Steve Baker: So, when was the last time you met a guy who
was sued for $1.4 Billion? Well, I’m that guy and I’ve written my
story about living the American dream.

My new book shares the fun, excitement and pure exhilaration of building a successful company. In
less than a year it grew to one of the largest travel companies in the
United States with over $500 million in revenues and included business
partners like Playboy Enterprises. I’m very proud to say that our
company accomplished more in one year than many will ever achieve.

But,
after the excitement of our tremendous success, my story also shares
the shock, pain, and deep despair as I watched helplessly while the
company and my life vaporized before my eyes. Between a $1.4 Billion
lawsuit and the “Black Monday” stock market crash, the company could
not survive. The devastation heaped upon our company, my family, and my
personal life was immense. Ours was a sensational roller coaster ride
that was the most fun I have had in my life, along with enough pain for
two lifetimes.

People
ask me why I waited so long to write my story. My loss was something
that I could not even discuss for about ten years let alone write
about.

But
over three years ago some things happened to change my mind. Business
scandals and dot-bombs were occurring at a rapid pace. Almost daily,
there was another story about corporate corruption and business
failures in Colorado and across the country. With every story, I got more and more angry.

My
anger was ignited by the lowlife weasels who believe they have a right
to plunder a company for their own personal gain. What is most
infuriating is the cause and effect on honest, hardworking people who
have had their futures stolen and their lives destroyed.

The
big companies get the big press, but all business failures, large and
small, can have devastating effects on the lives of those involved.

And,
as I explain in my speeches, when it comes to business, I have good
news and bad news. The good news is that 98% of all businesses in the United States
are small businesses. The bad news is that 80%, that’s right; a full
eight out of ten new businesses fail within the first five years.

In my book I point out that anyone can do
things wrong and fail, but guess what? You can also do everything right
and still fail. What would you do when you do everything right…and it
all goes wrong?

I absolutely hate the business term
“situational ethics.” That’s like being a little pregnant! As
entrepreneurs, my partner and I risked everything and lost everything,
but not at the expense of our employees.

We
believed that the greatest asset of our company was the people, and in
a business failure, they should come first – not last. There is a right
way and a wrong way to fail. It begins and ends with ethics, and ethics
should not be situational.

As
I was writing the book I did quite a bit of speaking, partly as a
market test of my project. I continue to speak under the title “How to
Be a Successful Failure.” Over and over again,
at the end of my talks, men and women would hang around to ask me two
questions: One, “Did you file bankruptcy?” Two, “Are you still married?”

I could see in the eyes of these people why
they were asking about bankruptcy. Colorado just set a new record for
personal bankruptcy filings and tied the 1983 record for home
foreclosures.

Many
people are on the cusp of financial ruin. As for the marriage question,
people would explain that they had gone through a financial failure in
the past and their marriage did not survive. The most serious
consequence of financial failure is the destruction of relationships.

I
then realized that my book had to be much more than a story about
business, but the business of life. I needed to write about how it
affected me personally. I poured myself out to help others hopefully
avoid what I went through. I share the immense pain and sense of
worthlessness that can cost a man his marriage.

I
won a national writing award for this, my first book. The review board
called it energetic, humorous, fast-paced and suspenseful. Readers tell
me it is thought provoking and conversation generating. For that I am
very proud.

More here.

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