I am a 56 yr old who was laid off a great job (kind of) around 4 yrs ago because I was a egotistical person thinking they will not ever lay me off being the most important person there besides the owner! I was their main product designer / INVENTOR / engineer / problem solver. I gave that company so many ideas/inventions I lost count. I gave them at least 12 patent ideas, maybe more I lost count of those also!

The problem might had started when the owner/ex-president of the company, took the CEO’s and most of the office people out to lunch after I had gave them enough ideas/inventions for the company to move in to a bigger building (around 3 yrs in to that employment). He told every one there in front of me that it was because of all my new ideas we were moving in to a bigger facility, so that gave me a big ego! From that point on maybe not noticing it but that ego stop my career as becoming a much better product designer.

I thought I didn’t need any more education other then my god given talent to invent/create new ideas/inventions! So all those years there instead of improving my education (thinking I would retire from there) I screwed up because now after trying for the last 4 yrs to get back in to the same field of the only thing I have ever been good at, I need this that and the other thing as far as new programs needed to land such a job! I can still invent / design new ideas all day long but just can’t talk any one/company in to giving me a chance like that last employer did!

I have found a toy/novelty/invention broker lately to try and sell some of many ideas, he has taken on 88 out of 120 ideas/inventions I presented to him, but how long that will take who knows? In mean time I can’t afford go back to school, I can’t afford patents and I can’t find the same type of  work that is my passion and know I can do it for any company if given the chance, but they will not;(

I have been a single dad the whole time I was at that last employment for over 20 yrs, raised two boys the best I could, one is in a junior college and WE can barely afford that! Meaning my son and I do any type of work we can. Him mostly part time and me full time at temporary positions I hate!

Physical jobs at my age are very hard since I have arthritis and bad knees from many years of racing motocross since I was a kid! I raced high school motocross and turned pro right out of high school, while some friends were pursuing college or starting good careers as longshoremen or firemen, I was traveling around the country pureeing a very limited career as a professional motocross racer! Well I got injured way too much to go on and came home to start working driving cement trucks, cement pumps etc for my family / uncles. Which was okay money but was not my passion and even though I knew that it was the 1970’s/80’s and was just the thing to do if you could. Going to college was not a thing to do for most back then as I remember it.

So now how many years later I have no career any more, no retirement in site, no way to support my family, living in complete stress and depression:( Maybe yes one of my ideas / inventions will sell but until then I am wearing knee braces and taking tons of Aleve to try and get a job as a truck drive again at 56 yrs old, and all the while my friends who keep at it are retiring, it sucks lol!(and I remember them all saying”you,ll be rich some day Rodney with all those ideas”). They still say that while I worry stress about my rent and bills!

I really just want to have the chance again to do my passion or god give talent (my only god given talent since the two wheel talent didn’t pan out!) . I have no business savvy to try and do any of my ideas/inventions on my own. I have written some short stories and people who have read them like them allot and said I should pursue that! But again I would need some education to be a writer which is nearly impossible right now. I would love to write since I have many ideas for stories reality or fiction.

My son has a talent for writing also and he is pursuing that right now even though his complete family and friends are against it, except me! He wrote and directed a few movies / short stories in high school and two of them won at the high school film festivals (one got a standing ovation!). So he has talent and I want him to pursue it, in fact I want to join him in some short story writing.

But it all comes down to paying the rent, I do just about any thing and have for the last few years to try and keep him going at what he loves and myself also, but off and on we almost ended up on the street! I have sold just about every thing, used up my complete life savings and 401k is gone! we live month to month with stuff pre-pack just in case but no where to actually go but the street, and I know there are lots of people in the same boat:(

I have many ideas / inventions ready to go as far as having working prototypes etc, but no way to do them myself.  And I have gone out on my own to try and sell/license them off, with no luck. In fact I have been RIP OFF which has add to my depression knowing we could had been doing okay right now, if these different companies(assholes) had not rip me off, or if I could had afforded to have patents on those ideas!

Last year my son and I work really hard on one of my ideas, with videos, drawings and good working prototypes we tested late at night in secluded / private areas.  We brought that idea to a company who signed all the correct/proper NDA contracts etc, but a few months later it/my invention was on the market and they had no intentions of reimbursing me for it;( So even more depression/stress set in for not only me but my son). We tried to get legal help but can’t afford it so now one of my potential ideas is on the market making these assholes money! And that was not the first time, so I have found a guy who has taken on my ideas/inventions as a broker to hopefully sell them and not rip me off!

But at this point I would hire any one or let any one try and sell any of my many inventions/ideas in many different industries for profit to share! So if you know any one trustworthy enough to help please let me know?

But how can any one know which way it will go? You don’t and can’t, but just pray it will some day pan out before we are out on the street or before I am too old to enjoy it! I am working three temporary part time/full time jobs that pay shit and are very hard at my age just wishing/praying it all pans out for my family/son!

Well that’s part of my story I guess, one depressed/broken/stressed/rip off inventor dad looking for some thing?

8 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    You need to let go of your son and let him live his own life. He should not be working with you. You messed up your career by offending people. Do not drag your son down with you. Let your son succeed on his own. Don’t make him take you with him. Let him lead his own life.

    You can live on disability or social security very soon. If you want to write, you can write. Just write without your son. He does not owe you anything except love and respect. He does not need to devote his adult life to his father. You did not devote your adult life to your father.

    Let your son grow and have a life of your own. You worry about yourself. You are in a bad spot, but you make it worse by bringing your son there.

    Penelope

  2. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    What an interesting life you’ve led! I am so very sorry to hear that you are living month-to-month without any savings. It does sound like you should apply for disability payments. That could help.

    My thought, after reading this, was that you should approach your former employer. Explain to him that you still have ideas that could benefit his company. Also explain to him that you’ve been humbled by your experience and will not repeat the mistakes of the past. If the timing is right, you might get a second chance. Given your difficulty in securing similar work, there is also a chance that your former employer is giving a “bad” reference. If you approach him in the right spirit, even if you do not secure a job there, the employer might be willing to recommend your services to someone else.

    God bless and good luck, Jennifer

    • Deborah
      Deborah says:

      This is excellent advice! Also, the former employer may be open to some sort of consulting or collaborative arrangement for developing new ideas under a profit-sharing agreement.

  3. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Penelope, you didn’t answer his question. How can this guy sell his inventions / ideas and make money? I think a lot of people are in this boat but some don’t even realize that they are. His question is universal – how do I take an idea in my head and turn it into cash / financial security? For each industry the specifics will vary, I’m sure. But this guy sounds like he doesn’t know what his next (first?) step should be, and we have all identified with that feeling at some point in life.

    Also, why tell him to remove his son from any potential plans / endeavors to sell an idea? Why shouldn’t they work collectively if they can? The myth of the lone entrepreur pulling himself (or herself) up by their bootstraps and pure grit to realize the ‘American dream’ is a load of crap. Everyone needs help and all the ‘titans of industry’ had help – that’s a story for another day. So why should he forge this path alone?

    I’m a faithful reader and am very interested in your response.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Melissa,
      If the guy really were really as valuable to the company as he says he was, he would not have been laid off. There is probably something wrong — either he’s becoming senile, or he is a narcissist, or he’s not nearly as valuable as he thinks he is.

      At any rate, if he’s not valuable to that company he’s probably not valuable enough for his son to pin his whole adult livelihood onto.

      The dad is upset that he can’t sell his own inventions, but part of being an inventor is selling your ideas. It’s like a startup founder who can’t get funding. You’re not a startup founder then.

      So the dad is not the inventor he thinks he is.

      And his son wants to write. So his son should write. Why would a father want a son to spend their adult life catering to the father’s failed career? The most meaningful thing the father can do right now is to support the son in the son’s owns dreams.

      Penelope

  4. Madeleine
    Madeleine says:

    Melissa,
    Penelope is right. The original post is terrifying, and Rodney is clueless. She is addressing the paternal relationship because it is the only hope. This guy is old. He had his chance, he screwed up, oh well. Life is more than money and prestige.
    The son doesn’t necessarily need to be a “lone entrepreneur” but staying over-involved with his inept father will only continue the cycle of failure and depression. If the son needs and partner/mentor he should find a successful one.
    Thanks Penelope for the compassionate response.

  5. harris497
    harris497 says:

    Madeleine,

    At 56, life is hardly over for this person. Your references to him are unnecessarily harsh and probably untrue as you do not know him. Penny’s response was based on tough love. She is kind but brusque – it is her natur. But as a participant from the sidelines, you are simply being unkind in an effort to defend her – someone you obviously admire.
    Yes, he needs to release his son, but he also needs to reboot. He needs t0 truly let the past go, to stop feeling fear about what to do next (a huge part of his problem), and to focus on his inherent skills to develop products that he himself can produce and sell. As Penny stated, product consultants make a great living IF they learn how to sell.
    Rodney, you need to develop yourself so that you are more than a widget maker. Step out of your comfort zone; read and learn about yourself and your craft. Seek to become better at everything especially your emotional intelligence. The journey will be worth it. I am on a similar path.

    My2centsworth.

    • Madeleine
      Madeleine says:

      You are right. I was rude. I empathize with the son. It’s really important for humans to “launch”. I had a tough time wrenching myself away from my parents “talons” as I left the nest and an aspect my parenting of my children is a reaction to that.
      Thanks for calling me out on my faux pas. If I’m throwing any human under the bus that’s definitely cause to question where my heart lies.

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