I finally had a day to get some work done. Rented an office in Oklahoma City. Had steady fast internet. Had a 3-page list of things to do. Write, Record, Organize, pay bills, check budgets, reconcile, put out some fires. I found this opening to a speech I had prepared. I thought it would make for a good blog post!! So here you are for those who wanted a little background and bio!!
So here I am talking to you. The first question most of you have is who is this ginger and why the heck is he allowed to have a microphone. So lets address that.
I am Townsend Russell. I’m 33. I’ve been married for 13 years have 3 boys ages 3,6,9 and I’m absolutely loving life. I was born in Baltimore, migrated to Florida– was a handsome athlete in St. Augustine. Went off to WVU realized I’m not the worlds greatest wrestler…married my HS sweetheart and joined my father in law in his business that had just been hammered by an internal crime ring. Prior to joing the business its worth mentioning our parents were not exactly thrilled their teenagers were getting married. So Rhyan and I started saving every penny we could. I was scrubbing pots and pans in the WVU cafeteria. Working night security shifts on top of my RA duties and trying to remain relevant on the wrestling team. We saved between 20-30K because we knew we were getting cut off and we would have to live on our own while paying for college and paying for a small wedding. That gave us significant confidence and a boost in our early life. The next few years I was super hands on in the business and everything was going great. I was making 30K a year and my wife was making 20k as a cart girl at the golf courses. We lived in a tiny crappy apartment and lived off my wife’s pay of 20K…. Yawl that was not easy even in 2007. But we were putting my whole paycheck in the bank and within a year– 2008 happened and I learned oh so much that shaped my life to date. When 2008 happened, housing tanked. And we started to realize buying a house right now before we’re necessarily ready, might be a really smart idea. We had 50k in cash from saving and living like we were broke. And found a brand-new house in a good neighborhood right in the center of St. Augustine. Great location. It originally listed for 220K and was now going for 190k. We negotiated to 180 and some perks inside the house and bought the house with 20% down. We were 19 and 20 years old. Living like we were poor and saving cash allowed us to take advantage of a very opportunistic time. We had a house. We still had cash to cover big repairs and emergencies. Not bad. No cosigning. No PMI. No being Upside down. Locked in a living payment ($898 a month) and was building equity and net worth. My Mom was pretty mad when I surprised her with the news….to be fair it meant I wasn’t going back to college.
At work, I was incredibly underpaid, but I was putting in my time. I was learning a ton. We had switched to living on my 30K once we bought the house. And saved Rhyans 20k. Then I had a baby on the way in 2010. Things got real for me at that point. I had put in the time and developed skills. I was genuinely running the business. I negotiated the expenses. I put together all our purchases. I was running routes. I landed a couple of huge accounts. In fact, they were our #2 and # 3 top customers in terms of revenue. I was scheduling routes. Making real business decisions daily. Which was a big deal back then because the world was crumbling. Businesses were disappearing not because they were bad at their craft. But because their customers disappeared, and they could not sustain their debts. Our business was debt-free which kept us afloat when most were going under. But I had a kid coming, a wife who was about to stop earning, and I was running a successful small business. It was time to get paid and time for there to be some earned equity in the business. Remember I am 23 at this point. Young, Hungry, Talented, and dangerously ultra-confident. I am going off on a tangent here, and you might be wondering why. I was young eager and full of promise and hope. I remember it well. I am telling you the same thing I tell my kids and will continue to drive into their heads until they are on their own. So, let me make some big jumps here just to keep you from nodding off. We had a very poorly handled transition of ownership of the family business. Rhyan and I walked away and started our own business. From 2011 to 2019 we started 3 businesses and had 3 boys. Went from age 22 and 24 to age 30 and 32 in that time span. We paid off our house, lived with no debt, invested in retirement, and kids’ college. Stayed cash-flush. We raised 3 great boys who truly behaved well and performed well in school. We had built a very stable and loving home. I mean, we were really kicking butt. And then we sold our companies in 2019. Getting rid of our income stream and retiring in theory at age 32! Let me tell you. That does not suck.
Then we pivoted. And moved towards our desire to travel the country and really explore it. Live in an RV and show our kids how amazing this country is. Now for the record, we already homeschooled the kids and Rhyan has been a stay at home for a long time. So it wasn’t a massive pivot. But going from a stable house to a mobile tin can is a pretty big change. Now a brain like mine is always in business mode. So now I’m thinking at age 32 I can’t sit around an RV all day playing with kids. I’ll go insane. I need to build a business; I’m just wired that way.
Around 2015 I had created a binder that literally was titled If I die. It was a binder for Rhyan and our employees to read if I died. It was a step by step instruction manual on how to run the business. What to tell employees, vendors, customers the day after I died. It created a lot of clarity for me in the business and it was a comfort knowing our biggest asset that provides for the people I love wasn’t going to crash and burn if I die. They could operate it immediately without skipping a beat and keep it going or sell it off. Either way, they were provided for.
That binder became a badge of honor for me. Not a lot of people knew about it but it became my guiding force and a big comfort for me that my family wouldn’t have to deal with dealing with a failing business because they didn’t know what to do. So, after replacing Townsend the business owner on paper, I started wondering if I could replace Townsend the Dad on paper as well. I mean I do everything for my family why not make sure they can still learn lessons from Dad even if I am 6 ft under. So, I began to jot, and write, and crafted a book. I called it Trying to be awesome and it was an awful book. Not that it did not have good information it just was BOORRINNG. My gosh it was boring; all parenting books are.
A few years go by and I still want to put the information out and I realized I can put out this information in tiny bite-size pieces on Facebook and Instagram. Make a few videos for YouTube. Podcast some interviews with Dads. We can really have some fun growing this business. We call it 100% Dad.
You can find 100% Dad on social @100Dad and of course 100Dad.com.