This story is long. Like. Really long. You don’t have to read it all, but it’s here if you’re interested.
❓ Why I’m sharing this story
Over the last 3 years, I’ve learned a lot of life-long lessons that I know will guide my life until I take my final breath.
Most of these lessons have come from stories and experiences paid forward to me from mentors, leaders, and men of faith that have been intentional to pour into my life.
In the same way, I pray my experiences would serve as a statement of God’s faithfulness to me and His un-wavered sovereignty in this world.
My hope is to give a 100% true and unfiltered context to the last 2 months of my life and share with you the trials and challenges I’ve faced as well as the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
As one of my mentors always says — there are no reserves, no regrets, no refunds, there is no tomorrow.
To give full, unfiltered context — we have to go back a little over 6 years.
🎮 Pre High-school
From the fourth grade until I graduated high-school, I attended a Homeschool Christian Co-Op in Villa Rica, GA called Koinonia. Looking back, it was a really cool way to go through school. Every Tuesday and Thursday during the school year, I would visit a physical building with teachers teaching solid curriculums surrounded by peers and believers (so I wouldn’t be an unsocialized homeschooler), and then on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I would stay home and work on the homework assigned on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Neat right?
This type of schedule (and the fact that my mom and dad both worked full-time) gave me immense freedom in the management of my time. From Middle School School to my sophomore year of high-school, I did not manage that extra time time well. I spent an insane amount of time (well over 10,000 hours across all those years) playing video games on my computer.
The truth was, I was a smart kid. I learned quick, took note of patterns that I could use to my advantage in school, and made both of my older sisters jealous because of it (love you guys ❤️).
I could usually knock out all of my homework for school in about 4 hours—acing the homework and the tests.
Because of this (and that I had virtually no other extra-curricular activities), I was able to spend the rest of my time playing video games on my computer.
Naturally, this gave me an intimate knowledge of computers. Everything from how they worked, how to troubleshoot them, and even how to build them.
This was the first instance of my, now well-known, tendency to become obsessive and deep dive into something I’m interested in.
📚 Mid 2017 (16 years old)
Fast forward to 2017, my sophomore year of high-school.
Once I hit 16 — a bunch of priorities changed in my life. 2 things specifically. I wanted to become more independent and I wanted to try out college.
16 is the minimum legal driving age in the United States and I would need a car to get to college and back — so getting a car and my license became the next logical steps in my life.
I knew my mom and dad lived paycheck to paycheck and would not be able to afford to purchase a car for me, much less pay for my college, so I needed to get my first job.
I looked all around my hometown of Douglasville, GA and applied for various positions. I applied for the Farmers Market up the road, (with the immaculate idea of riding my skateboard to work everyday), Best Buy (the job I really wanted), and Shane’s Ribshack (at the time, I went to school with a worker and one of the current managers).
With the huge leverage of having multiple ins at Shane’s — I got the job. All my other applications for jobs were denied. But Best Buy, hurt the worst because I thought my knowledge of computers would be a great fit. So starting that summer, I started smoking ribs and flipping burgers at Shane’s.
Guess what — I hated flipping burgers.
In fact, I hated it so much that I quit after 5 months. (ps. sorry Jeana, I will forever be indebted to you for those walk-in freezer cookies every morning at 7am.)
But just because I hated the work itself — doesn’t mean that the opportunity was not monumental in the development in my work ethic, character, and real-world problem solving skills.
Because of Shane’s — I developed a sense of urgency in everything I do. It’s the reason I try to learn to do things the fastest, most efficient, and to the highest quality possible.
So anyway, I quit Shane’s Ribshack and began working over at a pet store with my sister Alexis. (this is a long story)
Guess what — I hated being a clerk at a pet store even more than flipping burgers at Shane’s.
I seriously considered going back to Shane’s after just 2 weeks at the pet store.
🧭 My first big “pivot”
So 3 weeks into the Pet store gig I was riding in the car with my Mom, Dad, oldest sister Alyssa, and my good buddy Trey. As we were passing by Best Buy, I mentioned to Trey that I had really wanted a role at Best Buy and that a lot of our mutual friends from Chapel Hill Church worked there.
I will never forget how nonchalantly he said “why don’t you just go in there and just see if you can get a job since you know people and you hate the pet store so much?”.
Well, my mom overheard this and was like — “Son, do you want to do that?”
I hesitated at first, but eventually agreed. She turned the car around and the next thing I knew Trey and I were walking into Best Buy.
I found Jonathyn from Chapel Hill and mentioned that I was looking for a job. So, he pointed me to Priscilla, the front office manager.
Talk about God’s timing.
I mentioned I went to church with the guys from ChapelHill to Priscilla and she asked if I could interview on the spot.
I did… and I got a job!
Mind you, this was a seasonal sales role, but nonetheless I was STOKED.
I hit some pretty good numbers selling in Home Theater over the holiday season and they kept me on as a part-time sales associate.
🏫 2018 (17 years old)
I have a job now. Specifically, a job that I don’t hate and pays pretty well for a 17 year old high-schooler.
Up until this time I had been hitching rides with my sisters, mom, dad, grandparents to get to and from work.
It was time for me to buy my first car.
I wanted a mustang.
But, my Aunt Cathy sold me her 2002 Ford Windstar minivan for $500 and I paid cold, hard cash for it.
Check it out — I named it “Odyssey”:
Just to update you on my priority progress:
A few fun side notes — I bought my minivan 2 weeks before my driving test.
The day after I passed my driving test was my Junior Prom — and I had promised my good friend Helen (now my hot wife) that I would be picking her up in my minivan from her house to go to Prom together. Talk about some pressure on my driving test (passed with a 98)
Somehow the stars aligned and we made it work — also her parents didn’t know I had received my license the day before driving their daughter around town until my mom spoiled it during Prom photos LOL.
🎓 2019 (18 years old) — College?
Because my parents did not have the money to pay for my college, and I was not intentional to apply for scholarships before now — I didn’t really have the money either. I mean, Best Buy paid well — but not well enough for a Part-time sales associate to pay for college out of pocket.
I also knew that I was not 100% sold out for a college path. I knew that things were kind of shifting in the world where virtual education and career certificates were becoming more valuable and a college degree was becoming less valuable. I also knew that I wanted to give college a good “try” before I commit to student loans I can’t file bankruptcy for lol.
The state of Georgia offered a pretty neat program at the time for qualified high-school students to “dual-enroll” in both their high-school and a college near them.
You can think of this as traditional AP classes, but instead of having to do extra work in a normal class where you make or break college credit on a final exam, you take a normal college class and take normal tests for your college credit.
The best part of this deal is that the state of Georgia would actually pay for 100% of your books and tuition if you were qualified.
So I applied for dual-enrollment.
My SAT scores and high-school grades were high enough to enroll at the University of West Georgia, so I dual-enrolled there for my entire senior year.
I took general education classes like: English, Math, Foreign Language (I chose German for some reason — looking back I really wish I took Spanish), and Astronomy.
Side Plot: Still working at Best Buy and about a year before this, starting dating my Prom date (now wife)
Once I graduated High-school and completed my first year at University of West Georgia, I had come to a conclusion about my next steps.
I didn’t want to go to college.
Throughout the last year, I saw things I enjoyed about college, and a lot that I didn’t enjoy about it. I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do in life, but I had a deep conviction that it may have something to do with computers. And honestly, I felt like the Computer Science field was flooded with new students.
Now, I know that you shouldn’t make decisions based on your feelings — but I did.
I decided against pursuing more college education and full-sent myself into Best Buy and this cute girl I was dating.
Right around the time I graduated — My mom, Mary, was diagnosed with cancer. Specifically, T-cell Lymphoma.
This rocked our family’s world. Whenever anyone hears the “c” word — it almost always drives overwhelming fear into the hearts and minds of those who love the one receiving the diagnosis.
At this time, my oldest sister was already married and moved out, I was seriously dating my girlfriend and working in the meantime, and I had no idea what my next step for my “career” would be much less sure what the future would look like with my mother and her upcoming treatments.
In the midst of all of this, I found myself full of faith instead of fear. Faith that the Lord would heal my mother completely, and that the Lord would guide my steps to follow in His will, no matter what happened in my “career”.
Spoiler Alert: The Lord was fully faithful and sovereign in both of these uncertain circumstances.
💍 2019-2020 (18 years old) — My second big “pivot”
So remember how I mentioned that Best Buy paid well, but not college tuition well?
It also didn’t pay “marry your girlfriend” well either.
At this time, Helen and I were really serious. We both knew that the Lord had placed one another in each other’s life for a big purpose and that we were supposed to get married and live for Him.
… and the Lord provided for this plan.
Out of nowhere, our Pastor, Dwayne Terry, offered me a part-time role as a “Technical Director” for our church and gave me the flexibility on hours on when to serve in this role and prepare the church for weekend services, install new equipment, and make sure the teams were ready to go for Sundays.
At the same time, I had another mentor in my life offer me to work and mentee under him for his small electronics business. (I am forever thankful for you Mr. Ayron!)
So with both of these new part-time roles, I felt that my time at Best Buy had come to an end.
Not only would these roles combined pay better than Best Buy, but it would provide me the opportunity to marry my best friend.
February 2nd, 2020 — I proposed to my girlfriend and you’ll never guess what she said ❤️
However, after a few months of working with Mr. Ayron with his small electronics repair and service business, a funny thing happened.
COVID-19 caused a lot of Mr. Ayron’s work to slow down and he just didn’t have enough work for me to complete in the shop.
But if we’re being completely honest too — I wasn’t exactly providing him the ROI he needed in that season either.
So I was now out of my big-corporation opportunity with Best-Buy, out of my main income stream with Mr. Ayron, and feeling stuck with 10hrs a week part-time at the church with no college degree or work history outside of Best Buy.
💽 2020 (19 years old) — The project opportunity
Recognizing the fact that I had just proposed to my fiancé, we had 6 months until our wedding, and I needed to find a job that would be sustainable for the future — I reached out to Pastor Dwayne and a couple of men in our church to see if they knew of any opportunities for a job.
Heath, one of the elders at our church at the time, was doing some work for Reggie Black (an entrepreneur with a supplement E-commerce business, and another business in the cancer space with about 6 employees) and asked if Reggie had any openings.
I am sure that there were a lot of conversations in the background that I have not heard about, but I received a phone call on May 6th, 2020 from Heath mentioning that Reggie was looking for an executive assistant for himself and was willing to reach out to me and potentially do an interview.
I thought executive assistant sounded cool and obviously I needed to make some money so I agreed and met with Heath and Reggie the next day.
Turns out, I was not going to be Reggie’s executive assistant and that I was would be working on a project for his cancer business that should take about 6 weeks.
I was tasked with manually creating and structuring an entire database of videos from 20 years worth of cancer conventions on a platform called AirTable (think excel on some insane steroids).
But here’s the deal… As much as I’d spent time on a computer playing video games and the time I’d spent at Best Buy selling home theater setups and working on computers at Geek Squad — I never and I truly mean NEVER used spreadsheets for anything.
So I was tasked with a project to work on data I didn’t fully understand, with a platform that I have never used, in a format that I had zero expertise in, and given 6 weeks to work through over 700 hours of video footage and create a database around it.
I thought — “I mean. I’m not really in a position to say no right now.. I have to figure this out.”"
And figure it out I did.
However, God’s timing is immaculate.
May 19th, 2020 — Exactly 6 days after starting on the project with Cancer Tutor (now Cancer Doctor) — right as I pulled into the office for the day, I got a text from my sister Alexis at 7:19am reading: “Adrian you need to come home”
I’ll never forget it. My mom’s health had been declining over the last 2 months.
After we celebrated and praised God for a confirmed “remission” from her cancer less than 2 months earlier — the cancer was found metastasized to her brain. This caused a lot of mental problems, and motor skill deficiencies, and unsustainable calcium levels throughout her body.
At the time of me starting at Cancer Doctor, my mom was bed-ridden.
If the future I wanted, where my mom and I would share our Mother-Son dance at my wedding, was going to come to reality — God would need to do a miracle.
Again — I was full of faith and truly believing God was going to do a miracle.
I ran into the office, spoke to Taylor, the operations manager for Reggie’s other e-commerce business and told him that I needed to make the 1 hour drive back home and be present with my family.
That night, my mother passed away at the age of 52 from her cancer.
In the moment that she took her last breath, I was worshipping Jesus in her room playing and singing “Christ is Risen” over her.
Only God knew in that moment how my faith was going to be challenged over the next 18 months from her passing. There are some many more things here that I could share about this.
Less than 2 months after the worst day of my life, I had one of the best days of my life.
I married my best-friend Helen.
Talk about there being a time for mourning and a time for dancing. Throughout our marriage, we’ve found ourselves held in the contrast of joy and sorrow.
After finishing the initial Cancer Doctor project in 2.5 weeks instead of 6, Reggie began to trust me with more projects in the business.
Because of my mother’s diagnosis and now passing, this business of helping cancer patients now carried a substantially deeper meaning.
🌱 2021 (20 years old) — From employee to mentee
As time went on and the company shifted it’s course, I became a sponge for knowledge from Reggie. I woke up every single day ecstatic to go to work and learn as much as possible.
This started from Reggie inviting me to read through a book series from Russel Brunson on marketing and funnels (Dotcom Secrets, Expert Secrets, and Traffic Secrets), and morphed into Reggie and I spending more and more time together working on the business.
Heath had moved on to another role at the beginning of 2021 and Reggie placed me in the operations manager role Heath previously held.
I was young, malleable, trainable, and had never managed a team before so this was a major learning curve for me.
From my perspective, I think I did a pretty good job at this because as the year went on, I was handling more and more projects for the business and managing more contractors and delivering on deadlines.
It was really, really fun and cool.
📈 2022 (21 years old) — Growth?
At this time, we had two other team members move on to other companies (which turned out to be a really good thing) and so the team at Cancer Doctor was getting smaller and much more focused.
I was still running the business as the Operations Manager and we were trying to find ways to grow the business to serve more cancer patients (through B2C platforms for patients to find doctors) and to help doctors provide the best patient experience possible (through B2B services that the Doctors need help with).
At this time, Reggie’s wife was pregnant with twins and he was really looking to have his hands off the business more and more. This gave an opportunity for me to take on more responsibility.
So in an attempt to grow, we went out and sold some awesome deals and delivered on some really nice projects for some of our doctors.
Everything was looking up!
However, one of the major deals we sold in 2022 actually fell through about 2 months into the project.
Because this project would’ve been the biggest project we’ve ever worked on and without a doubt would have taken this Doctor’s practice to the next level, this hurt our team morale a lot.
The project was fully stopped and cancelled completely.
From this moment on, we didn’t sell anything new for the rest of the year.
Not a good place to be in.
Despite this, at the end of 2022 — we had achieved a higher Annual Revenue than the company had seen in 4 years.
⚾️ 2023 (22 years old) — The major league pivot
January 1st, 2023, Reggie graciously gave me the reigns for the entire business, making me CEO, and giving me authority of all things concerning cash, people, and overall company vision.
He moved into more of a Chairman role where I would consult him for decisions and work with him through problems, but the day in and day out of the business, finances and all — would be fully under my responsibility.
Going into 2023 — I had the entire team read “100M Offers” by Alex Hormozi in preparation for our annual team planning retreat.
We had the whole team (Me, Reggie, Kevin, Robert, and Tiffany) gather in Chattanooga TN for to set our Goals for Q1 2023.
Based on the book, we mapped out and created a “Grand Slam Offer” for our Doctor clients that would take the practices to the next level and help them deliver the best patient experiences possible and reach as many patients as possible.
Leaving the retreat, everyone was STOKED for what this year was going to look like.
I set the goal at $1,000,000 in New Revenue for the company.
We hit the ground running 2nd week of January and reached out to our clients and pitched them our Grand Slam Offer.
💸 Present Day — The most difficult decision of my life
Turns out — whenever you step into a role where you are fully responsible for all income, expenses, people, and vision — you should take account and audit everything.
2 weeks into my CEO debut — we were out of cash in the bank.
We rode the wave of our sales from 2022 to the limit and because we hadn’t sold anything new in 6+ months — we were churning money working on internal projects for patients.
So — I had a pretty stressful and disappointing meeting with Reggie and decided to pull a line of credit for the business.
Based on all of the current expenses for the business, the line of credit we pulled should give us 4 months of runway if we didn’t sell anything new (which I fully believed would be plenty of room because of the insane value our new Grand Slam Offer brings to our clients).
We didn’t sell a single Grand Slam Offer in January.
..or March. (at this point in time I should’ve recognized that we did not have a crucial part of a business called “Product Market Fit”)
…and we were out of cash again.
Not exactly the screen you want to pull open in the morning… This screenshot is from April 29th, 2023
Back in January, I had promised Reggie that we would never have to pull another line of credit for the business. He has generously given up his own personal capital for this business in the past and I was confident sales was a Q1 problem..
I knew that our business has monthly recurring revenue (MRR). But we needed more MRR. Our current expenses were beyond the MRR we were receiving from contracts on the books. This should’ve been a huge red-flag.
Again.. should’ve done an audit.
So. I had to make some really, really, really hard cuts.
So let me ask you this: what do you do when you don’t have a product that your target market wants, you don’t have cash in the bank to pay your bills, and you don’t have a line of credit to continue the business?
I found that at that point, you really only have 1 option:
FINAL OPTION: Shut down the business
So here is where I am today — This has been my journey so far
May 19th, 2023 — exactly 3 years after my mom’s passing, I was facing another circumstance that truly feels like another death. This time, it’s the death of a business I have grown to love and have poured my heart and soul into for the last 3 years.
We’ve paused all internal Cancer Doctor projects.
We’ve let go all of our team members, contractors, consultants.
The plan today is to let the recurring monthly revenue pay off all the debts we accrued over the last 6 months.
And take the next 12-18 months to pray and seek the Lord for what direction He wants us to take this business.
It sucks. A lot.
I had 7 excruciating conversations with real human beings, with real lives, that relied on our work to provide for their families, telling them we were out of money and had to let them go.
I’ve learned an incalculable amount of lessons from this journey. Here are just a few:
- Audit everything — expenses, income, processes, compensation… everything. If you don’t know where you’re at today — you can’t set proper goals and targets for the future.
- Don’t pay out a single dollar if you’re not 100% certain on how it returns new revenue back to the business. If you’re paying out money and not getting a return, you’re wasting money.
- Deals aren’t finalized until money is in the bank account. This sounds simple, but don’t get it twisted. The endorphins of a huge deal about to close can give you so much false hope that is founded on absolutely nothing.
- Sales compensation needs staging and step downs over time. x% forever all time is unsustainable and unprofitable.
- Having the right person in the wrong seat is a real thing. Just because someone on the team is the right person, doesn’t mean they are in the right seat. Think outside the box and figure out if someone placed in a different role could play to their strengths 10x more.