So what has it come down to?
This is the first blog of..well, my blog! I decided to come out of the closet (this will be funny for those who know me) after hearing all of what is being said about me out there! The internet is a GREAT invention, but the lack of fact checking out there can easily destroy people’s lives forever. When one accuse you of wrong doing and certain so called “consumer” website won’t even allow you to rebute and have the complaint removed when resolved (unless you pay a large fee), you know the internet has gone out of control. Of course, there are the “Reputation Repair” companies charging an arm and a leg (up to $10,000) guarantying bad listings about you to be pushed down to page 2 of google.com (at that price, I want them gone dude!).
Anyway, let’s not divert.
About 5 months ago, I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my life. After working my butt off building and creating a dream (a travel company), I had to resolve myself to letting it go, and close it. Again, for those of you who know me, you know very well that I never really got anything out of that American Dream of mine, to the exception of the amazing satisfaction in making people discover fantastic places and experience World travel. No, seriously, some may think I am currently sitting by a huge swimming pool attached to a 5,000 sq ft house in which garage sit 3 luxury cars…but I am not. I live in a 1000 sq ft apartment that I rent because I lost my 2 homes and one condo in the process of…yep, that’s right, refinancing to give my company more and more cash. All while not collecting a paycheck. How does one do that? Funny you shall ask because I have absolutely no idea how I have lived like this for years.
In the process too, you have the ones who abuse your trust (dishonest employees, dishonest clients and dishonest vendors). Not all of them of course..but quite a few in my 10 year of doing business in that field. Then there are the people who abuse your friendship. Free trips here and there in return for services they never provide. Combined with some business decisions that may look good at the time and turn out to be not so well thought ones. Add to the whole thing a group of professional travel agents who promise to send you more business (and never do) in return for educational trips around the World (which cost us money despite what people may think) and you have the recipe for our 2008 closing. Thank God there were more good people and experiences than bad ones. But the bottom line is that, like many other companies, we just could not stay open with the level of debt and the failing economy we were facing. Good or bad decision, accepted or not, that was the only choice we had. Leaving customers stranded, dissapointing people is not something one enjoys doing. But sometimes, tough decisions must be made and unless one is confronted with one of them, one does not know the amount of pain and suffering this causes.
Today, my name is dragged in mud. Mostly because one individual was able to convince others I was this mastermind criminal who was determined to ruin them and flee with their money. One is to wonder how bad of a criminal I would be for ending a 10 year run worst off than when I started! One is to wonder if maybe, maybe that individual has been watching too much CNN, bernie Madoff reports and other daytime soap operas. There is NOTHING MORE to this whole closing than the simple failure of a business to make it through hard economic times. For god sakes, it’s happening right here, right now, daily. By the hour small businesses are closing. I can understand the anger, I can understand people being upset when they lose money. I am not without having my own experiences with closed business owing me money. My now closed business was owed over $20,000 from different customers and suppliers. But there are legal avenues, there are legal processes in place. Destroying someone’s reputation with hearsay IS NOT the way to go. Unless one has all the facts and one is absolutely certain of what one is stating, one should simply shut up and let the legal processes (small claims court, bankruptcy court, etc..) take their course. On top of wasting taxpayers money in endless investigations brought forward based on hearsay and anger, individuals who decide to make revenge a priority over finding a solution destroy lives and reputations in the process that could often lead to diar consequences. And just a thought…how does a destractor reconcile sending someone to jail with collecting on what is owed to them? Wouldn’t it make more sense to come up with a settlement agreement which could be paid off quickly so long the business’ reputation is not ruined instead of ruining the reputation first, making that business loose over $140,000 in new contracts and be forced to close? Wait, that’s it! That would have been the PERFECT solution. Well I bet you that destractor feels a bit less smart now….
I say it here, I say it now. If I was a criminal as stated on various websites, I would be back in my home country by now rather than fearing day in and day out for my life, my reputation and my freedom. Europe is an amazing continent and living there would make my life right now so much easier. If I was a criminal as stated on various website, I would not be counting pennies to pay bills, I would be sipping on a cocktail in the caribbean or Africa.
Instead, I have decided to stay here in the U.S, to face all this and to rebuild my life and eventually, my business. I have nothing to hide, done nothing wrong but put to execution a dream I had. Good and bad decisions may have been made in the process, such is life when you own your business. But you make those decisions and you learn to live with them. I have lost more than my share in the process, all my life savings, my investments, my good credit and my reputation. Not sure what else can be taken away from me that has not already been hauled away, including by people I counted as friends. But I am here, alive and having a great outlook on life and the future, regardless of what it may include for me. I am ready to jump back on the horse and try again putting to good use everything I have learnt for the past 10 years. I volunteer in 2 non-profit organizations, I provide travel advice for free (when my company was charging for the same services) and I try to be a better friend and a better person everyday.
In the process, I am learning how to be more careful with who I trust, who my real friends are and how much of my personal time and money you should put into a venture before you call it quit.
Questions? Suggestions? Disagreement (I am sure my destractors will be reading this with much interest)? feel free to email me.