Black, one of the founders of real estate information giant Trulia, is the CEO of Knock.com, an online sales platform that’s launching in Charlotte this week. The company, which got its start in Atlanta, is offering a different spin on real estate sales, one that the company hopes will slash costs and cut out some of the real estate

What was the turning point of your life that changed you completely?

I purchased The Sunday NY Times.

I never read or bought The NY Times before that day. Today I’m an avid reader.

I am a firm believer in faith, Karma, destiny and a higher being. Just not the Church.

It was going on six months since losing my job at a CALDOR department Store (They went out of business). I became miserable and started a downward spiral into depression.

Here’s a pic for those too young to know.

The job paid $4.35 per hour in 1998. And it was my full time job. I was going to auto tech school at night hoping for a better career one day.

I started drinking heavy. I didn’t care. It was bad enough that I was already poor, on welfare and housing assistance. But when all that misery combined with alcohol, my situation made me feel even more hopeless. And I was ready to let go.

But life turned into a blessing on that faithful Sunday. I got up around 7:00AM to go buy more beer. It’s illegal to sell beer before 12:00PM on Sundays in NY. But because I’m a regular from the neighborhood, I was allowed to tuck the bottle in my jacket.

(SOOOO EMBARRASSING!!)

I started to walk out after my purchase when I decided to buy a NY Daily News. But it’s too early. No daily news, only The NY Times. So I grabbed one, handed over my $1.50 and walked out.

I immediately went to the help wanted ads when I got back in my apartment. And there it was. The biggest help wanted add on the page.

$12 – $18 per hour.

For one day only 9AM-12PM. on that following Monday.

Doors close promptly at 12.

I was twenty four years old and never came close to earning $5 per hour.

I woke up early that Monday morning. And gave myself two hours to get there for a trip that takes about one hour. I put on my Sunday best, grabbed some resumes and started my trip to the JFK Hilton.

I arrive and find the conference room and it was barren. There was only about fifty people in the conference room. It didn’t feel like a job fair. I almost turned around because I thought I was in the wrong place.

We were called in the order that we signed in. I watched as some people left after the short interview and some sat back down. I was one of the people that was told to sit back down after my interview.

Round two came as fast as round one. This company has this job fair thing down to a science. I’m called back up to the table by Mrs. Alexander. I will never forget her. She hands me a drug test cup and says follow me. A drug test! at a job fair. Probably the best way to weed out the druggies.

After that, I fill out all my employment forms. And then she says. “let’s go over somethings while we wait for your results. because of your experience and interests I have decided to hire you as a motor pool mechanic. This is your rate of pay, you will be on 90 days probation with random drug testing, Report to this man at this location this time next Monday. Now read and sign your code of ethics booklet.”

(And with the most beautiful motherly I understand what you have been going through smile) Mrs. Alexander says “Congratulations Gerry and fix your tie.”

I’M HIRED! The whole process took all of 40 minutes. I went from $4.35 per hour. To $16.52 in 40 minutes. I walked out of that Hilton with tears in my eyes.

It only gets better from there. I start work and immediately fall in love with the company, the work hours, the people, and of course the pay. Life got good and was only going to get better.

I get great advice from an older worker. You can go anywhere in this company. Just get your Qualies (Qualifications) for everything, go to class for everything read and study everything and then get your ass out of the motor pool.

So I did just that. I went from repairing company vehicles at the motor pool, to lineman electrician, and now my present position as a locomotive engineer earning six figures. SIx figures with a high school degree and a technical school certificate. And I can honestly say that I do not mind paying taxes at the end of every year.

Being poor and uneducated gave me serious depression. And That Sunday NY Times was destiny.

  • If the NY Daily News was available that Sunday I wouldn’t have bought The NY Times.
  • The job fair had few people because poor people won’t pay $1.50 for the Sunday NY Times when the NY Daily News is only $ 0.75.
  • And NY Times readers don’t usually look at the help wanted ads.

Something was definitely pulling the strings behind the scenes for me. I was going the opposite direction of where I am today.