Ive always thought of myself as sort of a country boy with a
I was born in 1955 in South San Francisco and lived for my first 6
years in East Palo Alto, California. But, in
the last quarter of the first grade, my parents decided to move their 6 children to the
hills of Santa Cruz County, about 70 miles south of San Francisco. They made that decision because it was at the
beginning of the time of marches by black Americans to protest their treatment. East Palo was becoming unsafe because of racial
tensions. 6 months after we moved, our
neighborhood was a ghetto.
My father was a man of German heritage who was born in San Francisco
in 1908. People said he was a certifiable
genius with a 9th grade education. He
made a career in and around the military, finally retiring early from his position at the
Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point, in San Francisco, in order to accommodate our move
to Santa Cruz.
I dont know a great deal about my father. But, Ive been told that he designed and
installed the first land to air radio communications system used on aircraft. He had the10th pilots license ever issued. People described him as an electronics pioneer,
and literally the kind of man who could figure out how to accomplish anything in the area
Back then, Santa Cruz was a small town of less than 10,000 people. It was a retirement town that came to life every
weekend and throughout the summer as the tourists would travel over the mountains from the
Bay Area to swim and sunbathe at the beaches, and play on all of the rides at the Beach
In the 1890s, the wealthy people of San Francisco would travel
in stagecoaches to weekend along the coast, and to attend performances at the famed
Cocoanut Grove Ballroom and opera house. The
ballroom was located at the beach, with a grand view of the equally famous championship
surfing venue called Steamers Lane at Lighthouse Point.
We lived back in the hills, though.
Where we lived, it was called Scotts Valley, just 10 minutes from the
beaches. It was a 5-acre ranch where we raised horses and chickens and rabbits, and a wide
assortment of other animals over the years. We
had a garden that was at least an acre. I was
the youngest of 6 kids living in a town where it was difficult for my parents to find jobs
that paid even a minimum wage. Raising our
own food was the only way my parents could afford to support us.
My parents had purchased this ranch some 15 years before from my
grandparents, who once owned the entire mountaintop.
They only sold off parcels to family and good friends. Many people muse that my early childhood was a lot
like living the life of the TV family The Waltons. For a couple of years, we
only had an outhouse, no running water, mud roads that were impassable at times in the
winter. The road we lived on was a fire road
through the mountains that went on forever but seemingly lead to nowhere in the midst of
thousands of acres of nearly pristine forest. Thats
where Id go to ride my horse.
We lived miles from where the paved road began, and it was another
half-mile to get to where the bus would come to pick us up and return us after the school
day. My dog Duke would walk me and my sister,
a year older than I, to the bus stop every morning, and would be there waiting everyday
when we returned. He instinctively knew when
to be there, without fail.
I laugh sometimes because even in this modern era in 2003, I could
easily describe my childhood in those hills with a story like a proverbial old timer
spinning a yarn about how, when he was a kid, he had to walk miles through the rain and
snow, through the mud and the ponds that covered the roads and pathways when the rains
were heavy and lasted long, just to get to and from school everyday.
I had to chop wood and clear brush. I had to milk the goat and tend
to the rabbits and chickens every morning in the frosty dew and drenching rains before I
had breakfast and dressed for school.
But it was a good life, and I loved it. I loved the mountains, and the quiet. I loved living in and understanding nature. I loved living in a place where I could sit as
still as I possibly could in the middle of a meadow, patiently waiting as the creatures
all around me became used to my presence, and began to show their own presence, 1 animal
at a time, as they would go about their business or pause to wonder what I could possibly
be up to.
I was fascinated at the way squirrels would interact with each other,
and interact with other animals. I watched
rattlesnakes slithering by me as I anxiously prayed for their disappearance without the
danger of confrontation with them. Id
see colonies of ants and bugs, and Id play games by throwing kernels of wild oat
chaff into the air to see how it scattered in the wind.
I was an observer of everything.
I was curious about everything. I
did not necessarily require knowing the details of how things needed to be done: once a
desired outcome was determined, I always knew the how part could be deduced. My world was conceptual, as I constantly
considered and applied what Einstein really meant when he said that for every action
there is an equal but opposite reaction, the rippling effect that occurs in the
physical world as well as in the minds of people as world events and personal challenges
shaped their thinking and actions. I was
fascinated with the concept of perpetual motion.
When I was young, I was never particularly religious. I loved going to church, and it seemed natural to
accept the teachings of my Southern Baptist minister and my Sunday school teacher. It just made sense to me.
Still, I remember a time when I was told I had to go to church,
whether I wanted to or not, at the insistence of 3 of my 4 older sisters whom I remember
calling fanatics. After a while, I became
tired of their constant lobbying of my mother to get me to submit.
So, I found myself a very tall tree on a hill overlooking the 1/2
acre yard in front of the house. I used nails
to provide steps for climbing the tree. And, just moments before being required to get in
the car to go to church, I would slip out the front door of the house and climb that tree,
and watch and listen as they would call my name and shout their anger until theyd
finally give up and leave. Id wait a
few minutes just in case they came back. Then,
Id climb down from the tree, go back in the house, change into my jeans and see what
my mom was doing. Shed usually just laugh at me and fix me some pancakes before she
sent me back outside to play.
Besides, it was very important to avoid creating noise as my father
read his Sunday paper. It was one of those
rules you just didnt break. Children
were meant to be seen and not heard Id always remember him saying, especially
when we drove to various houses of friends and relatives for a barbeque or dinner.
Still, he was most definitely a family man, committed to his children
and wife. He was a leader amongst his
brothers and sisters. Our place was the venue for the annual family reunion. Every year, dozens of Rehns would converge for a
week of baseball and basketball and food and hiking.
It was like having a fair in your own backyard.
It was strange, too. My
father and his brothers looked very much alike. I remember Id come around a corner,
and there one of them would be, and Id have to take a second look to avoid being
teased for calling them Dad. They say I
look, act, think and talk like my father, too.
He was a very political man, and he could speak on a wide range of
topics with a great deal of authority. I
always believed he was trying to teach me about human nature from the big
picture point of view. I always believed that he was grooming me to be a leader, and
That belief was supported by my activities in school. Certainly I was involved in football, baseball and
basketball through my elementary and junior high school years. But, more than that, I was always involved with
school politics, always running, and winning, at the highest school government position I
was allowed to run for.
One day when I was 10, the first time my father considered me strong
enough to assist him in shoveling gravel on the dirt road from the old 49 Dodge
pickup he was so proud of. After we worked
for about an hour, I could tell he wasnt feeling well. In another half hour, he told me Son,
its time to go home.
So, we climbed into the old pickup, and for the first time, he let me
sit on his lap so I could steer the truck home. He
died of a heart attack about an hour later.
We moved into the city of Scotts Valley shortly after. 4 of 6 of my siblings had graduated high school
and left home, so my mom wasnt able to maintain the ranch, raise 2 kids
and hold down a steady job all by herself. Moving
to the city made everything easier.
Not long after that, though, my mother met a man named George who
moved in with us. Years later, they married. But, it was a stormy time.
George didnt have a great deal of education, and, unlike my
father, he was always employed in physical labor. He
worked on dairies and farms, knew as much as a veterinarian knew, except maybe for
sanitation. Id even witnessed him
performing surgery on a cow with his bare hands.
He could fix any kind of machinery.
I was often amazed at his ability to get any kind of motor or vehicle
running again. He taught me a great deal
about the physical world as he went from job to job.
Hed tell us stories about how he was supposedly a sparring partner for
George Foreman and Larry Holmes.
It wasnt that hard to believe. He only stood about 6 feet tall.
But, he weighed nearly 300 pounds, had arms as big around as tree stumps. He was incredibly strong. And, he was one of those
guys who was as sweet and gentle as you could imagine
when he was sober. Which wasnt often.
Hed lived a pretty tortuous life of his own. Through those years, I understood the pain he was
suffering. I understood what drove him to do
things to hurt my mother and sister and me. I
understood it had nothing to do with me. What
I will say is that when it was over, when I finally left home, I understood why it all
happened, but in no way could I ever condone it.
Still, I had a great time in high school. At Soquel High School in
Santa Cruz, in my freshman and sophomore years, I was involved in competitive speech and
debate. I played lead roles in a few plays.
And, of course, I was always class president. I remember when our student advisor said we should
come up with goals for what we wanted to do to celebrate graduating high school. I suggested taking the entire graduating class to
Disneyland, and provided a 2 year plan to raise the money so that everyone could go
without directly paying. Everyone looked at
me kind of weird. They were thinking more of
things like a dance. I was always a big
In the fall of 1971, we moved to the Big Bend Ranch in Humboldt
County, California. Home of the Marching
Lumberjacks, the spotted owl, as well as the logging camp we lived in. It was a beautiful place 40 miles from anywhere
along a rough, dangerous logging road. Imagine
living on pristine land in the middle of nowhere, 175,000 acres bordering on the Trinity
We had no running water at first, but finally found a spring on the
hill that we could use. There were no
telephones, definitely no cell phones, and no electricity.
All of the things we take for granted simply were not available.
You may think it was bleak. I
thought it was wonderful. I couldnt
imagine a more beautiful place. And I
didnt mind the inconvenience of getting up at 5am to get to school by 9am. The 5 of us would ride on our mini-bus, playing
guitars and signing all the way, to and from, every single day.
There was a true feeling of family.
A feeling of community. Way
back in the hills like that, you had to know that you could depend on the few people who
were anywhere near. So you learned to truly enjoy simple pleasures, like making wine for
fun, watching the animals, playing cards, dancing with the other 6 or 7 kids who would get
together on Saturday nights to have fun. It
was like living in the old west.
That was all the country side of me.
But I began to realize early on that I was going to face a certain paradox. I love living in the country, to this very day. When it comes down to absolute preferences, it is
difficult for me to feel free and unencumbered if I dont have a certain amount of
open spaces around me. I grew up with and
love to look at the grandeur of the mountains, the dizzying heights of the redwoods and
pines I grew up with, blue skies and the galaxies of stars that you can see in the country
But, my mind was in the city, where you could experiment with
technology and hang-out with people I was always a very social person. The danger of driving to and from school prevented
me from being in any more plays, though I was very active in the theater department. I continued and did well in speech and debate
My heart was really devoted to being on the radio. Most of my time was spent programming and doing
shows on the radio station at Arcata High School. I
used to chuckle a little when Id tell people that what I liked about it most was
that I could play great sets of music, and go on the air and act any way I wanted to be. Of course, you had to be willing to make a fool of
yourself to be successful back then, the days of boss jocks and top 40 announcers.
There were a number of issues on my mind back then. In examining myself and what I wanted to do and be
in life, I realized the country boy/city mind paradox wasnt just my own. It was a time when many small towns across America
literally became ghost towns because the children could not find jobs, and so, ended up
leaving to pursue careers and educations in the city.
In Humboldt County, the primary occupations were logging, fishing and
retail work. It didnt leave much upon
which to build futures based on future technologies and opportunities.
So, in 1971, I decided to run for the School Board. The primary message that needed to be sent was
that the community needed to begin training students on a local level based on workforce
requirements of the community. This, I
thought, would provide the greatest possibility of retaining the young people, and the
heritage, of the community.
Further, but less enunciated, was the necessity of the local
government to entice ecologically sound businesses and manufacturing interests to relocate
to Humboldt County in order to offset the job losses in the logging and fishing
I did not win that election. The
truth is, at the age of 17, I didnt want to commit 4 years to serving on the school
board. So, when I began getting endorsements from organizations which began putting my
name on their posters, I stopped making appearances, because I believed that my message
had been understood.
Its fun to note that the Associated Press said, at the time, I
became the youngest person ever to run for an elected office in the United States.
I took it all very seriously. But, at the time, I believed the
message was greater than my ability to actually understand the full complexity of what it
would require to do what I was suggesting.
Even more, I always promised myself that I would, one day, return to
Part of the country/city paradox I felt included a knowledge or
perception that I was in no position to receive the education I had imagined for myself. I could see myself doing many things, but there
was something inside me that wanted to study constitutional law at Stanford University. Frankly, I didnt know how to pursue it, and
was not availed counseling toward doing it.
I also felt, deep inside that my success was not going to come in
traditional roles. I was never one who was
much concerned with in the box thinking, believing that answers to questions
and problems were required to be fulfilled by the same old ways. I could not imagine doing the same job for
My personal curiosity drove me most of all. And I wanted to experience things cultures
and people and weather and terrain, and to witness more in order to more fully understand
the true nature of people, the parts of us that respond to circumstances and natural
When I graduated from high school, and finally moved away from home
at age 19, I considered all I had experienced
the great things, as well as the hell
of living with a violent, alcoholic step-father. I
was really only sure of one thing: that the
example that had been set for me was invalid, and had been for many years. I understood it, but it was at best the best
example of what I could not allow in my own life. That has a great deal to do with why I
rarely drink alcohol.
So, one weekend, I threw myself a party at my home in Santa Cruz,
invited all my friends, and then announced that it was a party to celebrate my birthday,
and I claimed it was because from that point on, I was going to choose who I was going to
be based on my religion and sense of right and wrong, instead of repeating the same
hurtful mistakes I had witnessed so many years of my life at that time.
And, so, even more than before, I began living an observed life,
constantly reflecting on my life and thoughts and actions, and making sure that I was
always on a path to living the principles I claimed.
This was in no way related to feelings of insecurity.
Of course, no one is perfect, and we are always responding to things
that take us by surprise and lead us a bit astray at times.
But, for the most part, I believe I have lived up to that discipline.
You could also say that I have been in a constant inquiry. Somewhere along the line, I distinguished that in
the physical world of mass and inertia, equal and opposite reaction most certainly occurs.
But, in the world of living beings and creatures, plants and animals,
what occurs most often in relationships of all sorts is a subconscious but never-ending
self-reconciling process of domination and submission.
It affects all things. It
is pervasive. And there is a great deal to be understood about cultures and nations and
people and war and peace inside that inquiry. More than that, for me, I believed there was
an opportunity there, the key to causing understanding and harmony between people and the
environment. Somewhere in it all was the
My Professional Life
I have spent a great deal of time discussing my development, as it is
core to understanding my activities in professional life.
Amidst all of the interactions Ive had with computers and software and
technologies, there is really only one central theme.
That theme is simple. It
is about unleashing those things in people that prevent them from expressing themselves in
ways that fulfill themselves and accomplish their goals.
It is about individual empowerment, and finding the key issues and behaviors
that cause people to accept perceived limitations.
It is at the heart of my belief that everything is possible, and that
global peace and abundance for all is available, and can be accomplished. Its something that I decided to attempt to
address at a very early age.
I have never been concerned with job titles and formal positions of
authority. I suppose I should have paid more
attention to that, in terms of maintaining my marketability as an employee. I have never been concerned with that, so much as
I appreciated completing work with excellence.
My employers might say whatever they might say, but I sincerely doubt
that they would ever have a negative word for the productivity and leadership I have
provided. I am very proud of my work ethics. I am also glad that I have been available to my
fellow workers as a personal and professional coach, and that I have been able to, and
honored that I was trusted to empower them.
Its difficult to remember when I wasnt employed since the
time I was fourteen. But, as an adult, I
began as a clerk in what was the largest catalog and department store retailer in the
world. At one point, when I was 19, I wrote a
paper outlining what I believed were the key reasons for their declining sales and market
share, the strategies that were being used by an emerging retailer to overcome them, and
the steps they needed to take to retain their dominant position.
Two weeks later, the personnel manager called me into her office, and
showed me a prominent business magazine containing an article that stated nearly
everything I had written, point by point. It
wasnt until after I had quit that job that I discovered that they covertly placed me
in their management-training program. I did
paperwork for various departments, did a great deal of the ordering for the tv/stereo and
music departments, analyzed sales and pricing information and much more. I was the youngest person to be in that
program, and the only person without a college degree.
My retail history includes small store management, departmental
management, advertising placement and production, inventory management, sales and
supervision, product merchandising and trend analysis.
My recollection is that every application of my skills in these areas lead
to significant increases in sales. In
addition, other employees looked to me as a leader, whether I had authority or not.
There were a couple of years when I was fairly involved in the music
industry, as a disk jockey, a music critic and interviewer for an international magazine,
selling syndicated radio programming, creating writing and producing broadcast
commercials. To this day, I consider doing
part-time radio announcing one of my favorite hobbies.
My resume would suggest that I was a bit of a computer nerd. In a way, I suppose thats true. Most of my professional life has been spent
writing computer software in a variety of proprietary languages and in a wide variety of
applications. My specialty was accounting
software and database configuration and programming.
The time I loved the most was when I was operating as a consultant.
It was in the first days of microcomputers, when PCs were first introduced to the
world, and few people understood how to operate them, let alone how to build one that
would actually be useful.
As the Director of Customer Support Services for an online
mini-computer time-sharing company, I got a great deal of pleasure assisting people. I realized early on that it was easy to develop
concise ways of instructing people that always worked.
The real challenge was removing their personal embarrassment over not
knowing what they were doing. I was dealing with powerful professionals who were
accustomed to being in control. That was 95%
of the job. Creating an non-judgmental environment that allowed people to express
As time went on, I realized that most PC customers did not know
enough to be able to make their systems productive. Worse,
that their were few vendors who had the knowledge or resources to run sales organizations,
understand the new technology frontier, and provide a high level of service to their
So, I became a consultant, supporting installations and problem
situations for other resellers, while developing my own affordable, customized client and
small business accounting software company. I
was proud to be known for the excellence of my work and service, as well as my persistence
in seeking solutions that were not perceived to be possible.
I love doing the impossible. Its
all about creating systems that provide a structure with a minimum of control. It
doesnt matter what youre doing. I
call it concentric design, which is beyond what is referred to as multi-level thinking. It is much closer to conceptual architecture based
on modular application.
I learned volumes while working at Intuit and Borland, International.
It was, sometimes, like watching order arise from chaos.
It was a lesson in successful compartmentalization, with a vigilant
over-riding consciousness of an ultimate goal.
My experiences at those two places proved to me the possibility and
value of what is possible when people use their skills, in an employment situation, to
fulfill the purposes of their jobs, and then, if there was time and energy left over, to
give all the additional initiative and creativity in order to make the difference that
often determines the difference between success and failure, profit and loss. That kind of
ethic is real team work, and taking ownership for the success of your employer in every
And, again, the additional skill and compassion I believe I brought
to the table contributed to individuals going beyond themselves, as individuals and
professionals, resolved differences and allowed for consideration of possibilities that
otherwise would have been considered unconventional and unworthy of consideration, at
best. At the very least, it would add up to
what we call generating team.
In 1990, I had been working to develop a series of seminars based on
the lessons of observing dominance and submission. It
was then that a friend introduced me to an organization called Landmark Education. Although it was in conflict with a number of the
theories I had developed myself, I found that what they offered in experiential training
was still similar, and, on a personal level, having experienced what I did in my youth, it
was very useful in dealing with things that I had been unable to reconcile myself.
I volunteered for that organization nearly 10 years, including a
six-month stint as a course registrar and volunteer manager. I believe it gave me a great deal of insight and
experiences that were beneficial to myself, and allowed me to make a difference for and
with other people.
It was a very rigorous job. It required being responsible for bottom
line business activities as well as working on personal habits, attitudes and tendencies
that interfered with personal performance. It
was one of those experiences I would never trade away, but likely would never want to do
again. And I mean no disrespect or
diminishing of that organization at all. I
treasure everything I learned every single 13-hour day I worked.
In most ways, I viewed everything in my life, until 1993, as being
sort of easy. I always gave 120% to
everything I had done. But, for me, it was a
great deal of pleasure.
In 1993, when I left Borland, I was (unfortunately) exposed to the
darker side of things. Certainly,
I had previously dealt with office politics, clients not communicating, all the typical
things that we experience every day.
What Im talking about is working with people, small businesses
and governmental departments who involved me, without my knowledge, in illegal and/or
Like many people who have recently lost their jobs and retirement
funds through no fault of their own, these associations cost me my money, my belongings,
my health and well-being over a period of 7 years, and despite their criminal infractions,
there was no way for me to be compensated or assisted.
I nearly became homeless. At
one point, I was mal-nourished. And no
attorney would take a case without a $20,000 retainer.
I finally got back on my feet. And I knew of all the good going on in
the world. But I couldnt help seeing the corruption that was harming so many people.
I knew what it was like myself. And I knew
that I could not ignore it.
For the last 2 years, I have done nothing but study current world and
national events, studied American and ancient history, space science and theory,
philosophy, religion, sociology and political science.
Favorite books in that inquiry include The Prince by Machiavelli,. The
Bible, Torah, Quran, The Conquerors and many, many other books that demonstrate and/or
discuss the socio-political trends that shape cultures and eras.
All in all, I view it as a study of how history repeats itself, and
identifying quantum steps or adjustments that may be made which will lead to breaking the
continuous loops in history in order to cause a different outcome to the paradigm of our
present day challenges.
Whether you call it sociology or political science, psychology and
human behavior, theology and bioscience or whatever label could be applied, what I am
committed to is the consciousness of the concept of absolute connectedness of all on this
planet. I believe that people are actually
ready to begin the process of adopting it.
I want to empower it in every way I can, utilizing every physical and
mental technology available, by my own knowledge, and embracing the knowledge of others.
I believe I can be a major factor in causing that by causing others
to do it for themselves.
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(C) 2002,2003-2009 Charles Rehn Jr IV All rights