When Adam smith drove up to a Chick-fil-A drive through home window and began saying with an employee about LGBT rights, he assumed he was doing something positive. But video clip of his protest soon went viral. And he went from gift a CFO to being on food stamps and contemplating suicide.

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Adam smith went from gift a CFO to gift on food stamps after protesting in defense that LGBT civil liberties at a Chick-fil-A. (Courtesy the Adam Smith)
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When Adam Smith gained in his car, drove up to a Chick-fil-A drive with window and started confronting an employee about LGBT rights, he believed he was doing other positive.

For him, it to be one action in undoing anti-gay message he states he was taught together a child.

But his very first act that protest ever before would soon cause his life to unravel.

Smith filmed the 2012 conference in Tucson, Arizona as part of a bigger demonstration versus the fast food chain. That is chairman, president and also CEO Dan T. Cathy — a provided Christian — had publicly claimed he was "guilty together charged" because that backing the "biblical definition of family," and also donated money to groups thought to it is in anti-gay.

This sparked a backlash, including a speak to for people to movie themselves bespeak a large water in ~ Chick-fil-A and, if denied, cite the Bible passage, "If your foe is hungry, give him food come eat; if he is thirsty, give him water come drink." If the employee then provided out the water because that free, the an obstacle suggested, the participant would certainly succeed in taking money far from the company.

"When i was met with several of the things  said ... She disagreed v me, she really chosen her company, then it came to be a fight. And then that became ago to what i was taught, which is 'Hey, I'm better than you, I'm smarter than you, I'm top top the appropriate side.' and also then it became really me versus her," says Smith the his communication at the restaurant. 


"I to be spouting off, however I was watching myself spouting off, and also I go, 'I guess this is what a protest feel like. Ns guess the feels this sort of rage, this uncomfortable, conflicting energy. I guess this is what it is and also I guess I'm just going come go v with this, and also here i go."

After control home, blacksmith uploaded the video clip to YouTube. Shortly after, he says he received an e-mail from one unknown sender who claimed they'd used confront recognition technology to identify who the was, and vowed to obtain him fired.

Smith trust the sender to be reacting come the stance he soaked up the video. But he says he refused to it is in intimidated and also thought every little thing was walk to it is in OK.

'It got really personal, very real'

At the time, Smith — a husband and father of four — to be an completed businessman, the chief financial officer at a medical supplies company.

The morning after he uploaded the video, he went to job-related as usual.

"The receptionist who greets me every morning, she looked in ~ me and also she had vast eyes and also said 'Adam, what did friend do?'" states Smith, "'There are hundreds of voicemails ... And they are full of death threats and also bomb threats.'"

Smith regretted how he to express his views to the Chick-fil-A employee and proposed do a public apology.

Instead, his agency urged him come quit. Once he disagreed, castle fired him.

His family and friends were disappointed in Smith because that what he had actually done. 

"I'm still emotional now," that says, "I don't like letting human being down that i love. It's something ns carry. The didn't feeling good. I certainly didn't feel favor I did the appropriate thing for my family, shedding a job."

A push release announcing his discontinuation was picked up by major news media outlets, which were extending Chick-fil-A protests. Soon, the video clip he uploaded went viral.

"There were literally thousands of human being commenting ~ above me and also me as a person and also my reputation and who i am and also what ns deserve. They were talking around that I require my kids taken away from me. They claimed that I need to definitely hang myself and I don't deserve to live ... So the got an extremely personal, an extremely real."

'I realized these results were walking to be bigger'

Smith says his resume was impeccable, so landing interviews to uncover a brand-new job wasn't a problem... but getting and keeping a job proved next come impossible.

"I ended up gaining an interview and also flying out to Portland, Oregon and also getting the job. And also I feel prefer I'm back. 2 weeks into it ... I get called into the CFO's office and also they said 'Adam, friend lied to us. Friend didn't tell us around this video,' and also I explained I didn't need to, legally, and also they claimed 'That's as well bad, you're fired.' that one was a vast wakeup call since then ns realized these aftermath were walk to it is in bigger."

He used for one more job, and after one interview was given an offer. This time, smith tried a different tactic. Before accepting, that told his would-be new boss around the video clip and the news it generated.

"He said, 'Well everybody renders mistakes. Room you going come make that mistake again?' and also I claimed 'No, you have my word," claims Smith. 

I'm sorry Adam, you're walk to it is in too lot of a distraction He referred to as his wife to re-publishing the great news, however while they to be talking, the agency that had actually just hired him left the a voicemail.

It said that they to be sorry, yet a plank member assumed he would certainly be too much of a distraction and that they necessary to take it the offer back.

"I do the efforts over and over. It happened a couple times ~ that and I just got in some deep, deep depression."

An remarkable fall

Two and half years later, Smith and also his family were enduring on food stamps and were months away from moving into his in-laws'.

"I remember asking them in tears because it was so humbling come ask if my household of six can stay in her garage," he says.

"My interior reputation took a large roller coaster journey ... I began to think 'What would certainly life be like if ns was not around? would certainly it be better? would my family be far better off?'"

Then, Smith states he establish he had actually a life insurance plan worth $1-million, looked in ~ the details, and also saw suicide wasn't an exclusion.

"I also had the rotate of the mountain off the shore of Oregon that i was walking to go by myself and just perform it. That's wherein I was at."

'I needed to it is in humbled'

Smith establish he needed to call his two therapists and his wife that the was having actually suicidal thoughts. Together, they chose he must do a journal workshop.

"I went every the means in. I just went all the way. I didn't hide anything. The workshop works once you have nothing come lose. So I just entered the deepest, deepest components of everything, all the method inside, every those stories, all those thoughts, all the programming and also it was so healing."

I've made that a mantra that it doesn't issue what other human being think that me outside. It only matters internally, it just matters what's keep going inside.- Adam smith Adam says that was the an initial big action to rebuilding his life, his reputation and also himself.

He's since done an ext workshops and taught courses about mindfulness.

"I have pertained to a place where i don't require other people's approval anymore."

Now, Smith lives with his family members in Costa Rica and also runs a healing centre. He claims he doesn't think he would certainly be the human he is today if he had never post that video clip of that protesting in ~ Chick-fil-A.

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"This to be such a gift that occurred to me; this thrashing, this windy shaming, this reputation dissolution that taken place was the best thing ns needed since I necessary that humbleness, I essential to it is in humbled and nothing was going come humble me like that." 

This story originally aired top top April 8, 2018. It shows up in the Out in the Open illustration "Reputation".