Have you ever had a moment in your life when everything changed?
That happened to me 21 years ago. This week marks the 21st anniversary of my first appearance as a professional Forrest Gump impersonator/lookalike.
Little did I know that those moments over a three week time period 21 years ago would profoundly change the direction of my life.
Until then, I had been a regular worker bee. Construction. Facilities management. Industrial sales. Additionally, for the better part of 15 previous years, people regularly told me that I looked like the actor Tom Hanks. In fact, I heard it so often that my standard reply became, “I have to figure out how to make money from it.” The seed of an idea had been firmly planted.
One day, 21 years ago, a feather floated from the sky, appeared right before my eyes, and then gently drifted down and came to rest at my feet. It was an opportunity. All I had to do was pick it up. I’m glad I did.
I was driving to a sales call when a news story announced the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company was going to open in Monterey CA. The restaurant was to be based on the movie Forrest Gump. I practically drove off the road thinking, ‘I need to call them.’
The next day – not yet having taken any action – I was in the lobby of Intel waiting for my appointment. I picked up the WSJ’s Marketplace B Section and mindlessly opened to a middle page. There on B17 was a story that jumped off the page. The Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant was opening soon in Monterey. A second feather – exactly the same as the day before – once again appeared right in front of me.
Now I’m not a smart man, but I know when fate is nudging me along. I discreetly tore the article from the paper and stuffed it into my coat pocket.
I called the offices of Rusty Pelican in San Clemente who were the operators of the new Gump-themed restaurant. I matter-of-factly stated, “I look exactly like Forrest Gump and we need to meet. You may just want to hire me to work for you.”
A day later I received a phone call from the new GM. He invited me to come to Monterey to meet.
Fate again played an important role as the appointment time coincided with the restaurant’s ‘black and blue’ opening. Black and blue is a simulated practice for all new employees. It’s a dry run that allows the new employees to experience the restaurant in operating mode. Half come to the restaurant as guests and the other are the workers. Additional luck was on my side as all of the corporate managers from Rusty Pelican were also in the jam-packed restaurant that evening.
I entered in full Gump regalia. I had the suitcase, chocolate box, and a fresh haircut. The place erupted into applause.
As I went from table to table greeting people and posing for photos, I acted like I owned the place.
They hired me for the grand opening, my picture appeared on the front page of the newspaper in color above the fold… everything changed… the rest was history.
In less than a 3 week week period, I went from a guy selling widgets in Silicon Valley to the face of the brand new Bubba Gump restaurant. My 15-minutes of fame would last for 15 years, 22 USA restaurant openings, 10+ international trips, and several million photographs.
A few single moments stretched out over a few short weeks and everything changed: a news story; a phone call; a grand entrance; and a picture in the newspaper.
What moment, or series of moments, happened in your life to cause everything to change?
Life is like a box of chocolates … ya never know what you’re gonna get.