by Kenny Eller on October 25, 2013

Humble beginnings

Humble beginnings

She called me into her office and asked me to have a seat.  In the previous four years, I had never been in “the” office prior to this.

Minutes later I was told that my services were no longer needed.

I stood up, pulled the keycard that I used to enter the building from my wallet and began to smile as I handed in what was to be the end of my television career.

I don’t know why I smiled.

Deep down I was lodged between shock and what am I going to do!?

I had began interning at the station around 22 hours per week as a sophomore in college and here I was, now a college graduate, with no job and no plan.

My demise – surely my loyalty – or perhaps the ability to quickly and sternly formulate a series of words for my mouth to use and the inability to hold my tongue when said loyalty was questioned.

A few days prior, I had been asked by the news director’s sidekick if I was loyal to the new team.  He was a weaselly little man.  I surmised that the reasoning behind his impromptu interrogation was that the sports team had recently turned over and new folks were brought in.  I had more tenure in the department than anyone at the time.

When questioned in a downright negative and assumptive tone, it lit a fire in me.

Keep in mind I had dedicated every weekend of my life for over 3 years and some nights to the television station for 0 compensation.  Communications interns didn’t get paid.  At the time of my firing, I was an actual employee but was making something like 8 bucks an hour, which means you can work a whole lot of hours, get taxed and not have much to show for it.

It wasn’t about the money for me though.  I loved sports and was loyal to the people that had given me an opportunity to have so many amazing experiences.  It was here where I first came face to face with MJ.

So I unleashed a verbal barrage on him in a way that I’m sure most wouldn’t.  I saw years of hard work and loyalty, like most will never posses, flash before my eyes and here was this small shadow of a man, new to the station, questioning me, in an editing bay as I attempted to get video ready for the sports segment of the newscast.

I let him have it – passion dripping off of every word.

He retreated – and that was the end of it, or so I thought.

Four days later I was fired from my first real job.

I don’t regret a word that I said that day.

TV was something that I didn’t feel was ultimately the right fit for me long term anyway.  Having the camera pointed at me, didn’t come natural and on-air jobs were after all, the jobs to have in television.

Shortly after I was let go from the station, I began writing for a local paper.  The sports section of course.  I got paid for space filled.  11 pages on a word document would then turn in to two pages in the paper – they used micro font – and net me a couple of hundred dollars a month.

After a month or two, the mother of one of my long time friends called my mom and the next thing I know I’m interviewing for a bank job.

I didn’t want to do it.  Not the interview.  Not the job.

But I did.

I went, took a personality and aptitude test and then proceeded in the interview to tell them that I would just do this job until my writing career took off.  My goal was to write for Sports Illustrated like Rick Reilly.

I didn’t get the job.

Not at first anyway.

My friend’s Mom had them reconsider – I had tested extremely well apparently (higher than anyone including the President, I would later find out) and with that I was opening checking accounts and talking to people about banking products for 40 hours a week.

They paid me 18,240 dollars a year.

23 years old.  Bachelor’s degree.  Two jobs taking almost every minute and not giving a lot of money back for it.

I wrote for the paper for another year or so before they decided to cut the sports section and then it was just banking for me.

I remember pleading to my parents in their living room one evening early on – “I have a four year degree and they are only paying me $18,240!!!!  Even if I get 10% raises for the rest of my life, I’ll never make any money!”

They replied – you have to start somewhere.

A couple of months in to the bank gig, the President of the bank saw my test scores, called me into his office and gave me a nearly four thousand dollar raise.

That was 13 years ago.

These days, I work in Private Wealth Management for a financial institution, which means that I help high-net-worth clients manage their wealth.

Until recently, (I spent the last 10.5 years at the same institution *loyalty* before moving in September to another employer) I couldn’t even enroll a client, per our wealth team’s enrollment minimums, unless they opened an account with $500,000 or more.

I share this story because I get asked on occasion how I pay for this site and all of the trips to Charlotte, Dallas, Vegas, the camps and training sessions, and everything else that goes along with attempting to make my dream of playing basketball with Michael Jordan come true.

I pay for it with 13 years of faith and hard work.

I’ve been so blessed, but I’ve also worked my butt off.

None of it was handed to me.  Trust me on that.

Anything Is Possible with Faith and Hard Work is something I was living far before the start of mevsMJ.com.

Looking back on those rather humble beginnings allows me to keep pushing in this journey when others would have surely stopped.

I’ve LIVED the power of faith and hard work.

I know where it can take you.

Today, most people likely see one of two things when they view the crust of me.  They either know me through here and see a guy in his mid 30s with a wild dream he tirelessly pursues or they know me as a professional – dressed in a suit, driving a nice car.

Both fail to capture the struggle or help you understand the success.

My parents were right that night, some 13 years ago.

You do have to start somewhere.

Then you have to believe when others won’t and work hard with no defined assurance of success.

Sometimes we can be so shortsighted and fail to see the possibilities of tomorrow because we’re so focused on the realities of today.

I share over and over again that Faith and Hard Work can take you to places your mind can’t even comprehend.

This journey is my way of showing you that.

1 game.

Me vs. Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

Anything is Possible with Faith & Hard Work!


If you’re new here, I set out in August 2010 to get a game of 1-on-1 vs. my childhood hero Michael Jordan.  This site is about that journey…through every valley, to every mountain top of triumph!

Anything Is Possible with Faith & Hard Work!


Connect:  Twitter (@KennyEller) and mevsMJ.com Facebook Page.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

EL April 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Great story and It will motivate others to keep pushing to find employment. The great recession made millions unemployed, and they all felt the same thing you felt in your bosses office. (I had the same misfortune in 2007) Good luck in your 1 on 1 MJ future game.


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller May 7, 2015 at 6:44 am

Thank you! I appreciate that!


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