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97 Trillion! Now what?

Photo: At an oil and gas industry conference in Moscow, Russia. 1995.

How Do I Make Use Of The Potential?

I’ve produced useful work in about 50 disciplines. What if I remember 10 things from each one. In this case a “thing” is a skill, business process, standards, conceptual frameworks, etc. (I need to think the “things” through more.)

50 to 10th power = 97,656,250,000,000,000. 97 trillion combinations that could create useful products and services for the future. Remembering 10 things on average from all those disciplines is realistic. Combining them in different ways to create 97 trillion products and services to explore the markets for isn’t.

Or could it be possible? What if all that knowledge was digitized and feed into machine learning and artificial intelligence programs that could seek commercial opportunities for billions of new concepts?

This would require a conceptual framework for the idea then coding the software and storing the information in a database. A very big database. I don’t know of such a conceptual framework. Maybe I’ll work on it.

What if we could capture the knowledge of tens of millions of people for this project?

I may expand this post in the future. I’m too busy to work on this idea now but sometimes on long road trips I take the time to mentally figure ideas like this out while watching the desert go by.

Careers – 11!

Photo: Building out a mall quality cosmetics store in Vladivostok, Russia – 1996 to 1997.

Most people do only 1 or 2 careers

A few years ago I listed some 50 disciplines that I had produced useful work for my own entrepreneurial projects, employers, or clients. Most of those had the potential to be careers if I focused on them.

Recently, 2019, I got curious about how many actual careers I’ve been in. Unlike most people, when I feel I know a subject very well, sometimes to the point of being considered an expert, I move on to new experiences. If my world view was that money = a great life then my restlessness is stupid. However, I decided in high school that experiences = a great life, and if wealth happened to come along then fine, but I would rather spend it on new experiences than investments.

So here are my significant careers:

  1. Warehousing – 1969 – 1972, again in 1974. I was asked by my supervisor to stay and move up the ladder. I lasted 4 years but got bored. With this job I was able to take time off to be a ski bum for three winters. It was great but I got bored and moved on. This was my first job after high school.
  2. Power lineman – 1972 to 1974. Great job and great people to work with but I was never able to develop the strength needed. Quit after 2 years to attend college. During this work I was doing correspondence law school and used that knowledge later in my careers.
  3. Landscaping contractor – 1974 to 1976. I was doing landscaping as a business starting in junior high school but ramped it up during college. Many times I wished I stayed with it. It was fun being creative around high end residences. During this time I was also repairing septic tanks, which led to the next job.
  4. Underground pipeline contractor – 1976 to 1979. I worked for my father as we scaled up a tiny company that he started a few years before. I was supposed to get a major ownership stake. I was grandfathered into his contractors license or had my own, don’t remember how that worked. Putting pipe in the ground and working in sewers wasn’t my thing. Mostly the same thing every day. I needed a more diverse intellectual experience. I was attending San Jose State University at this time.
  5. Certified Public Accountant – 1979 to 1995. After college I started with Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, now KPMG, and qualified for my CPA license a couple of years later. That exam was tough! After stints in the audit and tax departments I became very interested in desktop computing, which was just becoming feasible. I prototyped one at work and while they liked it they wanted me to focus on tax work. KPMG didn’t want to start using micro-computers, what PC’s were called then, and I did. So I bought a primitive computer and printer and started my own firm in 1982. That was when IBM launched their PC, which was crap, and CP/M was the most popular operating system.

    About 50% of my time was working with early software developers to create some of the first desktop computer business software for a variety of industries. My business clients were the lab rats, something that software developers didn’t have at the time. I sold the practice in 1994 when Deloitte offered me a job opening an office for them in Russia. That lasted a year because there was almost no work in the region. They never did anything to explore business potential before hiring me to open the office! Idiots, and then it got worse.
  6. Expert witness / litigation support – 1987 to 1994. While I was a CPA (financial statements and taxes) I got into this field and it became a large part of my revenue. I was working to expand it to full time when I changed gears and accepted an offer by Deloitte. My last engagement was for the plaintiffs on the Exxon Valdez oil spill. I was getting bored with CPA work.
  7. Business valuation – 1987 to 1994. I did this alongside my work as a CPA and was trying to build it into a full time business. It was doing well and a large part of my revenue. I dropped this to move to Russia.
  8. Remodeling contractor – 1995 to 1997. After my Deloitte office in Russia was shut down due to lack of business in the region my new wife and I started a remodeling company. We bought product in the U.S. and shipped many hundreds of different products to Russia by air and by container. Purchasing and logistics knowledge were critical, along with dealing with a foreign customs and construction environment. We started off doing well in this business but in about a year and a half the Russian government decided they didn’t want foreign imports and started blocking them. We didn’t want to use crappy Russian shit so we shut it down.
  9. Hardware retail – 1995 to 1997. My wife and I started developing a real hardware store as nothing like that existed outside of Moscow. Consumers and businesses purchased hardware store products at open air flea markets. Some “stores” were in containers. We sold some product but weren’t able to get more due the government blocking imports. I couldn’t stomach selling Russian crap so we gave up and moved back to the States. I knew retail sales and purchasing from part time work in sporting goods during college. That could also be considered a career but I never considered it would be my future.
  10. Web entrepreneur – 1989 to 2012. After returning from Russia I did a year or so of CPA work but was bored shitless by regular businesses. I began researching business uses for the Web, moved back home to the San Jose area, and started working on projects. I bought code for some of them and hired freelancers to make modifications. I wasn’t coding but built up some familiarity. I could read a little code from my college programming class – Fortran on punch cards. Yeah, a real stretch. I did this work for a dozen years but nothing worked out for a variety of the usual reasons, from being years ahead of the technology I needed, or years ahead of the market, or Google killing one that was doing well and the Great Recession killing another. I decided I needed a change of direction. I don’t mind some failures, especially in innovation entrepreneurship, but this was getting old.
  11. Full stack Web application software engineer / entrepreneur – 2013 to present. After Google killed a pet project in 2012, as they have done to thousands of business around the world, I spent a few years self-studying computer science, user experience design, and a couple of programming languages and frameworks. I can now architect and develop software for browsers and servers, full stack, and with databases. I’m not good at security, yet, and far from expert level at anything in this profession. On Stack Overflow, a huge question and answer site for programmers, my colleagues up-voted my questions and answers so that I’m in the top 15% of 10 million coders. Sometimes I supply the question and the answer if I found that a topic isn’t covered well elsewhere online.
  12. What’s next? I hope nothing else!!! My wife will kill me if age doesn’t.



  • Founded / co-founded two industry leading companies in different industries, construction and public accounting.
  • Founded, co-founded, or helped others found over 100 companies in a couple dozen industries.
  • Founded or co-founded companies in software (2), construction (2), retail (2), CPA firm (1), landscaping-septic repair (1), oil spill cleanup (1).
  • Produced useful work in about 50 disciplines. Probably the first person in history to come close to that.
  • Depth and breath of experience across industries and disciplines results in a huge tool box of concepts that are available for ideation and developing conceptual frameworks for business models.
  • A business pioneer in the Soviet Union and Russia (1989 – 1997).
  • A pioneer in desktop computing and related business processes (1977 – present). Tried to interest Steve Jobs in building a computer for construction job costing and launch Apple for business.
  • CPA firm included an in-house startup incubator with office space – in 1984. Possibly pioneered this concept.
  • A pioneer in two new professions; business valuation and litigation support. Previously they were skills but not professions.
  • Defining traits:
    • Intellectual curiosity, study- and work-aholic.
    • High cognitive energy, high ethical standards, highly communicative.
    • Proven ability to pivot and adapt to new circumstances.
    • Comfortable with ambiguity, enjoys disruptive tech, business processes and models.

SV Startup Lab

  • 2012 – present.
  • A lab for researching, developing, and testing new uses of the Internet platform business model.
  • Small bootstrapped self-funded operation in Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, CA hiring freelance contractors when needed.
  • The goal is to develop innovative online and mobile minimum viable products, gain significant market traction, then sell to a well-funded team.
  • Over 20 projects from conceptual design stage to active development and market testing.
  • Product development primarily for Blue Ocean business opportunities that disrupt one or more industries.
  • Lab functions:
    • Problem => Solution ideation.
    • Business model and process design.
    • User experience research and application design including user interface design, interaction design, visual design, etc.
    • Front-end development with Google’s Angular 2 and Angular Material 2 frameworks.
    • Back-end or server side application development, currently with Node.js and the Sails.js framework.
    • Market promotion and testing.


    • Married to Katya, no kids, no pets.
    • Mountain biking.
    • Road trips.
    • Most sciences, technologies.
    • Politics, macro economics.
    • Design – Web application, business model, product, interior, architectural, urban.
    • Foreign policy, international relations.
    • Wilderness backpacking.
    • Backpack travel – 28 countries with extensive travel in the Western U.S. and Alaska, Mexico, Central America, and Russia.
    • Sailing, cruising, river rafting, canoeing.
    • Volunteer trail work.
    • SCUBA diving, snow skiing.
    • Some Spanish and Russian language ability.
    • The scientific study of religious belief systems – cross-disciplinary.
    • Ancient Maya archeology and architecture including reading glyphs.

Discipline List > 50

Jim has worked in over 50 disciplines in his life. A discipline is a trade or occupation that a person could spend their life in. Most people work in one or two in a lifetime. Jim’s skill levels range from deep expertise to just enough knowledge to get a job done. It is impossible to maintain expertise in this many disciplines so Jim rapidly studies to regain needed knowledge when necessary. The knowledge of some disciplines is fading gently into the mists of time.

All listed disciplines were engaged in numerous times over many years. They include various levels of skill attained and each one produced useful work that accomplished one or more employment or project objectives.


    1. Entrepreneur / boot-strap start-up – founded, co-founded, co-built, or helped others found over 100 companies in over a dozen industries for most of the past 40+ years.
    2. Outsource hiring and supervision expertise – since 1976. Currently on oDesk.com and Elance.com.
    3. Financial and operational data analytics – since 1977.
    4. Bank and private equity funding for small businesses.
    5. Purchasing / supply chain – industrial and consumer products.
    6. Logistics & freight – foreign and domestic shipping & receiving, packing, customs, warehousing, rail, truck, air, and ship.
    7. Accounting & tax – financial statements, tax returns – 16 years full time CPA.
    8. General business consulting in some two dozen industries.
    9. Human resources – hiring for technology projects, professional services, construction, retail.
    10. Law – business, family, taxation – including writing a couple of small sections in the Internal Revenue Code.
    11. Litigation support, court certified expert witness.
    12. Business process design – cross-over discipline – since 1974.
    13. Business conceptual framework and model design.
    14. Business planning, feasibility studies, financing proposals.
    15. Business valuation – some pioneering in the 1980’s.
    16. Author: “Business Valuation Litigation Handbook” plus many published articles.

Sales and Marketing

    1. Search engine marketing – Adwords.
    2. Search engine optimization.
    3. Social media marketing.
    4. Professional services – CPA services.
    5. Construction and landscaping projects.
    6. Retail (sporting goods).


    1. User interface design.
    2. User experience design and components of several related disciplines.
    3. Residential and retail interiors.
    4. Product – home decor, lighting, tabletop, iPad dashboard holder (patented).
    5. Significance design – development of a new design concept for residential interiors.
    6. Construction hardware and tools.

Technology and software

    1. Browser and server (full-stack) Web and mobile application development.
    2. Programming – Functional Reactive, OOP, design patterns, 4 languages, database setup (not admin).
    3. Product management – Web applications.
    4. Project management – Web application development.
    5. Gamification.
    6. 3D computer graphics – modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering.
    7. Lighting – LED, CFL, color temperature issues.
    8. Productivity software development – worked with desktop software application developers on some of the earliest software for desktop business computing.  Features developed are now part of everyday computing.
    9. Small business IT – servers, networking, security.


    1. Product – residential decor, furnishings, etc for Web.
    2. Interior – rooms and interior panorama (published in book).


    1. Camera and lighting.
    2. Editing.


    1. Content creation – writer, research, interviews, blogging, videos.


    1. Project management and supervision – residential and commercial remodeling, underground utility pipeline.
    2. Mechanical maintenance of equipment and purchasing.
    3. Surveying and job layout.
    4. Heavy equipment operation.
    5. Overhead powerline apprectice lineman.
    6. Residential landscaping and septic repair.
    7. Marketing and bidding.


    1. Auto and truck mechanic – including engine rebuilds.
    2. Warehousing – lift truck operator, sub-foreman, can labeling, shipping.
    3. Concrete pipe manufacture and installation.

Areas of study – low but useful skill level.

    1. Psychology – environmental behavior research and design.
    2. Physiology – the biological study of the functions of living organisms and their parts, in our case the relationships with external stimuli regarding ambiance.
    3. Cultural anthropology – the science of humans, in our case mostly the cultural aspects relating to lifestyle desires.
    4. Ethnography for product design and marketing.
    5. Neuroscience – biological reaction to surrounding environment.
    6. Cognitive science – brain area reaction to environment and stimulus.


This many disciplines is an experiment in human cognition. How well can the human brain deal with this much information? How to maintain self-esteem when pivoting to entirely new industries frequently? How does one socialize or find community?

It also reflects a restless and inquisitive personality that wants to experience as much as possible in life. Something like this has been totally impossible until the Web came along and rapid self-study became possible. It is unlikely that anyone has ever tried to work in this many disciplines before.

Some of the disciplines listed, such as user experience (UX) design include disciplines within them. This field is relatively new and evolving rapidly. UX design is now critical for Web application development. Below is Jim’s vision of a comprehensive UX design discipline with included disciplines in bold:

User Experience Design

    • Value proposition: High quality user experience with the product or service. Better matching of business goals with user goals.
    • The UX Designer reports to the Product Manager.
    • Understand business goals:
      • Increased sales, productivity, potential customer contacts, customer interaction with brand, etc.
    • Understand needs and goals of the user with research:
      • Ethnographic research, personas.
      • Define relevant user tasks.
      • Determine the context of each user group.
    • Translate the needs into requirements and feature specifications:
      • Functional, reliable, useable, convenient, pleasurable, meaningful.
    • Design solutions that meet requirements:
      • Web – wireframes / mockups, storyboards – Visual Design.
    • Responsive design process, mobile first, iterative with other design processes.
    • Design usability – Usability Design:
      • Web – human-computer interaction through UI’s with high usability. Apple Human Interface Guidelines (HIGs).
    • Design information presentation that people can use effectively – Information Design.
    • Design wayfinding:
      • Web – taxonomy, categories, navigation, labels, hierarchy – Information Architecture.
    • Design interaction of the user with the product – Interaction Design:
      • Web – Journey maps, workflows.
    • Design aesthetics:
      • Graphics Design / Visual Design – colors, shapes, icons.
    • Develop prototype and evaluate solutions for user tasks:
      • Iterative process.
      • Minimum viable product.
    • Measure results – use analytics to understand if product meets user and business goals.

Innovations and Accomplishments

  • Invented new work processes for the computerization of the CPA and other industries and published. 1983 – 1994.
    • Used own CPA firm as a lab with the innovative goal to put all work processes on desktop computers for professional firms and other clients. KPMG did not share this goal and that is the reason for leaving KPMG and starting own firm.
    • Redesigned how work is done for the new medium, a huge conceptual advance and an expensive and risky pivot at the time.
    • Avoided computerizing manual processes. Always required a redesign of work processes.
    • Very successful. Doubled productivity, cut labor costs in half.
    • Almost all business leaders did not understand that computers and software work best with new processes that took advantage of the new medium. They computerized manual processes. That attitude continues today in many industries.
  • Early innovations in the design of computerized business processes and software for a dozen industries.
    • Began trying to use microcomputers for project management in 1977 with only 2k of RAM.
    • Worked with software developers to create computerized processes that dramatically increased productivity of existing processes and also created new forms of information and work to increase competitive advantages.
    • Invented software features now used world-wide in business and consumer software.
  • Helped in the early development of the business valuation and litigation support professions. 1986 – 1995. In 1986 neither was a profession. By 1995 both were stand-alone professions. Assisted with the development of:
    • Code of ethics.
    • Standards.
    • Continuing education.
  • Co-built Preston Pipelines, Inc. into one of California’s largest underground pipeline subcontractors. 1974 – 1979.
    • Accomplished by importing work processes learned in PG&E’s General Construction division.
    • Grew during the two major 1970’s oil recessions, major fuel shortages, and the accompanying high interest rates on working capital – a traditional construction company killer.
    • A highly competitive industry with several strong established players.
    • Usually considered a once-in-a-lifetime major business accomplishment.
  • Helped pioneer what are now 911 operators at long defunct Drug Crisis Intervention in downtown San Jose in 1968. While it started as a free service for those experiencing illegal drug overdoses we handled suicides and other emergencies that happened to call us. We only had a night shift and 2 – 3 operators.


None of these innovations are major but in small ways they helped various industries and have helped people make a living and produce decent work throughout the U.S. and in some cases worldwide. Below are a few major points from “The Medici Effect”, a book about the cross-industry pollination of ideas. Jim is attempting through his Web projects to use his experience across dozens of disciplines and industries to invent new business models and processes.


Innovation – Points from Frans Johansson’s book “The Medici Effect”:

  • Deep knowledge within the disciplines is not required for “intersectional” or cross-over innovation. Directional innovation within a discipline requires deep knowledge and this is the most common and usually easiest innovation. Directional innovation is product or service improvement and is common of course. Intersectional innovation creates new fields, disciplines, or industries. Intiri Designs will be a new industry category. There is nothing like it.
  • A field or discipline is a subject that a person can spend a lifetime working in.
  • “The intersection [of concepts and processes] represents a place that drastically increases the chances for unusual combinations to occur.” When working across numerous disciplines there are billions of potential combinations of models, concepts, and processes.”
  • “Innovators are often self-taught. They tend to be the types that educated themselves intensely. They often have a broad learning experience.” “They broke down associative barriers because they did one or more of the following things:
    • Exposed themselves to a range of cultures.
    • Learned differently.
    • Reversed their assumptions.
    • Took on multiple perspectives.”

Detailed Resume

Current professional focus

  • Start-up entrepreneur.   Founded, co-founded, or assisted others to found well over 100 businesses in a dozen industries for over 40 years. Deeply experienced in all aspects of start-up entrepreneurship including marketing, finance, accounting, taxes, law, and personnel.
  • Web application software developer.   Ideation, research, conceptual framework design, business model and process design and engineering, software architecture, full-stack software development, and market testing.

Web application development – platform model

Co-founder, SV Startup Lab, Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, CA, 2012 to present is a small Web product development company focused on ideation to early development stage Internet platform model solutions for significant opportunities in business (non-enterprise) and consumer markets. No client product development. Currently developing a couple of new products, re-developing an older product, and designing a half dozen new Web products for future development. The strategy is to develop minimum viable products, market test, and if they achieve significant market traction then sell to well-funded teams for the growth stage. All ideation, planning, design, project management, front-end development, and market testing done in-house. Back-end coding in-house and by freelance contractors.

Previous businesses and employers

Web application development – lifestyle products

Co-founder, Intiri, Inc., Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, CA, 1999 – 2011. Developed a couple of Web products and market tested. Relied on search engine optimization, SEO, for user acquisition which was a mistake that wasted several years. One product, a platform marketplace, grew at up to 25% per month visitor traffic and page views but each year Google changed their filters and killed the traffic. Abandoned SEO and prepared for a new strategy with SV Startup Lab in 2012.

Also developed a couple of prototypes for a project that was put on the back burner until the technology catches up with the vision. The product, a collaborative design platform for the home remodeling industry, is ready for development. Extensive study and research developed numerous skills for Web application development and for Internet business model design and engineering.

Remodeling store chain feasibility prototype

CEO and co-founder with wife, International Trade Services, Inc., Vladivostok, Seattle, Anchorage, 1995 – 1998. Four investors. The goal was to develop a chain of small remodeling stores across Russia. Developed a prototype store in Russia but project abandoned due to adverse business environment issues in Russia. Exported from Seattle, imported into Russia, construction materials, tools, interior furnishings, lighting, decor, tools, and hardware. Setup supply chain, transportation logistics by truck, air, and ship, customs clearing, foreign market study and analysis, foreign sales. Large investors available for this project but didn’t take their money after determining that the risk was too high.

Pivoted in 1998 to the emerging Web, studied Internet and Web technologies at Microsoft, moved to California in 1999 to work on Web solutions for major shelter industry problems.

Remodeling contractor and interior design

President and co-owner with wife, Amerikanski Remont, Vladivostok, Russia, 1996 – 1997. Designed, planned, and built in severe conditions with a lack of heat in winter (the ocean was frozen), daily water and power shortages, Mafia threats and constant security concerns, complex and challenging supply and logistics issues, and very high inflation. Construction, marketing, payroll of 10 Russians, accounting, taxes, legal compliance (the Communist version of Civil Law), Foreign Corrupt Practices Act challenges. Survived, which is better than many business people did in Russia at this time.

Developed this business as a lab rat to test the market for the above retail stores project. Only one major remodel completed, a mall-quality store, as Russia began to block imports of needed materials. Abandoned due to Russia’s developing import restrictions and failure to follow their own foreign investment laws.

Public accounting:

Deloitte & Touche, Vladivostok, Russia, office founder and managing director, involved in privatization issues, international finance, taxation, 1994 – 1995. Hired due to reputation for starting businesses in challenging circumstances. Worked with a few large enterprises, foreign investors, provincial governors, and emerging entrepreneurs. Built-out the office with electricity, telephone system, and plumbing alone. Terminated when D&T finally figured out that they didn’t have the resources, markets, or senior management skills for multiple offices in Russia. Moscow management team also terminated along with all satellite offices. Delighted to be rid of D&T and quickly pivoted to a feasibility study and prototyping for a chain of remodeling stores across Russia (see above).Creatively and successfully trained a Russian staff of 15 in audit and tax consulting from scratch with few resources and extremely small budget provided by D&T. All staff went on to successful careers and businesses. Developed a large region-wide economic development plan and feasibility study with Russian Far East governors. Survived in a harsh business environment and climate as Russians were trying to sort out what comes after the Soviet Union. Successfully avoided the office being ransacked by tax police commandos or Mafia as happened to competitor Price Waterhouse. Worked in severe conditions with a lack of heat (interior temperature less than 40F in winter), water and power shortages, poor food availability, Mafia threats and constant security concerns, and 2500% annual inflation.

James M Preston, CPA, owner, a small local firm in Anchorage, Alaska, specializing in accounting and taxes for entrepreneurs (Alaskan and Russian), business planning, business valuation, litigation support (last case was the Exxon Valdez spill), feasibility studies in Alaska and Russia, startup funding, help found and grow over 100 businesses in various industries, brought a food processing company to IPO as outside CFO, 1982 – 1994. 2 to 5 employees.There were two founding goals: 1) Put all work processes on desktop computers and 2) create a lifestyle business that allowed world travel and Alaskan adventures. Exceeded both goals. The first goal was highly innovative thinking in 1982 and few businesses were using desktop computers for anything. Used firm as a lab for creating innovative business processes and desktop computing software for about a dozen industries. This IP is part of most business software now. Sold firm in order to work for Deloitte & Touche starting offices in Russia. Memberships: American Society of Certified Public Accountants, Alaska Society of CPA’s, American Society of Appraisers – Business Valuation Associate Member.

KPMG (then Peat, Marwick, Mitchell), Anchorage, Alaska, staff accountant in audit and senior accountant in tax, 1979 – 1982. Left to start own firm and do the R&D necessary to bring desktop computing to public accounting and other industries. Successfully prototyped personal computing power at KPMG but they were not interested at the time. When they finally figured it out they went the wrong direction with Apple products then had to change to IBM compatible.

Adjunct professor (accounting and business planning)

University of Alaska Anchorage, 1984 – 1986. Quit because it was boring and the pay was awful.

Oil spill cleanup

Founder and president, Spill Response Corporation, Anchorage, Alaska. A short-lived effort to contract with Exxon to clean the Exxon Valdez oil spill, March – May 1989. Quickly formed a company with four investors to respond to the spill. Politically supported by the US Forest Service, Coast Guard, and local governments due to years of Jim’s work with them on various issues in Prince William Sound. Secured critical resources such as containment boom around the world, the only warehouse in the oiled zone, and US Navy skimmers through Rotary connections. Unfortunately the oil washed into the Gulf of Alaska and was beyond anyone’s ability to catch it so the project was abandoned. Didn’t want to clean rocks which was the next response stage.

Underground pipeline construction

No titles, Preston Pipelines, Inc., Silicon Valley, California. Co-built this company with father during the challenging 1970’s (two recessions, high inflation, two oil crises) to one of California’s largest in the industry and nationally known, skills include project management, supervision, heavy equipment operation, mechanic, truck driving, surveying, finance, 1974 – 1979. Also a full-time accounting student at San Jose State University. Overworked, got sick and by age 28 five doctors recommended a major lifestyle change or die young. Moved to Alaska as a CPA and recovered from stress. Also left because personal vision for the company, compete with Bechtel, was not possible with my father. Wrong partner to build an international company.

Retail sales

Mel Cottons Sporting Goods, San Jose, and Skis & Such, Los Altos, 1974 – 1976. College jobs during winters. Helped set up Skis & Such and considered part owner. Left to focus more on Preston Pipelines.

Overhead power line construction

Apprentice lineman Pacific Gas & Electric Company, General Construction division, 1972 – 1974. Left to attend college. Great company and job but not intellectual enough to be interesting long term. Also studied law during this time.


Sub-foreman, lift truck driver, National Can Corporation, cannery warehouse, 1969 – 1972, 1974. Good after-high school job with time off in the winter for ski bumming but needed to find a better career.

Landscaping, septic system repair

Self-employed landscaper beginning at age 10, 1961 – 1969, 1974 – 1976 occasional. Left this to join father at Preston Pipelines as it began to grow.


  • Ongoing study in dozens of disciplines – well beyond MBA level.
  • BS Business Administration (Accounting) 3.5/4.0 GPA (while building Preston Pipelines, Inc), San Jose State University, 1977 – 1979.
  • AS Business Administration, 3.8/4.0 GPA, West Valley College, Saratoga, CA 1974 – 1977.
  • Law – 2 years of 3 year correspondence course, 1972 – 1974. Dropped out to attend college full time and never got around to returning.
  • Partial MS Business Valuation – completed most of this pioneering American Society of Appraisers sponsored program until the program was discontinued.

Previous professional societies

  • American Society of CPA’s
  • Alaska Society of CPA’s
  • American Society of Appraisers – associate in business valuation

Previous civic activities

  • Rotary – Anchorage, Vladivostok, Seattle, civic projects worldwide, 1983 – 1998. A leader in expanding the Alaska and Yukon Rotary district across Russia to the Ural Mountains of Europe. Anchorage East club treasurer, Vladivostok V.P.
  • Prince William Sound Association – founder, diverse user group with recreation and various other projects, 1982 – 1989. Quit to focus on rebuilding CPA firm from the effects of the massive Oil States Recession in the late 80’s.
  • Alaska Reparatory Theater – board treasurer, 1988 – 1989. Joined the board as the theater was failing. Planned a successful shutdown that paid all creditors.
  • Anchor Foster Care Association – co-founder, foster parent for teens, Anchorage, 1983 – 1986. Loved this but foster care didn’t work out for former wife.
  • Junior Achievement advisor and sponsor – Anchorage, 1981 – 1985. Worked with bright teens to help them form and operate tiny businesses. All years we earned Company of the Year.
  • United Farmworkers (Caesar Chavez) – organizer, Washington State, 1969 – 1970. Designed a new strategy for the grape boycott that seemed to push Big Agriculture to agree to unionize and provide various health and safety benefits to farmworkers. Organized small farmers to be supportive (they were never a problem). Left to return to fruit cannery warehousing job. Worked with Gov. Jerry Brown subsequently to bring major farmworker health and safety laws to the big agriculture, the first in the nation.
  • Worked with California governor Jerry Brown on the nation’s first farmworker legislation.
  • Worked directly with President Richard Nixon on the 18 year old vote / 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  1969 – 70.
  • Drug Crisis Intervention – co-founder, San Jose, 1967 – 1969. Co-founded and developed call center that saved lives. Also handled suicides and an interesting assortment of other calls.
  • High School teacher’s aide – American government (taught the class), history, girls P.E., San Jose, 1967 – 1969.
  • Boy Scouts – troop co-founder at age 11, New Almaden, CA, 1962 – 1966. This rural troop lasted until 1989.