John Valenty: Born Nov 4, 1971 (Epic score! Thanks Mom and Dad!)
While parenting little type-A (me) in the “Terrible-Two” phase, memory loss or temporary insanity apparently led to my mother Janet Valenty getting pregnant again. My younger brother Michael Valenty was delivered when I was about 3 years old. Learning to share everything at 3 years old… epic.
I vividly remember bunk beds, family camping trips, pets and my brother snoring so loud I couldn’t sleep.
I walked home from school and did my own thing from about age 7 on. Can’t even picture that independence today with my kids. Weird mom… really. Love you–I still don’t get it.
Little John Valenty was now hooked on fishing (fished by myself after school many days from about age 7 on. Grabbed my gear, walked to the bay shore, rigged up my line and hung out with random stinky old men on the rocks fishing until just before dark. I simply loved fishing.
Learned to earn my own money with various neighborhood friendly enterprises. Lemonade stand, house sitting, watering, selling avocados door-to-door, etc. Those were certainly epic moments for me.
Got my first radio controlled airplane. I was beaming with excitement. They were very expensive back then and quite advanced technology. We crashed it the first day out–epic failure. Took the plane home in pieces, back in the box it went all broken up… little John Valenty — heartbroken.
A year later walking home from school around age 8, I met some old retired guys in a back alley who were building radio controlled airplanes. I told them I had a radio controlled airplane (broken) and they told me to go get it. I did and they took me in like family, taught me how to fix the broken plane, taught me how to fly and took me out on the weekends to a flying club. (Mom you know I love you, but WTF… a random back alley alone at age 8 and hanging out with old men nobody knew. Really? You 1980s parents were something else)
Got my first little motorcycle (Honda 50cc) at age 8. That was epic. Loved it. Took it out alone to ride from age 8-9. Crazy looking back.
My dad had a Hobie Cat sailboat. The family enjoyed sailing on the weekends but all I could think about was being John Valenty “the captain” of my own boat. Got my first little sailboat at age 9. It was a cheap plastic covered foam thing called a “Snark” which wasn’t the best boat in the bay, but I loved it.
Spying on our Norwegian Exchange Student sunbathing topless in the back yard–epic at age 10 for sure.
The family moved aboard a 47 foot sailboat when I was 11 in Shelter Island, Point Loma–San Diego area. My parents were nuts I tell you. Who does that? Best time of my young life for sure.
My fishing was in high gear, living aboard a sailboat in San Diego bay. I sequestered the family’s powered rigid inflatable for myself on most days for my untethered excursions. Caught some really big fish just off shore and loved fishing off the San Diego Bay Bait Barge – One of my favorite epic hangouts at age 11-12.
When I wasn’t fishing, I was working my business “Shipshape Boat Maintenance.” I remember my first $5 tip vividly–epic.
My 6th grade teacher I remember was simply stunning. She would teach us yoga most every day in the classroom. Epic teacher.
In 7th grade I took a computer class and learned a few basics. We had an Apple 2C on the family boat. I loved to write on the computer. Still do.
Around the same time, my dad and his Navy buddies and I took our family Sailboat to Catalina Island where the trained Navy navigators promptly ran into a clearly marked submerged reef and almost sunk the boat (aka “our home”). Emergency divers, repairs and a family of 4 (+ 1 cockatiel) in a cramped motel room for weeks while “home” was dried out and repaired.
Sold the boat into a new house in Scripps Ranch starting the 8th grade in a new school. Room to really spread out there. Got a paper route. Started cutting lawns and making some good cash. Loved it.
Parents helped me finance a Honda Elite 150cc scooter at 15 to do my paper route and get around easier. Epic memories of independence and freedom. Epic parents.
$20/hour lawn maintenance gave way to $50/hour auto detailing. Epic improvement.
First truck. Good times. Driving end of the 9th grade, fun shop classes, surfing several times per week—Epic memories.
10th grade – (age 16-17). Getting stronger… 6th period weight lifting class. Got 225 up on the bench. Epic.
Newer (used) Toyota truck. Serious auto detailing. Couple employees (one named Shannon); simply epic.
Dropped out of high school at the recommendation of my District Counselor who told me to ditch high school, run my business and enroll in Junior College. Epic plan.
17, moved out–got my first apartment. Epic independence.
$50/hour auto detailing gave way to $100/hour automotive paint repair, bumper repair and dent repair. Epic growth.
More employees, more expenses, debt, difficulty… epic struggles, but fighting hard. Making it work.
20 years old – Main competitor in the city trying to kill me (literally) as my team and I were winning too many of his car dealership accounts. A Special Forces veteran who worked for the competitor reported the formal threat to me, took me under his wing and quit working for my competition for moral reasons. I hired him. Competitor losing his mind. Fearlessness at 20—epic.
Got my first large breed dog (“Brenda”), armed and super dangerous at 21.
Late night infomercials – “Make Millions with Tiny Classified Ads” … ya okay, I wanted to make millions. Threw some typical John Valenty energy and hyper focus at it, and BAM! Only “thousands.” Couldn’t find the millions. Looked hard. Found the network marketing industry instead. Couldn’t stand the well dressed salesman type vibe. Wasn’t me. Loved the potential. Gave it a try in typical John Valenty shorts and flipflops style.
First efforts fizzled out as the company we represented got into some sort of serious tax trouble. In the process I learned it was possible to use my new direct mail marketing skills to create customers and business prospects. Window shut, new doors opened. Epic tenacity paying off.
The second nutritional products company I joined had better everything but no semblance of a marketing system. That was all I needed to hear. I just needed good products and a good compensation plan. My mom was also on board and ready to do anything to exit her corporate job and establish some passive recurring income with me. We learned to make the phone ring with customers ready to buy. My direct mail marketing system worked. Totally epic.
I suck at a lot of things. Recruiting and training isn’t one of them. When I got an idea in my head, I didn’t even need sleep. I couldn’t sleep, I still had to run my automotive services business during the day. My mom was working the system after working a stressful full-time corporate job also. I know where I got my intensity–mom. She can run with anyone. I knew my system worked–I shared it with anyone who would listen.
My direct mail marketing system centered around the audio cassette by Dr. Joel Wallach titled “Dead Doctors Don’t Lie.” The campaign generated about $500 million in revenue for New Vision International (Arizona) over 3 years. I worked out of San Diego. The sales commissions on the business we generated were literally shocking.
My first single month’s $100,000 check was extremely memorable. I worked so hard for it having put myself at such emotional, financial and even physical harm’s way to overcome seemingly impossible circumstances and persevered. It was a moment of epic satisfaction for sure. Those kind of checks gave way much larger ones. All epic, full of possibilities.
Thank you BK Boreyko (New Vision owner/founder) who talked me out of more trees than you could count and and managed to keep the company together and running smoothly despite the fact that we were shaking things up and breaking industry records. Even my little brother Mike got in the action and earned about a million bucks while still in college. He graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He’s now a badass web application developer working on some of the coolest technology there is.
23 years old. Options, youth, energy, passion, tenacity, capital. Epic.
24 years old. Bought my first house in Encinitas near the coast. The living room quickly became wall to wall guitar and bass amplifiers, drum set, PA, and recording equipment. Epic fun.
Met my sweetheart Shelleen who was also one of the top reps for New Vision International. Uhhhh, that’s the easiest math ever… cute, cash flowing and a great mom (her son Zachary 3 was all the evidence I needed). Epic keeper!
Well over 50,000 sales team members at our peek. We needed electronic systems now. Direct mail created a ton of data and we needed better ways to manage it all.
25 years old. Started Earnware Corporation, John Valenty’s first technology-oriented company. I started building software with software developer contractors and promptly lost my first million bucks. Realized that writing good software was something I needed to learn. Education started, I was now paying attention. A year or so later we had a product. Epic failure in timing… here’s why.
Right about the time the product was done, the Internet started getting hot. I was captivated and heartbroken–my product was not internet-based. I blew another year and I don’t even want to say what it cost. However, I was refueled by the excitement of what the Internet could do and Earnware my team and I embarked on a very bleeding edge idea to make our software completely web-accessible. Epic vision.
Met my current partner Rob Greenstein, he saw the vision too and jumped aboard. Rob is one solid dude. He ran sales, support and helped me build the first websites Earnware ever produced. Rob also recruited his buddies from NY, Bryan and Neil to help.
Another year later and deeper in the investment hole, Earnware was now delivering web accessible sales tools to a hot growing market. We started kicking some ass.
I was keen to registering and buying up several good Web domains on the side and my partner Rob and I ended up selling one of them Workathome.com for 2.1 million bucks. Epic score.
Shelleen and I were married with Zachary at our side. The wedding was simply epic. Me singing with the 70’s band on the famous Humprey’s main stage (off-key I’m certain) was priceless.
Family life for John Valenty was in full swing.
Teaching Zachary to fish, ride a bike and play the drums at 4 years old–epic time.
Time to pick up a 27 foot Grady White sport fishing boat to fulfill my passion for boating and fishing and take a little time off. I loved to be out on the water for sure. Countless epic moments at sea. Here’s one that came to mind.
One time I was out fishing with Shelleen’s dad (John Patton), his friend (John Miller) and my buddy (John Blaisure). That’s a crew of four all named John. We ended up getting into the largest school of Dorado I’ve ever been in and it was the first and last time I’ve ever even heard of a large school of Dorado in the La Jolla basin. They were jumping all around the boat. We were all hooked up at the same time. Another time I remember vividly we were out fishing on father’s day with Shelleen’s dad, my dad, Keith Garcia and his dad. Epic times on the water.
Zachary was maybe 5 years old at the time and Santa had planned to leave a little 50cc motorcycle under the tree. Epic smiles but what happened next was better. I met with Shelleen’s ex Kevin (Zach’s father) and told him about the Santa issue. He and I had never really spoken more than a few words before. I explained that I had no intention of hoarding those special moments with Zachary and his first motorcycle without Kevin and hoped we could all go riding together. Fast forward, we did just that. 100+ times. We all became quite close and have done all sorts of activities ever since. My girls treat Kevin like family and they even adopted Kevin’s parents as an extra set of Grandparents. Epic turn of events!
Shelleen was pregnant and the music equipment in the living room wasn’t really working for her visions of a family home. So one weekend I spotted the neighbor in his backyard and talked with him through fence. I asked how he was and if he’d consider selling his house to me. We struck a mutually fair deal inside of 10 minutes. He took his bikes, his clothes and his guns and left everything else–the same week. Shelleen moved next door got into full nesting mode, two houses side-by-side, happy as a clam and the music room was saved. Epic high fives!
Earnware attracted some great customers, great employees and numerous weddings, babies, families all started and continuing through all the ups and downs. In the process I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Don McGee who is a visionary and was owner of the domain “Wellness.com.” Don wanted to see Wellness.com built and not just sold. So Earnware invested heavily into development the site and with the newness of the Internet and the .com stock bubble blew-up, nobody was making a profit on the web and we had a real tough time attracting capital or creating momentum. We retreated a bit until we had a better plan. Epic frustration.
I was literally driving down the 15 freeway heading North at around 11pm talking with my buddy Greg when I caught glimpse of a breathtaking falling star. When happened next was unimaginable. It never stopped falling. This “star” (or whatever it was) broke the atmosphere in full view, and shot down to Earth literally impacting just ahead of me. I was on the scene of impact within a minute and on the phone with 911 describing the 200-300 yard ring of fire was lighting up the night just East of the freeway. It looked like no homes were in danger as it impacted in more of an agricultural area. Fast forward to the next day… nothing on TV about it, I couldn’t even get the local law enforcement to admit anything happened the night before. Epic timing.
A year later my first daughter Sophia Valenty was born. Epic beyond words. Being a father was the best and still is. It also seemed like a great time to buy a new 38’ sport fishing boat too. I named it after her.
Shelleen was pregnant again and 15 months after Sophia was born, Fiona Valenty was born. This girl was different. From the time she was a baby, she had a fire in her eyes that was… frankly, a little scary. People who think I’m intense, just haven’t met Fiona yet. This little girl has been kicking ass since before she was born. She even managed to come out a month early, put mom in the hospital for weeks and give us all a big scare. Intensity can go either way–thank God, she’s a good one. Really good.
Teaching the girls to ride their bikes, ride motorcycles, swim, surf, ski, skateboard, wakesurf, fix stuff, fish, play piano, play the guitar, write well, fight, shoot… all epic memories.
Fast forward to 2009, the economy hit a lot of our client’s hard and our positive momentum turned negative and the ship was in trouble. We didn’t layoff employees fast enough and kept reinvesting over and over until we were in worse trouble. We had to do layoff. The team was like family–it was horrible to lose so many of them. We cut things near in half.
With a smaller team under the pressure and stress to wear so many hats we felt we were spread too thin we felt to really compete. What we did next was interesting. We saw enough evidence in the online health website space that it looked like it was time to make a huge all-in bet and rebuild Wellness.com–and start an ice hockey team.
Yes an Ice hockey team. I knew nothing about hockey other than it looked fun. My brother had been playing since college and agreed to teach me. On the 60 minute drive home from the hockey gear shop, it occurred to me that I didn’t want to learn alone. So, while in the car, I attempted to start a new team and recruited a bunch of players who also didn’t know how to play hockey. They didn’t have a good response to my pitch other than to give into the seemingly insane demand. It went something like this: Hey Tom, we started a hockey team, you’re in. Let me know the best time to go pick out your gear and I’ll give you the details. It will be about $1000 each.
While I got no shortage of typical lame responses and declines, here’s what I said to overcome the objections.
“Okay fine, sure, if you want to be the only one of the gang who doesn’t join our ice hockey team, go for it. The rest of us are in and we can’t skate either. Just do it…”
That worked. We had a team. We just didn’t know how to play. My partner Rob who also had never skated before was a great organizer and helped my brother Michael put it all together. Mike was on another team called Voodoo at the time. He literally quit his own team to train a bunch of California wannabe ice hockey players. What happened next really motivated by brother Mike Valenty. We were taking his coaching seriously. We were up at 5AM going to practice and all of us were intensely trying to become competent in a sport we were just introduced to.
A couple months into our practice sessions, we thought we were doing well, but my brother got us an informal exhibition game with his former team and they slaughtered us. This only fueled the fire. This band of 35-45 year old washed up married with children old guys had real work ethic and we must have needed the distraction at the time. We wanted it so bad–all of us wanted it. It was a unique time. Maybe a month or so later, the season started and we had our first real game scheduled. We even had a few fans. Ironically, we were set to play Mike’s former team Voodoo again. This time it counted. Uniforms, refs, clock, the whole nine yards. Suffice it to say, the other team hadn’t been practicing in the off-season like us–we were in shape. Not only were we in shape, but our practicing made up for our lack of experience. We shocked everyone and we ended up winning in overtime. Most of us could have died in a freak plane crash that night and life would have felt complete. Epic memory.
By 2010, we could really see the momentum building in Wellness.com. By 2011 we had our first million visitors and made our first million bucks. We’ve been at it ever since. Epic turn around–still just the beginning.
Also in 2011, I went to fly radio controlled airplanes at a local field where people fly them. I have been doing it since I was 8 years old. I have many planes from my childhood still and some new ones.
I decided to bring an extra one and planned to give it to a kid who needed it and I would teach him to fly it. So I did. This boy was all smiles and very thankful. He did very well, fast learner. His father was also appreciative and invited me out for lunch with them and the kids. I gladly accepted. While walking to the cars, I met his father and asked him where he lives. He said, Encinitas, about 10 miles away. I asked; what area? He said, over by Orpheas park. I said, I know that area, what street? He said near Ocean View. I said what street exactly? He said Via Linda. I said what house number? I almost tripped over my feet when he said “365.” That was my first house! My daughters were even born there. He couldn’t believe it either as he said; no way, I bought that house from John Valenty. I told him, “I am John Valenty!” Turned out his son was born there as well and his 12 year old boy Joey has been living in the same house since he was 1 year old. That’s not even the interesting part of the story. So, listen to this…. They took me to lunch… I am asking his boy “Joey”; hey what do you like to do for fun? He said computer programming. That was immediately interesting to me being into computer programming myself. I asked; what are you working on these days? He said a special game. His friends scoffed a bit as apparently Joey is always working on this game. What kind… I asked. He said it was an unusual game where kids can build virtual businesses online. There was nothing else like it in the world. He explained that the players would be able to start their businesses online, come up with products and services, hire virtual employees and even earn money. I almost fell off my chair hearing this. I was holding back the tears for sure. I opened up my computer, did a quick search and produced an extensive business plan I wrote while living at that house before Joey was born. The business plan was for a game that was nearly identical to the business game that Joey was building. He has been living in that house for 11 years. He was 12 at the time of this story. We’ve become close friends ever since and have been working on the game together. What kind of epic is that? Epic work of God?
I have always been tough with my girls Sophia and Fiona and we rough house, wrestle and play hard just like I would if they were boys. They are both really strong, but Sophia is sweet as can be–all heart where Fiona (the baby)–well, she’s an alpha personality, intense, driven, wickedly smart and even a bit scary at times. To build Sophia’s self-confidence, protect her and help her contend with her intense little sister, I suggested she take some martial arts. We chose Jiu Jitsu. Both girls ended up taking to it naturally. Mission accomplished. Sophia’s is still sweet as pie and she’s no tomboy, but she can now confidently defend herself against much larger people. Sweet Sophia even took a random challenge at a party to wrestle a boy in the grass to submission. The boy was an experienced wrestler, stronger and was able to lift her up and pretty much throw her like a ragdoll. Sophia wasn’t worried for a second. Soon as he got on top of her she had his own shirt wrapped out his neck so tight so fast he immediately had to tap out or black out. Fiona–well, I pity the person who tries to take advantage of her. Both girls are so confident, beautiful, straight A students–I couldn’t be more proud. Both will also be in high school this year. Epic kids.
As I’ve said before: John Valenty is one lucky guy.
To be continued…