Written by Steve Fowler, to save others the trouble in the future.
My son recently asked me if I could go back in time, would I do anything different in my career path. After a moment of reflection, I told him I really enjoyed both marketing and psychology in college. A marketing career could have been a good choice, but I’m happy I chose otherwise.
My work life has been interesting and fulfilling. Fun and exciting. Unconventional. Never boring, and I’ve always been able to provide for my family.
That old question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” continues to roll around in my head. To be honest, I’m still working on that. While I believe many readers would find my adventurous life unsettling at best, my contentment has been steadfast.
Steve Fowler was born with an inquisitive mind and blessed with what I call, BAS. “Boredom Avoidance Syndrome.” Contemporary medical professionals refer to it as, ADHD. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.”
Disorder? I can’t accept that word. No, my life hasn’t been traditional, but it certainly isn’t dysfunctional. I’ve learned to control my BAS (to a degree), with a joyful addiction to coffee/caffeine. Physicians prescribe Adderal (Speed/Methamphetamine) for ADHD patients. Apparently, these chemical stimulants increase dopamine in the brain. That, supposedly, chills out patients. Many years ago I discovered I was self-prescribing coffee with a similar result.
Life is an Adventure!
That said, I know what I am. Steve Fowler is an adventurer; a prospector. I find new and exciting challenges around every corner. I’m always busy; constantly thinking, dreaming, planning, and discovering. I’d go stark raving mad if I had to work on an assembly line like Lucille Ball. Ugh!
Blue and White Collars
I’ve worked many years wearing blue collared shirts. However, I’ve spent just as many years, perhaps more, wearing ties cinched around white collar shirts. I enjoy both worlds and am comfortable in either.
Mike Rowe, of “Dirty Jobs,” would appreciate my Blue Collar path. I’m currently a long-haul truck driver, constantly dashing to and fro, crisscrossing the continental United States. This is the only job I’ve held as an adult that involved an application for employment. I’ve been recruited and lured away by others, for every other position I’ve held.
Over the decades I’ve worked in gold mines; installed many miles of water and sewer mainline systems with gloved hands guiding huge piping into place; operated gigantic bulldozers, huge backhoes, cranes, monstrous front-end loaders, and screening plants; designed and framed houses; operated printing presses; poured concrete for dams and sewage treatment plants; and, during one collegiate summer, I installed water meters in every home and commercial building in Skagway, Alaska.
The same Steve Fowler who’s been thigh deep in raw sewage, 30’ below the earth’s surface, has rubbed shoulders with mayors, governors, presidential candidates, religious and business leaders.
Friends from my youth became award-winning leaders in international business, motion pictures, and professional sports. Other friends followed a plethora of pursuits including landscaping, mechanics, commercial artistry, firefighting, law enforcement, pawnbroking, military and commercial aviation, sales, academia, contracting, politics, medicine, and more. I’ve maintained those varied relationships; regardless of their status, net worth, or political affiliations. They are blue-collar, white-collar, rich, poor, some are handsome, and most live ordinary lives. Regardless of their station in life, they are my friends.
Tracey and I have traveled with many of them and have gone camping nearly one hundred times with a few close couples. We don’t care if we dine in 5-Star restaurants or greasy spoons with friends. Doesn’t matter. It is simply wonderful to share the time and create memories with these special people.
Although I never thought I’d write anything of importance, and ignored both high school teachers and college professors who wanted me to diagram sentences (I still don’t know how to do that), I’ve successfully written, published, and sold two different books. Somehow I manage to blog and write ad nauseam. As a database developer, I’ve written code for dozens of proprietary computer and smartphone applications.
I’ve owned a successful construction company, a printing franchise, cutting-edge pawnshops, jewelry stores, a firearms business, and a mediation/negotiation business. My partners and I developed subdivisions, built custom homes, and provided business financing.
Steve Fowler has enjoyed successful professional forays into embezzlement investigation work. My efforts on behalf of embezzlement victims have resulted in felony convictions across multiple states, prison time, and six-figure restitutions.
A discouraged detective once expressed his frustrations with a case. One Sunday morning he shared detailed crime scene evidence with me; relating to an executed armed guard. The underlying crime was a large cash heist, leading to the guard’s execution. It presented few clues. I puzzled the case and successfully directed them to the murderer, before the end of that day. Colombo would have been proud.
I was a candidate in 2 ½ unsuccessful bids for public office. The campaigns were hard-fought and I believe I may have squeaked out two wins if others hadn’t played dirty. Regardless, I’m not disappointed to have lost. In fact, losing opened up other opportunities. I’ve enjoyed participating in several live PBS political debates and witnessed my proud grandmother enter a voting booth and vote for her grandson. While in politics, I represented Alaska at my former political party’s national convention.
Two different Silicon Valley investment groups sought my involvement in their efforts to launch early-stage Internet companies. One attempt raised and secured promises for just north of 30 million dollars for our NASDAQ listed company. Unfortunately for me the Dot Com bubble burst in 2000 and funding dried up after 15 million dollars was spent. I was the Executive Vice President and went down with the ship. About ten years later, the other Internet startup lost funding to competition, when gaming investments took all reasonable investment options off the table.
In a stark departure from my Blue Collar endeavors, the man I see in the mirror daily has also negotiated with billionaires in Silicon Valley and corporate leadership at a well-known multibillion-dollar transportation company on the eastern seaboard.
Speaking of Losing…
I have had business successes and business failures. On balance, the successes outweighed any failures. Failures were good though. I learned more through failure than I did through success. Also, I am proud to say, even though there were a couple of times I could have filed bankruptcy and walked away from financial commitments, I never did. I believe we are obligated to pay all just debts, even in times of failure. I digress.
Volunteer Work and Other Adventures
I’ve held volunteer leadership positions in many local and state not-for-profit organizations. There were also two non-political national organizations. One of which represented approximately 80,000 members during my time of service. Ten years of my life were invested as a megachurch television director; offering live and live-to-tape programming, captured by 6 full-blown studio cameras, broadcast throughout the State of Alaska; with many additional videos of our services and other events seen by countless thousands across the globe. I’ve been a Sunday school teacher to hundreds of junior high and high school students and have led adult groups at two different megachurches.
Whether it was working frantically trying to remain alive while piloting a bush plane in rugged Alaska during an unexpected major snowstorm or managing a medical team for the Red Cross during a Hawaiian hurricane, my life has been one of adventure, change, and challenges. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine the man in the mirror went from operating behemoth 50 ton D-9 Caterpillar bulldozers in the Canadian Klondike, then a few short years later had a New York City car service collect me for high-level negotiations with Wall Street notables. One year I traveled on business to 47 colleges and universities; meeting with collegiate executives, alumni, students, and others. My life has been busy and fun, but…
The Best Part of My Life
All of those adventures pale when compared to the value I place on quality time with family and friends. I savor those relationships. Time is short and life is fleeting. The various business adventures I’ve lived, while wearing different color collars, don’t mean much when I’m surrounded by family and friends. Those relationships are especially sweet as time passes and eternity draws nigh. Many years ago I wrote, “Life is about relationships. Nothing more, and nothing less.”
My wife, Tracey, often shares, “The only constant in Steve’s life, is his marriage.”
As of this writing, we’ve been together nearly 40 years; and not once have I given any consideration to the thought of moving on to another marital adventure. Tracey is the bedrock and love of my life, and the adventure that keeps on giving.
My children and grandchildren are cherished by every strand of DNA in my heart. They make my life whole and give me hope for the future of our nation and culture. I’m a better man for having each of them in my life. My wonderful parents taught me the value of family and I’ve fully embraced their ideals in that area.
I’ve been blessed by so many wonderful loyal dear friends. I cannot believe just how many people I count as close valuable friends. The numbers are amazing. Can anyone count as many special people in their lives as me? What a blessing!
The Greatest Adventure
A carpenter who lived more than 2000 years ago is the cornerstone of my faith. He is my rock in everyday matters, and gracefully offers me an undeserved opportunity for an eternal adventure.
His legacy gave rise to a man named Paul. I’ve walked in Paul’s footsteps across the Mediterranean region; in Corinth, Athens and Rome – where his beheaded remains are entombed. His teachings have impacted and girded my faith.
I am a beneficiary of grace, forgiveness, and sacrifices made by countless others. In that, I am eternally grateful. Through those gifts, I am confident in my eternity and am at peace with my adventurous life.
While my career has been wonderfully varied along the road of life, it cannot begin to compare with the importance and value I have in my family and friends. They are heaven on earth. But I’ve only just begun…
Next stop, Heaven; with God Almighty. That’ll be the ultimate adventure!
FOOTNOTE: My daughter read this and asked me if I’m dying. In short, not to my knowledge. This is just housekeeping and a way to put the life of Steve Fowler into perspective. Is it unconventional? Yes. That’s just me. My family can shorten the piece and add the appropriate names at the right time. Hopefully, many decades from now.