At twenty years old, I had three or four employees and was running out of cash quickly. I had borrowed a total of $45,000 from my Dad to start a company earlier the same year. I had highly underestimated what it was going to cost me to be in business the first year, and thought my entrepreneurial career was coming to an end as quickly as it had began. However, just a few weeks before Christmas, my only salesman stumbled upon an opportunity that resulted in us merging with another company. Over the course of the following two years, my income skyrocketed, as did my standard of living. I bought a big house, several cars, and thought I had made it. Turns out, most of the money I earned, was not from the work we were producing, but rather from investors. Our intentions were pure, but clearly within a couple of years, we had created a cash eating monster, and we couldn’t generate enough revenue by selling our products and services, so much of our time was spent in front of investors. Over the course of the time I spent with the company, there had been multiple times that I chose to look the other way, because frankly, doing the right thing would have cost me everything. A few months later it did.
Shortly after I moved back to Corpus Christi to work along side my Dad, I witnessed him pay off one of our vendors. I remember our conversation on the way back home like it was yesterday. I confronted him calmly, but he immediately became defensive. He explained to me that it was not possible to be successful in the oilfield by being honest. I was crushed. A year prior, I lost it all to do the right thing, and here my Dad was telling me that honesty didn’t belong in business. I wrestled with how I was going to continue to work for someone that didn’t share the same values as I, and what made it even more difficult was the fact that my boss was my Father. Knowing him was more important to me than convincing him there was another way, however, we did discuss boundaries regarding our differences, and he respected them until his death. I came to realize that my Dad was a Darwinist. With a second grade education, he figured out how he would put food on the table for his family, even if it meant he had to lie, cheat, or steal.
Recently, I’ve been forced into a tight spot, and have once again wrestled with the fine line between protecting my family or doing what’s right; maintaining my integrity, even when no one is looking. Cautiously, I have searched my soul, and have come to the conclusion that I must remain true to my core values. I tell the truth, because I have lied. I don’t cheat, because I have cheated. I don’t steal, because I have stolen. It certainly would be much easier to stand on the corner with a sign that said, “Will Lie for Food,” but for now, I’m sticking to my guns. Hopefully, we don’t starve.
Since writing my NTH post, there have been a number of responses; some of which were expected, and others more surprising. There have been fleeting moments of regret, but I remain steadfast in my mission. I met with my editor a couple of weeks ago for the first time. He interviewed me for a couple of hours, and took several pages of notes. Although we haven’t defined a core message for the book, we have some concepts to begin with, which I think will shape up nicely and be something worth reading. What’s particularly interesting is that when I decided to write the memoir, I had no intentions of selling the book, or at least marketing it to sell, but I’ve been very encouraged by my supporters, and now feel a higher sense of accountability to ensure that whatever I write will be interesting and worthy of the couple dozen dollars someone may shell out to get a copy. Nevertheless, I have my first assignment, which is to identify a core message, and write a 10 page introduction for the book. The non-conformist in me would argue that it would be possible to have more than one main theme, however, I must defer to the experts I have asked to assist me, and wrestle with my conscious to identify the most urgent and important message I want to communicate, considering this may be my first and last book. Instead of doing this on my own, I thought it might be interesting to request feedback from my supporters by inquiring what you would be most interested in reading about. Here are my top three potential core messages for the book. Have a look, and leave a comment below this post should you feel compelled to do so.
- Importance of self-worth and self-acceptance – Arguably, my low self esteem has been the primary driver to become an over-achiever in anything and everything I have done. I’ve never been the smartest, or most talented, but my need for approval manufactured a grit-like quality that allowed me to achieve success in many ways, or alternatively blow mounds of money to gain acceptance and/or approval. Go big or go home is an understatement when fumbling to find the write words to describe my over-the-top style. However, once I was able to expose this deficiency, it has allowed me to grow in many ways, and redefine what is most important to me while I’m here on earth, and what I want to leave behind when I leave it.
- Transparency – For the majority of my life, I’ve always been very forward and direct. I don’t like small talk, and have never been afraid to speak my mind, however, I didn’t come to know the value of transparency until early adulthood. When you expose your own fears, weaknesses, and sin, it can create a sense of intimacy only described by experience. Unfortunately, the flip-side is that transparency can get you cut out of deal, betrayed, judged, and worst of all, killed. Telling the truth can get you hurt, but living a lie is much worse.
- Doing the right thing – Anyone who knows me well, knows that doing the right thing is extremely important to me. At times, I have chosen not to do the right thing, but when possible, I’ve made things right. A person might think that doing the right thing will result in good things happening, but in my experience, it’s been quite the opposite, especially from an outward perspective. We have opportunities to do the right thing every day, and more often than not, people choose to do what’s best for them. Yes, we are selfish creatures, but I plan to spend the rest of my life attempting to prove up that doing the right thing is what matters most.
No matter the core message, my life stories will be interwoven throughout the book, as to draw reflection and perspective to the main theme. I also need to identify who my main audience is. This is particularly tough for me, because I think my story has potential to appeal to many demographics, and especially young adults, as well as men and women alike. However, it would be interesting to hear from those that do find what I have to say appealing and why. Thanks in advance for your help, and for being part of the journey.
My Father, Doyle Henderson, died on September 21st, 2005. A few days later I called a meeting with approximately a dozen employees to let them know that they would keep their jobs through the balance of the year, and during that time, I would determine the fate of the company. Over the next three years, the company experienced exponential growth, made multiple acquisitions, employed hundreds of people all over Texas, and won many fans along the way. We treated our employees well, serviced our customers with conviction, and paid our vendors on time.
A few months after a highly strategic acquisition (mid 2008,) we were in trouble, and didn’t event know it. We were in a vacuum. Our cost structure was too high, and our backlog, AR, and sales were all shrinking. When we began to realize we needed to act, we had burned through millions and discovered our inventory was highly overvalued. Our credit was cut off, and tough times were imminent.
The past few years have been very taxing on many. We’ve lost good employees, let stakeholders down, stretched vendors, and have made many mistakes along the way. However, I’m proud of what we have accomplished, and am truly grateful to have shared the experience with so many people along the way.
Today, the name DOYLES still humbly stands for what matters most; doing the right thing.