brought was just incredible.
It’s something I [00:17:00] pressure even now more than 50 years later. Well, let’s park there. Let’s make that the first talking point. So you are in combat threat, trauma, danger, all the things. You know what keep people from finding peace and in the middle of that, you have one of the most peaceful and serene moments of your life.
And you described it with such beauty. So talk us through dealing with the trauma, because obviously you learned how, and so many people today, they have never been taught to deal with things. They, they truly have no real problems in life, but they act like everything’s a big deal. Then there’s other people who’ve really seen trauma, really been abused, really been violated and [00:18:00] they’re struggling to get out.
So what are the steps, at least a starting point to our listeners who have been truly hurt in our stuck in trauma? What would you recommend for them a way out? Well, there’s a couple of, first of all, I avoid certain things. I avoid crowds. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like to be hemmed in I’m mildly claustrophobic.
So I avoid those situations. I just make sure I’m not in those situations. So avoid those triggers. And they got less and less as I got back in the states and married and had wife and kids, and so on a lot of that calmed down over the years, but I still avoid crowds to this day and certain other things.
But beyond that, happiness is a choice. [00:19:00] If you choose to be upset and worried, if that’s what you will be, if you choose to be happy, you can be happy. Regardless of the circumstances you’re in, it is in my mind, they choice and I choose to be happy.
And when the thoughts come to you, like you said, you lost friends and you I’m sure you’ve had other things in your life that were traumatic and you’re choosing to be happy, but say, it’s trying to put those thoughts back in your head and bring them up even in nightmares at night. How do you deal with that?
I look at them.
I think about them. I think them through. And then I go back to, I choose not to let this run my life. I’ve lost a daughter. I’ve lost my wife. [00:20:00] Obviously my parents one of my sisters, the other one, one of the others is this. So I’m gone. There’s non-complex Memphis. Dementia is, is claimed her, but these don’t run my life.
Yeah, I miss my wife. I miss my daughter. I miss my family, but I choose not to let that be the end all be all. Sure. There’s nights. I, I scream at the night about the loss of my wife, but the next morning the sun comes up and there’s things to do and ways to have fun and enjoy life. I had the choice when she passed to lay down and die or go on with my life.
And I chose to go on with my life. Some men don’t and I understand that after 45 years of marriage, it was not easy to make that [00:21:00] decision to go on and enjoy life, but I chose to, and that’s the point is it’s a choice. If you want to be frightened of everything, that’s scared of everything and depressed and worried truly should be that way.
If you want to be happy and enjoy life and have fun, it’s really easy to do that too. You just have to make the choice and I choose to be happy. I, man, that’s a good choice. That’s a good choice. So you’re in the service and you’re gaining invaluable experience and knowledge. So what’s the rest of your tour look like of duty.
And where does that lead you? How do you get to that college? Well, let me give you one story from Vietnam. And I posted this on Cora here a few years ago and I’ve gotten in excess of 9,000 responses. And it is [00:22:00] a B episode in my life. You may or may not want to include this in the final, broad.
This is unedited. We go through this whole thing. So it’s a long form of podcast. You do what you feel led to do, brother. Very good. I was on guard duty arm, animal supply 0.2, which was north of DNA before it caught on fire and blew up a few months later. And they brought in people from all the units around to serve guard duty because you had to have more guards at night, then they didn’t have enough people there.
So we’d go and serve night guard duty. We were getting ready to get picked up one morning and we were going through the area and we flushed a small Vietnamese boy who had gotten under the fence and had gotten into one of the bunkers and had two grenades and he was running for the fence. So we started chasing him [00:23:00] to get the grenades back because if not, they’d be used as booby traps to kill us or other, you know, American person.
And it became, obviously we weren’t going to catch him and he was heading for the fence and we could see where he had like a shallow trench underneath the fence to get in and get out. Well, I’m a Marine Corps sharpshooter.
And you know, I, at that point in my life, he was going to be about 75 yards away when he got to the fence, went down on his belly to get underneath. So I stopped and flipped the safety off my M and took aim, being a Marine Corps sharpshooter at 75 yards, I can hit a quarter sideways. So I flipped off the safety and took aim and made the decision to kill a 10 or 11 year old.[00:24:00]
I made that decision, whether I pulled the trigger or not. And I, I, I, I never discussed that. Doesn’t matter. I made the decision to kill you on bullying and that’s something I’ve lived with all my life. It wasn’t a decision I was happy with, but it wasn’t one I felt was necessary. And those kinds of decision points in a person’s life help mold their personality, their psyche, and you know, I’m willing to make the tough decisions always have been, always will be even if they’re not pleasant.
And that’s a nice thing to know, not that I will kill children, but that I will make decisions. And that has stood me in good stead my entire life. [00:25:00] Is that ability to make that hard decision, to make that choice and move on. So I didn’t let it destroy me. I never will. And so the other decisions I’ve made throughout the years haven’t destroyed me either, even though sometimes I make the wrong choice.
Don’t we all don’t we all? So anyway, after Vietnam, I got assigned a kid city and that’s where I met my wife, my wife, Ruth Love of my life, light of my life. One who makes the desert flowers bear fruit.
And was she from Kansas city or where was she from? Originally? She was from, she was from Eastern, Missouri. She was living in Kansas city. She was working at a restaurant, just a couple of blocks from where I was living. I got to know her. And a number of the other waitresses. I got to know [00:26:00] her this way.
I would, I I’m a reader. So I would sit there at the counter and read, well, you know, with a cup of coffee, well, I’d read for hours with a cup of coffee and, you know, coffee was a quarter. So I tip a dime. That seat should have turned over four or five times. And the waitresses didn’t really want me there because they wanted more customers for more tips.
So Ruth would move me to a closed station where nobody was assigned and she would see to it that my coffee stayed hot. She’d dump out the cold coffee and pour me hot coffee. And that’s why I noticed her above all the others. Well, she would come down a couple of doors down was the lemon tree, which is a bar that I frequented with fake ID.
Cause I wasn’t 21 at the time. Later I did when I was 21. Autumn Tyson ran it. He stood up for me and my wedding [00:27:00] and his wife, but so I met Ruth down there and we talked more down there. And then one night she was in distress because she and her five children, I had no place to go. And so I said, bring him over to my place.
So earned a five kids, moved into my bachelor apartment, which was athema basement. And that was July. And in October we got married. At that point, you were just quote unquote friends, or did you have feelings for her at this point? It was just a friend. At that point we developed living together. We developed feelings and then shortly after I moved them in, I rented a house, moved them into that.
And we got married and we were [00:28:00] married for 45 years until she passed. So I don’t think anybody ever thought the marriage was going to work. She was 10 years older than I was, and I had five children. And if you want me to ask him what happened to her first husband, or first the father of the babies, he abused her and the children.
And I shepherded through the divorce. That’s why she had no place to go with the kids and her, or she’d called her parents. And they told her to find a policeman on the street and give the kids to them, which was, you know, that was her mother. So I never cared for, but that’s, you know, mother-in-law’s yeah, so he was up, he was a drunk and a drug addict and paid a grand total of $70 in child support.
Entirely for all the kids for all the years, $70. So I never went after him for it, but it allowed me to adopt my, my two youngest, my daughters [00:29:00] beautiful. He didn’t pay child support. So I adopted them and I may not be their natural father, but I’m daddy. And that’s a huge distinction. It’s a huge distinction and I’d much rather be daddy.
And then did you stick with the fives, a full house? Did you stick with the five or did you have more children together? When I got out of college a few years later, I was 30. Ruth was 40 and the baby was 13 and we chose not to. Yeah, we, we discussed it and we just trying to bring a baby into the house with the youngest being 13 and everything that goes with it.
Having had six children, she lost her one at birth Sharon. She was having gynecological problems anyway. And we just chose not to, I think the only time we regretted it was when we lost her eldest daughter to ovarian [00:30:00] cancer. So no, it was just the seven of us. That’s a full house as it is. But yeah, I agree with you more.
And our listeners know, you know, the person who fathers you is a person who had sex with your, your mother, but the person who raised you is your daddy and loves you. So that’s, that’s the important figure. The father is important and hopefully the father is the daddy, but when you have dysfunctional relationships, that’s fantastic.
You could stand in there and help those kids and that beautiful woman. So you meet her. And then how does that transition back into. Well, I’ve gotten out of the military there in Kansas city, Kansas city. This was 71 was in the middle of one of their union construction strikes and there were no jobs. So we packed up and moved to Dallas [00:31:00] and we left Kansas city, March 6th, 1972, snow on the ground.
All can’t say there’s a lot of fountains. They were all still frozen, solid. We moved down, drove down.
into Dallas crossed under LBJ. At six o’clock, 6:00 PM. Ron Chapman was doing primetime drive on KLIF I think. And it was 63 degrees and we thought we were.
So next day, Ruth found a job at Denny’s where she’d worked in Kansas city. No problem. They love to have her. I found a job. We went to work. I looked for professional jobs as a data processor and the companies I talked to didn’t believe that my military experience applied. One of them employers of Texas insurance company.[00:32:00]
They were moving from 1401 auto coder, which is an old line, which to IBM 360 cobalt. I had just been working on that converting the joint unified military paced system, the Marine Corps portion of it from auto coder on a 1401 cobalt on a 360 and the idiot recruiter there didn’t think my military experience applied.
So I was doing the exact same job in a fiscal invited. He just didn’t believe it applied. And what’s really ironic is they’re stereotypes about HR people and that’s what you ended up experiencing. But now you fast forward and that’s the kind of industry you’re in. So I’m cracking up on the inside here.
So I’m looking forward to get into that. So you meet one of the no brain HR people. They can’t see any kind of foresight or talent. So where do you go from there, [00:33:00] Charles? Well, he was the impetus for me to go to college and it’s the only time I’ve ever told a recruiter in my life that he was an idiot and the company went bankrupt about six, seven years later.
And I attributed to them hiring the wrong people. But so that’s when I said, okay, I need to go get my credentials. So I went to the local junior college for a few more. Then moved up to north Texas university of north Texas. It was north Texas state university at the time going full-time, you know, 18 to 21 hours a semester both summer sessions.
This was 74 when I started at Richland the junior college. And in December of 76, I had my MBA. And at the same time, while in graduate school, I cut back on my second semester of graduate school to [00:34:00] nine hours sat for and passed my CPA exam while I was still in college. So January of 77, I was ready for my new life and my new career in corporate, in the corporate world.
Nice. So did you know what you wanted to do at this point? Like, did you know this is the direction I want to go professionally? No. If you understand in. This point in time, data processing was not what it is today. Computer science. Wasn’t what it is today. There was not the pathway in college, really as much I was in business because my father had been able, we had a family business.
And so I started taking business courses, took some accounting courses, enjoyed accounting, took more accounting courses. My master’s is really a master’s in taxation, but I was enjoying it. So I, and I structured it. So it was an [00:35:00] MBA because I thought that was a better credential. And it was to have, rather than a master’s in tax.
If you have an MBA CPA, everybody thinks, you know, everything about business. He’s got an MBA and everything about accounting and tax because you have a CPA and it was a great set of credentials to enter the marketplace with. This was 76, 77, 1 76 when I finished my masters. So it was great. And then where do you go from there?
What’s your first career steps. You leave, you got your masters. Where does Charles go from here? Texas instruments. Oh, small company back then. It was, it was fun. I’ve been there about a year, just over a year. And Jerry Junkins, who was the president, was doing the annual report presentation to all the tires and all the locations around the world live closer to TV.[00:36:00]
And he talked about the 5,000 engineers they’d hired the year before you graduated and how they put them into the lab and then out running the business section and back in the lab and how this was the future of TEI. Okay. And probably spent a good 10 or 12. Discussing how they groomed engineers to, to come up through the ranks and TEI.
And then as an aside at the end of that, and he said, I went and we hired a thousand other graduates as well, and went onto the next subject. I was one of those other thousand graduates. So I knew what my place in TBI was. It wasn’t the future C I is a wonderful engineering company. And at the time they were terrible business people.
They had wonderful products. They, they had the first personal computer. They just didn’t know how to market it. Their calculators were, were incredible all kinds of things. They had all kinds of [00:37:00] engineering products, but they never could market them properly. I created one I got a grant internally, and we created a digital carpenter’s level, which they never marketed.
Somebody else did about 10 years. But I created that along with, I got a grant and got some engineering talent and we created a digital level while I was there. So it was fun. Yeah. And it’s so true. If you’re listening to this podcast, marketing is crucial, Charles and I were talking before the show and he’s going to get into that.
I’m sure about how his marketing, he thought was good until they hired a marketing team, right? And you can be the best physician in the world, but you struggle. You can be the best restaurant in the city, but you struggle. You can be the best engineer, the best, anything, but today, the sad truth is perception is reality for people.
[00:38:00] Now it should be truth as reality, but we live in a superficial society where perception is reality. So you have substandard products and services that use marketing to make them look impressive. And they’re rolling, waiting lines of clients. Then you have people who are experts in their fields. Like Charles was saying, excuse me, a TEI.
And they end up having major problems down the road because they just can’t mark it. So that’s such a good grasp. I mean, if you’re going to school and you can throw in some marketing classes, even if it’s for engineering or law, take them because you’re going to need it. I mean, would you agree, Charles?
Absolutely. I took several and I used what I could, but I was not a marketer and I’m not a salesperson. And I realized I wasn’t sales, but I thought I could market. I can’t, I’m a CPA. Okay. CPA and I, I learned this go to CPA conferences. Most of them are, are substantially worse than I am. I’m for a [00:39:00] CPM, a great marketer.
And that’s what led me to believe I could mark it because I’m so much better than most CPAs, but I’m still, no, I that’s. You know, the old saw that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will be a path to your door is a lie. You will starve in the woods by yourself. If you don’t go out and show people that you’ve got a better mouse trap and explain it to them and highlighted and make videos and all these things that go with it.
And like I said, we’ll get into that because I do a lot of marketing now. Yep. All right. So you get out you’re into Texas instruments. He talks about the 5,000 golden children and the thousand redheaded stepchildren. You’re one of the redheaded stepchildren, right? So where do you go from there? Well, I went from there.
I went to a company in San Antonio. We build jails, so I’ve been in, in dozens and dozens of jails which I use that line and people [00:40:00] look at me very funny, never spent the night in the one, but I, you know, I build them and jail for 12 years. Don’t don’t tell her that.
So yeah, I got that one. So I went there and learned a lot. Went on to other companies did turn around, did startups spent 15 years in the corporate world? And I realized I was never going to get to the top of a major corporation working for somebody else. I didn’t have the political skills. I I’m too outspoken.
I’m unwilling to stand people in the back and toss them off the ladder. So if I wanted to run a company, I wanted to, I, I don’t want to work for other people. I’d grown up in an entrepreneur environment. So Ruth and I started our own company in 1991. I’ve been working. I’ve been working for pennies, which was my last major employer.[00:41:00]
I was a controller in their specialty retailing division. We got sideways. And my lawyer who was my doing my contract work had a friend that had a small franchise operation that needed a COO. So I went over there and became COO for financial express. It was a mobile accounting service. The board was after the company to get rid of the original store and sell it off and concentrate on franchisee.
So I bought it and Ruth and I in, in March of 91 bought the, the original franchise. And about a year later the franchise or went belly up through mismanagement. So we just changed the name and kept on going. And that was that was the Genesis of where we’re at now, some 30 years later. And so that was in the payroll industry.
It was mobile accounting with a sideline of payroll. A number of years later, I’d taken on a. [00:42:00] And I sold him the accounting practice, but kept the payroll in, which is what I’m doing now is payroll and payroll related products and services exclusively. I know I don’t do accounting or tax anymore. So now are you considered a PEO or professional employer organization?
What do you consider yourself?
Are people in America explain what you are and what a PEO is and what the differences are? Because POS it’s like to me, I actually consulted and worked with some companies in that industry and you got some fine organizations, but I’d say for the most part, it’s just like a step above the stereotypical car salesman.
It’s just, they lie steal and cheat, and it’s really bad when they could do so much good to help people. So when you find a PO or a payroll company with integrity, you want to stick with them. So talk about what you do and then the differences, please. Okay. We’re a payroll service. [00:43:00] We process payroll for clients for a fee, we provide that service.
We write the checks, we send out the direct deposits. We deposit the taxes. We file all the tax forms we create and file the W2’s 10 90 nines, 9 41 to nine forties 10 96 w threes on and on and on. We handle all that for businesses. We concentrate on mostly on smaller businesses, 50 employees, and under this is really our target market.
We provide timekeeping, we help them get benefits, set up. We help them with HR. We help with handbooks. We we’re, we’re a full service operation. PEO actually employees, your employees, they’re a at best a co-employer. And so they’re not on your payroll. They’re on the PEOs. And the PEO is [00:44:00] supposed to do all these things for you that you would do for your people, HR benefits, workers’ comp and so on and so forth the PEO and to overcharge drastically.
That’s why our major competitors are really pushing their PEOs because it is the most profitable part of their business. But the problem is that when it comes down to it like HR if you’ve got Sally over here and she has a problem, there’s nobody at the PEO for her to go probably on their shoulder.
She comes in crying as on you, as the boss Johnny needs time off. He comes to you. If you’ve got a fire, Joe, they don’t fire him. You have to fire. So they don’t do the things that they say they’re going to do. And they charge you an exorbitant price. We had a client in Fort worth. There PEO that they’d gone to [00:45:00] because they had a sales manager who was dying of cancer and they couldn’t get insurance except through a PEO with that kind of underwriting, which is almost impossible to do now.
But at that point they could, well, they were very profitable and they did a bonus run payroll for the owners, own a stout, several million dollars. The fee from the PEO to run that payroll was $50,000, 5% of the payroll. We would have done their payroll for five years, 10 years for that same price cycle.
So that one payroll rechecks $50,000 was their fee. That’s insane. So we have, we have we have what we call peel a PEO and [00:46:00] anybody. That’s an a PEO we’ll sit down and talk with them. We’ll bring in benefits. People will sit down and show them how to save. And I’ve never seen the savings be less than a thousand dollars per head per year.
One of our major clients, it was an imaging center. The doctors who owned it, one of them had a golfing buddy who became a PEO salesman. So he was telling him about what, you know, we need to get you in this BEO. So the administrator there, and I sat down with the PEO salesman, went through it all and went back to the doctor and explained to the doctor.
It would cost them an extra $300,000 a year for this 150 person imaging center operation to go with the PEO, needless to say the doctor. Didn’t go with a PEO and found a new golfing buddy. Yeah. It’s a huge betrayal. [00:47:00] Yeah. And here’s one of the things I tell people, nobody buys a PEO they’re sold a PEO.
Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely circumstances where the PO is a good idea, but with your business model, it’s not as comparable. So talk about specifically, well, actually, let’s go back a little bit. So you start this company in the nineties with your wife and then how do you grow it? Because most businesses go out of business because of hypergrowth.
They can’t handle the growth as fast as it comes, or they have no clue. So, how did you handle growing a solid, reputable business, even though the franchise or went out of business, one client at a time word of mouth, the little fiddly marketing I could do, which was brochures, [00:48:00] business cards flyers and outs hired a salesman to do, go basically door to door, handing out information and looking for business.
And we grew up slowly. We never had hypergrowth. I wish we had, if we’d had a marketing person, we might have a, so it just grew gradually. And we added people over time. I remember hiring my first non-cost center person. My secretary that was a major step to hire somebody that wasn’t bringing in money.
It turns out that she was so good at what she did and that she probably brought in. By being good at what she was doing. She gave better telephone than any person I’ve ever seen since she could talk to a client on the phone once and she would recognize their voice the next time, remember the conversation and make them feel like she loved them.
I mean, it was just incredible as a gift. [00:49:00] It was a gift when she left us, CB came the executive assistant for the president of Mary Kay. Oh really? Yeah. I’m in Pensacola, Florida, and Mary Kay used to have a huge pink condo on the beach. Yeah. So I never met Mary Kay, but she did well for herself. Yeah. She has the businesses headquartered here in Dallas and they’d have the convention here and they’d have all the pink Cadillacs lined up to give out to the people and so on.
So yeah, it was quite a deal here in Dallas back then. So it was, it was, it was kind of great. So we just grew slowly continue to grow. You know, it took about 10 years or we could take a vacation. We worked 60, 78 hours a week working with what you’re telling me. It wasn’t easy. You actually had a word I’m being totally sarcastic.
W it wasn’t a unicorn. We just, didn’t all of a sudden we have billions of [00:50:00] dollars. All right. So ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, you heard that Charles and his wife worked together 10 years, 60, 80 hours a week. And he has a great life, but he worked for it. So there’s a lot to work in smart and hard, but sometimes in most times you have to do both.
So Charles keep going into that. Keep going. What was life like that? Especially with five kids? Well, the kids were grown by that. They were six to 14 when I married Ruth, I was 21. My oldest daughter are seven years younger than. I mean, they’re retired now. I’m still working on, maybe I’m doing something wrong here.
They worked for the government, they retired. But you know, I’m talking about working hard. I had lunch with Coca one day, me and a couple of hundred other people. And Lee said, you know, it’s not hard to get rich in America. [00:51:00] You just have to work half days, just work a half a day every day. It doesn’t matter whether you work the first 12 hours in the last 12 hours.
Oh, but I’m going to tell you something. My parents worked together. They ran the business together. I thought working with your spouse was ordinary and reasonable. Right? Let me tell you we’re going to be their spouses and unnatural act. Yup. Very, very hard to be successful. Very. The relationship you have in a marriage works a certain way.
And if you’re smart as a man, you let her run the marriage. Okay. If you don’t, it’s probably not going to last very long. At least that’s my experience. So, you know, happy wife, happy life, but now we go to the business and I am the experienced [00:52:00] sprained professional seedsman and food service seems wonderful with people.
She’s wonderful with clients, but when it comes down to technical aspects, she doesn’t have a clue. So I have to make the decisions and she has to accept them whether she even understands them or not. Whether I can explain them in adequate detail, make her understand. They have to be the way I say because it’s a technical decision.
That took probably a year for us to wrangle the two different aspects of our life. One being business, one being personal. So make it work for us. One of the bad habits she had that I had to break was we’d get home, we’d have dinner, we get ready for bed. We’d get into bed. And she would have [00:53:00] one more problem at work.
She wanted to get off her chest. So we’d be in bed and she tells me about it. Well, now that she’s told me about it, she rolls over and goes to sleep. And now your mind’s spinning. My mind is churning until two or three in the morning. So we, after a few months of this, we finally came to the agreement that after dinner, there would be no more.
That made for some very late dinners occasionally, but it let me get to sleep at night. Yeah. And that’s huge. That’s huge stress. People talk about eating it’s important exercise. It’s important, vitamin supplements, all important, but the number one killer stress, stress kills more people than anything else.
And if you’re not sleeping, right, that’s just adding to the load. Absolutely. Absolutely. I believe in [00:54:00] that sneakers, you know, I believe in supplements. I believe in exercise. I have a trainer, I work out three times a week. I do all these things to, to keep my life going. But sleep is critical.
Absolutely. No. What do you have for tips? Like tips for sleep, like you just said one right off the bat after dinner. No work, no stress. Just family time. Well, what other things do you do to get good sleep? No alcohol for two or three hours before you go to bed. I quit drinking entirely, so that makes it easier.
But developed, I’ve developed some meditation that allows me to get to sleep fairly quickly. Normally within four or five minutes, according to my Fitbit I fall into a deep sleep after I hit bed. I just immediately go from awake to deep sleep for 10 minutes to an hour. And then it’s back and forth between REM light sleep and deep sleep for the rest of the night and awake.[00:55:00]
But what I will do is I will, when I lay down, I get comfortable and I focus on my breath. I just focus on breathing in and breathing out. And normally I make about three breasts before I fall asleep. This is that easy. It’s, it’s, it’s very much a meditation. That form of meditation, of concentrating on your breath and focusing on that movement of there.
First of all, it’s extraordinarily boring. Your mind. You’ll find, you’ll find you’re going off to other things that you can bring back to your breath and you quickly fall. I quickly fall asleep. That works for me and has for years. And when you do the deep breathing, the breathing, do you belly breathe?
You chest breathe. Do you count like in so many seconds out so many seconds, it’s, it’s 705 out. 705. [00:56:00] And you pause between them? No, I just, at the, at the, at the full inhale and then I start the exhale. Okay. Yeah. There’s everybody has different ways to do it, but I think the key is just doing it and finding what works for you.
I I’ve found that and I’ve read other people and I’ve seen it before. It’s it’s that’s, that’s where you start. Even if you stay awake for meditation, I do that. You start with the breath and calm the mind and focus on, on the now and the body. And then your mind can be free to do other things. And in bed, my mind is free to fall asleep.
Awesome. So let’s do this Charles, between your birth and where you are today in your story. Did we miss anything along the way, or is there anything else significant that you want to share and help our audience? Well, there’s a [00:57:00] million things. Not too long after we started the business. Our daughter called she was in California.
She’d been having some intestinal type issues for a couple of years and she’d finally gone down to see another doctor at San Bernardino county hospital. Outside of Los Angeles, where my mother actually worked back in the late thirties and the doctor, there was a resonant in gynecological oncology and after palpitating or center for surgery, the next day,
Ruth flew out
and they found a cancerous mass on her, right ovary, which Edmund [00:58:00] tests.
So she had stage four ovarian cancer.
We moved her back and you live with us. This was. Until October 22nd, when she passed at the house,
how old was she then? Insurance? 30, 30 years old. And she hadn’t married, not married, no kids. Nope, no marriage, no kids. She had a tough time with men. You just couldn’t find good ones. So we buried her with her sister, Sharon who had died in birth. And I claimed Sharon’s mine, [00:59:00] the, the headstone Ridge Reed and Sharon and Sally.
I’m so sorry, Charles, for your loss. No. It’s I know it’s I know it’s okay. And you moved on, but it’s still difficult. And the good news is an attorney. There’ll be there waiting for you, you know, for all of us, who’ve trusted Christ. We’ll be there together now each day. I’m sure you miss her. What do you do?
Cause there’s a difference. There’s there’s loss where we have loved ones that are taken from us by life or circumstance. And then there’s a loss where people abandon us or we’re betrayed and you’re dealing with the kind that’s out of everybody’s control. You know, you didn’t choose us, your wife didn’t chooses your daughter.
Didn’t choose us. And you had a watch and I know how I can, I’ve had to watch some stuff, but I mean, I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to lose [01:00:00] your daughter. So how did you learn to process that pain to come to a point of peace?
It never hurts. It never hurts less. You just don’t think about it. As often. I talk with other parents, who’ve lost children. Most people have no idea how to talk to them. They’re there at a total loss of what to say or do. And I understand that I don’t, I know how to handle it. I know how to talk to them because they understand I’ve been there.
It’s not something I do, you know, because I enjoy it. But over time, you life interferes. You make the decision to be happy. You go out to do [01:01:00] things. I’ll be honest. The first three months after her death, the work I did for my clients was garbage and not one of them said a word. And finally, I got my head back straight that took until early the next year.
And I went to every one of my clients and fix the work and apologized and to a person. They said, no big deal, don’t worry about it. So I was very grateful to my clients for that. And it, it worked now here 15 years ago, Ruth had a stroke, a very serious stroke. They really didn’t think she was going to live.
She was in ICU for two weeks on a a drug induced coma to try and get her to heal. She was in the hospital for [01:02:00] months and while she was in ICU and, and near ICU. I’d come into work in the morning. I say hi, and I’d go to the hospital and I’d spend all day with her. And when they threw me out in the afternoon, I’d come back by the office on the way home, my staff made things work. My staff was incredible.
They allowed me to continue in business, even though I wasn’t working in it. Without my staff and my employees at the time the business would have failed because I, I had no time for them and they made everything work. And for that, I’ll be eternally grateful. How many employees did you have at that time?
Eight or 10. So that’s that tough, [01:03:00] tough part of business. It’s like between one and 12. It’s very hard to manage. She, you had a team that was self managing. Well, you had, man, that’s such a blessing. That’s a really rare for those who haven’t run businesses or own businesses. Once you get 12 employees, it seems to be just this magic magic place where the business starts becoming more and more profitable.
And each employee you add adds money. But before that, that one to 12, it’s really stressful and really taxing and sometimes costs your money. I mean, my lion Charles or it’s like, I was talking about my secretary when I hired her, that was pure cost. She wasn’t bringing in any cash. And so that was that.
And that came right out of my income. Okay. That, that decreased mind style of living my lifestyle. It took food off of my table to hire her. It was necessary. Put it wasn’t fun. And yes, it’s a, stair-step [01:04:00] everybody you hire. You’ve got cost to meet. And they don’t bring in cash day one. They don’t. So until you get to a level where it doesn’t hurt you anymore, and that said it does or wherever yeah, it’s painful to hire people.
It’s, it’s it it’s costly. It’s costly to do so. And I didn’t mean to derail derail and get onto business, but where, where my mind was is to have a crew, you know, usually it’s when the cat’s away, the mice will play, but you had people that congealed and stood behind you and were there for you. And that’s just so, oh, so good.
Yeah, it was wonderful. And they, they, they, they made the business work. Ruth was disabled for eight years before she passed. But being in business and having the income allowed me to hire living caregivers, I continued to work. But I could have somebody there at the house to take care of Ruth all day.[01:05:00]
I took care of her in the evenings at night. And we did that for eight years as she gradually deteriorated, they had more strokes then here just over seven years ago, she passed. What’s tough. I was 65. I seriously considered giving up and I chose not to, I chose to continue to live and to be happy to have a life. So enjoy it. But it was a choice. I’m not sure if it was today, I’d make the same decision. I’m older. I fully understand why elderly men lay down and die after their wife dies.
I fully understand that you’ve spent. I in my case, [01:06:00] 45, but another 50, 60, 70 years with somebody they’re so integral to your life, you can imagine it without them. And I miss her every day. Every day I miss her, but, you know, I made that choice to go on and live and be as happy as I can be and enjoy life and do things and go places.
And so I do that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that you’ll find me in tears. There’s, there’ll be a trigger a song, a meal, a TV show, a movie, a phrase, a card, something, and it’ll drive it home for a few minutes. And then I put it aside and go on. It’s not something I dwell on every day. You can’t dwell on it every day.
You’ll just lay down and. Yeah, and you can never [01:07:00] replace Ruth. And my question, I’m about to ask you isn’t going for that, but do you, did you find anyone to share life with this at this point? Are you done with dating? Okay. At this point I have several girlfriends. I enjoy life. I’m active. I have fun. I go out, I do things.
I have people over. I have no desire to get married Rufus, the love of my life. I’m not saying I won’t get married again, but I have, you know, if the right person, the right circumstances come along. Yeah. I I’m now open to it. I wasn’t open the first few years, but I’m not looking for it. I have no expectation of doing so.
I have no I’m not looking for, and I have no desire to do so. I’m not designing that could happen, but. Ruth was the love of my life. We spent [01:08:00] 45 years together. I can’t replace her. Yeah, absolutely not. I just meant like when people are dealing with the loneliness cause I was going to lead into my next question.
Sometimes people jump into dating cause they just try to fill the loneliness and they never can fill that gap. So it really gets complicated. Oh, you did. You did do that. Okay. Of course I did that because I had needs and desires and I hated being lonely. I actually had for a while I had a tenant at the house to, to help fill that several of them over time.
I’ve quit doing that and I’ve gotten comfortable enough with being alone that I spend most evenings, most evenings I’m alone and I’m, I’m quite comfortable with that. I’ve got my books. I read a lot. I read a great deal. Kindle unlimited is a great thing. $10 91 cents a month. I have access to millions of.
So I probably read, you know, three, four or five books a week. [01:09:00] I play, I play a lot of poker and I’m getting better at it. I won some tournaments recently, so I’ve got a full life. I’ve got girlfriends. I travel not so much now because of COVID. I was up in DC five times a year being on the internal revenue service council consulting with the internal revenue service, which was a fun gig for three years.
So yeah, it’s life’s good. Do I wish Ruth was still here? Absolutely. I’d take her back in a heartbeat disabled or not. Absolutely. And this is not even choice, but I can’t. So I have to do something else and hopefully, so be there waiting for. So, where are you at today? We talked a little bit about what you’re doing today.
Playing poker, reading books, you have a full life, your friends, you saw family, but professionally, I see that [01:10:00] sign behind you get payroll. I saw your book. Where are you at today? Professionally. And where are you headed? We’re growing every day. We’ve got three people in the marketing department. My marketing manager and nosh eight.
Who’s my sales person business development. Michael who’s, my videographer who handles all the technical aspects, writes a lot of the scripts, suits all the videos. We shoot, oh, I don’t know, probably a video a week. A lot of them he’s doing wouldn’t. Did we do more than that? We’ve got payroll news out there.
He does that. He does others. We do educational videos. We do fun videos. We’ve got a star wars. That’s just about finished for their 40th anniversary. We have a we did a godfather, one, we a parody. We did a 2001 space Odyssey parody. We’ve done some fun ones with [01:11:00] Christmas and Halloween. And we’ve got one with a fortune teller.
That’s getting some good play on YouTube. So we have fun with that. So the links in the show notes to some of your videos, people can check out these parodies. So make sure you’re putting your notes to send me a link and I’ll put it in the show notes. When the episode releases, Michael, send them a link to our YouTube channel and our other social media.
There you go, Michael, just all my conversations. And frankly, he then comes back and clips some of the good portions. And we do videos out of that and promote the podcast or who. So that’s another life lesson right there when you’re listening, no matter where you’re doing personal business, life is life.
People are people repurpose your content, right? Take everything you’re doing. And if you can help one person, that’s great. But if you can replicate it, give it to 10,000. Why? Why take it to one? Exactly. So we’re, we’re doing all the things we should. We’re [01:12:00] innovating. So you understand Tuesday, we should have a press release out on our crypto payroll.
Nice where our people can get part of their payroll is cryptocurrency. That’s a big step in today’s economy and we’re the first payroll company to do it. So you want to talk about that a little bit? Are you
okay? I mean, I’m good with Tuesday. I’ll be more than happy to talk about it, but no problem. So well, Charles, it’s been great talking to you. You truly are remarkable. And I’m thankful we had this time, but from your birth to today, to where you’re headed, or just a closing thought for our audience, if you had one last word to share with the listeners, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Are we time to wrap it up? No one thing that I truly believe in I’ve grown to believe in, and I didn’t believe it 50 [01:13:00] years ago and I stole it from bill gates. People will overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade business, life, marriage, they’re all marathons.
They’re not sprint. You got to keep after it every day, every day, every day, every week, every month, every year. And you’ll be amazed at what you’ve accomplished over time.
And then to that. Well, Charles, thank you so much for being here today to our listeners. If you want to check out Charles videos, if you want to learn more about him, if you have payroll needs, air, [01:14:00] different types of business needs, you just want to pick his brain, pick up his books, check out the show notes, reach out to Charles and he will.
I’m sure we’d be glad to help you for myself. If there’s something we covered in the episode, do you have a question about, or you’re like, man, you really screwed up Dave, you can do this better. Well, let me know. But share this episode with your friends, I’m sure it will be a help and encouragement. Give Charles episode a five star review.
If you can. And if there is, again, anything we can do better, let us know. But other than that, Charles has been a pleasure. Thank you so much, Dave have been my pleasure. Thank you for having me. Yes. And now ladies and gentlemen, like our slogan says, don’t just listen to this great content that Charles shared with us, but do it repeated each day.
So you can have a great life in this world and moreover, in attorney to come. So I’m David . This is Charles Reed. Have a great day and we’ll see you the next episode. Ciao.[01:15:00]
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