Here’s the Story
Everyone I meet wants to know the story behind Stop Clowning Around’s name and mission. If that’s you, here’s the story.
I grew up in a loving family, but one that struggled financially. My dad was a Vietnam veteran and struggled with PTSD. Because of this or maybe a lack of personal confidence and belief, my father never seemed to get long-term traction in any company he worked in. I remember my father unemployed as much as I remember him employed. My mom worked her buns off at a grocery store most of my life but never made enough for us to have extra. It was always tight and it was always a struggle.
My parents were very involved with our local church and held strong to their faith. In turn, they helped mold my faith throughout my years in their home. When I was 12, they started a puppet ministry team with the youth of our church. They would go around to other churches and organizations sharing the gospel through puppets, music and stories. I was always left home because you had to be 13 in order to be on the team. I knew they had so much fun and I wanted to be on that team so bad. One particular Saturday, they returned home and spent time talking about the event and discussing what could make things better. I heard them say “we need to add a clown.” BINGO! I volunteered and my career as a clown began.
Throughout my teen years, my mom would say Stop Clowning Around when I acted in ways that were not matching her expectations. I guess it just stuck.
College Drop Out
Out of high school, I did what too many young graduates did. I listened to everyone and went to college with no idea what I wanted to be or was called to be when I grew up. It ended in failure as I dropped out after my second year with no degree to show for it. I delivered pizzas and enjoyed every minute of it. It was a great gig for a college kid. A year later I got married to my wonderful wife and took a second job to make ends meet. I worked in a chemical plant that made detergents for cleaning. We used caustic materials that would burn your skin if touched on hot humid days. I hated the job, but it was the only place that would hire this uneducated and inexperienced young man. Financially, I was repeating the life demonstrated by my parents.
One day at the chemical factory, I was on the forklift loading a truck with pallets of detergent. The driver, an older man with gray hair and a joyful smile, approached me and had a short conversation with me. Near the end of the conversation he asked me a question that changed the trajectory of my life. He asked, “why are you working here?” He then went on to say, “you are about as white-collar as they come.” What I heard him say was Scott, stop clowning around. You are better than this and God designed you to do more. I want to be very clear here. I am not saying that working in a factory is less-than work. I am saying, it was not the job for me based on my natural strengths and skills. In fact, I believe that many white-collar workers are not in the right place and would be a better, more successful fit in a factory or in the trades. His words shook me. I knew I was not in my right place, but I didn’t know where my right place was at either. His words gave me the confidence to start searching as I heard this complete stranger say, I believe in you.
I Stopped Clowning Around
I went home and shared the conversation with my wife, and we agreed that I would start my college again by taking evening courses. I ended up in a business course that resonated and I knew I found my calling. Ten years of night classes later, I graduated with my Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA).
Around the same time, I made the best, life changing investment made in my entire life. My wife and I, still poor, were visiting a local flea market. As she was looking in another tent, I found myself looking at boxes of books. To this day, I’m not sure why I was looking at books because I was not a reader at that time. However, I saw a book titled Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Actually, I saw the word “rich” and decided that was a good book for me. Right next to it was another book called How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger. I thought I could be good at sales and picked it up. Looking at the cover I saw the price of 10 cents each. Even a poor guy could afford that. I took the books home and devoured them. For the first time in my life I realized that one could learn life-changing material that was never taught in my formal education. That was the start of my personal and professional growth journey which is still active to this day.
During all this time, I landed in a career of sales and account management and grew in success. However, I always wondered what it really took to reach the top. I learned that very few teach you what it takes to keep moving up in influence within an organization. Twenty years later, I am confident I have learned the way. Now I look back and say to myself, if only someone would have showed me the way sooner. If only someone would have helped my find my calling before I wasted time and money on unused college. If only someone would have told me to focus on the right skills and relationships for maximum career growth. If only!