Outside of my family, this man is probably the most influential person who I have ever come across. He is the biggest reason why I am in computers today. Ken always has a view of "the big picture" of life. Though I would never choose to trade lives with Ken, I would love to have just a fraction of his experiences.
He started out as my teacher my sophomore year in high school. My buddy William told me he was an awesome teacher and boy was he right. I ended up having two classes with him that year, A+StRUT and Networking. His teachings were beyond computers though, he was all about business and life. He questioned a lot of our morals by asking, "If you were guaranteed to be successful at a bank robbery, would you go through with it." Most of the class said yes, I mean who wouldn't want large amounts of money? I, on the other hand, said no. Then he asked me why and continued to see if I would change my mind. I'm happy to say that I didn't budge, and he was happy I could stick to being the black sheep and not give into peer pressure. I remember another time when a student named Dean was in the class.. Now Dean and I didn't get along during high school. We've known each other since first grade, live two doors down from each other our whole lives, and used to be best friends, it didn't end up that way. Trying to be mature and wanting to avoid any confrontations, I told Mr. Magnum about our distaste for each other. So, being the good, mature teacher that Mr. Magnum was, he assigned us different tasks on opposite ends of the room, right?
Mr. Magnum said OK, and at the start of the class, he rearranged seats so I sat next to Dean. Throughout the year, any errand Dean or I needed to run he sent both of us together. At the time I was quite annoyed, but looking back I understand. Any of our previous fights were pointless cause we needed to work together. Furthermore, the fights were quite stupid and childish. I never thought you could teach maturity, but he sure as hell put ours to the test. And we are friends and get along together today.
During one of our class sessions, a spokeswoman came in to our class and told us about the technical school she works for. Right then and there I was hooked. I signed up and I actually enrolled before I graduated. I remember having Ken's number and calling him on my cell after my first day of class, and I told him that thanks to him, I am now enrolled in Computer Networking and Security at High-Tech Institute.
Fast forward to halfway through my college career. I get a call from Ken. He says he is looking for an IT professional and wanted to know if I'd be interested in the position. He said that it would be half maintenance of the daycare his wife ran, along with making house calls to the businesses he had on contract. The very next day I quit Wal-mart and started working for Ken Magnum for Phoenix Digital Fortress. My company car was his, a 2008 Dodge Charger fully loaded. He had to calmly remind me that going 20 over the speed limit was a federal offense. We worked on mostly everything together, from painting to hedge trimming and other maintenance on the daycare. And then heading to customers home's to set up VPN's. He gave me a lot of freedom on when and how I worked, priorities, and every job was different than the last. He still was a mentor first over boss though, I remember one day we were outside painting the fence of the daycare and I wasn't in the best of moods. It was hot and I was an IT man painting! I was slightly frustrated with this and expressed it to Ken. He replied with a quote I'll never forget, "What are you talking about? This is the meaning of life Brandon." I ended up looking at him quizzically. "If this is your biggest worry and your biggest bother, than your life is probably a pretty damn good one." Now, I have brought that quote with me wherever I go. It makes petty bothers and annoying tasks easier, because there could be a LOT worse situations, a LOT of bigger problems.
As you can probably tell throughout the post, I have switched from Mr. Magnum to Ken. It took me nearly half of my time working with him to switch from Mr. Magnum to Ken. I always called his wife by her first name, along with everyone there, after all, I was an equal employee with equal responsibilities. I eventually DID make the switch though, and now I find it amusing when his former students (my classmates) call him Mr. Magnum, whereas I call him Ken.
I am saddened to say that I was still immature during employment, and to me it was a job, not a career. I slacked off and I know I didn't live up to his expectations. He wanted a pupil, someone to take over the actual work side of Phoenix Digital so he could focus on other aspects of what he wanted to accomplish and I let him down. I even called out on my last day. If I could go back and change it I would. I don't think that I would have stayed working for him for a dozen other reasons, but being lazy was not the impression I wanted to leave.
"The meaning of life is painting a fence" - Ken Magnum
~Just a thought