The “Crude” Oil Business

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For years people in the oil business had a difficult time understanding my film acting, which was mostly vocational in 1993-2012. Likewise, those I encountered in the artsy side had a difficult time understanding how I lived in the corporate, business world. Of course I was miserable all those years with the polarity, but that’s how I found myself working things out in my life.

The story people have found amusing, revealing and insightful for me is my response to ‘you grew up in Missouri. How did you end up doing all these big deals around around the world in the oil business?’

The truth is I knew nothing more about the business than what I saw on TV on the series that ran on Friday nights. I was 17 years old. Yes, Bobby and JR Ewing on the series “Dallas” formed my idea of what to expect the oil business.

Now in the early 1980’s I was a good athlete and getting recruited to play football by lots of major colleges. Several celebrity coaches visited my house and it was quite an ego trip. The schools in Oklahoma weren’t too far from my home and tempted me to consider the oil business as a backup to playing in the NFL. So I chose one of those schools to stay near my girlfriend (later my wife), play football and study petroleum engineering. So, I was 17 when I made the decision for petroleum engineering – mostly thinking the fallback plan if I didn’t make it pro in football, still led to lots of money, fast cars and beautiful people – an elegant lifestyle.

College football turned out to be a mistake for me. High school football had been a healthy outlet for my PTSD rage. I did not like the confined lifestyle and living 24/7 with men. I was disciplined, but I was in charge and had never really allowed anyone to tell me what to do or when to do it.

I was also smart and artistic. I felt I had options. The football stewards at the university wanted me to dedicate 40-50 hours a week to a game that I wasn’t getting paid commensurately to play in my mind. Taking the popular route toward professional athletics, I had turned down academic scholarships to “chase the dream” of professional athlete. Not so smart. But it really wouldn’t matter what I did or studied, my emotions were calling loudly. They were screaming in fact.

I was beginning to fall apart psychologically. Just a year into college, I remember knowing clearly I was in trouble and nobody around me seemed to understand. I didn’t know how to ask for help. It was confusing because part of me blamed my confusion on current events, but another part of me knew it was something deep from within – not knowing how pivotal my early childhood traumas. They were also manifesting physically in my knees. I could barely walk sometimes. Doctors said it was tendonitis from over training. Later a psychologist/Reiki master helped me get to the real root, the core issue with the pain in my knees – which was deeply personal. Facing the external changes in my life – the new city, getting away from home, missing my girlfriend all brought up feelings I was struggling to understand. The rage that I’d learned to hide in high school was getting much closer to the surface.

Interestingly, the early petroleum engineering classes didn’t excite me. I left the school and scholarship behind. My father was very disciplined. He had been a marine and wanted me to stick with things. “Once you make a commitment, you need to stick with it,” he told me when I tried to change majors. He felt I’d regret leaving athletics behind, but didn’t press. I’d felt more of a calling to follow his line of work in the community, psychology and law enforcement, but he thought I could do much better, see the world and make it big in the oil business.

I’ve been reminded to appreciate how fortunate I have been in the life I have lived. In the course of entering, preparing, and being in the oil business I earned good money which support my wife, my three children, another lady and her three children for several years. I was exposed to geoscience and engineering that greatly complimented my early spiritual quest to understand the history of mankind, time, culture and how everything works. Business took me to extended projects all over the world in different cultures and dealing with challenging circumstances. I really did have the chance to work with some of the smartest and most privileged people in the world, running computer models, conducting simulations and ultimately in being a leader and assembling management teams, making decisions for multi-million dollar acquisitions and projects.

Now, if I’d only made some friends.

Published by Mark Roach

Mark Roach is creative businessman, artist, actor, writer, producer, engineer and executive.

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