Get a Job
This has been an interesting ride being a part of this company. When my wife let me know I needed to get a J. O. B. 5 years ago, that was motivation to start something new. I hella didn’t want a 9 to 5 again. We had been semi-retired for 4 years or so, and I loved being an entrepreneur. It seems I am pretty good at finding niches, or they actually find me. My previous niche was doing pay-per-click and SEO stuff for my websites. I built my sites, setup some things, and they just ran and checks came. Although I latter realized that it wasn’t very fulfilling. I wasn’t making anything tangible, making the world a better place, or connecting with people. And so I got lazy and the business dried up.
So Sim said, get a JOB! After looking at the classifieds for a few minutes, I stopped. The story about me making a table for Sim has been told many times. But I basically made her a table, she loved it, I hated it and needed to make a better one. That is how VI started. My quest for topping myself had begun. I thoroughly enjoyed working with my hands, making something heavy that was built to last. Sim gave me some great tips on design as I didn’t know squat about the subject. I just researched antiques, and took parts from them to make my own thing. The things I made sold to my amazement. Soon everyday I had people calling and telling me that they love my work. I began to dread hearing that as I didn’t feel worthy of this, and I didn’t love my work. It was never right, never perfect. And getting high quantities of praise was weird as hell. I was on the couch relaxing, when Alec Baldwin called me. Same deal, loved my work, wanted to buy. What a strange life I am having?!
My passion turned to obsession quickly. Think of a new and better design, make it, post it on the net, sell it, next! I had lost focus of the joy of each step, and couldn’t wait for the next step to happen. I had stopped being present. Didn’t realize this at the time, just knew I was slowly going mad, yes literally nuts.
One thing I learned quickly is to design pieces I love, don’t design them to sell. I tried considering packaging, material costs, labor involved, and putting that into the design. The results were garbage. Make a design for myself, and they will come! On that note we are making a dining table with mega drawer storage. I don’t know about you, but I am low on space and if I can put all my plates and silverware and stuff in my dining table, that would be fricking fantastic! Why the hell aren’t all tables like this? I love it, that’s all that matters.
So the niche we have fit into now is high-end vintage industrial furniture. I don’t know of any other companies doing it well. There are literally hundreds of people and companies making low end, which is where I started. Many are doing low end with high quantity, from Pottery Barn to Walmart. But our niche is creating the style trend. How the hell that happened, I have no idea. Maybe it’s me not wanting to get a job working for the man? Maybe I am the idiot savant of vintage industrial style. Or maybe it’s because I’ve spent around 13,000 hours obsessing over it. Wow, that’s a lot of time!
And a fairly new niche is our workplace. With my wife in charge of it, we have the most amazing work environment I’ve ever experienced. Did you know it’s great to work at a place that appreciates, and even loves you? Well we know that. My wife is the most nurturing human I’ve ever met. She meets people for the first time, and somehow connects on a deep level, and gets to know their whole life story. It’s her gift, she can bring out the best in people. She brought out the best in me. And now everyday we have our morning company ritual that she leads and we learn about what makes each other tick, which helps us keep connected on a deep level. Every company I’ve worked for before had it’s politics and segregation. Well we’re working hard to build a family, the kind you’d choose to have, that supports, nurtures, and loves. And wow, what a fantastic thing that is.
When employees, or co-workers, as we like to call them, are valued, they put their hearts into work and it shows. The talent level working for us is astounding, but the heart they have is even more important to Sim and I. Things aren’t perfect, there is no such thing, but we strive to set the mark for places people desire to work. And because of this, we get unsolicited resumes like crazy. Most of the people working for us, or applying, have one thing in common, their employer doesn’t appreciate or value them. Interesting isn’t it? We want to treat those as we want to be treated. Although most employers may boast that. We’ve spent the last 10 years of our lives studying and trying to better ourselves. My wife brought nurturing to the table, and I brought the entrepreneurial spirit.
So we ask our co-workers what they love to do, what are they good at? We need and value their input. For without them, we are nothing. This is a team effort. And a team working in harmony can produce magnificent things! Some of our co-workers are near retirement age. What company would hire somebody who is close to retirement? Not many unfortunately. We do! And because of this, we have over 200 years of wood and steel experience working here. We’ve been there, done that. And old school is what we are all about! The old world ways.
A Spiritual Path
21 years ago, after brain surgery, I started on a spiritual path. I knew there was more to life, and deep down I was destined for something great. No idea what it was. My wife was an important key to this. She taught me how to love, and got me to think about how I wanted to be loved. Because I had no idea. Had never thought about it. It’s too easy to get caught up in the material world. And on my search I found Tony Robbins which helped kick things into high gear. But that fizzled out after a year. It wasn’t until I read The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, that I found my groove. But it brought many challenges, like how to cope with others on a different path. And who cares about anything material anymore?
After a year or two, things settled and made sense. And I became a different person, one that most people will never know or get. And that is fine. Realizing that most of what we do is guided, or misguided by ego, is huge! Eventually I stopped wanting for material anythings. I stopped feeling the need to talk so much since most of it was ego driven. Some thought I was shutting down, or was really quiet. Na, I am just taking in the moment and feeling it. I discovered that words were fairly meaningless. They never truly describe anything correctly. Red doesn’t describe the color, Greg is not who I am. I just Am. It’s indescribable.
But how can I run a company in this state, wanting for little, feeling utter joy for no reason? The old feeling that I was destined for something great had happened. And it’s not owning a kool company, it’s finding zen. But with this new state of being, answers began to come in the form of intuition. I wasn’t thinking about it, or seeking them, they presented themselves to me. Designs came through too, like a Pop! A picture would enter my head and bam, hey there’s the next design.
So conversations with people changed. Instead of listening, then thinking about what to say next that would sound intelligent, I would just listen and take it all in. This includes body language, and experiencing their essence with all of my senses. And I’d just start talking without thought first. There would be long pauses sometimes, which drove my wife crazy a little. But it was an experience on a whole new level. I’d find myself listening to a song and I’d start crying, because of the beauty of it all.
Do everything with no expectation. That is zen. With no expectation, everything is new, there is no judgement, no right, no wrong. You experience for what it is, not what it could be. Many years ago, I decided that I wanted to be happy and discovering what life is about would be my goal. I’ve since changed happy to joy. I want to experience joy as much as possible. And my life, is about right now, this moment.
Thank you for reading my rant, I wish you well!