Take a walk with me down a few distant hollow hallways bordered by tall white walls. Let’s take a right and then the next left. Hear anything? I know, you could hear a pin drop if it wasn’t for the industrial-grade, tri-colored carpet tiles. Are you surprised it’s so quiet? It’s because the school bell rang, and all the kids know they must be in their seats if they don’t want to be marked late. Let’s take this next left. See that kid sitting at a desk twiddling his thumbs outside the classroom, waiting for the next assignment from his teacher. Find this weird? I know. If you were to ask him why he was sitting there, he would simply shrug his shoulders.
At this point, you may be thinking What type of school has classrooms in the hallway?! In short, they don’t. What is a teacher to do when they see potential in a student, but he is too distracting to others? Most teachers would send them to the office or ultimately an alternative school. This teacher was different. She was one of the hopeful ones.
Meet me, Mr. Potential.
Not all my teachers gave me this luxury. Most of my days were spent in the principal’s office or in-school suspension writing repeated phrases a million times. School sucked.
I couldn’t make money while I was there, the subjects were pointless, and I was surrounded by rules. Would you believe the teachers would tell me to do my work instead of asking me?! How disrespectful. Well, they weren’t going to run me.
Year after year and whoopin’ after whoopin’, I took the long route to maturity. This was the repeated cycle since elementary school. Literally, every school knew about me before I got there.
You may be thinking where were my parents? They couldn’t have been involved… it wouldn’t have happened if he was in my household. The truth is my parents were very active and disciplinarians, but what do you do when your child will accept a whoopin’ and do his time as punishment?
Maybe you don’t think they set up the right environment for me at home. My Dad served in the Army, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. I did chores for money and had to read before I went outside. My parents didn’t smoke, curse, or drink, and they had been dating since they were 12 years old. Believe it or not, they grew up on the same street in Columbus, GA.
So, what was my problem? Why did I have such a problem coloring inside the lines? I remember reflecting on how I could be making money as I drew the green frog on my cereal box for the fiftieth time. What?! I loved Honey Smacks.
I thought I was fascinated with money, but I was more fascinated with what it could buy. This was my life on repeat until my junior year in high school.
I learned my Dad received orders to relocate to Germany, and I had no interest in going. I have always been an independent thinker and didn’t have issues working. I convinced my parents to leave me behind.
Sixteen and feeling like an adult.
Little did I know that my junior year would completely alter my routine of being a full-time rebel. It is so vivid in my mind that it is like it was yesterday.
I was in class. Yes, some days I actually sat in the classroom. The last bell of the day rang signaling the school day was over, but I had one more stop to make.
See, I was somehow put in this group that focused on helping minorities get or stay on track. The counselors would regularly joke with me about me getting in some trouble that they heard about or just playful conversation.
This day was a little different. Not that they stopped joking, but this one joke was different. You need to understand that people always messed with me, and I had tough skin, but maybe I wasn’t ready for this one.
One of the counselors came up to me and said, “Your girlfriend is really smart. She makes straight A’s and is going to college.” I agreed, but we had never spoken of college. He went on to say, “She is going to go to college and find a Trevor. And, you will be here working at Footlocker.”
He didn’t stop there.
He went on to explain the Trevor statement as I was clearly confused about how I should take this information. He said, “Trevor will come from money and be educated. She is going to leave you for him. Wouldn’t you?”
Before he could finish saying I am doing nothing with my life, I cut him off and told him he sounded stupid, and he didn’t know what I had planned. I gave a fake smile and walked away to remain calm.
I thought we were cool. I thought he had more respect for me than that. F@#$ him! I went home and that conversation played over and over in my mind, and it continues to play even as I am typing this.
One of my many problems was that you couldn’t tell me anything. In this case, I couldn’t step around it. I couldn’t think of an excuse. He was right. I had no plan. I was a C and D student and worst of all, I only had a year and a half until graduation.
Maybe this was the counselor’s strategy. I was used to my Dad saying things to me like “just quit” or when things became difficult “I’m sure others have done it before.” Maybe he knew I was a pride-filled teen who couldn’t imagine being more capable. If this was the case, it worked. I finished the remaining quarters with straight A’s.
Now it was application time, and I only wanted to go to the school my girlfriend was going to. I didn’t have the GPA but figured I’d give it a shot. I never told my parents because I didn’t want to get them excited just to learn that I was the same lost Frank.
I applied and waited… and waited. My girlfriend received her large envelope and ripped it open. She got in!
Mine came later that week in a smaller envelope. Yep, you know what that means. Rejected.
Can’t say I was too surprised. I prepared to start back on my path, but before I could leave her house, Tina, her mom, told me I should write a letter. I thought that was a ridiculous idea and just a waste of time. I politely declined and reached for the door handle.
Then, she told me firmly, that it wasn’t a request and that I was to sit down. I didn’t know if I should just walk out or sit, but I sat. Tina told me to start talking, but I didn’t know what to say. She felt I had a story to tell. She just kept saying how far I’d come and that my story was unique. I started writing about my upbringing, and how college wasn’t a part of my household. I mean my parents always wanted the best for me, but I was never good in school or showed interest. Then, she highlighted how I had to mature earlier because my parents left for Germany when I was 16.
The letter hammered that I could not only do the work, but I would graduate. I ended by asking them to take another look at my application and transcript. When a student goes from C’s and D’s to straight A’s, there is room to question.
She printed, folded, and stuffed the document into an envelope. Next, she opened her drawer and reached for the book of stamps, took one, and put it on the envelope. She looked at me and said, put it in the mailbox for pickup.
Weeks went by, and I didn’t hear anything. My girlfriend was making plans and getting ready. By this time, I had given up, so I decided just to cheer her on. One day, she asked if I ever heard anything from the school regarding the letter. I told her no, and I probably wouldn’t. She suggested I call, and I did.
After being on hold, a lady came back, and said, “You have been accepted, and your package is in the mail.” WHHAAATT?!?!? I calmly said, “Excuse me?” She repeated, “Your package is in the mail.”
Wow. I got into college by writing a letter.
My parents went crazy. What?? Don’t worry about the money… we’ll find a way… we’re so proud. My mom couldn’t do anything but scream and say things like OHH… MY BABY and THANK YOU, GOD.
I was officially the first generation in my family, on both sides, to go to college.
Now, it was time to focus. I delivered on my promise. I not only went to Old Dominion University, but I graduated with a Computer Engineering Degree and later graduated from George Washington University with a Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering.
I know. A long way, huh?
I started my career with Northrop Grumman where I worked with biological detection systems trying to find a way to detect anthrax during the days of the attack. I later moved on to Lockheed Martin where I continued to do typical engineering work. The next move I made was to Booz Allen, and it was great.
A friend of mine worked there and reached out to me multiple times, and I finally took her up on her offer. I thought it was a small Lockheed Martin but little did I know they were a large group of consultants. Don’t judge me for saying this but I didn’t even know what that meant.
After working there a couple of months, I knew consulting was for me. I could work with people, solve problems, and not sit at a desk all day. Above all, Booz Allen placed me on a project where I was introduced to User Experience (UX).
I remember being introduced to the different members on my new project. Typical developer, developer, database guy, etc. One guy stood out. He wasn’t technical at all. He had no engineering degree, but he was drawing our interface. You don’t understand. He was drawing as I did with the Honey Smacks frog. The only difference was that he drew screens. I wanted in.
The problem in my industry is if you are a developer with a clearance you are golden. No company was pushing developers to become designers. Besides, they think differently and use different parts of the brain. They didn’t know that I was a creative rebel.
Coding wasn’t natural to me. I didn’t even like it, but I choose it when it was time to pick a major. They told me that art would not allow me to live the lifestyle I wanted, and I should go into something that others feared.
At that time, people were afraid of computers and code, so that was the challenge I wanted to overcome. It was never for the love of code. It was about saying I could do it. Through this process, I learned the true power and for that reason, I have no regrets.
Fast forward a bit. I transitioned to UX Consultant. Life should be great now, right? Negative.
I was still missing something, and my rebel bug never left. I wanted to enjoy work, but the structure and rules drained me. People gave me orders, took credit for my work, and management talked to me as if I were stupid. Just be straight up and honest with me. Tell me that I’m not getting a raise even though you praise my work. Instead, they took the approach of giving me high fives.
Once, I created a design in two days, and the manager came to me with the same high five saying I just made them $40k. What did I get?? I told you, a high five. Sorry, I’m just reliving the moment. All I could think was This job sucks.
The thing is I knew it wasn’t the company. It was me. I started to feel like I felt in school. I wasn’t built for this environment. It was time for a change.
Entrepreneurship. It’s what I always wanted without using the title. I dreamt of the idea of waking up and being able to focus on my own thoughts. No noise. Just focus. I had to find a way. Where do I start? Name? What will I provide?
I didn’t have a mentor or friends with experience in the area, so I started paying more attention to the way Booz ran their business.
Let the roller coaster begin.
Name. What should I call it?
Okay. We will be a creative group that does music, dance, websites, apps, and maybe three other things. Don’t laugh too hard! I’m sensitive about my baby. I remember battling with my thoughts.
Creative group… everyone uses their name so Goodman Creative Group. Nope.
Frank Martin Media Group… yeah, that’s it. Wait, I don’t want people to use my name. I want people to be able to say they are what our name is, if that makes sense. Who would want to say I’m a Frank Martin Media Group. A little too vain.
If we are a creative group, we should start with the name. That was my philosophy. Maybe I should start with what I’m known for or want to be known for. Always having a bunch of ideas… but everyone has ideas. I can’t be Ideas LLC. Kinda wack!
What represents an idea? A light bulb. A bunch of ideas… bulb… I need some synonyms for a lot.. abundant.. no. No. No.
I called a friend and started one of my passionate episodes. He was used to it. On one of my many tangents, I made a reference to seeing gushing paint and in an effort to further describe the paint I saw, I compared it to gushing blood. I paused and said bleeding.
His response was that he got where I was coming from but that it was weird. I told him that we were weird too and ended the conversation. Time to start the journey of Bleeding Bulb.
See the thing is, I knew Bleeding Bulb would be difficult to grasp, and I would have to put more energy into people understanding what it is, but to me it embodies everything that represents me. I also love the fact that it could represent others.
Never lacking in imagination, I started to hear kids in the community do something amazing and say they were a Bleeding Bulb.
It was edgy and had purpose. The bulb would represent the ideas, and the bleeding would represent applying them. Anyone can come up with ideas, but applying them is necessary for success.
The more I said it, the more comfortable and confident I became. In no time, I started socializing the name with people. Everyone’s initial reaction was the same. First, they asked me to repeat it, and then they asked how I came up with it and what it stood for.
You may be thinking this was bad because I was creating confusion, but I didn’t see it that way. To me, Bleeding Bulb created curiosity and conversation. I couldn’t find someone who could resist asking, what is that?
It was unique, and it flowed off the tongue and had meaning. People would call me days later and just say Bleeding Bulb. Some would continue the conversation to say they couldn’t forget it. I always had great passion for art and technology, and Bleeding Bulb is that outlet for me. This is what the rebel was about.
Be Expressive. Be Creative. Be Known.
This would later become our motto. Things that pushed me through the toughest times.
Our focus is people. We are passionate about making lives easier. At Bleeding Bulb, we sacrifice and understand that issues in life are always greater than one of us. From our neighboring communities to our staff and customers, we value building positive, growing relationships.
To me, Bleeding Bulb is more than a brand… it’s a lifestyle.
Thank you for reading to the bottom! I would love to get to know you and learn more about your business.