How The Automated Executive Came To Be, Why It’s Called That, & What To Expect Going Forward
I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other. Our families had grown up together, and for the most part, everyone lived very simple lives. Everyone went to the same 10 restaurants, grocery stores, and churches in town, and we all went to one high school. It was a great life.
Something else that was unique about my childhood though was that both of my parents were Entrepreneurs. My mom and dad both started their businesses in 1981, the same year I was born, and the same year they were getting divorced. That’s a lot to take on.
Anyone who starts a business is taking a huge risk, and need to be applauded. Single parents who start their own business with 3 kids to raise deserve even more accolade. Whatever your situation, so kudos to all of you who are doing it, or have done it and are reading this!
Back then I didn’t know how big of an impact having two Entrepreneurs raising me would have. However, since turning 40 just a few month ago, I now see that it’s been profound, and I want to work with other like-minded people to make our mark on the world.
My First Business Venture
The impact of both my parents going it alone had became apparent at a young age. In 6th grade my mom bought me what was then being marketed as the “Sourest Candy Ever”, Warheads.
The next day I brought some of these new candies to school to shared with a couple of friends, and they were an instant hit. They liked them so much they asked where they could get them. Seeing an opportunity, I said they were hard to get, but they could just buy them from me for measly $0.10 a pop.
Business took off and I had a blast seeing what running a business could be like. Things were going fine until Warheads started popping up in the other grocery stores. Since I was only a 6th grader who hadn’t negotiated an exclusive agreement with the candy makers, I was out of business. That was my first taste of running a business, and losing one, but I was hooked.
My Calling Revealed
A few years later in 9th grade Social Studies class we were learning about the history of American economics. We discussed topics like why child labor laws were passed, and how the first monopolies were built, then broken up by the government, and the other adventures that lead America to be the industrial leader of the world.
It wasn’t all roses of course. Even back in the 90’s, many schools were teaching how any system can have its faults, Capitalism included. Although, I was lucky enough to have a front row seat on the bad in school, and the good in my home life.
Towards the end of the year we were assigned an essay that asked us to present which side of business we’d want to represent, and why. Would you rather be a worker, or business owner? In my mind there was never a question as to which side I’d be writing about.
I wrote my paper, turned it in, and waited eagerly for my teacher’s feedback. Then, the strangest thing happened. After the assignment was over my teacher pulled me aside after class and said, “Tom, you were the only one out of your entire class to write from the perspective of the business owner.” How could that be? I graduated with 243 other kids.
Even at the ripe young age of 14 that blew my mind. To this day I’m still amazed by it. Seeing what both my parents built, and understanding the benefits it provided our family seemed like second nature, and this exchange would become a major driving force in my life.
Why wouldn’t everyone want the freedom and flexibility in their lives that my parents had? Well, considering that 95% of all businesses fail within the first 5 years, it’s easy to see why most folks would choose the “safe” route of a regular 9-5 job.
Family Ties, Family Business
About a year after that interaction with my teacher, my dad and I were having one of our regular Thursday night dinners out. I had swim practice at the college that night, so we went to a local bar just down the hill, The Red Dragon. It was a freezing cold night in the middle of winter so we sat at a table a full row back from the door so we didn’t freeze every time someone would walk in or out.
My dad knew everyone in town, so it was always fun to see him interact the the town.
My dad was especially excited that night about how well his business was doing. Sales were strong and they were working on a new software project that should help sustain things for a number of years to come. Things were good, and that means my dad was talking fast so you had to listen up.
On came a barrage of stats and figures that, for a 15 year old kid who barely had $20 to his name, made it sounds like we were billionaires. We weren’t, but keep in mind, I was a 15-year-old from a very small town who wants to run his own business some day. This entire dinner with my dad felt like it was meant to be.
After taking the loss in the Warhead market back in 6th grade I knew that there were serious risks in starting your own business. Here was a company I could work my way up in, and keep it in the family. Seemed like a win-win, so I now had my sights set.
Over the next few years I’d graduate from high school, then SUNY Oswego’s School of Business with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Science & Marketing.
A few months after college I finally able to start working at the “family business” as a developer in the support department. It was on!
It didn’t take long to realize that the company wasn’t doing as well now, 8 years later, as it was that fateful night at the Red Dragon. Every day I’d build auto-populating reports for our tax collection software system, every night our lead programmer would change the database structure, and the next day I’d have to re-write the same exact reports over, and over, and over again.
After about a year of working in the “family business” I was laid off. If you’ve ever been fired you know how bad it sucks. Now, imagine adding the fact that you’ve spent the last 8 years of your life in the interview stage for a job, only to get it, and get fired by your dad one year later.
Gut Punch! Tears. Shit.
I took the next year and a half off of life. I finished up some schooling, moved to my dad’s condo in Florida with my longtime girlfriend, got my Series 6 license, and got my education in finance and investing. Soon after, my girlfriend and I got an apartment, a few months later she dumped me, I moved back in with dad, and ended up working double shifts as a waiter for $120/day at a crappy restaurant in Daytona.
That may sound like a whirlwind year+, and it was, but it was also a nice break from reality. It was a good time, but I knew working a 9-5 wasn’t for me. One night while out for beers with my dad I asked if anything was opening in the business. I was done with Florida, and was either coming back to the family biz, or moving to Arizona for a start fresh. That was 2005.
Well, I’ve now been working with my dad for 17 years, and it’s been great. I’ve also learned a lot. I helped him and his team take their online payment solution – Xpress-pay from zero to one of the leading payment processing solutions on the planet.
In 2014, I worked with him to launch an official Marketing department in the business. The fact that this business made 30+ years without an official marketing department is simply astounding. Since then, the business has grown from processing $500Million/year to well over $2Billion/year.
Now, I’m launching a platform that’ll allow me to share what I’ve learned with other like-minded folks like you. I wanted to show how implementing certain key digital elements in your business can not only help you grow, but how it’s also possible to automate most of it, and get back more time in your life. More on that here.
Welcome to the group, and thanks for reading my story! Now let’s go build something amazing, automate it, and enjoy the smaller things in life!
Thomas Buttino – Automation Junkie