Born and Raised
I was born and raised in Southern California in east San Diego county, the fifth of 6 kids in our family. It was a great place to grow up. The weather is ideal, and we lived on the eastern edge of the more densely populated area of the county. All the cities, beaches, and attractions were between us and the coast. East from our neighborhood was a wide-open country. There were seemingly endless hills covered with sagebrush and the occasional tree. We would often spot jackrabbits, a few snakes, and other small animals as we ventured out into the hills. As a child, my friends and I would head out into the sagebrush on a summer day looking for whatever adventure we could find. Lunch would frequently be a couple of oranges off the neighbors’ tree or whatever we could find. We would wander back home around dinner time at the end of the day.
My parents were products of the great depression, part of what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation”. My mom grew up in Hannibal, MO, home to Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer. My dad grew up in the Los Angeles area. He served in the army during World War II.
After high school, I attended college for a year and then at the tender age of 19 I left for a two-year service opportunity as a missionary where I learned to speak Spanish and lived in various cities in the northwest part of Argentina (Córdoba, Tucumán, Mendoza and a few others). I learned about another culture, the value of the family and relationships I had back home, and I grew up in ways that I couldn’t have under any other circumstances. It was also an insightful time in terms of technology. At that time in Argentina, no one had a phone. The waiting time to have a phone installed in a residence was decades-long. Technology was simply not available to the general population. If you wanted to make a phone call, you had to go to the phone office and pay for special coins and use a bank of payphones in booths. It was prohibitively expensive, and the people with phones you could call locally were extremely limited. During my 2 years there, I only called home one time.
While I was out of the country for a time my family moved to Lakewood, a suburb of Los Angeles. When I returned home, that is where I arrived. My father was an aeronautical engineer who had worked on the Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s until it was canceled. He went through several jobs during a couple of tough years for our family. Eventually, he secured employment back in the industry for which he was trained and worked on various projects designing system upgrades for commercial jetliners.
A Pivotal Moment
I returned from Argentina in September of 1981. I remember the
morning of December 27th as clearly as if it were yesterday. I slept
on a hide-a-bed in the family room at the time and I awoke just for a minute as
my dad headed out the door to the garage on his way to play golf with a friend.
It was the last time I would see him alive. Just before noon I received a phone
call. A nurse at a nearby hospital was calling to tell us that dad had had a
heart attack. He had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance, but they were
not able to save his life. Mom had left the house to run some errands and was
due home any minute. I remember the feeling of panic I felt as I thought about
having to tell her that news as she returned home. Fortunately, I had a married
sister that lived a few miles away. I called her and broke the news. She
gathered up her 2 kids and headed straight over. She arrived before mom
returned home so we were able to break the news to her together. One of the
most difficult things I have ever had to do in my life was to tell my mom that
her husband of 37 years had passed away.
At the age of 21 with one year of college completed and now
living with a single mom I felt compelled to go get a full-time job. I ended up
working for a parts company that supplied bearings and other industrial parts
to many of the oil refiners and other companies around the port of Long Beach
in California. I worked mostly driving a pickup truck delivering the parts to
our various clients within a few miles of Long Beach.
After a year or two, I realized that mom was going to be able to get by on her Social Security and what funds she had invested from my dad’s life insurance policy.
Back to School
I returned to school and began attending a local junior college trying to complete my general education requirements in as economical a fashion as possible. At that time in California, I could attend junior college almost for free with minimal fees and tuition. Books were the most expensive part of the semester. That is where I met and began to date my future wife. We attended the same church, hung out at school, dated, fell in love and were married.
Marriage and Family
My wife Becky and I have now been married 36+ years. We have
raised 6 children who have all graduated high school and left the nest. That
makes us “empty nesters”. We had our first child 13 months after we were
married and our youngest graduated high school last year. That means we were
parenting for 34 of our first 35 years of marriage.
Four of our children are now married and have families of their own. Each of our four married children has at least one child. Our grandchildren range in age from 11 years old down to just a couple months old at this point. Four of our grandchildren were born in the last 18 months which has brought the total to 8.
College and First Real Jobs
I graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in Information Management, a degree that only existed for about a decade. I started my first real job after college working for Ross Perot (perhaps best known as a former presidential candidate) working in Detroit at EDS (Electronic Data Systems). The project I was working on involved moving all of GM’s employees to a new health care claims system under the Blue Cross/Blue Shield group of companies.
In the technology sector I have worked as an analyst,
programmer, senior programmer/analyst, supervisor, project manager, designer,
sales and marketing supervisor, VP, SVP, and President. I started with
companies that used large IBM mainframes and then worked with personal
computers and into the era of the internet. Our startup company had a product
that used the internet in 1997. We fully converted to internet-based software
in 2003 with all our products running in a browser since 2006.
My first job out of college was with EDS. I was hired at the end of 1985 and start on February 3rd, 1986. We moved from Utah to Detroit, Michigan. I was in an office with about a dozen other people. We were technical analysts and we all shared a computer that sat on the secretary’s desk. She used it to print emails to put on our managers’ desk so he could read them. We could only have access to the computer when she was not using it. We worked mostly with paper printouts analyzing and verifying the information. After 18 months I changed jobs. I had seen that I needed more technical skills to move my career in the direction I wanted to go. We had been moved by EDS to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I interviewed and got an entry-level programmer position with American Airlines. First, they put us through a 2-month training class to teach us how to program. We learned the nitty-gritty details of how computers work. We were taught all about EBCIDC and ASCII encoding taught how to write in assembler and even machine code. It was basic and old school even in those days, but it taught me from the ground up how it all works.
I spent 8 years working for the cargo division of American Airlines as a programmer, programmer analyst, senior programmer analyst, and project manager. After several years with American in Tulsa, we were moved to the Dallas area. Their offices were just south of DFW airport. We built a small house in a more inexpensive suburb where we lived for about 5 years.
At the end of those 8 years, I was offered the opportunity to join a startup with a friend back in Utah where I had attended university.
My career has covered most of the history of modern computing. In college, I worked on personal computers that no hard drives just a pair of floppy drives. You had to load the operating system and then the program you wanted to run which for us was always WordPerfect. At my first job, EDS, we worked with mainframe computers in large data centers and accessed them with what were known as “dumb terminals” because they had basically no processing power of their own. At American Airlines it was basically the same mainframes and dumb terminals. Eventually, we were given personal computers of our own, but their main function, as far as our job was concerned, was still to act as a dumb terminal. I took my first networking training class there and remember how remarkable I thought some of the concepts were, like “virtual drive mapping”. By the time I left American Airlines in 1995, we had begun to venture into the world of Windows and Windows programming.
I left American to help start MountainView Software where we
taught ourselves how to program Windows executables, first using Paradox and
then Delphi. We learned how to use email (AOL and CompuServe were big names
then) in the background to send data between programs and how to encrypt the
files for basic security.
It felt like we had hardly begun to be experts in Windows executables when the internet went from being a source for news and static data to a replacement for all things related to local computing. We built our first webpage for MountainView (mvsc.com) in 1997 and our first application for Workers Compensation First Reports of Injury a couple of years later. From the time we made the leap to internet-based software (SaaS – Software as a Service) at the turn of the century, we worked with a variety of tools and products. Most of those years we were dedicated to Java and Microsoft database tools, while mixing in a few other technologies along the way.
In the fall of 2001, we had a meeting scheduled to meet with several executives of one of our largest clients. They had expressed interest in purchasing our company. We set a date for a meeting at our offices in Utah. Four executives from our client boarded a plane in Chicago headed for Salt Lake City with a stopover in Denver. The date of the meeting was September 11, 2001. When the executives arrived in Denver and found that all flights had been grounded, they rented a car and drove back to Chicago. At that point, our business was growing gradually, and we were making ends meet. When September 11th hit it seemed like our level of activity did not change but every client, we had begun to pay their bills more slowly than they had previously. Suddenly we had a cash flow issue as our account’s receivables began to grow. That means what people were going to pay us in the future was going up while the amount they were paying us in the present was going down.
We struggled through the next few months and our client was able to reschedule their visit. This time things progress until gradually they had made an offer to buy our company. The previous year had been a real struggle financially for my business partner and me on a personal level which made it easier to agree to the sale of the company’s assets. Everyone would remain on the payroll and we would now have a large company behind us. The days of worrying about cash flow and day-to-day how the bills would be paid came to an end on June 1, 2002. The purchase price was paid in two installments. The first was paid on the date of purchase and the second was paid 24 months later “if” we met certain goals. In the end, an exceptional business opportunity landed in our laps just months later that allowed us to meet all our goals. It was an exceptional blessing for our families.
My business partner and I continued to run the company as an
independent enterprise for the next 5 years. He managed the support, sales and
marketing aspects and I handled the development, testing and production
environments of our products.
In 2007 my business partner left for another opportunity. It then fell to me to run the entire organization as President of MountainView Software operating as a subsidiary of Gallagher Bassett Service, Inc. When it started it was just the two of us. By the time we sold our company in 2002 we had 6 additional employees. We continued to grow until by the time I left in 2018 we had about 35 employees between full-time, part-time and overseas contractors. During the years that I managed the company, we more than doubled our revenue and our profitability which started in the single digits increased by over 300%.
As a Christian, I have worked with many youth groups over the last four decades. I have been involved in any number of activities from hiking and camping to sports, boating, fishing, etc. Many of those years I spent with my own children out in the wilderness overnight on the hard ground.
I remember (giving away my age now) when only a few adults
had electronic devices that were only phones or Blackberries/Pagers and without
service were practically useless. To the point now where every child over the
age of 12, and many under that age, have a smartphone and service is available
almost anywhere. Even when service is not available there are games and other
distractions on their devices.
I have seen the capabilities of the digital natives. My
children to some degree but even more so my grandchildren. They are growing up
with technology in their hands from the earliest of ages. They learn to swipe a
screen almost before they learn to talk. Their attention seems to be naturally
drawn to screens.
I have always enjoyed exercise. In high school, I played on the golf team (but not terribly well, anyone could join) and I ran cross country (also not very well frequently finishing near the end of the pack). I participated in both sports in my freshman and sophomore years.
I continue to play golf when time allows. Over the years I
have frequently said I wanted to play more but it seems the season for playing
in Utah ends each year and I have not played any more than the previous year.
I have been a racquetball player since I was a teenager. My
friends and I started playing on Squash courts at the local junior college. If
you waited in line the courts were free. We would get our parents to drive us
over, wait until a court became available and then play for hours.
I have enjoyed reading since college. I especially enjoy learning from the books I read. That focuses my interests in business, technology, parenting, personality, and psychology, etc.
After leaving a company I had helped create and where I had
worked for 23 years, I struggled to find that next project that I was
interested in and driven to create. I took a personal inventory of my skills
and strengths and thought about how I might contribute to my community and society
in general. I realized that my career that has always centered in technology,
my experience raising my children through the beginning of the internet
revolution and the advent of cell phones and smartphones, and my perspective as
a grandparent could be used to help others navigate the difficult circumstances
of our times.
There is a lot of good information and a lot of bad
information available. The internet is practically our only source of
information now. I decided that I could help parents and educators by gathering
the best information together in a single place. I don’t have all the answers,
but I can filter through the noise and provide a source of useful information.
With that goal in mind, I have created GreatCity.org with the aim of providing information to parents that they can use to talk to their kids. Guides to know how and when to monitor inline behavior and the tools and means to control access. I have outlined these as:
- Educate yourself
- Communicate to your kids
- Monitor online activity
- Control access
About the Author:
Terry has been an entrepreneur in the IT industry for over30 years. If you want to send Terry a quick message visit the contact page Here.
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