I met Robert via the serendipitous world of social media—we had common friends, and I enjoyed his sweet nature and humor. I really got to know Sharky, however, in working with him for the fundraiser Indies Unite for Joshua. He’s been a huge supporter from the beginning, and has taken it upon himself to donate all royalties from the sale of his book, Pursuit of a Dream, to the cause. There are few things more attractive to me than generosity of heart—Sharky has that in spades.
I’d encourage you to support this amazing man. Buy his book and connect to a wonderful author. I’m proud to finish April’s interviews with this lovely Texan. Please help me welcome Robert “Sharky” Pruneda.
Who is Sharky?
Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is author of Victory Lane: The Chronicles. Pursuit of a Dream, the first book in the trilogy, was published by AuthorHouse in 2004; the revised e-Book edition of “Pursuit of a Dream” was released for the Kindle on September 10, 2011.
He operates an administrative support business from home and has also worked as an obituaries coordinator and advertising sales consultant at the local newspaper in his home town.
He has recently taken up writing fiction again and is currently working on a supernatural horror tentatively titled The Devil’s Nightmare. He is very active in social media, mainly via Twitter and enjoys connecting with other writers and helping to promote their work.
Buy Pursuit of a Dream at:
Inside Robert Pruneda’s Mind
What is your idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness is being completely debt free (and not having to rely on credit), operating a successful business, and being able to travel with friends and family. It’s a dream of mine, which I plan to enjoy one day. My goal is not to become rich and famous; I simply strive for enough success to where I don’t have to “work” until I’m 75 years old. By the way, I do not consider my personal goal of writing for a living “work” because of how much I enjoy it.
What turns you on creatively? When I’m trying to squeeze the creative juices out of my brain, I usually turn to music and a bit of meditation. I usually turn to Pandora radio and select my David Arkenstone radio station plays his music along with various other New Age and Celtic music. I find the music very relaxing and it helps to clear my mind particularly when I’m trying to write, but it also helps me when I’m working on other projects. Once my mind is clear and the creative momentum gets going, I may switch to some other genres that range from contemporary Christian, to 80s rock, to 80s heavy metal…Yeah, I know it’s a strange combination.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Awesome” is probably my favorite word I’m sure I use it a bit more than necessary. It seems everything is “awesome” if I really like it. I guess I could alternate between “cool”, “rad”, “sick”, “hip”, “legit”, “boss”, and whatever other slang kids use nowadays. I’m sure if I did that, however, it would just result in me getting the “L” on the forehead response. I think I’ll stick to my awesome use of normal adjectives. I think it makes me pretty boss if you ask me.
What quality do you most admire in a man? Is that a loaded question, Eden? I’ll resist my temptation to skip this and do my best to answer it. Hmm… Well, I would probably have to say the quality that I would most admire in a man (Lord, that sounds awkward!) is seeing a man treat a woman with respect and equality, particularly in business. For example, I’ve seen far more women demonstrate quick thinking and intelligence when it came to making smart decisions that had nothing to do with boosting egos. Let’s face it guys…we can have a problem in the ego department sometimes.
What quality do you most admire in a woman? This one is easy. The quality that I admire most in a woman is someone who demonstrates confidence in herself and does not let anyone intimidate her no matter what the circumstance. This type of woman does not show arrogance (which I absolutely hate), but stands firm in her beliefs and never lets anyone tell her that she can’t do something. I particularly enjoy seeing a woman excel in business. One of the most admirable women that I know is a friend and colleague of mine named MeLisa who recently left the traditional workforce to work full-time as an independent business owner. She got tired of the corporate B.S. and being treated like she didn’t have a brain (not to mention her managers taking credit for her hard work) and is now on her way to building a successful business of her own. This has been 10 years in the making and I have enjoyed watching this very intelligent and strong-willed woman make progress in her career as a small business owner. She was my inspiration to refuse to reenter the traditional workforce and focus on writing and building my own business Jireh Administrative Services. MeLisa’s business was my first, and continues to be, my most loyal small business client.
What is your greatest regret? If you would have asked me this question the afternoon of September 27, 2011, I probably would have said quitting my job at the newspaper would have been my greatest regret because I absolutely loved my job there. Unfortunately a change of management and transition to a micro-management style of leadership (among other things) led me to resigning. I have since realized it was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life. I wrote a blog post about it HERE.
With that said, I think my greatest regret is focusing on work and making money straight out of high school instead of continuing my education in college. This has actually been a very touchy subject for me because I have had a few great employment opportunities slip through my fingers and at least one promotion because I did not have that document that figuratively states, “This guy is smart enough to do this job.”
One particular instance that struck a nerve was when I lost the opportunity for a promotion to the Human Resources Department at the newspaper I most recently worked at because the other candidate had a degree. I had Human Resources work experience, but the other candidate had a degree in Human Resources Development. So, needless to say, I didn’t get the job. I was disappointed and regretted not having taken advantage of a tuition reimbursement program available when I did work in Human Resources. I had no problem with the manager’s selection, though, because I completely understood the decision. However, when the person that was hired left the company six months later to accept a management position somewhere else, I couldn’t help but get a little aggravated.
Considering I had been selected as a final candidate the first time around, I decided to reapply for the Human Resources Generalist position and had not even “qualified” for an interview this time around. By that time I had been forced into advertising sales, which I hated, but I had demonstrated I could do it with some success after never selling advertising before. I sold advertising to funeral homes (Okay, I know that sounds weird; stop laughing), which sales reps with degrees and years of sales experience could not manage to figure out. My success in selling advertising to funeral homes had nothing to do with sales, though; I think it had everything to do with providing excellent customer service, developing a strong and trusting business relationship over several years, and understanding that the customer meant “No” when they said, “No.” After leaving the newspaper, a few of the funeral home owners told me they had purchased advertising from me not because they felt they needed it, but because they liked me and wanted to help me out. Working with the funeral home owners and directors is the one thing that I truly miss from my employment as obituaries coordinator and funeral home advertising sales rep for the local newspaper.
While my career in the newspaper industry and my promotion to the Human Resources Department didn’t work out, I know it is never too late to continue my education. The difference is that if I eventually do decide to pursue a degree, it will be solely because I enjoy learning and nothing to do with the perception that you must have a degree to succeed in life.
My mother is a prime example of that. More on that later.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d be taller. If I was taller (I’m only 5’ 6”) at least when certain arrogant S.O.B.s I have had to deal with in my traditional working career could look me straight in the eyes when looking down on me and treating me like I didn’t have a brain. Plus, I could reach items on the top shelf a hell of a lot easier! Okay, that’s the real reason!
What is your greatest fear? My greatest fear actually used to be simply dying, but my faith as a Christian and dealing with death on a daily basis as an obituaries coordinator has pretty much cured that fear. Plus, I currently work part-time as a funeral assistant at a friend’s funeral home. So, death is simply just another part of life to me.
What I am deathly afraid of is swimming in the ocean…which kind works in conjunction with the whole fear of dying I guess. You can blame Steven Spielberg for that. Considering my fascination with sharks, it may seem kind of illogical for me to have such a fear of swimming in the ocean. I live in south Texas, so I live very close to the Gulf of Mexico and therefore I have had many opportunities to go swimming at area beaches. Not gonna’ happen! I know that shark attacks are actually fairly rare and are usually the result of the shark mistaking the victim for a seal (or whatever), but it does happen. Sure, the shark usually stops chewing and probably thinks, Oops! My bad! but not before tearing a big chunk of flesh out of the unsuspecting swimmer. No, thanks! I’ll pass. I know my legs are irresistible, but I’d like to keep them.
Which living person do you most admire? My mother is the one living person that I most admire for a very good reason. My mother has never taken a single college course and dropped out of high school, married at an early age, had three kids and was a stay-at-home mom until I was four years old (I’m the youngest). Mom then decided to get her General Education Development (G.E.D.) diploma, entered the workforce, sold clothes at a department store for a while and then started a career in banking. She worked in the Proof Department in the basement of a bank in Austin, Texas for many years while my dad worked as a successful insurance sales manager and regional sales manager. Mom’s work ethic, common sense, intellect, dedication, and natural leadership skills led to a promotion, and she was well on her way to more accolades in the banking industry.
Dad eventually grew tired of the insurance business and decided he wanted to leave Austin and open up a Mexican restaurant (my dad loves to cook!) in a much smaller town where we also had family. Mom quit her job to follow my dad’s dream of restaurant ownership, they sold a bunch of land they owned in Mexico, bought a building and uprooted this city boy kicking and screaming from my beloved Texas capital city to the south Texas crossroads where many of my new classmates wore belt buckles the size of Volkswagens (Turns out many of these “Volkswagen” belt-buckle-wearing classmates were the spawn of some very prominent ranchers and business owners in town). Anyway, my parents’ small restaurant did fairly well at first, but then it went belly up within two years…something I’ve seen happen to a lot of restaurants here.
Dad was now unemployed, Mom was unemployed, and I was now a junior in high school starting to think about my own working future. Losing the business crushed my dad, but Mom stepped up and took a part-time job working at a mall department store for minimum wage. She of course busted her ass, turned heads, and quickly was offered a full-time job…but she was not offered a higher salary for her accomplishments. My mom quit after finding another job as a proof operator at a locally owned and growing bank…and you guessed it, she quickly received a promotion and eventually supervised the department. Dad went on to work various jobs, but did not want to go back into sales.
I decided to follow my mother’s footsteps in banking and worked two and half years for the same bank in another department, with the help of my mother’s recommendation. Just as Mom’s career in banking was really going well and more and more responsibility was getting placed in her charge, the owners sold out to a national bank and everyone eventually lost their jobs. Mom’s position was one of the last to be eliminated.
That didn’t stop Mom, though. She immediately started her job search and through a temp agency started helping out in the local administrative office for a very large and reputable company in the oil and gas industry. It was only supposed to be a temporary position, but the site administrator recognized my mom’s potential and convinced her boss to create a permanent position for my mom. She’s been working for Halliburton for 14 years and is now the senior administrative specialist for the region…and Mom dropped out of high school when she was sixteen and has never taken one college class. She is also now involved in real estate investment and planning her retirement.
My mom is one of the strongest and intelligent women you could ever meet and everything I just mentioned (which is just a brief glimpse of Mom) is why she is and will always be the one person I admire the most.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I’ve had the opportunity to work in various fields throughout my working career including the fast-food industry (who hasn’t right?), chemical plant, banking industry, travel industry (you wouldn’t believe how much people will pay to watch birds), customer service call center industry, and of course the newspaper industry. I’ve since realized that I missed my calling all of those years. Today I’m enjoying the challenges of self-employment as a budding novelist and small business owner (currently operated from home).
So, I’m currently doing exactly what this question asks: I’m attempting to build a career as a writer and small business owner. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m now writing my second book (this time in the horror genre) while operating Jireh Administrative Services from home. I eventually would like to get involved in the real estate investment business like my mom and uncle have done, but in order to do that, I’ve got to write and sell some books and generate some more clientele for Jireh Administrative Services. Real estate is where my retirement plan falls into. I have many years to go, though.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? While I personally don’t believe in reincarnation, I would definitely want to come back as a bald eagle. The bald eagle is such a majestic looking animal and here in the U.S. it is a symbol of strength and freedom. The one and only time I’ve ever seen a bald eagle flying free in the sky (and not in a zoo) was when I was at a park just outside of town. I saw a large bird flying around in the sky and at first passed it off as just another buzzard, but then after a double-take I realized it was a bald eagle flying around, more than likely looking for something to eat. I anticipated its dive toward the lake to catch a fish, but it just kept flying around. I wish I had a camera with me at the time I saw this beautiful creature roaming free overhead; it was such a peaceful experience.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Right now, I’d probably have to say keeping your readers on the page after such a lengthy interview. Ha ha! Seriously, though, I think my greatest achievement was writing my first book. While it hasn’t been a roaring success, I never actually wrote Victory Lane: The Chronicles – Pursuit of a Dream to market it; it was more of a personal challenge and goal to pen a book and actually have a print copy on my bookshelf with my name on the spine. At 488 pages, it’s a hefty booger, too! It weighs in at 1.6 lbs! By the way, 100% of sales will be given to Indies Unite for Joshua campaign to help Maxwell’s Cynn’s son Joshua fight his battle with leukemia. So, if you’re reading this and would like to contribute to this noble cause, purchasing Pursuit of a Dream is one way to do it (You can also donate directly to the campaign). After the Indies Unite 4 Joshua campaign has reached the $10,000 goal (or surpassed it) I will find another charity to support with 100% of royalties from my first book.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Arrogance. Plain and simple. There’s nothing more that gets under my skin than people who try to puff themselves up and act like the world revolves around them. These are the people who are more than just snobs; their heads are so far up their blessed assurances that they have to fart to breath. And nine times out of ten, in my experience, those arrogant jerks that I’ve had to deal with didn’t have a lick of common sense. After demonstrating their holier than thou attitude, their lack of common sense gave evidence of the two brain cells they had bouncing around in their overinflated heads…and one of those brain cells was lost with the other one out looking for it. (Deep breath) Okay, moving on.
What is your greatest extravagance? I’d have to say my greatest extravagance was buying a 1981 Corvette Stingray on impulse without really considering what I was really getting myself into. Hmm, now that I think of it, that could possibly fall into the “regret” category too. A couple of years ago I bought this classic American muscle car after taking a test drive and immediately falling in love with it. The thing about buying a 30-year-old car is it can require constant attention. First the air conditioner died on me (in the middle of a south Texas summer mind you), then the transmission killed over (conveniently on the highway with an angry mob of trucks behind me just ready to plow over me during the evening rush hour) on the outskirts of town. After getting the transmission rebuilt, I had to replace the battery, distributor cap, spark plug wires, and starter. Then, the brakes started failing. So, I needed a whole new set of calipers, brake pads, and brake hoses. Then it was the shocks. Finally after everything seemed to be running great (I felt like I was rebuilding the whole damn car…not to mention financing a local tow company owner’s trip to Vegas) I turned the key in the ignition and nothing. Nada! Not even a click. So, now I have a beautiful ’81 Corvette sitting in the garage that I sit in periodically and pretend I’m cruising around in. It’s no fault of the previous owner; it’s just how it goes. When one original part dies after 30 years of use, it’s only a matter of time that other parts are going to break down. Sigh. Hopefully, the ignition system I have coming in will solve this particular problem.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? Get my Corvette up and running! Actually, I would love to fly an airplane…of course, that very well could be the last thing I do before I die. Maybe I should stick to flight simulators on the PC.
What is your favorite music (genre/artist/album/song)? I listen to all types of music ranging from Contemporary Christian all the way to Heavy Metal. However, my favorite music is relaxing instrumental and 80s music. My favorite band is Journey (original band with Steve Perry). How’s that for a cocktail blend of musical taste?
What are some of your favorite curse words? Bullshit is probably my favorite curse word, usually followed by arrogant bastard…and sometimes used in the same sentence. I try not to curse too much though… especially around women and children. When I’m on the battlefield playing Call of Duty with my core group of gaming friends, though, all bets are off. Then it’s insert bar of soap in mouth, rinse, and repeat.
What is your motto? Pursue your dreams…and never look back.
Thank you SO MUCH, Robert, for your candor and generous spirit. You are someone I’m proud to have as a colleague and a friend. Readers, get to know this supportive author—he’s a peach!
Connect with Robert
Be sure to also visit Robert at his small business: