Living An EXTRAoridnary Life
My name is Nathan Garrison. You can call me Nate G. My original bio looked like so many others you read on websites of those who look to give you their advice and counsel. These brief snippets boast why they are so brilliant and lists of financial successes. Some more transparent than others. Some completely overwhelming and some complete bs, but all demonstrating why we are so brilliant and should be listened to. As I read mine, it nauseated me. I just could not stand to read about how great I thought I was.
Yes, I have seen some exciting successes in my life. I have experienced the lifestyle of both the rich and famous and the down and out. But in reflecting on my life, I realized I am not special. I am not as different as I want and hope to be. And many of the blessings and rich experiences in my life have come when I have tried and failed. My most memorable moments came when I just stuck my neck out and quite frankly made a fool out of myself.
While at the time, these moments may have been unbearable, they are the moments that shaped me, and they are the stories I will always remember and love sharing with others. Many of these stories are already in my blog posts and many more I share on the podcast. But make no mistake about it, I am an ordinary man, of ordinary stature and intellect. So why listen to anything I have to say?
I am not a millionaire. I have been divorced twice. I have 5 kids. I have failed more than I have won. My record as a soccer coach is abominable. I have never won a race or come in first place in anything my entire life. But I do believe that I have won in the game of life. I believe I have found answers as I have failed my way forward. They may not be the right answers for you, but they have proven themselves to me, time and time again.
The knowledge and things I have to share are not my creations. There is very little original thought or content here… But what I do offer is a path to finding your own answers through my personal experiences. I hope they relate in a way where you can appreciate or apply them to your own life. I won’t promise you will be rich and famous, but I will promise you that if you follow the process and lifestyle design I present, you will never be down and out.
So that said, I will give you an honest accounting of my personal and professional life up to this point.
I have worked my whole life. It started early on when I lived in Charlotte, NC. I first had to mow my own grass as well as some regular household chores. I was paid to do so in the form of an allowance, but it was not an option. So I grew up hating the smell of fresh-cut grass on a Saturday morning. But I also had many other opportunities to earn money very early on. I am not sure if this was a result of being the oldest of 5 kids and honestly needing the money, or if I was actively seeking these opportunities. For whatever reason, while living in North Carolina up until the 8th grade, I hustled.
I watched my neighbor’s dog while they were out of town, I had a paper route for a brief period. During our summer vacations to North Myrtle Beach, we would sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts door to door in our condo. I even babysat for several different families we went to church with. That may seem kind of strange or odd but at the time was no big deal.
I went on to my first w-2 job after moving to Oklahoma. Where 2 weeks before I turned 14, I started washing dishes at Mexicali Border Café. This was my first real job, punching a clock. I learned my first Spanish (all profanities) from the other dishwashers who took great joy in setting me up to say terrible things to some of the servers.
This was the first time I also had a mentor. The owner, Juan took me under his wing as taught me all the aspects of the restaurant. I went from dishwasher to bus buy, to server and even hosted. Again, a weird thing for a guy, but at the time I thought nothing of it. I would wait table but wasn’t old enough to serve alcohol. This was one of the first places I learned work ethic. The white dishwasher in a Mexican restaurant. Restaurants would stay a theme in my life all through high school and college. I learn to really enjoy cooking and feeding people. I would sneak ice cream to my stoner buddies working at Baskin Robbins, delivered pizza for dominoes before the days of GPS relying on wits and iffy wall maps. I cut steaks and fish at country clubs and golden corral. I learned the regional fare and bar-b-que basics. I paid my way through college in both Utah and Georgia all in the back of the house of the restaurant business with plenty of financial assistance from my parents. But it was still a tough place to grow up.
My first real job out of college came in the form of UPS. And despite 2 years of college under my belt, like so many other jobs, I started at the bottom. Loading trucks in the summer heat of Georgia. I would bring extra shirts to work so I could change as I sweat through them. But there I learned how to move up survive in a Union shop and ultimately move into management. I learned a lot about both people and leadership. I was known as one of the only supervisors who could actually fire someone. That may sound cruel on the surface, but what it really meant is that I was the only one who cared. I was the only one willing to see it through. The only way to fire someone in a union shop is to help them every step along the way to be successful. If they want to, were just willing to try then they would be, if they did not it was because they didn’t want to be there, and they would either give up and quit or accept the fate of getting fired.
While at UPS, my friends had gone from professional Xtreme Athletes to selling Xtreme athletic gear. Specifically, Rollerblades and specifically during the first Dot Com craze. My buddies had inadvertently created one of the first successful online storefronts for an entire industry. But they were more than just a warehouse distributor. They had a team of riders, created regular content, and established a subculture in the heart of the south. While making great money and laying out a career path at UPS, I did not enjoy the work, It was a tough place to work and when my friends approached me to come run their retail storefront, I decided to take the leap. And although it was ultimately unsuccessful, I am so glad I did. That was my first taste of the entrepreneurial life. I learned a lot, and the best part was I worked at a skate shop, inside a skate park.
Doing what I loved, teaching kids, and developing the talents of those around me. It was truly an amazing opportunity. That said I was not the best retail manager in the world, and we were all trying to figure out how to manage an inventory that was being sold both through our storefront and more importantly through the website. I ultimately left the company and they ultimately shut their doors as the in-line skate industry imploded on itself. From there I spent a summer digging inground pools and making koi ponds with a buddy until I landed at Owens Corning.
Traditionally known for roofing shingles and pink insulation, Owens Corning created a home improvement division to help get out of their bankruptcy. I was hired again as just an entry-level tech with limited construction experience. It took a few tried to even get the job, due to my lack of experience. But again, I worked my way up through the ranks and eventually made my way into the office as the office manager and bookkeeper. This ultimately morphed into a regional finance role as the division grew and expanded. I moved on to account manager before being dismissed right before the company dissolved the division and the construction and mortgage bubble collapsed.
While this was a tough blow at the time, It opened the door to my own first real entrepreneurial opportunity. One of the guys who left formed a company with a lot of the guys from Owens Corning and he offered to partner with him. We created a construction company and worked together for a while before one bad job sent us in our own directions. Now a true solo entrepreneur, I formed Atlantic Custom Group and spent the next several years as a stand-alone general contractor remodeling kitchens and finishing basements as the new construction industry continued to recover.
While running my own business, I was approached by a fellow church member that was looking for a facilities engineer to take over a major construction project they were completing. After learning more and a series of interviews, ultimately I accepted a role as a facilities engineer and manager over a campus of building in Sandy Springs, GA. There, I learned about building management systems, industrial-grade equipment, and a true attention to detail.
I spent the next 8 years learning the commercial side of the construction process and what it takes to keep buildings and systems operational and functional… It was when the decision was made to shut down this division that I was blessed with this new opportunity of starting a podcast and personal development plan. But that is a whole nother story….