Leaving my 10-year career at Fransmart

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This picture was taken at a very pivotal time in my life. I was at the 14th Factory Museum in Los Angeles with my family (a MUST visit – even if you’re not an art fanatic), and while I was admiring the exhibit, I wasn’t entirely present. My mind was immersed in one of the most difficult decisions of my life.

For the past few months, I was feeling conflicted about my job. Which was the strangest thing, because I love the work I do at Fransmart – acquiring small food concepts and growing them into global restaurant chains, and helping entrepreneurs and investors win in the process.

It didn’t make sense that I felt pulled in a different direction. My job was rewarding on so many levels.

After a lot of time in prayer, thinking, and discussions with my wife and other loved ones…I felt a calling that told me it was time to leave Fransmart and put more chips on my entrepreneurial aspirations.

Telling you I was nervous was the understatement of the century. I felt tremors coursing through veins just thinking about leaving. While The Halal Guys was growing by leaps and bounds, we haven’t taken a distribution for two years; all profits went to either repaying our investors or reinvesting into fortifying our organization and new store development. Fransmart was my family’s main source of income; I love the company, my CEO Dan Rowe, my teammates, and my senior post; and I have insurance, a retirement plan, and other perks. I felt stupid and crazy for having these thoughts.

But if I look back at all of the game-changing moments in my life – leaving college DURING MY LAST SEMESTER BEFORE GRADUATION to pursue my first restaurant; being employed by Fransmart when I was trying to franchise my own restaurant; going through a difficult divorce after only six months of marriage; meeting my wife at church when I wasn’t looking; her kids adopting me before I later realized I couldn’t have kids; embarking on The Halal Guys as the largest franchise partner in the chain….I’m reminded that none of these events were ever planned, that these couldn’t happen by my own power, and that they were not decisions I would’ve normally made had it not been for God’s persistent calling and provision.

I put up a fight with myself and God. “Why?!” “This is my main bread and butter until the revenue from my other projects eclipse what I do at Fransmart. Isn’t this a little premature?” And “I’m able to handle multiple projects at the same time; there’s no need to leave if I don’t have to!”

Time and time again, without fail, and in the Bible as well as in my life…thinking I know better than God always fails. Not following His will always fails. Delayed obedience is still disobedience, and always fails as well.

So back to the museum story, where this picture was taken…I was moving from one exhibit to the next, where I was directed to exit the indoor part of the museum. The internal conflict of whether I should leave or stay with Fransmart was hit in the face with a sign that said “EXIT” and “MORE THIS WAY.”

It wasn’t even part of the exhibit, but it was the most important artwork for me. It helped tipped the scale towards leaving. It was God’s way of yelling at me – all other subtle whispers and mediums to move me didn’t shake my indecision for months until this moment.

That night, I submitted my letter of resignation to Fransmart, and the new adventure began.

Ten years of service. Ten years of working long hours. Ten years of traveling all over the globe. Ten years invested into a career that I thought would last until retirement. But as the investment disclaimer always says: “Past performance is no indication of future performance;” success and comfort zones both breed complacency; and God tends to strip you of the life you knew so that you can depend on Him, build spiritual muscle, and give you more purpose.

I’m scared out of my wits for leaving – but it’s proof that I was dependent on my job more than Him. I’ve learned that when I’m scared, I am on the right track. And the Bible teaches me that there is only enough room for one of the two – fear or love. If I replace this fear with love, then I’ll remember that God cares for me unconditionally, is much wiser than my own knowledge, and has a plan bigger and more meaningful than I can ever imagine. So with that encouragement from Him…I am super excited.

I am thankful to have left my employer on good terms, as I plan on doing independent consulting for Fransmart; but now I have a clean slate to use my experiences, talents, and passions I’ve gathered along the way to help people the way I believe God has called me to help. I never really had a plan to transition to, but that’s a good thing – since I’m letting Him lead me; I just need to be comfortable with uncertainty. I’ve already received some excitement for my departure and opportunities from my network, and so having a clean slate definitely makes room for interesting and meaningful work (it also can attract jobs I shouldn’t be doing, too; but I’m trying to create boundaries in front of them).

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)

Here’s to the end of one chapter; and on to the next.

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Making my last student loan payment…

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I just got an email from my student loans servicer congratulating me on finally paying off my college debt. I didn’t go into higher education and accumulate any additional debt that lawyers, doctors, professors, etc. typically have to amass; but it took 11 years for a simple commuter college kid like me to escape this bondage. Crazy!

Jumping through hurdles just to serve people

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This is part of a series called “SHAFT” where I document my family’s journey towards starting, running, and benefitting others with our nonprofit.

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Just completed Franchise Tax Board Form 3500 – which allows SHAFT to obtain tax-exempt status in California, if approved.

It’s a whopping 44 pages to read, complete, and attach documents to – Something I hope to only do once (well, twice – since the IRS required me to complete Form 1023; which does the same thing but on a Federal level).

I understand that some of the difficulty in filing these forms is to prevent abuse and illegal activities – and requires a lot of proof that nonprofits are doing what they say they’re doing. But most of the difficulty lies in an antiquated system that’s been left alone with no one to take ownership in making more efficient. I wish they were more focused on getting folks like my family and my donors to help people, immediately and impactfully.

Ugh.

Okay – done with my 60-second venting session. Let’s get back to doing meaningful work.

Strengthening my meditation muscle

Wanted to share an update to my journey of embedding meditation into my daily life. 

It has been 42 days since I re-started meditation after many failed attempts in the past, and getting this far has been one of my happiest and most fulfilling achievements for 2017. 

I am not patient for an activity like this – my life is filled with non-stop inputs and outputs that come with being a workaholic family guy, career person, and business owner. But I think I’ve grown wiser; heard it being the “secret of success” enough times from high-performance role models I look up to; and reached a point where my current mode of doing things was unsustainable and that something needed to give. 

I started off using the Headspace app on my iPhone, and it was a great entry-level tool to get into meditation. It was free (the first 10 days – and you can do it over and over again, which I did), it was guided by a friendly voice named Andy to keep me focused on the right things, and it wasn’t weird like what you might imagine from the movies (sitting cross-legged, high on a mountain top with strange music lol). 

I did 20 days of the 10-minute guided sessions, and then increased the time to 20 minutes – where it’s 10 minutes of guidance and 10 minutes of pure silence. 

I did this for another 20 days before this week – where now I have stopped using the Headspace app completely and have been on Day 2 of complete silence for 20 minutes. 
I plan on increasing the time to 40 minutes (baby steps) and adding in the weekends (I currently only do it on the weekdays). 

It’s not perfect – there are days when I am so distracted with things I need to do for the day, and times when I actually nod off to sleep lol – but I will say that the benefits have been nothing short of amazing. Time seems to have slowed down for me and I have more of it. I tend to have better focus during my work sessions. I am less reactive and do more important things first. I am making better decisions, or at least responding to bad decisions in a healthy manner with learning lessons and quickly correcting steps. And it’s one of the wins I achieve in the morning that makes the rest of the day a success, regardless of what happens. 

The Headspace app wants you to put both feet on the floor with hands on your lap; I learned from my masseuse that she does it laying down with a rolled up towel under her knees, because she has back pain; and for the last two days I’ve been doing it cross-legged in my car before I head out to work for the day (before the rest of the day steals my quiet time). What I’m saying is that there is no wrong way, everybody’s journey to being more present is different, and that you need to action and try it. 

If you think you don’t have time to do it – like I did – it’s even more the reason that you need it. 

The Halal Guys – Store #4

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I am BEYOND EXCITED that my team and I are opening our fourth store in the city of Cerritos, California next week!

I have a nostalgic relationship with this town. Back when I was a college kid with little funds (student loans bankrolled my adventures, lol) and had a machine-like metabolism (I still eat like I do *sigh* *smh*) – my friends and I would frequent this area for cheap  desserts (Guppy House was my jam) and Filipino food (Jeepney Asian Grill and Red Ribbon bakery). It made my childhood delicious.

Since then, it’s grown so much into a major foodie hub in Southern California – with the entrants of iconic brands like 85 Degrees Bakery, North Shore Poke and Neptunes Raw Bar (owned by one of our partners); and upcoming monsters 7 Leaves, Cauldron Ice Cream, Afters Ice Cream, and soooooo so many more of our friends and peers in the industry.

This place was a no-brainer for the brand.

I am proud of my partners, vendor partners, staff, and corporate. It’s unreal to think that over the last 16 months we’ve grown to four stores (along with Costa Mesa, Long Beach, and Koreatown), three more in construction, I’m hoping for five more by year-end, and we have 40+ more to go…but it’s not surprising when God’s involved, and when you have an amazing team.

If you want to go fast – go alone; but if you want to go far – go together (we got best of both worlds!).

paulttran.blog goes worldwide

While logging into my admin page to start writing today’s post I saw two views from the U.S. (California and Alaska) and one view from Australia. Enough for me to say that my blog is international lol!

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Hmmmm…I wonder how much advertising revenue I can get from this overseas reach?

*brings out calculator* Okay – what’s one cent times zero? *tap tap tap*

Anyway – just some light humor for the day. I’m learning not to take myself seriously; anything can be laughed at; and no matter what, my blog has achieved exponential success based on my metrics outlined in “Starting Again.”

Onward.