5 Who Changed My Life: My Journey from CPA to Angel Investor
With Sig Mosley
I was honored to receive the Sig Mosley Entrepreneur Leader Award at this year’s TechBridge Digital Ball. The award was unexpected but certainly appreciated. As I’ve sunset my career as a professional angel investor, this award got me thinking about the people who inspired and supported me over the last five decades.
As a nominee for this award, I was told via email, “If you are selected, please keep your acceptance speech to one and a half to two minutes.”
I thought, "If I am selected, how would I ever thank the people who impacted my life’s work in two minutes? There are so many people I am grateful to.”
But I had two minutes. I had to choose the people that changed my life. I asked God to bring the people to mind. The people who made my life so full and my career so rewarding.
Here they are in chronological order.
I became a startup guy.
I met Richard when I was twenty-two years old. I was in my first professional job pursuing my new occupation as a CPA.
I convinced my firm they should look at automating. IBM just announced the System/32. It was promoted as the first affordable small business computer. Our IBM rep invited our managing partner to a meeting to hear another CPA talk about how automation would benefit his practice. He brought his executive assistant and me to the meeting.
It was here at IBM in Coral Gables, Florida, that I met my first tech entrepreneur. Richard Brock was electric and magnetic. His energy lit up the room. I was immediately drawn to him. He was visionary, entertaining, and filled with great ideas on how this computer and his software would change the CPA business.
We bought what he was selling. I was put in charge of making it all work. Little did I know this was the opportunity of my lifetime. I began working with an entrepreneur. Once I experienced this, I only wanted to work with Richard. And that’s what happened. I left the CPA practice and the profession and joined Richard on his mission of automating CPA businesses.
On my first employment anniversary, Richard gave me a performance review. He asked me, “What do you want to accomplish with your life?”
Without hesitation I said, “I want to be you.”
Richard changed my life’s course.
Then I met Kathy. We built a family together.
I was installing software and doing on-site training at a CPA’s office in Denver. The staff selected to work on the new computer were always young people open to learning this new thing. In this case, it was the CPA’s son, Jared.
As the work day drew to a close, Jared asked if I would be interested in joining him and his girlfriend on a double date. His girlfriend would bring along her friend.
The front door opened as we approached, and Kathy, his girlfriend, stood there. Our eyes met, and it was love at first site. I will never forget that moment in my life.
Her friend, my blind date, didn’t show up. The three of us went out on the town that night. All I remember is wanting to learn more about Kathy, and she wanted to know more about me. She and I spent the night ignoring Jared.
Seven months later we were married in Denver. Forty-six years later we have four children, six grandchildren, two sons-in-law, and one daughter-in-law. Kathy and I have been blessed with an amazing and full life.
Kathy is always there for me. She is the best wife and mother and now grandmother. She knows me well. She helped me grow as a man, a husband, and a father. I love Kathy more today than ever.
Alcohol was ruining my today and tomorrow.
Richard and I sold our business to a public tech company. What followed for me was seven years of building businesses for public companies. On the road, away from my family, I perfected the work hard, play hard lifestyle. I eventually left the corporate track to return to working with entrepreneurs. This difficult path back showed me the truth of who I had become. I was an alcoholic.
I knew that if I kept drinking, I would lose everything precious to me. This included Kathy, my children, and my career. Alcohol would win, and I would lose.
AA showed me how to stop drinking one day at a time. It also led me into the loving arms of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. He saved my marriage and showed me a new career. Thank you, Jesus.
I discovered a career I never thought possible.
I was hired to do a turnaround of a startup. It was there that I met Sig Mosley. Sig was an angel investor. This company was his very first investment. I watched Sig at board meetings and was drawn to him. He loved entrepreneurs and was there to serve them. It was clear he was there to help them build their business by providing money, his vast network, and experienced guidance.
After eight months as the president of an early-stage company, I decided I wanted to do what Sig was doing. I no longer wanted to be an operator. I wanted to be an angel investor. I wanted to help entrepreneurs achieve their dream of starting and running their own company. I did this for the next 39 years.
Thank you, Sig, for showing me this career. You demonstrated for me and many others how to use our money, network, and experience to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and change our community and the world forever.
And finally, there is our Atlanta tech community.
I didn’t know in January 1977 when Richard decided to move our little startup to Atlanta how fortunate a decision that would be for me. I thought we were getting closer to a big airport so we didn’t have to change planes. I didn’t know we were joining a young, vibrant city that welcomed innovation. A city filled with people who were entrepreneurs filled with idealism.
I’ve lived in Atlanta for 47 years. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the most wonderful, generous, and capable people in the world. This is a community that invited me to live my life. This included building my family, building multiple businesses, and practicing my faith in Jesus Christ. Thank you, Atlanta.
If you had to choose the five people who changed your life, who would they be?
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