Growing up as a kid in Southern New Jersey in the late-1970’s and early 1980’s, I was exposed to some of the coolest athletes of all time through the local television stations in Philadelphia and New York. I remember being in the grocery line while food shopping with my mother and, as any child, I was looking at the candy section by the cash register when I spotted the greatest candy bar of all time. Chocolate covered caramel and peanuts in an orange wrapper bearing the name and likeness of five-time World Series Champ and two-time World Series MVP Reggie Jackson. Still to this day, the Reggie Bar is the best candy bar I’ve ever had. Not just because those ingredients are the perfect combination of snackdom, but because Reggie Jackson was the first, and (in my opinion) only, personality in that era that transcended sports. One Sunday afternoon a pre-adolescent me was watching the kid’s television show The Baseball Bunch featuring the San Diego chicken. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2004, I was thirty-three years old and just lost my father to suicide. That next year, I went through a period where I was trying to find myself and, in doing so, made a pilgrimage to visit my grandparents and other family who moved to Florida in recent years. I reconnected with my mom’s mom and stepfather (whom I know as “Grandmom and Grandpop Peterson”), my uncle Dave Smith and his family there in Panama City, in the Florida panhandle. As my Uncle Dave put it, “This is L.A. Lower Alabama.” This trip was exactly what I needed and I was able to recharge my batteries and become centered again. I learned a lot about myself during that time. Not only did I refresh my interest in being a better man, but I also came home wanting to become a Freemason like Grandpop and Uncle Dave. During the trip, I learned that Dave was Master of his Lodge and Grandpop said becoming a Mason was the best thing he ever did. That pretty much sealed it for me. I’m going to be a Mason. Read the rest of this entry »
I run out of gas often. Not figuratively, as you might expect from a post like this. Literally. No kidding. There is almost no thrill greater to me than seeing the fuel gauge blink for days. I believe, in life, that risk is the reward. Yes, risk is the reward, and I will stand by that. For many years I drove an SUV and had only a few days mileage on a twenty gallon tank. What a thrill! I’d run out of gas at least once a year and I’d love it. Thanks to AAA, rescue was only thirty minutes away. In 2007, I decided that my impact on the environment was bugging me. I had just seen the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car” and decided to stick it to big oil. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the greatest reads in my entire life was Robert Louis Stevenson’s 19th century novella “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde“. In this, Stevenson tells the story of an attorney who is investigating the evil acts of a man who calls himself Edward Hyde. The investigation leads him to find that Hyde is actually an alternate personality of his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll. Since the publishing of this story, the Jekyll/Hyde concept is one of the most celebrated and imitated in all of literature. This is because it is, in my opinion, the most relevant piece of fiction in all of sociology, psychology and criminology. Ever. Without exception. Read the rest of this entry »
Have you ever wondered where your next meal was coming from? Or where you’ll be sleeping next month? If you haven’t, you may not be a member of the contingent who can understand this blog. If you can’t relate, please do us both a favor and tune out now. If you are still here, and can think as deeply as required, let me fill you in on why I believe what I do.
I was born in South Jersey in 1970 and my mother committed suicide right after my eleventh birthday. I spent more than two decades trying to make sense of it until my father does the same. I guess to follow her down. I don’t know. But all I know is that, back in 2004, I was a man in his early thirties with major issues. Again, no pity. Just journey. Read the rest of this entry »
Tom Seaver was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 with a 98.8% vote on the first ballot. Even 21 years afterward, this is the highest consensus of all time. I know you’re asking, “Why does Rob Holmes, a private eye, care about a pitcher from the 70s in regard to being a private eye?” He was voted by his critics to be more qualified than anyone that came before, or after him, to be in the Hall of Fame. Back in the 1970s, when he was at his peak performance, a reporter asked him when he decided to change pitches. His response was, “I throw the same pitch until it doesn’t work no more.” This is the best business advice I have ever received. Still, after many years in business:
1. I develop an arsenal of weapons.
2. I decide which one is the best, then prioritize.
3. I strike the first bastard out.
4. I keep throwing the same pitch until it doesn’t work no more.
5. I throw another great pitch until it doesn’t work no more either.
6. Repeat until the opponent is defeated.
In investigations, or even business, this is always the case. I’ve read books written by great businessmen like Trump, Welch, Collins and the like. But the only thing that resonates with me is the “Seaver Method” that says sticking with what works is always the best thing to do. No matter what the theory is… what works is all you know. Keep at it until it don’t work no more. Then move on to the next idea. And so forth.
Here endeth the lesson.
As children, and even adults, we follow our fathers’ footsteps and look to them for answers. “What would Dad do?” or “Let me ask Dad.” are common things that may go through one’s mind. Everyone who knew my father tells me how great he was. He excelled at everything he did. His personality was bigger than life and he was kind. He faced adversity with a rare combination of ferocity and excitement. Until he didn’t. At fifty-five years old my father, my hero, left this planet on his own accord. No. He didn’t spring for tickets aboard SpaceX. He drank a bottle of tequila and swapped an aspirin for a bullet.
I know I promised this to be a business lesson and I assure you I am getting there. Many success coaches tell you to mimic the habits of successful people. While I do not disagree, it is important to be selective with which habits you follow. The author of Ecclesiastes was one of the wisest men in all of the land yet he had made every mistake a man could make. How could this be? If he is so wise, and his wisdom so valuable, how can he be this flawed? Because that’s reality.
At thirty-four years old I found myself looking at a roadmap of only two decades with a not-so-happy ending. I was in the same career path as my father. My business was doing quite well and it was similar to his. His industry peers were also mine. Heck. I look like him and my waistline was headed in his direction. I was all set until things started going downhill. I was a husband and a business owner with a lot of pressures. What now? I started by telling myself that I needed to figure out what Dad would do. It took me a few months to realize that wasn’t going to work.
When I was seven, my dad taught me to ride a bicycle. I was scared to pedal without his hand on the seat. One day, I looked back to see he was far behind and I was pedaling just fine. It has been eight years since Dad let go of that bicycle and I’m still doing just fine. We search our lives for heroes and father figures. Many heroic figures chose to end their own lives with alcohol and a bullet including Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, Junior Seau, Kurt Cobain, Don Cornelius, Vincent van Gogh, Freddie Prinze, Richard Jeni and Jeret Peterson.
Heroes are like drugs. They make you feel like you can do anything. Until they don’t. Listen carefully. There is no one better fit to manage your life than you. There is no one stronger than you. So put on those shoes and stand the hell up straight. It’s time to be your own hero.
Now I’m going to drink my coffee.
In recent years, due to the economic downturn, I have found myself approached by dozens of good friends and acquaintances who have lost their jobs. The reason they do so is because I am approachable, I know tens of thousands of people, and I have been running a successful business for more than a decade that, despite the downturn, is still showing profit. To many of these folks’ surprise, my answers aren’t quick nor are they solutions unto themselves. In an economy where even the most qualified prospects are out of work I cannot easily make a phone call and hook them up with a job. My contributions to these friends in need have been stories of my success and examples of what has worked, leaving out what has not. What follows is a customized retelling of Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare.
While aspiring in our twenties my wife, Nastassia, and I would walk our dogs one hour per night after we both got off of work. These walks would take place in the rich neighborhood just across the boulevard and the conversations would consist of starting our own business and achieving our dreams. After seven years at my employer, we felt it was time we could run our own similar business. We planned my exit for mid-October 2001 and had only about a paycheck in the bank. The world changed on September 11th but we kept on course.
We first set up a desk and a computer in the kitchen of our one bedroom apartment. I then drove my car with no working air conditioner three hundred miles to an industry trade show. Although this conference was very under-attended so close after the recent terrorist attacks, I was able to bond with one potential client and also show the elite in my industry that I could stand in the same room with them and look just as good in a suit and a smile.
This one relationship I made at the trade show provided the reference that I needed to land my first job. This first job gave me the opportunity to perform obsessively well and nurture a client relationship that led to ten years and over one million dollars in income.
For Nastassia and me, two quotes remain a constant inspiration:
- “If you reach for the stars, no matter how far you go, you will get further than most people.” ~ Raijko Bojic (Nastassia’s Dad)
- “Keep. On. Plugging.” ~ Bob Holmes (Rob’s Dad)
I hope you will stay tuned and follow this series, as I believe my stories can help you in your journey as they continue to help us.
Now, I’m going to finish my coffee.
Ten years ago on this date you may have seen a goofball driving down Washington Boulevard in Culver City blasting the Tom Petty song ‘Free Falling’ while joyfully singing out the car window as if he were Tom Cruise in ‘Jerry Maguire‘. That was me. The reason for this occasion was that, just like the title character of the aforementioned film, I quit my job with no safety net or certain future in order to start my own business.
Six years prior to that, I married the love of my life. Believe it or not, the anniversary of our marriage doesn’t equate to me as much as the day I told my wife that we were never going to have to have jobs again. I stopped off at the grocery store on the corner of Doheny and Beverly and came home with that chilled ten-dollar bottle of California sparkling wine.
I began my company in the kitchen of my one-bedroom apartment on Oakhurst Drive in Beverly Hills. All I had was a desk, a fax machine, and a computer that I assembled myself from scraps. I spent the next week or two learning Quickbooks. During this time I attended the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition’s Fall Meeting in Las Vegas. This was the first time I showed up in public as Rob Holmes, proprietor. Just as for my father before me, this organization and its members are my family and home. I look forward to spending my tenth IACC Fall Meeting in Orlando with these fine people.
Since 2001 I have carved a niche for myself in the areas of Intellectual Property and the Internet. I catch bad guys and get paid for it. Half of the time I’m sitting on my ass at Starbucks. Life is good. Thanks to all of you who have made this a possibility for me. I love you all. Let’s have another great decade.
Now I’m going to finish my coffee.
In 1999 I embarked on creating what I wanted to be the ultimate list of songs to play in my car. So I rooted through my music collection and pulled, opened, read, contemplated, played, meditated, listened and came up with ‘the list’. I then ripped the songs and burned them to a compact disc. Since then, I have owned three vehicles: a black Nissan Pathfinder, a black Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited and (currently) a silver Toyota Prius. Whether one of its songs were cranked up loud on a drive home from the office, or playing in the background while driving cross-country with my wife, or if it was sitting patiently tucked away while I was exploring a newly-purchased album; this same silvery, scratched, sharpie-scribbled disc has been with me on every journey.
On a Saturday morning in 2005, shortly after the death of my father, I was driving down the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles when a man in a red Jeep Wrangler ran me off the road and kept driving. I lost control of my steering and rolled about six times down a hill, with my car landing upside down on another freeway. Unable to see oncoming traffic from my vantage point, I hung there uncertain of my future. So I unclasped my seatbelt, fell on the roof and exited the vehicle without a scratch. Days later I got another car and the disc came with me. I kept driving and tomorrow kept coming.
Today, I decided to share this intimate list of songs with you, along with links to play them. I hope they comfort, energize, daze and inspire you wherever you are going. In the last twelve years, I have experienced great success, huge failure, extreme happiness and terrible tragedy. I still don’t know where I’m going and I wouldn’t change a thing. I leave you with one piece of advice: “If you keep driving tomorrow will keep coming.”