After the ten-day hospitalization in Miami, I returned to Phoenix to further recover and be with my family. I recall being extremely disappointed that I had messed up my chances for success with Cylant Technologies. I felt like I did when I came home from Switzerland I went through a deep depression. I thought I had ruined my life and would never be the same again.
My wife and I moved in with my parents into the little casita in front of their house in Phoenix, Arizona.
I could barely get up in the morning. I lay on the couch all day and didn’t talk to any of my friends for a quite some time. I was thinking how all of my friends at Thunderbird were going on to become leaders of the world and I was stuck with mediocrity at best for the rest of my life. I wanted to put an end to it all but couldn’t even find the energy to do that. I had just lost a close friend who committed suicide by hanging himself. I remembered how devastating it was to his family and friends. There was always the notion that he was selfish to do that. I never wanted to put my family through that although I still had strong suicidal tendencies.
My wife and I had planned to get married in the Catholic Church in the US two months after I got back from Miami. This was to follow up our civil wedding in Las Vegas. We had made elaborate wedding plans and printed out the invitations and all. Just prior to sending them out, we determined I was not going to be in the right state of mind yet, so we called the wedding off. It was humiliating to me that everybody was going to find out I had a mental illness. To this point, none of my friends knew. My wife sent out a note to all of our family and friends that the wedding was cancelled because I was a ‘maniac’. She meant to say that I was ‘manic’ but the words were lost in translation, English being her second language. She shoulda coulda had a proofreader, but that’s the way it went down. It was devastating and humiliating. Man down.
About six weeks later, I got a call from my friend Sebastian from Cylant technologies to ask why I hadn’t negotiated a deal yet with his partner. Tip toeing around the bipolar issue because he still didn’t know, I let him know that I was weighing other options and was apologetic for not having followed up sooner. The truth was that I was so juiced up on meds that I couldn’t even see straight. I had to wait for the effects of the drugs to stabilize my moods before I even attempted a logical conversation with anyone. I remember trying to practice some golf shots and I could not even hit the ball. I missed the whole fucking ball! Every time!
I finally called Munson and let him know that I was still intent on flying to Moscow, Idaho to work on the project. He was very receptive and continued to honor the offer. I started seeing the light at the end of a deep tunnel again and started putting the pieces together. I had an Indian friend from Thunderbird, Sunny, who knew about my condition. He had been with me during a small, yet poignant episode of mine in the recent past that ended up in him taking me to the hospital. I thought it would be a great idea to see if I could land him the job as interim CFO. I would be mutually benefiting both of us. For him, he also stood the chance of making millions. For me, I had somebody I trusted that could understand and support me while I got back on track.
Quick trip to Salt Lake
A week later, we bought flights to Idaho. To get the cheapest flights, we had a six-hour layover in Salt Lake City, so we stopped off at the Mormon Tabernacle. I was still in a hypo-manic state and a little out of it. I remember taking the tour of the tabernacle, but I wanted to get into the big Temple. I couldn’t apparently because I was not elite enough within the religion to do so. I thought. “That was bunk. What makes them so special?” The tour guide explained some of their beliefs to us such as Jesus having traveled to South America and some other weird stuff like that. I also learned about the story of Joseph Smith’s mysterious golden tablets sent from God. Needless to say, I kept my opinions to myself.
I learned that they kept excellent genealogical records, so they can pray for the deceased to get into heaven. The Family History Library was just around the corner that contained records of over 110 countries and over a million and a half microfilmed records. I thought, “Great, someday I’ll be able to return and trace my roots back to Jesus and even Adam and Eve.” I was somewhat joking to myself, but deep inside thought it would be rather curious to see what I could come up with. I knew later I was manic, because I believe in evolution and the Big Bang.
Manic in Moscow, Idaho
Sunny and I landed in Moscow, Idaho and greeted Munson for the first time at the airport. He took us back to his beautiful six thousand square foot house on an expansive ranch. He had a state-of-the art stable for his six Arabian horses. At that moment, we correctly assumed he was quite wealthy. At his age of sixty-five, he must be in this business venture for the ego power trip more than anything. He took us to some remodeled rooms above the garage in the stable where we were to stay.
The next morning, we reported to the Cylant offices in a university business incubator. We met the whole team, and as you can guess, they were a bunch of propeller-head supernerds. I was surprised at how young they were; young to mid-twenties, but they were the best in the business. They greeted my friend Sunny and me with open arms and showed us a lot of respect, because we were the ones that were going to take them to the next level.
I immediately went to work that afternoon and started to research the technology with the team members. Sunny spent most of his time crunching numbers for Munson to show where he was numerically and how to expand the business with as little capital infusion as possible while retaining as much ownership as possible. Munson was not big about sharing the shareholder wealth as we found out later. He was a greedy egoistical prick and Sunny knew it right away.
Sunny and I talked that night about protecting our interests and get something in writing about the percent of the company he was promising us. He was paying us a meager salary of $3,000 per month. That was just to get by on and give us a little to visit our families back in Phoenix. The potential millions coming to us would to be in the form of five percent of the founder’s equity – each. Doing the math, he projected the company’s earnings within two years to be $100,000,000. That was an extremely conservative number. If we landed contracts with the Department of Defense and the likes of Sun Microsystems, Cisco and Intel, it was certainly possible. That meant we would earn $5,000,000 right out of the gates.
Why was our pay so much? Munson only truly trusted his partner Sebastian and Sebastian vouched for me as a trusted friend. He was willing to be generous to us because we were “in the circle of friendship”, so to speak.
Acting as the Director of Sales and Marketing, I researched the private companies and narrowed down the list of potential first clients to a small few. On the government side, I made one magic call. That was to my Competitive Intelligence professor at Thunderbird that worked previously in the CIA. I explained our company’s goals and objectives within the Department of Defense and he said without hesitating, “I got your man.” Call this number and ask for Mr. Winn Schwartau.
Winn Schwartau was/is an expert on security, privacy, infowar, cyber-terrorism and related topics.
He worked with new companies that had great inventions and help sell them sell into the government. Mr. Schwartau worked with the CIA, the National Security Agency, the FBI and several other agencies. He knew how they were compartmentalized and how they communicated with one another (or didn’t). He was able to sell to purchasing agents in the CIA and all of a sudden, BAM. Thousands of orders for whatever gizmo would come in instantaneously. He was the magic man.
I presented the opportunity to Mr. Schwartau over the phone. We started a relationship over the course of several weeks as he was trying to put a team together that would like to take a peek at this technology.
He finally found an elite group of Harvard graduates that had over thirty years of combined experience doing precisely what we’d want them to do. In essence, these guys were to take over the management of the company and make Munson simply the Chief Technology Officer rather than president or chairman of the board. Sunny and I would no longer be needed, but would be asked to stay on and work for the new directors if we desired.
On the private sector side, I was making headway with several companies and speaking with the senior officers of some of the fastest growing companies from the dot com boom. Prior to setting up anything formal with any of them, we established a meeting with the Harvard group in Orlando, Florida. The game was on. The energy of the Cylant team was palpable.
The next day I report to the office and am on the phone with our number one targeted client, Redhat Linux. I got through to the Director of Marketing after two weeks of trying. I gave him a concise, ten- minute summary of our company’s technology and let him know we’d be interested in partnering. The man responded, ”Wow. That’s a real Cracker Jack idea.” Munson walked into the room but on the other side of the wall partition. He could hear everything I was saying. I was capping the conversation off by asking for an appointment and, for some reason thanked him for praising Munson’s technology as a “Crackpot” idea. I meant to repeat ‘Cracker Jack’, but made a quick and honest mistake and used the wrong word. Unfortunately, Cracker Jack means awesome and crackpot means impractical. Munson quietly leaves the room.
Sunny is already packing his bags for Florida. I was finishing up in the office and Munson came into the room and said, ”Please see me in my house in thirty minutes.” I suspected something was amiss from his
tone. He greeted me at the door and sat me down with his wife in the living room. He explained to me that he had to let me go from the company because of my “dangerous” remark and that I couldn’t be trusted to talk to high level corporate executives. I sat there in awe for a minute, then just grabbed my computer bag and stormed out of the house fuming. The greedy bastard just had me set a meeting that would solve his biggest challenge and determined he wouldn’t need me anymore. I was left with zippo. No contract. No thank you. No founders’ equity. No nothing.
I encouraged Sunny to continue with the company and take the trip to Florida. I would have been happy to watch him succeed, but didn’t think he could do so with such an avaricious, egotistical jerk. Sunny quit and sabotaged Munson’s chances with the Harvard group.
We were both back in Phoenix within the week, unemployed. Moral of the story is GET IT IN WRITING FIRST!
Down and out Again in Phoenix
After the disappointing experience with Cylant Technology, I returned to my wife in Phoenix. I was humbled after being fired for the first time. I was back to square one. I felt deep down that Munson suspected I had some mental ailment and that’s why I got let go. I fell into another depression. No more hopes of being rich and famous. I certainly had no more grandiose expectations of becoming President of the United States one day. I sat on the couch for a month or two and passively looked for jobs on the web. I was like the Dude in the Big Lebowski wearing my robe all day every day. I couldn’t muster up the energy to pick up the phone and call anyone. I did my entire job search online, posting resumes on some job sites and applying to a very limited number of companies. Even though I did a great job, I felt I failed miserably.
I noticed how my friends stopped calling me. It’s true when they say nobody knows you when you’re down and out. Over the course of several weeks, I developed an intense anxiety stemming from the fact that I had no substantial income in sight. I asked myself, “Had I gone from a graduate from a Master’s program to a blue collar worker digging ditches for minimum wage?”