J. William “Bill” Moore founded EV World in 1998, a digital publication that addresses sustainable transportation and its people, policy, and technology. It is the Internet’s longest-running, consumer-focused online publication covering the widest spectrum of electric vehicle technology, from bicycles to buses to boats and beyond.
BS: Bill, tell us a bit about your careers.
BM: That’s a lot to talk about: Minister – Model – Window Washer – Airline Agent – TV Host – Copywriter – Camera Operator – Internet Evangelist – Web Developer – Online Publisher – Freelance Journalist – Ebike Rental Startup
BS: In retrospect, how did you prepare for significant changes?
BM: The career changes you reference really have a lot to do with gradually finding what you like to do, while responding to the unexpected twists and turns of life.
I began my career fresh out of college in England as a ministerial assistant for a small fundamentalist Christian sect. With a newly minted degree in theology, the church hired me and sent me to help a pastor in Pennsylvania. Eventually, I was ordained and transferred, soon assuming charge of a congregation in West Virginia. That probably would have been how I lived out the rest of my life except that I started questioning tenets of our doctrine after taking a year’s sabbatical to earn a certificate of the ministry. This ‘liberalization’ of my views led to a decision to pursue a life outside of the ministry. After a brief excursion into an early computer-based startup idea (circa 1980), exigencies of family life compelled me to start generating revenue, which led to starting a commercial window-washing business and eventually joining an airline, primarily for the medical insurance. They provided the family ‘bread and butter’ revenue, which I started to supplement by freelance copywriting and even hosting a local cable television show about, of all things, money management.
The writing eventually led to an offer to work for an advertising firm, and while there, I attended a conference hosted by then-Senator Bob Kerrey that demonstrated the early Internet in 1992. By 1993, I was teaching a class, “Introduction to the Internet,” for the AIM Institute in Omaha and designing many of early corporate web sites in the area, including the first one for First National Bank, the USDA, and Ameritrade [now TD Ameritrade]. By 1998, I had launched EV World, and the next year, I won a grant from the Energy Foundation in California. In 1999, I travelled to China, begun planning to grow EV World with the aim of an eventual IPO. [Recall, we were in the middle of the Internet ‘bubble’ when any idea seemed to be funded.] I was also offered a job with DTN about this time. As it turned out, it was a fortunate decision that I accepted, because in 2000 the Internet bubble burst, and venture funding dried up. DTN proved short-lived as the active daytrader market dried up, and DTN was sold to yet another buyer. They didn’t need a webmaster any longer.
By 2005, I was focused full-time on EV World and growing revenues of $10,000 a month in the summer of 2008. Then the financial crisis hit and bankrupted two of the three biggest carmakers in America, which also hurt EV World. Fast forward four years later, and it became clear that it was time to move on from the business of giving away information for free to something that actually generated revenue (some of us are very slow learners, its seems). At that point, I started looking for something that showed real growth potential, fit nicely with my skill set, and network of contracts created over more than a decade of publishing on the Internet, and was something I enjoyed immensely. I call it ePEDALER.
In every case, I tried to parlay both my interests and skill set at the time into something that fed and clothed a growing family, while also keeping my creativity challenged. I prepared for each, I suppose, by reading prolifically and not being afraid to try something new.
BS: Tell me about your first meaningful work experience.
BM: I really think that my work over more than a decade and a half on EV World has been the most meaningful in that it’s probably had the most impact on other people’s lives, hopefully in a good way. It’s certainly presented me with rare opportunities to go places most people will never see and meet people I would have never met in the ministry or as an airline employee. I’ve sat across the table from the heads of GM, Toyota, and Volvo. I’ve been to exotic locales from the Great Wall of China to Blue Lagoon in Iceland. I’ve been in the bowels of some of the world’s most advanced automotive design labs.
BS: Do you view yourself as a creative person?
BM: Creative? Not in the ‘out-of-the-blue’ sense. More in the “that’s-really-a-good-idea-how-can-I-adapt-it” sort of creativity.
BS: What is creativity? [5 words]
BM: New twist on someone else’s idea
BS: It seems like you’d agree that people can develop a “creative muscle.” What methods work for you?
BM: I really believe everyone has not only the ability to be creative, but the innate need to do so. In my case, I’ve found that outlet in many ways: I’ve designed and built two homes, I learned to paint and then to sculpt in bronze. Now I find that outlet online through EV World and ePEDALER. I think for me the key has been curiosity and trying to learn all I can about something. Besides my online activities, I am also experimenting with aquaponics, the cultivation of fish and food in a closed-loop system in my basement. I raise largemouth bass, the waste of which nourishes lettuce, chard and kale, providing us with fresh greens year-round. In fact, I just harvested the first of my bass and they were delicious. Of course, it took over two years to raise them from inch-long fingerlings to pan-size, but in the interim we’ve enjoyed fresh greens in the middle of winter.
So what works for me is being ever curious and always learning.
BS: What lesson keeps appearing is your life?
BM: Maybe that I seem to have an innate ‘talent’ for recognizing future trends: the Internet in 1992, hybrids and electric cars in 1998, aquaponics in 2011, electric bikes now in 2014. The challenge is finding ways to capitalize on those trends. I taught Pete Ricketts about the Internet. He’s a billionaire and owns the Chicago Cubs. I’m still a working stiff. What I have learned over time – and it’s taken way too long – is that if you are going to accomplish something significant and important – and hopefully financially rewarding – you need to involve a team. You can’t do it on your own. That’s what I am focused on now with ePEDALER: networking and team building; finding the right combination of talent and passion.
Check out Bill’s new venture, ePEDALER.
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