7 Insights From 12-Year-Old App Developer Thomas Suarez
It probably comes as no surprise to any of us how well younger people adapt to technology. There are all those jokes and stories of how children are teaching their elders how to navigate even the most basic applications. This is a story about Thomas Suarez, a 12-year-old boy from southern California who taught himself to program. Thomas is now famous for having developed and sold a number of applications.
Thomas Suarez's Story
At a university, you can learn programming in classes. But for a 9 year old, that is not a viable option. Thomas Suarez started by teaching himself computer programming. He worked in Python, C, and Java, so that he could learn the basics of software development and implementation of computer applications. Then Apple released its iPhone. Along with the device came a software development kit. This is a suite of tools that allows a user to produce his or her own iPhone app. He started by testing the waters with “Earth Fortune
”. This is a program that will predict the future through the colors displayed. Then he went on to a very popular variation of whack-a-mole called “Bustin Jieber”. These were not only available to play on the iPhone but also the iPod touch and iPad. Next was a big jump. Apple allows developers to sell independent apps through their retail stores for a $99 fee. Thomas went on to sell “Earth Fortune”. This app was followed by others with the encouragement of family, teachers, friends, and the folks at Apple. Inspired by Steve Jobs, this young man formed an app club at his school. Sponsored by a teacher, it is part of the iPad Pilot Program. This endeavor focused in part on the best ways to use iPads including which programs should be downloaded for use. Through both student and teacher feedback, participants identify favorite types of programs. When the application is ready for publication, local school districts can use it for free. Plus, anyone can buy the application, with proceeds going to local educational foundations.
In 2009, at the age of 17, Thomas founded CarrotCorp
selling mobile applications on the iOS platform. He developed four apps. Two were free downloads and two cost $0.99 each. In 2015 he created another corporation, Teleportal (formerly WiTag). This is to develop real world augmented reality experiences and platforms. Teleportal is a private, for profit-corporation. Learn more about Thomas Suarez by watching his TED talk
. This YouTube video has had over 11 million hits to date. Currently, he is on a leave of absence from the Georgia Institute of Technology in order to devote his time to Teleportal. According to its website: “Teleportal's mission is to provide the world access to the most secure and intuitive computing tools. We believe Spatial Computing will define the next era of the Information Age. How the technology powering this future is built determines what it can do. Teleportal is helping build it right so it can do good. The decentralized networking core in Teleportal is designed to respect users' right to privacy. The Teleportal SDK empowers creators everywhere to help build a better future." In 2013 Thomas (along with other outstanding children) was interviewed to discuss the future of learning
. He explained that the key was offering programming as a primary opportunity. His vision is for more opportunities that encourage collaboration and encouragement between students. He also felt this could inspire critical thinking skills learners could apply to many other fields of study. We are an information technology company with years of experience. We have helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.
7 Things About Microsoft You Might Not Know
Microsoft is a tech giant and one of the most influential companies in the market. While competitors like Apple or Google may seem more popular, Microsoft continues to have a strong presence. It is the third-largest tech company in the world, just a couple of steps below Apple and a step over Google's parent company Alphabet. While Microsoft has been around since 1975, there are still some things most people don't know about the influential company. Follow along for more details.
It was First Micro-Soft Before the founders registered its brand name, they used Micro-Soft (a combination of microcomputer and software) in their company communications. Fortunately, they decided to drop the hyphen during registration and settled on an admittedly cooler brand name. While the name has remained unchanged, the logo has undergone several transformations. Microsoft’s first logo had a stylized ‘O’ called a ‘blibbet’, which was also the name of a burger served in the company’s cafeteria.
Microsoft Made a Lot of People Rich Microsoft founder Bill Gates was the youngest billionaire of his time and spent a lot of time sitting at the top of the richest people list. But Microsoft’s stellar success didn’t just make Gates rich. Thousands of millionaires can trace their success back to this technological juggernaut. People who bought this company's stock in the 1980s and retained it until the 2000s made a remarkable profit as well. Its stock price has increased by approximately 71,283% over the past three decades.
Microsoft Saved Apple from Bankruptcy Microsoft and Apple are some of the fiercest rivals in the industry. They have been competing against one another since their very inception. However, when Apple landed in financial trouble back in 1997, its rival stepped up to save it. Microsoft invested around $150 million to get Apple back on its feet. Not surprisingly, many people were not thrilled by this news, but if that support hadn't come in, Apple may no longer exist.
A Long List of Code Names Tech companies are notoriously secretive when their products are under development; Microsoft is no exception to this rule. The company always assigns code names to its projects, which keeps competitors from knowing much about it. The code names are also placeholders because developers often come up with a product name after it is fully realized Some of the more famous names include Chicago (Windows 95), Whistler (Windows XP), Yukon (SQL Server 2005), Longhorn (Windows Vista), and Milan (Surface). The list of codenames is extensive, probably containing dozens of code names.
Microsoft is Serious About Art The company has one of the most significant corporate art collections in the world, with more than 5,000 pieces from contemporary artists. Its collection includes works from relatively unknown artists as well as industry heavyweights like Takashi Murakami, Chuck Close, and Cindy Sherman. The art is scattered around Microsoft's 150 campuses and includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, multimedia works, etc.
Microsoft Entered the Smartphone Game First Apple launched its first smartphone in 2007, but Microsoft had been in the industry since 2000. Unfortunately, they didn't find much success and their software performance on smaller hand-held devices wasn't stellar. Apple's technologically sophisticated product revolutionized the industry.
The Company Has Pet Rabbits A few years ago, someone abandoned a few rabbits on the Microsoft campus grounds. This small group of rabbits bred at a rapid pace and grew in size; before long, the campus was swamped with these adorable but fast-breeding pests. To this day, they still have a thriving population. These are just a few of the many unknown facts about Microsoft. There are several fascinating stories associated with this company that you can explore in your spare time.
What the Fastest Growing Companies Have in Common
Starting or running a business is a complicated process. It requires commitment, dedication, planning, and a bit of luck. Many businesses fail within the first one or two years, which can cause severe financial loss along with emotional distress. All entrepreneurs dream of having a thriving company, and many reach this goal. Here's a look at six common characteristics that all fast-growing companies share for some inspiration:
Product/Market Fit Entrepreneurs are always hardworking and driven, but they need a strong product to succeed. Thriving start-ups always have a revolutionary product that fills a vacuum, providing exactly what customers need. They provide must-have products or experience to clients. Sometimes the niche already exists, while at others, a product can create a need. For example, social media giants like Facebook and Twitter existed, but LinkedIn created a niche by being a network for professionals.
Focusing on the Niche Start-ups must be laser-focused on a niche for success and growth. They don’t have the manpower or resources to tackle a large market. Focusing on a niche allows companies to specialize in a specific category and fine-tune their products or services. For example, a web development company for small businesses can use a highly customized approach after comprehensive research. This might keep their customer pool small, but it helps companies develop a distinctive identity. Specializing in a niche has long-term benefits as you generate enough funds for expansion later. The cosmetics company Huda Beauty is a good example of this. It started out selling high-quality fake lashes and established such a strong niche presence that their products set a standard for everyone else. Today, this company has expanded, including other cosmetic items like eye shadows, foundations, lipsticks, etc.
Don’t Disregard Processes that Aren’t Scalable Modern entrepreneurs can get advice from multiple sources. One of the most common bits of advice is, “keep things scalable.” While this is sound advice, you still need to focus on specific processes that may not be scalable as companies sometimes need to invest in these too. It helps establish a strong presence while having a lasting impression on a customer’s mind. For example, some start-ups will coddle customers at first with a lot of personal attention. They will offer one-on-one consultations, discounts, accelerated project timelines, etc. None of this is scalable, but it can help companies develop a reputation for excellent customer care. You can roll back these processes slowly while maintaining sound basic customer care systems for long-term benefits.
Constant Focus on Growth – Timely Growth It isn't surprising that fast-growing companies are focused on growth, but not all of it can cause large-scale disruption. Most successful start-ups have a meticulous process in place for expansion. These companies plan a slow, relentless march towards growth until it becomes almost inevitable. For example, Uber has a precise expansion plan for opening up in new cities. They send feelers out, get to know the new market, connect with drivers as well as customers, before developing a unique plan for new markets. They make sure it is primed for Uber’s network before launching operations. This constant, unrelenting march drives long-term success.
Do Things Differently
Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource Sometimes fast-growing companies succeed by shunning traditional practices. They don't do this arbitrarily but put some thought and research behind it. They look at established practices carefully, identifying their weaknesses before finding more efficient alternatives. For example, Yelp is such a success because it stayed away from paid reviews or expert testimonies. It relied on 100% community feedback, which worked spectacularly. Yelp became more trustworthy than any other review platform just a few years after its launch. Establishing a fast-growing company isn't easy, but it can be done. Just maintain focus and ensure you have the right product.
Fast growing companies tend to have a clear sense of their core competencies. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses gives them an edge to take advantage of outsourcing options while they grow. There are many business functions that may be better handled by a third party, especially during the early phase of a company’s growth. For example, accounting, billing, software development and IT support are all common functions that fast growing company’s may choose to outsource to free up time and resources so they can best focus on the priorities at hand. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.
6 Common Traits Shared By Successful Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are some of the most dedicated and determined people around. They have innovative business ideas and are committed to seeing their ideas succeed. Different entrepreneurs have different approaches, but everyone has something to teach newcomers. Many effective people share specific characteristics and habits. Developing these qualities may help on your journey towards success. Follow along for a look at some common traits shared by entrepreneurs who are successful.
As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.
Have a Clear Set of Goals and the Determination to Achieve Them How can you find success without knowing what you’re chasing? Clear goals give people direction and a destination. It helps business owners create a tangible roadmap. There's a difference between “I want to be an entrepreneur” and “I want to start a marketing company in two years.” One is a vague, undefined dream, while the other is a definite goal with a timeline. Of course, just setting a goal isn’t enough; you must also follow it through. Create a plan, consult with other experts, get a mentor, do some research, etc. Work towards your goal with determination, as that's what helps entrepreneurs flourish.
Don’t Shy Away From Risks Leaving a secure 9-5 job for a shot at entrepreneurship isn't easy, but that's not even close to the most significant risks business owners take. Establishing a new venture requires a lot of risks, commitment, and courage. People invest their entire life savings, work tirelessly for years, put their life on hold, make innumerable personal sacrifices, etc., on the path to success. Entrepreneurs that make it typically take many risks along the way. Failed business owners face bankruptcy, loss of reputation, loss of credibility, and so much more. Overcoming these fears isn’t easy, but every entrepreneur must do it to move forward.
High Level of Confidence and Decisiveness Many people struggle to make concrete decisions. They dwell over small points, try to find perfect solutions, worry about making wrong choices, etc. All of this indecision may be a sign of low confidence. Mistakes are common, but the fear of making mistakes is more common. Effective entrepreneurs tend to be decisive and confident. They look at facts, and consider solutions for a short time before making snap decisions and moving forward towards their goals. There's a difference between being decisive and being overconfident. A successful entrepreneur strikes the right balance, which helps them reach higher.
Desire to Learn This sounds like a cliché, but most successful entrepreneurs are avid readers. High-flying individuals never stop trying to learn. Many read books, take up new sports activities, learn new skills, and keep their minds engaged. A desire for learning serves two purposes; it helps business owners expand their skills and helps keep monotony at bay. Daily work can become boring after a while, even for a self-employed business person. Learning new skills can help keep things interesting while stimulating your mind.
Ability to Accept Failure Failure is a natural part of life. You will likely face it every day while running a business. A sales pitch might not go through; a client may leave a negative review; a new product launch may go awry, etc. Successful entrepreneurs don’t spend time lamenting over failures. They collect data, look for causes of failure, and then find ways to prevent it from happening again. This ability to accept a setback separates entrepreneurs who eventually accomplish their goals from those who will ultimately burn out.
Smart with Money Successful entrepreneurs are smart with money. They are careful when spending, tracking all expenses down to the last cent. Business owners are good at getting financial aid from venture capitalists or investors. They know how to deliver an impressive sales pitch, which gets people interested in investing in their venture. Being smart with money is essential for entrepreneurial achievement, especially during the early stages of a business. Many ventures go bankrupt even before they have a chance at success. Fortunately, it is possible to cultivate all of these skills over time and increase your chances of success, as well. Personal growth is always valuable, regardless of your field. These characteristics can help whether you’re an entrepreneur, student, artist, teacher, or a corporate executive.
1 out of 5 New Businesses Don’t Make it Past 12 Months – Why?
Failure is a part of being an entrepreneur. People try new business ideas and experiment with different strategies. Sometimes plans pan out, leading to a successful business that can stand the test of time. Other plans fail, and the startup fizzles out within a year of launch. According to statistics, one in five new businesses is unable to survive a year. The Small Business Association says that around 30% of businesses fail within two years. While these statistics may seem discouraging, don’t let them bring you down. Here are some common reasons why some businesses don't make it very long:
Little Demand for the Product A product is only successful if there's some legitimate demand for it, and the market conditions are suitable. According to a recent survey, around 42% of startups fail simply because there just isn’t enough demand in the market. When you come up with an idea, it is important to spend some time thinking about whether it fills a vacuum. For example, when Uber was launched, people were frustrated by taxis denying rides or overcharging. There was a market opportunity, which provided a fruitful environment for companies like Uber and Lyft. That’s why these apps became such a notable success. Think about how a product might impact your target market, conduct comprehensive market research, and surveys. The data will help you determine whether a product idea is worth your time or investment.
Less Integrated Team Startups typically don’t function like traditional, more established companies. They usually have smaller teams and limited resources, which means every team member wears many hats. Unfortunately, some people have a difficult time taking on a variety of roles. CEOs may stay in one lane, only focused on leading their company. CMOs may consider marketing their responsibility but they may not contribute anywhere else. Startups have a more organic environment that requires a lot more collaboration. It's common for CEOs to get their hands dirty on basic tasks just to get the job done. CMOs sometimes take over customer care or human resources as well. A successful startup is an excellent example of how collaboration can yield beneficial results.
Burning Through Resources Quickly New businesses have limited resources, even if they manage to get significant funding early on. Unless a business venture generates substantial, self-sustaining income, it is vulnerable to failure. Many startups fail because they burn through these initial funds quickly, often because they hire more staff than they need. New companies must be conservative in their spending, making sure they invest every penny wisely. Sometimes ventures expand a little too rapidly, which spreads the resources thin. Make sure you have a solid foundation, a robust and streamlined team, and reasonable revenue before you focus on expanding. Let a business settle by getting its roots deep in the market first. That’s how business entities stick around for years and even decades or more.
Low Finances You need money to start a business. Begin looking for financial aid even before starting a business. Make sure you have a pool that will last until you have a steady cashflow. Cut corners and save wherever you can at first as stretching every dollar can help a business last longer. If a venture can get through financially challenging times in the early months, it has a better chance of surviving.
- As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.
Bad Location and Internet Presence Location and internet presence are some of the most influential aspects of most businesses. A shop located in the wrong place isn't going to attract a lot of traffic. Companies must conduct a thorough location analysis to find a suitable location. They also need a robust online presence with well-developed websites, online reputations, and social media accounts, since a negative online reputation can break a business entirely. These are some of the most common problems that challenge new businesses. It’s advisable to create strategies to avoid them and stay wary of falling into common traps. This can help improve your chances of success, especially in the early months of starting a business.
5 Inspiring Things You Should Know About Elon Musk
Elon Musk is a fascinating person. He is the man behind Tesla, the company that introduced revolutionary electric cars into the market. He's also the force behind SpaceX, which is a private organization that launches rockets into space and frequently collaborates with NASA. Recently, Musk created special flamethrowers and sent a Tesla car into space. He's a man who doesn't hesitate to experiment and pushes the boundaries of tech innovation fearlessly. Here are some of the most inspiring things you should know about Elon Musk:
He Amassed His Fortune Before the Age of 30 Elon Musk became a millionaire when he sold one of the first companies, an online media-services establishment, to Compaq for $307 million. He was 27 years old at the time and ready to keep moving. He founded X.com, which eventually became the highly successful PayPal. Musk sold that company to eBay for $1.5 billion and earned a profit of around $180 million from that sale. He was already a success story before he established his two most significant projects; Tesla and SpaceX.
Both Tesla and SpaceX Were On The Verge of Failure SpaceX and Tesla are both successful companies now, but they came close to failure just a few years ago. SpaceX tried to launch its flagship rocket three times and failed. He lost a considerable fortune during those six years and was down to his last $75 million. It took around $90 million to build a rocket at that time, which means Musk could barely afford another launch. He was the sole owner of the company, so he didn't have much support. Tesla was also in a rocky boat. Their first product, the $100,000 Roadster, had several quality issues and faced many recalls. Fortunately, both companies recovered. The fourth SpaceX launch was a success, which impressed NASA enough to give the company a multibillion-dollar contract. Tesla also managed to brave public distrust and launch successful products. The third-generation Tesla cars are a big hit. This goes to show that everyone faces ups and downs and need to be persistent.
Musk Wants to Make Tesla Cars for the Masses Tesla started with a premium product that most people couldn't even dream of owning. They launched a fast Roadster with a price tag of $100,000, which put it firmly out of reach for most people. But Musk has a plan to create one luxury line, one mid-range line, and one mass consumption line. In 2016, Musk introduced the third generation Tesla vehicles with one model priced at $35,000. Tesla has already made an impact on the automobile industry and has been a disruptive influence. Many other manufacturers are trying to follow in their footsteps and release their electric car models.
His Work Ethic Is Not One To Be Rivaled Musk works hard and has an unbelievably busy schedule. According to an interview, he has only taken two weeks off in almost 12 years. He also has 100-hour workweeks and only sleeps around 6 hours every night. Of course, not everyone can or should follow this example, but people can get inspired by his commitment to his dreams. Musk has many goals in mind, and his current success is just a starting point.
His Entrepreneurial Spirit Manifested Early Elon Musk had a mind for business even before he was a teenager. At the age of 12, he developed and sold a game to a computer magazine for $500. That was big money for a child living in Africa back in 1984. It was a simple enough game named Blastar, and it wouldn't get much attention now, but it shows that it is never too early to start. Ideas can come to you at any age.
3 Secrets that Super Successful Companies Use for Fast Growth
What differentiates rich entrepreneurs from the average ones? Why do some businesses make their founders very wealthy while others make their founders struggle each month to make ends meet? Some people say its sheer luck -- trying something at the right moment in the right place with the right people. And in part, there’s some truth to that. However, there are some important things that average entrepreneurs ignore, and in the end this not only causes them stress but sometimes even their entire career trying to make a business successful. As an agile software development company with decades of experience, we’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot by working with successful entrepreneurs. Here are three things we’ve noticed that successful companies tend to have in common.
3 Things Many Successful Companies Share
A focus on the right type of growth. According to Robert Kiyosaki there is a difference between being a self-employed business owner and super successful entrepreneur business owner. Kiyosaki explains that a self-employed business owner owns a job not a business. Some examples are: the mechanic that opens at 9 am and some days has to stay until 10 or 11 pm working because he has many cars in line. Another example is the entrepreneur who starts a neighborhood market and becomes a slave to the business working 12 or more hours a day because he or she has to have everything under control. These types of entrepreneurs often end up getting burned out by their business. These entrepreneurs tend to focus on internal growth. You hear these types of business owners saying: “this year our company grew 5%”. Their growth strategies focus on things like cost control, finding cheaper suppliers, or selling a little bit more.
Successful business owners with superfast growing companies tend to focus on external growth. American businessman and author of “Your First 100 Million” Dan Peña is an expert in growing companies geometrically. According to Peña, there is no way that you can grow a company internally as fast as you can externally, and the only way to grow a company externally is through acquisitions. Peña started Great Western Resources with a leased fax machine and an $820 investment in his newborn son’s bedroom. He quickly began making acquisition deals, buying other businesses in his same industry. After purchasing several smaller businesses and making a conglomerate he went public eventually making $450 million. Look around at many of the big companies today. You’ll notice that initially many were start-ups that gained early traction by purchasing other businesses, finally becoming successful conglomerates. Have your heard of Virgin Group? It’s a conglomerate with more than 38 companies inside. Owner Richard Branson clearly knows a thing or two about external growth. Have you heard of Warren Buffett? One of the richest men in the world started buying stocks from different companies and now his own company Berkshire Hathaway is involved with nearly 100 companies. Why would an entrepreneur want to grow 10% or 15% internally when it is possible to grow 100% or more externally?
An Understanding of Compound Interest. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon and the richest man in the world with a net worth of over $100 billion collects a normal salary just like any other CEO. Why would a person with $100 billion receive an annual salary of less than $100K? Because he understands the power of compound interest. High speed growth is often the outcome of reinvesting profits into a business. This reinvestment can include: developing new products or services, technological innovation, expanding operations to different countries, and focusing on growth. Warren Buffett lives a similar simple and frugal life, with a focus on reinvesting his dividends in new stocks, acquiring more stocks from many different companies and developing the large conglomerate mentioned previously.
An Ability to Harness the Power of Technology. Remember the old cab companies that you had to either call or hail on the street? That is a thing of the past with technology companies like Uber transforming everything. Technology enables people across the world to request transportation in a convenient way, knowing who will come, what license plate and vehicle color/make/model to expect, etc. How was Uber able to grow from being a simple cab concept to a $70+ billion company? The company leveraged the power of technology. Every business, regardless of the industry, should consider how to grow leveraging technology as an advantage. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.
5 Things You May Not Know About Jeff Bezos
Amazon is the leader of e-commerce as we know it, and no doubt a household name. It's CEO and founder Jeff Bezos however, has just recently begun to make headlines. The richest person in the world, Bezos is said to have a net worth of 112 billion. After graduating from Princeton with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, he worked for an investment bank. In 1994 he launched Amazon out of his garage. What would become a multi-national tech company began as a virtual bookstore. Bezos sold his first book in 1995, a copy of Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought. Amazon has since grown to develop and offer many products and services ranging from the Kindle, movies and television shows under Amazon Studios, as well as the cloud-computing service known as Amazon Web Services. As a result, Amazon has catapulted Bezos into the spotlight. For those interested in learning more about the serial entrepreneur, here are 5 things you may not know about Jeff Bezos:
1. He originally wanted to name Amazon "Cadabra."
As in "abracadabra." Bezos wanted to convey something magical about the convenience of shopping online. However, his advisers convinced him otherwise. Bezos instead chose the name
Amazon because it began with the first letter of the alphabet. It also represented the earth's largest river and he was aiming for opening the world's largest bookstore.
2. Bezos owns The Washington Post.
The tech savvy entrepreneur purchased the newspaper in October of 2013 for $250 million after being approached by publisher Donald Graham. Under Bezos's leadership the paper has adapted to the digital age. After reinventing itself as a media company, it has doubled it's web traffic and even turned a profit. No small feat in today's world of online journalism.
3. He owns a private space company.
In 2000, Bezos founded the aerospace company Blue Origin. The space flight operator is supposedly launching a crewed space tourism flight before the end of this year. Bezos's long-term goal is to eventually aid in the colonization of space. The company is the first to invent reusable rockets. No other rocket in the history of spacecraft has been used twice. The ability to successfully launch and land a rocket multiple times will help to significantly lower the cost of access to space.
4. He's a huge Star Trek Fan.
Bezos has reportably admitted that both the smart speaker Amazon Echo and it's virtual assistant Alexa were inspired from the Star Trek computer. In 2016, he begged Paramount to let him have a cameo in the movie Star Trek Beyond
. While his scene only lasted 8 seconds, he did have a speaking part.
5. Bezos makes $2,489 per second.
According to Business Insider
, "Bezos makes more than twice what the median US worker makes in one week. That's $149,353 per minute." He is also "nearly 38% richer than the British monarchy." And to think he once was a McDonald's fry cook...