Ted Bio

Background

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. I graduated from Broad Ripple High School. At all-male Wabash College I was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, made Phi Beta Kappa my junior year and earned a degree in economics, summa cum laude. I then received a one-year Rotary International graduate fellowship to study at the University of Neuch√Ętel in Switzerland. The following year I attended the University of Chicago Law School but dropped out when it became clear that, with my dyslexia, I could not keep up with the volume of daily reading required.

Telecommunications

After a brief and embarrassingly awkward stint as a waiter, my first real job was with “Ma Bell,” back when the original AT&T and its local Bell System companies had a near monopoly on telephone service in the U.S. As a management trainee at Indiana Bell Telephone Company, I rotated through assignments in Business Services line and staff, Corporate Planning and Regulatory Relations. When the local Bell operating companies were split from AT&T in 1984, I was promoted and moved over to AT&T Communications to serve as its liaison to the Indiana Public Service Commission. I managed regulatory filings and received media training to become a company spokesperson.

Interest in computers

As I look back on it, I always had an aptitude for information technology. As a child I was given a toy “computer” that was made of moveable plastic parts and could be “programmed” to do simple calculations. I put it together without even reading the instructions. In junior high math class the teacher showed us a section of punched tape and, without explanation, asked what it meant. I was the only one to derive the number it represented. As a college freshman in 1974, I took a course in Basic programming and passed all the prerecorded tests by midterm. Later on, being immersed in the corporate world, I was not tuned into to Apple. However I did own the first IBM 8088 PC with two 360 floppy drives. So with all that, I thought I’d try my hand at selling personal computers at the local MicroAge store. Long story short, I was no Mark Cuban. I did learn a few things, but what I really learned was how much I didn’t know about computer technology. And that aptitude is not knowledge. This painful lesson motivated me to go back to school a few years later and formally study computer science. If I had it all to do over again, I’d have avoided college and gone to technical school to learn programming. I will blog about education and vocational training later.

Marketing and public relations

Throughout my corporate experience I was often put on projects that required writing major reports and presentations. So when things didn’t work out with MicroAge, I decided to follow my writing muse. That meant starting over as a junior copywriter at an advertising agency. Then my role expanded to account service. Prior media experience ultimately led me into public relations. Tiring of blizzards and tornadoes, I moved from Indiana to California. My first job was as an in-house marketing copywriter for Rancon, a real estate developer and syndicator in Rancho California (now known as Temecula, its original name). I then worked for various San Diego ad agencies, where I wrote marketing and publicity material, pitched stories and prepared clients for print and broadcast interviews. Eventually I had my own consulting firm. My years of “marcom” experience encompassed a broad range of business categories: arts organizations, financial and health services providers, real estate developers, retailers and utilities to name a few. I ended up working for a client company, Adventure 16, as the assistant to the president. "A 16" was and is a highly respected outdoor and adventure travel retailer in Southern California.

Information technology

With the advent of the dot-com boom I decided to claim my inner geek, return to school and study computer science. I finished just as the boom went bust, but I did manage to eek out a few years as a programmer and systems analyst. Eventually work dried up. After a moment of despair I changed the title of my resume to “Technical Writer” and immediately found new employment. I moved to Orange County and then Seattle. After more technical training and certifications, I specialized in documenting software. I had the opportunity to work on projects at the corporate headquarters of Amazon and Microsoft. Bad weather got the best of me again, and this time I escaped to Palm Springs after spending an adventurous three months in Mexico City (more blog fodder). I continued working for Microsoft out of my home as a technical writer for MSN Video. Then I learned to fly an airplane.

Aviation

I always wanted to fly. But time and money never coincided. Finally I had the opportunity to take lessons and became a private pilot. As I spent more time flying I decided to bring my IT career to a close. When I became aware of the 70 percent dropout rate among student pilots, I wrote an ebook about navigating the daunting process of private pilot flight training. It was number one in its category on Amazon for several weeks. After receiving positive comments from students and flight instructors around the U.S., I decided to take the ebook off Amazon and give away free PDFs of it. More than 5,000 were downloaded from my website, which doesn’t count the many more that were copied and shared. By then fully immersed in aviation, I moved to San Diego to get advanced pilot training. However, human physiology intervened. My vision was no longer correctable to higher aviation requirements. I could’ve kept flying on a restricted basis but decided instead to stop on a good note. No complaints. It was a dream fulfilled. However, because I couldn’t keep the PDF updated from actual flight experience, I stopped releasing it in 2012. There are copies floating around—I still get emails—and I will send you one if asked, with the caveat that parts of it are out of date. By the way, to ensure I’d not be tempted to fly again, I returned my private pilot certificate to the FAA. To some this may seem extreme. But I know it was the right thing to do.

Real estate

After I hung up my wings, I decided to learn the real estate business from the ground up. At first I was going to buy my own investment properties. Then I decided to work with various brokers and get all the training they had to offer. Alas, I think and act more like a consultant than a salesperson. My businesslike approach is out of step with the industry’s schmoozy style. So I’ve pulled back. To be honest, I don’t have a passion for real estate—not like I did for aviation. Or computer science. At this time my license is NBA (Non Broker Assigned), which means I’m still licensed but inactive. I’ll have a lot to share about residential real estate in future posts.

Current

In terms of looking for employment, you could say I’m retired. I’m still interested in making money. But I’m even more interested in reading great writing, and writing about things that interest me. I like good coffee, good conversation and good food. And I’m always open to new friends and new adventures.