On the outside, it looked like Tim Brown was living the American Dream. After overcoming a difficult childhood in a dysfunctional family rife with drugs and alcohol, he became a millionaire by age thirty, and had a beautiful wife and young son, a deep commitment to the community, and a big house where he could entertain friends and clients. But all was not as it appeared. Behind closed doors, Tim’s life was like a cracking windshield, splintering further day by day, on the verge of shattering.
One November night, while on an important business trip, he found himself at a New York hotel contemplating ending his life. He spotted a place on the roof where he could end the pain. In his early forties, his marriage was struggling, his businesses were collapsing, and his health was hanging in the balance. He was being pushed to the edge, forced to face the darkness and shame of his past.
But from that darkness, Tim found the strength to reshape and rebuild his life. His faith gave him the courage to “jump into the parade,” a phrase his former father-in-law coined to mean truly living, taking chances, and being who you really want to be—not who others expect you to be. Jumping into the Parade is his honest and candid memoir, detailing how personal struggles and flaws led him to reframe and embrace his life on his own terms. Tim’s raw and humbling story will inspire you to find the meaning in your life, wherever you are on your journey.
You have the strength to change your life for the better. Take a leap of faith and let Jumping into the Parade guide you toward a brighter future.
|Publisher:||BenBella Books, Inc.|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
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About the Author
Brown began his career more than twenty years ago in sales management in the high tech and telecommunications industry. During the course of a decade, he worked with both established and start-up companies in Denver, Chicago and Sydney, Australia including Cisco Systems, Alteon Web Systems (Nortel Networks), American Power Conversion, and Xircom.
He was the president of Concord Energy Holdings, a Colorado-based integrated commodity logistics and oilfield services company. Prior to Concord, he was the founder and CEO of Radius Media Holdings, a position he held for more than eleven years. Radius Media provided a broad stratum of marketing platforms that ranged from radio broadcasting, including twelve locations in Colorado, eighteen owned-and-operated live events in the Colorado resort communities, a large-format printing company and a sponsorship marketing agency.
Brown earned a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University with a focus on political science and continues to support the university through business and personal endeavors. He has shared his passion by delivering keynote presentations at international franchisee conferences, MasterMind Groups, YPO events and industry conferences, as well as during public CSU forum discussions.
Through his past board involvement with a large family foundation, he was instrumental in helping The Colorado Meth Project, Man Therapy, Denver Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, The Summit Foundation and other non-profit organizations. He now serves as a board member for the Denver Council of Boy Scouts of America, Colorado Uplift, and Lead Like Jesus. He is also an active member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of YPO International, as well as a member of Restoration Community Church in Denver.
Read an Excerpt
My Life Up or Down
"Before every great opportunity God gave me a great trial."
— Martin Luther
TWO BUTTONS STARED BACK AT ME — silent, indifferent to the pangs of my heart.
I could go up three floors to Prime, the Bentley Hotel's rooftop restaurant overlooking New York City's East River and Queensboro Bridge. I'd been there the night before, walking outside to take in the majestic view of Manhattan and noting what waited on the other side of the short balcony wall: a twenty-plus- story drop into nothingness, a permanent solution to my temporary problems. That nothingness beckoned this November night as I stood in the hallway staring at the elevator buttons.
Up. The button could end my suffering. For years, I'd been living in duality, acting one way on the outside, feeling another way inside. I had thought that as long as I stayed in motion, I'd be fine. But I no longer had the will to run, and I wasn't sure if I had the will to stand and fight.
Breathing deep, I considered the other option: Down. In the lobby, a close friend and colleague was waiting for me. Somewhere beyond the pain and despair that tormented my soul, I knew this option offered hope. I had no idea what that meant or what it looked like, but something inside me assured me that hope was real. I just needed the courage to embrace it. Could I?
IF YOU HAD MET ME SEVERAL YEARS AGO, you would have thought my life was a happy rags-to-riches success story. By all appearances, you see, I had "made it." By my early thirties I was living the American Dream. I had a lovely wife and her supportive family, a beautiful son, a big house, two dogs, a group of close friends, and a thriving career. I had taken all that the world had thrown at me and come out on top. I had charged past my childhood, leaving behind my nomadic upbringing, a dysfunctional blue-collar family rife with drugs and alcohol, and all the educational naysayers who didn't believe I would ever amount to anything.
Just three decades in, I had achieved my every goal.
If my ambitions could be summed up in one word, the word would be "security" — the true thing I lacked growing up. I wanted the healthy, supportive, present family I'd never felt. I wanted the financial means, not because money was the ultimate goal, but simply to have the resources to protect my family from the life I'd once known. I didn't want my son to ever worry about whether we'd have enough money for groceries or be evicted from his childhood home.
For those very personal reasons, I was hell-bent on becoming a millionaire by the time I was thirty. And in fact, that's exactly what happened. By the time I set off for college at age seventeen, I was determined to graduate as quickly as possible so I could hit the ground running in my professional life. Early in my career, I was obsessive about learning every nuance about the company I worked for and the industry it played in, and was always the first one willing to volunteer for the most difficult tasks — simply for the opportunity and experience they might provide me. I did well and quickly climbed the proverbial corporate ladder, leaving my embarrassing and hardscrabble past behind.
On the personal side, I was equally focused on creating a relationship with a woman who would fulfill me and provide that safe harbor that I rarely felt as a child. This was driven largely in response to my greatest fear: being abandoned and unaccepted. Together, I reasoned, we would create our own family and provide a home for our children where they would always feel loved. A few years before I turned thirty, I fell in love with a woman, Libby, who challenged me both emotionally and intellectually. Her perspective on life stretched me in ways that I had never before experienced. With her, I always felt like life was an adventure to be discovered.
She was also the daughter of an ultra-wealthy businessman who had built his businesses and lived his life by practicing hard work, solid ethics, and determination. I soon found myself in the highest financial and social circles of Colorado. I was running a company and traveling the world. And a couple of years into our marriage, we had our son, the apple of my eye. Horatio Alger couldn't have written a better script for me. I was living my dream life.
But we all know about the deceptive quality of appearances, how perception is not always reality. Such was the case with me. Behind the gated driveway, the memberships in exclusive clubs, the joys of parenthood, the flights on the family's private jet, and a marriage of nine years, my tightly knit life was coming apart at the seams. I was smiling on the outside, but inside I was slowly dying.
I was one of the forty million Americans who suffered from anxiety and depression, and in the decade following my son's birth, the joys of being a father and the success at work were often crowded out by dark thoughts, many that had followed me since childhood. I learned later that life-changing depression often rears its ugly head around the age of forty-two — what some call a midlife crisis. Whatever it was called, it was hitting me hard.
Like many other affluent people, I often felt insecure and guilty, and I had an overwhelming fear of failure. But I didn't want to acknowledge any of that. I was depressed on the inside, not from a chemical imbalance as some people suffer, but by my continuous focus on not believing that I deserved to be loved or to be happy. I kept pressing this depression inward, deeper and deeper, not accepting it as true. I was caught up in believing I was living the perfect life. It sure looked like it on the outside. And the more I ran from the truth, the more comfortable I was living a lie. I had created a false perception of my "perfect life" and didn't want to face or deal with anything that defied that perception.
In my hard-pressing pursuit to create my own personal utopia, I had never faced the issues that shaped me as a person — the ones that had left me full of insecurity and self-doubt, feeling unloved and, most importantly, believing that I was unlovable and would never be fully accepted. The ever-shifting temporal things I had built my life upon — all of the achievements and acquisitions I thought would bring me joy and purpose — were not bringing the fulfillment I thought they would. In fact, I spent time focusing on the things I didn't have. I was stuck in a place of buried hurt that I couldn't seem to crawl out of. I could no longer keep the dark thoughts pushed down. They were rising to the surface, and I was being forced to face my pain.
I WAS IN MANHATTAN that November for another round of sales calls and meetings for Sign Language, a new large-format printing business I'd begun, and, frankly, I was doing what I did best: getting ready to make another pitch for my business. Taking action was my way of feeling secure and in control, and my way of ignoring all the warning signs. Keep busy and keep working, I kept rationalizing, and everything will eventually sort itself out and be fine.
For months, I'd actually thought I was winning the game. The sales at Sign Language were rocketing upward in a tough post-2008 economy, and our team of "A" players was getting stronger and stronger. Our strategy of doubling down and spending aggressively on infrastructure while our competitors were contracting had given us new market share faster than we'd anticipated. It was 2011 and we had finally turned the corner after starting the company from nothing three years before. I wasn't about to let the business fail — regardless of the market conditions. I was confident that if I just kept doing what I'd been doing, making calls and taking weekly business trips from coast to coast, everything would be all right ... wouldn't it?
All the people around me at work had been saying the same thing: "You can handle this, Tim. You're okay."
My heart always knew the deeper truth: I was broken and no longer able to hide it from the world or myself. I wasn't winning, and my day of reckoning was at hand.
I had been engaged in a dangerous game of connecting my works as a man with my worth as a man. My habits of appeasement had taken me in the wrong direction, and I was honestly overwhelmed from trying to use my will to build a company faster than what the market was willing or able to provide. Working twelve to fourteen hours a day seemed like great protection, but it had walked me down a lethal trail that dead-ended in a box canyon. When my routine of nonstop action was parked for the day, I felt completely alone. The silence would come down hard around me, and the dark thoughts would come rushing in.CHAPTER 2
"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."
— Ian Maclaren
THE NIGHT IN NEW YORK wasn't my first time battling the demons of despair. The first serious thought of ending my life came in July 2009, two years before the Bentley incident. At the time, I owned and ran a group of fifteen radio stations in Denver and the Rocky Mountains. The economic crisis that began in 2007 and ran through 2009 hit our industry hard, and one of the biggest players — CBS Radio — ended up quickly divesting its Denver stations for a much lower sale price than anyone ever would have expected. As a result, the value of all radio stations took a significant hit, and my stations, all bought when the market was high, were no exception. Advertising was one of the first line items to be cut from the marketing budget, and everyone in the industry was feeling the squeeze of reliable revenue streams and cash flow slipping away.
I made a tough decision in June 2009 to sell the Denver stations at a huge loss — as in millions of dollars in losses. Steve Cohen was the person I reported to at the Anschutz Corporation, the financial backer of the radio company, and someone for whom I came to have a deep respect as a trusted mentor over the twelve years we worked together. I came in to see him about an advertising campaign we were contemplating to boost Jack FM's listener ratings in Denver. We had gone through this drill before when we had ratings that were too soft to attract meaningful national advertising campaigns, and we had been unsuccessful in permanently moving our ratings. Steve challenged us. Did we really think we could generate enough permanent revenue growth to make up for all the losses we had incurred? Was anything really going to save us at this point? Inside I felt a profound sense of relief. I was grateful that Steve had asked us the one question that we had been too scared to answer for far too long.
My business partner and I left that meeting and took a hard look at our books, including the money we had borrowed and the compounding interest that we were racking up. The odds of us being able to stop hemorrhaging after servicing the debt payments for the stations were slim to none. We were completely upside down; the cost basis we bought the stations at compared to the current market valuation for the stations was far below what we had seen two years earlier, when we were in negotiations to sell all the stations for a small profit, and we were unclear on how to ride out the economic storm brewing in the United States and across the globe.
The business failure hit me hard personally. I was deeply ashamed, because the person I looked up to the most in life, my father-in-law, chairman of Anschutz Corporation, had financed the radio business, and the losses affected one of his businesses that invested in growing companies. Even though the losses were mostly tied to the market crash, they happened under my leadership, and blaming their failure solely on market conditions did not allow me to own up to my responsibilities as CEO.
At age thirty-nine, it was my first large-scale failure, and I felt nothing but guilt and shame. I also felt lost at home — like I had failed myself and my family — because I'd failed in the one area where I always had attached my greatest sense of worth: my life as a business leader.
This was not how I ever intended to "show up" in the business community — I was supposed to always be successful; that had been the plan. Yet here I was, utterly broken, berating myself regularly and bereaved. My insecurities washed over me in waves throughout that year. My personal and professional lives had become an intricately intertwined rope, tied not to a stable post on the shore but to an anchor that appeared to be sinking in the middle of the ocean.
I spent many evenings living in the fast lane trying to keep up in the social circles we had become accustomed to. I was never fully present in that world, either. My mind was consumed with work, I was amped up on my relationship with Skoal (dipping tobacco), and I slept as little as possible.
Then, on a Saturday morning in July 2009, I walked out of the shower and realized that I was the only person at home. Libby and my son had left to run some errands, and our home was eerily quiet. Lost in my own dark thoughts, deeply depressed, and completely alone, I began thinking about the gun in the locked box at the top of the medicine cabinet. I took the gun from the cabinet, unlocked the trigger lock, and put it on the vanity. Then I sat on the floor of the bathroom for twenty minutes, thinking about what would happen if I put that pistol in my hand. Then I picked it up. Held it. Stared at it. If I were gone, I thought, would everyone in my life be better off?
Ironically, the pistol was originally for my protection. I had a concealed weapons permit for two reasons. One, owning radio stations in Denver put me in the crosshairs of some disturbed people who didn't always agree with the views expressed or the music played on those stations. Two, my office building was in downtown Denver near a bus terminal that attracted drug transactions. After some of those transactions occurred inside our office's underground parking garage and elevator, I bought a gun to protect my family, my coworkers, and myself.
In the training for the gun permit, they asked a question: Faced with peril, do you protect yourself first or your family first? The correct answer is yourself, because you can't protect your family if you don't first protect yourself. This time I wasn't protecting my family, or myself, from an intruder. I was the threat. Yet, the lesson still held true; I found the strength to protect myself from myself, and I set aside the pistol.
The thoughts of suicide, however, persisted. That morning in my bathroom, I had welcomed them in, offered them a comfortable chair and an ice-cold drink, allowed them to sleep over, and then suggested they move in and make themselves at home. Although I walked out of the bathroom thinking I was a stronger man, over the course of the next twenty-seven months, these dark thoughts began to completely control my life, and the stress and anxiety they created became unbearable. I went to the ER three times for severe chest pains and intense dizzy spells.
The thoughts told me I was a failure because I couldn't reconnect to the same vigor and passion that Libby and I had during our first eight years of marriage. They told me I was a failure for not recognizing the negative outside influences that had come into my relationship with my spouse. They told me I was a failure because the Denver radio stations had been decimated. They told me I was a failure and that I deserved nothing more than a one-way ticket back to my childhood, where every week of making ends meet was a flip of a coin.
Less than two weeks after the bathroom incident, my family took a ski vacation to Portillo, Chile. On the eight-hour flight into Santiago from Atlanta, anxiety hit me so hard that I thought I was going to die on the airplane. I began to suffocate, literally, from the stress and panic. Several nights later, I was sitting in our hotel room and felt myself start to crater. Panic hit me like a wave I had yet to experience. As I felt the walls close in around me, I knew this attack was bigger than I could handle on my own. I called my doctor in Colorado and he prescribed a small dosage of extended-release Xanax and a strong antidepressant. I didn't want to become dependent on anything outside of myself, but I took them because I felt like I was trapped and needed a way out, a new solution, and I knew that these prescription drugs, when used right, could be a life-saver.
A month after we returned from Portillo, I shared with Libby that I felt her parents deserved to know about my recent anxiety attacks, my experience two weeks earlier in my bathroom, and how I never felt able to live up to their expectations. I mustered up the courage to tell them all of this, plus how I felt that I was living a life I hadn't earned and wasn't worthy of having.
Knowing it had taken a lot of courage to be this vulnerable, my father-in-law looked at me and said, "Tim, I never asked you to live up to the expectations you have created in your head. I always wanted you to have access to different resources and people to build your business and your character. The more important piece has always been giving you the wisdom I've learned in life, many times from my own mistakes, to be a better man with the right set of values and perspective."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Jumping Into the Parade"
Copyright © 2014 Tim Brown.
Excerpted by permission of BenBella Books, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 My Life Up or Down,
Chapter 2 Dark Thoughts,
Chapter 3 A Cry for Help,
Chapter 4 Sorrow May Last for the Night,
Chapter 5 The Decision,
Chapter 6 A Friend in the Night,
Chapter 7 Opening the Vault to My Past,
Chapter 8 Carved by the Rocky Mountains,
Chapter 9 Taking Off the Victim Pants,
Chapter 10 Playing the Right Tune,
Chapter 11 Can't You Read the Signs?,
Chapter 12 Living into Alignment,
Chapter 13 Growing the Big "S",
Chapter 14 The Birth of Heart Wisdom,
Chapter 15 The Power of Clarity,
Chapter 16 Don't "Should" on Yourself,
Chapter 17 The Creative Power of Focus,
Chapter 18 Building a Trust Fund,
Chapter 19 Marked by Joy,
Chapter 20 The Art of the Comeback: from Victim to Victor,
Conclusion: Broken? Who, Me?,
Tim's 13: Jumping into Your Own Parade,