OF The Tiki Texan…
INTO The Tiki Texan!
I have been a corporate IT guy for over 30 years. Tiki is my fairly recent passion and hobby, but I ‘earned my rice’ (Thank you, Mark S.!) by designing document management systems and keeping Accounts Payable systems up and running. Sound exciting to you? It is exciting at 2 AM when the global system is down and people in Jakarta and Chennai can’t log into the system, and the operations desk calls you to bring it back up. Exciting. But not in a good way. Not in a healthy way.
I have heard those who served in the military under combat conditions describe their experience much in the same way I would describe my experience working in the IT field: Endless hours of excruciating boredom, randomly interspersed with moments of sheer terror.
While my life was never on the line, my job, my family’s security, my hopes for the future very much were.
I think therein lies my mistake.
For too many years I thought that my family’s security and hopes for a successful future were all dependent on my job. If I didn’t earn my rice, my family won’t eat. My kids won’t go to school. We won’t be able to live in the neighborhood in the house of our dreams. In ways, I think our American culture teaches us this. Our life-script spells this out in the director’s notes.
At some point, and I blame (or credit) turning 50 on this, but at some point you realize that the time you have left in this world is less than the time you have already spent in this world… and that is IF you successfully avoid a tragic accident or disease or another unexpected end, and manage to die of old age. I realized that time is short, and time is precious, and that doing what I was doing was not fulfilling, and the stress involved was probably actually diminishing my life span.
As I turned 50, I also had this self-realization: I spent the first 25 years of my life trying to please my parents. I was valedictorian of my high school class. I earned a BBA and MBA in Information Systems, instead of pursuing a music career, because my parents told me I would be more successful and earn a way better living. I followed the life-script, and I got married young and started working, and started a family.
I spent the next 25 years of my life trying to please my kids. I worked hard at a job I never really loved but for which I was well trained, working late hours on countless projects, rollouts, documentation, and support, all so we could live in that house in the good school district, so that the kids got the best education and went to the college of their choice, all, incidentally, out of state. But I did, and they did and are, the youngest now finishing up her Sophomore year (in Dance, her art form of choice, which I always encouraged her to pursue, unlike her dad who gave up a music career for money).
First 25 years for my parents, the next 25 for my kids.
I decided that the next 25 years are mine.
So, after a particularly stressful week/month/year at work, and a weekend of soul searching and financial planning with my loving and supporting wife, we decided that we could handle a one-income lifestyle for a while and be O.K. So the following Monday, I met with my supervisor and senior manager and handed them my two week notice.
Oddly, the first question from every one of my co-workers was “so who are you going to work for?” Meaning, of course, at what company are you continuing to work as an IT guy.
I met a mixed bag of reactions when I told them I am retiring from IT, and am going to become The Tiki Texan.
Yes. I am going to become The Tiki Texan. For real. I *know*, right? Am I already The Tiki Texan? Well, yes. and no. I am the personality of The Tiki Texan, but don’t really have the skill set or the experience to be The Tiki Texan. I am an amateur mixologist, and a very well read Tikiphile, but I have never worked professionally behind a bar. I have never ‘earned my rice’ as a bartender or a Tiki Lecture Host or a Corporate Event Host (well, actually, I have been paid for a corporate event once, but that was a music gig, and a story for another time).
My friend and fellow T.I.K.I. Knight founding member Leo W. introduced me to the concept of Nemawashi. Without knowing the term, I have informally been conducting my own Nemawashi for the last two years. It started with a phone call to a dear friend and fraternity brother, Chris R., who is a small business startup guru and marketing genius. I told him I wanted to open a tiki bar. He listened to my spiel, and then told me no, I don’t want to open a tiki bar. I want to share my love of tiki, the tiki culture, and the delicious, exotic cocktails with the world. Sheer brilliance, dude. I love you like a brother.
The concept of The Tiki Texan was born.
So, how do I become The Tiki Texan? I do have a plan.
Step One: Become a certified and experienced bartender.
In Texas, you must have a certification from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to serve alcohol to the public. I have enrolled in the Texas School of Bartenders to get hands-on behind-the-bar training and my TABC Certification. After graduation, I intend to work part time at a local tiki establishment or hotel or restaurant where I can add tiki inspired cocktails to their menu.
Step Two: Become a published author.
This concept was first proposed by my lovely bride Tami W., and then tactically fleshed out by Leslie B. Published works lend credibility to a speaker’s curriculum vitae. This will take two forms. First, another long time friend and fellow T.I.K.I. Knight founding member Doug G. and I are going to co-author a book. This book will feature tiki history and recipes, but with a unique twist for the genre which will separate it from the current tiki standards. More on that later.
The other form will be to publish works as a contributing author to lifestyle magazines, my own tiki blog, other tiki and rum blogs, and other tiki event magazine and newspaper articles.
Step Three: Get on, or create, a tiki lecture circuit.
I plan the main focus of The Tiki Texan to be hosting corporate events, or working with established bars and restaurants to host tiki nights, with me coming in to give a presentation on things tiki and then either presenting or teaching how to craft particular cocktails based on the subject matter of the presentation. I have several different courses I can teach, and can customize the lecture based upon the event. Subjects include the History of Tiki, the History of Rum, Spirits of the Caribbean (because not all things tiki are rum-based), and an Exotica Music 101.
I should be TABC certified and eligible to host your next tiki party, birthday party or corporate event by the end of February, just in time for the Spring and Summer season. Consider booking The Tiki Texan for your next event.
Aloha, and Mahalo to my Ohana.
To Tiki Times! To Tiki Adventures!