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Jim quit school and ran away from home as a young teen and got a job at Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo. A few weeks working as a dock-boy fueling and cleaning rental boats, he got a pay raise. His boss explained that he was practically doing the work of two people, so the company was willing to pay more. His first boss, Howard Curtis, offered mentorship, which he still gets mileage from today.   

Through Howard’s guidance, Jim started figuring out that if you do more, you get more. Life really can be that simple.  


In his teenage Key Largo days Jim was also a custom fishing rod builder. At about age 13 he knocked on neighborhood doors asking if  anyone had fishing rods with broken guides. He charged $2 each to fix them, and eventually learned to build complete custom rods from scratch. A couple years later he worked on charter sport-fishing boats at the Ocean Reef Club in North Key Largo where he occasionally got to make Bahama fishing runs. It was quite an exciting life for a youngster.

Around age 17 cable TV came to Key Largo and Jim saw a Bon Jovi video. The flashing lights and big-hair created the vision of being a rock star. Within a few weeks he sold everything, packed a duffel bag, and headed to California. The duffel bag had nothing more than a change of cloths and a dream.  

Jim was not a talented musician, he was in it for the attention that a musician got in the 80’s. It was hard to give up but he knew the quickest way out would be to shave his head. There. No hair, no rock band. Problem solved.

“We’re all addicted to something. Mine was attention. For some, it can be as simple as social media or TV. Find your addictions and beat them.”

Lost, broke, and having absolutely no idea of who he was or what he was going to do, Jim worked as a dishwasher in a Country Club in Sacramento because it offered free food. Through a mail order book, he got a job fishing in Alaska for a few months to "Find Himself". In Florida his sister was dying of breast cancer and he had been away long enough, his place was back “home” in southwest Florida with her. Jim sat on what was called a “beach” in Dutch Harbor, wrote down everything he thought was holding him back from starting a new life, burned it, and got on a plane headed back to southwest Florida.

His sister got cancer at 28 and died at 38. It was Jim’s first loss associated to death. Since then, Jim lost his mom to suicide, and his dad spent most of his life in trouble with the law. Jim was not in touch with outside family members, though he always somehow attracted very unique friends and great mentors.  

“I’m no preacher and I don’t push religion on people, but I can comfortably tell you that if you don’t build a relationship with who you feel your God is, you’ll never be able to develop the one thing that you really don’t want to die without, which is feeling that you lived a significant life.”

From the ashes of a minimum wage job at a car wash in Cape Coral (Florida) in the 90’s, Jim built a company called the “Waxman”, a mobile boat detailing business, which is where the idea for a local marine resource publication came from, “The Nautical Mile”. His coastal wax clients often asked about local marine information or where they could buy something for their boat. He thought, “How could there be no directory for boaters in a county that has over 500 miles of canals and thousands of registered boats?”

In 2003 he saw that a local coastal publication was in high demand, and it would take much less of a toll on his body than waxing boats, so off he went. After all…. people didn’t come here to go hiking. Jim had never used e-mail, computers, spreadsheets, and definitely didn’t have any office skills. It was a whole new world!

"Don’t get hung up on technical things that you can learn. Focus on putting passion into what you do.”

That company quickly turned into what is known as Nautical Mile Publications, which produced what has been looked at as the most successful item of its kind in the state of Florida.  

Jim had had quite a natural talent for his newly found publishing career. He created several other successful ventures from the base of that “fishing rag” from coastal events to a unique treasure hunt. He’s been accused of having a magic wand, as if everything he touches turns to gold. He claims that the talent is more about knowing what to touch, and what not to….

“If you’re going to get hung up on something, make it character. Creating a success of something is often a byproduct of your character.”

The BP Oil Spill offered a great opportunity for a creative project involving video production, something Jim always wanted to learn about. The local marine business community had been damaged by false reporting as if SW Florida had people dying on the beaches. Jim decided to write, produce and direct a 45 minute introduction to promote boating in southwest Florida. 10,000 CD’s were distributed for free to people looking for information about the local marine community to help stimulate local marine business. It was a big hit! While media was looking to profit from the accident, Jim was being creative and looking for solutions.

Suffering from so many personal losses, Jim kept people at a distance and had few relationships. Along came Bo, a yellow lab that was lost in Hurricane Charley. Bo taught him to love and take care of someone other than himself. Jim was convinced that if not for the relationship that developed with Bo, his wife would have never gone a second date, (or may not have even stuck around on the first one…).

“I often tease my wife about that. She truly helped me overcome fears and showed me a world that I most likely would have never been exposed to if not for her patience and understanding. I’ve yet to find anything that can top a partner that believes in you.”  

Jim soon discovered another talent, he can talk to groups. He started talking to small groups around town about pleasure boating in the area. He realized that he was able to take his own challenges and struggles and turn them into stories that end up being lessons. People were inspired and interested in more, so he created a program designed for a classroom environment with a focus on finding your own obstacles and beating them.

He believes in our education system but teachers are not magicians, and the system is not offering kids what it takes to win. More than 80% nationwide are graduating High School, but they are far from prepared for what comes next. They’re getting great at taking tests and sleep depravation, which may come in handy, but when they go out into the world, most do not have the tools to dig themselves out of the 7-day routine that most people end up in. For so many, 30 years goes by, and people wonder where life went. Jim feels that people are simply not taught to win in our system. The theme of Jim’s program is about separating yourself from the herd by learning how to “Think like an entrepreneur”.

“Start at the end and work backwards-   Fear turns to stress, and stress turns to bad decisions. You get stressed because you’re afraid of what may happen. Think of the word “stress” as a word used to describe what fear does to you, then quit thinking about stress and focus on beating your fears. Beat your fears, and you beat your stress.”     

Jim discovered a hidden talent when a friend was sick and needed a substitute for a radio show, and a book he published in 2017, “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Do It” has opened doors to doing talks at colleges where he opens minds up to the concept of “Thinking Like An Entrepreneur.”

Jim’s adventures have been successful and he credits that to the many that have supported his crazy ideas. He reside in Florida with his wife and Ti and Hooper, Doberman Pinschers, plus their parrot, Kozmo. Their down-time is spent breathing fresh air in northern Georgia.

Special Thanks-

Robin Griffiths, Jim’s wife, for her inspirations and patience.

Sheriff Mike Scott, Lee County, Fl.  A great role model for putting others first and doing the right thing.  

Chuck Caukins, for being the first to believe in Jim’s crazy ideas.

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