Really About Me, A Nik Boone Story
This will be my first blog post on our blog, and coincidentally this will be the first time I put who I think I am, and what has shaped me, into written words for anyone and everyone else to see. I think my childhood sounds a lot worse than it was through my eyes, and I truly believe I had a good childhood. If you’re on the blog, I am assuming you know that I have my first child with my beautiful wife due in a couple months, and I have been contemplating my childhood for the last 7 months, whether I tried to or not. So in other words, this is the story of a boy, who didn’t cry a river and drown the whole world.
I was born in Bakersfield, CA at Kern Medical Center, which was and still is “the poor people’s hospital”. My mom had me at the prime, young age of 14 (not a typo), and my dad was 18 (also not a typo). Keep in mind, this was the early 90’s and significantly more lax in their world than it is now-a-days. The story that has always put this into the craziest perspective for me was the fact that my mom’s middle school did not allow her to walk across the stage for her 8th grade graduation because she was pregnant. I guess technically they denied little fetus Nik Boone from being walked across graduation stage as well... good thing I don’t hold a grudge for 26 years. My dad was not able to be at my birth, not due to a lack of trying, but because my grandma did not want him to be there for many reasons, one of which I would assume would be because he was an adult with her 14-year-old daughter, but I don’t remember much from my fetal days. November 13th, 1991 the world changed, well the population did, it increased by at least 1, assuming nobody else died at the exact moment I was born… for the story’s sake, the population did change dramatically by 1 at that moment. A few short months after I was born, my dad went to jail for many different but very serious charges for about 3-4 years-ish. He got out of jail, and I was still only a few years old so I don’t really remember, and shortly after that, my mom also went to jail for less than a year, but a decent amount of time.
One of my first memories is actually visiting my mom in jail, getting on the bus to take us back to the visiting area, hugging her and having her cry, and I didn’t understand why. The place seemed plenty fine to my 4-year-old eyes and brain, so it was all pretty confusing for me. She got out of jail and about that time my dad went back in for another few years. My first vivid memory of my dad was me walking home from the bus stop from school, and he came riding up to me on his bike, I couldn’t tell you how I knew it was him, but I just did. I dropped my backpack and yelled “DAD!” and gave him a huge hug. It was at this time that they decided they were done with the life they were living, and rented their very first place together, both working full time, and figuring out this new life on their own terms. Throughout all of this childhood I also feel the need to mention, I had so much love from every member in my family, I never went hungry, and I had enough toys, books, and people in my life, that I truly believe my childhood was great. Keep in mind, at this point in my life, my family was very young, and very poor. We didn’t have much, and my parents were still kids themselves, trying to figure out who they were, and also coming from a time, place, and area where jail time and drug or alcohol abuse were very normal. Throughout much of this ‘in and out’ of jail time that my parents did, I was safe with my grandma and grandpa on both sides of my family. There were some confusing moments in my childhood, but I’m not sure there’s a kid out there who had a “perfect” childhood, or never felt confused by their parents behavior. Basically what I’m saying is, so far, this sounds like a pity story, but I can assure you, things got better and though I feel influenced by these early memories, I wouldn’t venture to say I feel damaged or that I missed out on a normal childhood. My parents have said on numerous occasions that they wish that they could change that time, or be more present, or for me to have better memories during that time period, but if they did, who would I be now? Who would they be? I couldn’t imagine having a different childhood or different parents and family.
From that point on, I was able to see my parents get married, buy their first home, their second home, have successful careers, and so much more. My mom has been ranked the #1 mortgage loan officer in California, and my dad now has his own mechanic shop. What’s more impressive, is that they are still happily married to this day, and still provide all the love and support that I could ever need. I firmly believe that all of this had a huge impact on me. How can a child see his parents go from renting a small apartment in one of the poorest parts of town, to owning successful businesses, with a beautiful house, and a happy marriage, and not be affected by that? They have never lied to me about any part of who they are or were, and in turn, nor have I. One of the other most impactful events in my life was when my parents moved me from one high school after my freshman year, to a newer, more affluent high school at the time. As a freshman that had gone to middle school in the same low-income, high crime district, I refused to change schools and leave all of my friends to start at a new school where I didn’t know a single person. Nevertheless at age 14, I was forced to go to this new, snooty high school and make new friends where people drove significantly nicer vehicles and lived in significantly nicer homes than I did, all the while, they knew every person there because they’d all gone to school together since kindergarten. We lived in a very nice house at the time, but I drove a bright green, single cab 1999 Chevy Silverado hooptie to school, that most of the time was missing the bed to the whole truck. We lovingly refer to this as “Nik’s half truck” now, but at the time, it was a nail in the high school popularity coffin. Looking back, this is what gave me the ability to see a completely different lifestyle that these kids lived in, and it gave me something to aspire to. If they lived in mansions and drove a Mercedes or BMW to school, why couldn’t I? I was one of the more well-known kids in school (notice I didn’t say popular, not because of the stuff I had, but because I had such a diverse arrangement of friends and was always just who I was, never changing myself to fit into a certain group). This resulted in one of two things: people either absolutely hated me, or they thought I was the funniest guy they had ever met. Most people didn’t really have a middle ground with me.
Before turning 16, I would cut lawns or pull people’s weeds at their house for money for gas, food, or whatever I wanted to buy. When I turned 16, I got my license as quickly as I could and got my first job at McDonalds. I worked there with my best friend, James for a few weeks before I was offered a job at Starbucks, which was truly one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had. I worked at Starbucks for a little over 2 years before being fired from there. I was always a good worker, and took as many shifts as I could, most of the time working 40 hours a week, if not more. The problem with me is, I was extraordinarily sarcastic, and would often flirt with my shift supervisors to do the fun work instead of the work that nobody wanted to do. People noticed. Our new manager, a 50+ old woman, who was somehow immune to my 18-year-old charm, kept a close eye on me. One day while taking a break, I got a drink from there and did not mark it out as my drink of the day, something we did fairly often and was allowed, but only if logged properly. In her eyes, that was theft. I think she was looking for a reason to let me go, but as a now business owner, I would have done the same to 18-year-old smart mouthed Nik Boone. The same day I was let go from Starbucks I had a job offer at a store called Cycle Gear. I was always interested in dirt bikes and had ridden them basically my whole life, so I thought this would be a fun job. Unfortunately, 18-year-old Nik had not learned from the previous mistake, dodging the boring work and spending too much time talking. At this point, I was going to college full-time, working full-time, and studying for my real estate license. Needless to say, my work at the motorcycle shop was not my #1 priority. I was let go from there about a year after I started because my sales at the shop were not high enough. After being let go, I was able to draw unemployment while still studying for my real estate test, which costed College Nik a lot of money. I saved up my unemployment money to pay for my test, passed my real estate test (which does not give you any form of income), and was still attending college classes full-time. I was originally a pre-med major at Taft College, studying all the science courses I could, and trying to sell just one house so I could have some form of income. Talk about stress.
Sophomore year of college, I finally closed my first sale, (which will be a post all on its own because that was a nightmare) and was planning on paying for medical school in cash with my new found business. My third year of college, I was still trying the pre-med avenue, but by the end of my third year, I switched my major to business for a B.A. in Business Administration. By the 4th of year of college, I was so busy with my business, that often times, I would have my assistant turning in papers to my classes and have to take phone calls outside of class in the middle of a lecture (which of course made my professors reeeeeally happy with me). I am certainly happy I finished college, and will have another post very soon about the pros and cons of college through my experience. In between my 4th and 5th year of college, I moved out on my own with my then girlfriend, now wife, into our first, scary-part-of-town, cat-pee-smelling, one-bedroom apartment (honestly, we couldn’t have been happier), heavily considered dropping out, (I mean, I was making more money than the average of someone with a doctorate, why should I continue?) but after many long discussions with my parents, girlfriend, and mentors, I trudged on and graduated in 2014 with my B.A. This 5 years was extremely stressful and I was involved in a lot more than work and school, but for now, this was the major consumption of my time and energy.
Finally I had graduated. I have a formal college degree, a very healthy income, and now a house with my girlfriend that we rented. Yes, at 22, I knew it all. Right? Borrowing money to pay income taxes at 22 was a fun lesson. I was spending money like a mad man, and trying to build a business selling more homes than the year before. I’d been at the same real estate firm for about 4 years and though I loved my coworkers and manager, I was ready to take a small leap in my career. I had obtained my broker’s license, and I was offered and took a job as a manager for a local real estate company and started a property management department for that office. Within a few months, the fit at this new office was not entirely comfortable and what I thought I wanted was not quite at this new office. I guess I was hoping for the income and freedom of a business owner, with the safety net of working at an already established company and a normal salary. But, within mere months at this new company, I pulled the trigger on opening the doors to my very own company named Ascend Real Estate and Property Management. That, my friends, is when the real life lessons started pouring in. Such lessons include: being audited, losing money, making money, hiring employees, firing employees, being sued, being betrayed, managing cash flow, tax lesson #2, marketing, how to not get fat, how to sleep at night, how to keep a healthy relationship, work/life balance, and many many more that I will soon share. I truly learned more the first year of hands-on owning my own business than all five years of college combined.
Yes folks, through all of this constant change there has been one consistency, my wife MacKenzie. She has seen the best of me, and unfortunately, the worst. She has seen the large bank accounts and the negative bank accounts. She has been the one thing in my life that I have always been able to count on, and I couldn’t be happier to call her my wife and soon my baby mama. So here we are now, figuring out how to raise a child soon, figuring out what to do with the companies, and figuring out the work/life/friends/health/everything else balance that is ‘Balancing The Boones’.