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From managing teams to being a Digital Marketing Director, I am one of the top personal brands in the software world today.
However, it was a long road to get where I am today.
Throughout my life, I always tried to start online businesses, but perfectionism and self-doubt made me quit every time.
Here’s how it went:
I start something and meticulously plan every detail behind my computer. I spend countless hours on branding, web design, logo creation, forms, social media profiles – probably even creating LLCs and opening bank accounts.
Everything had to be perfect before launch.
Months of planning and making things perfect so that I had enough confidence to share it with friends – my ways to keep things safe while avoiding rejection and failure.
And when I finally did launch, I’d tell friends and family so they could look at my amazing new, (soon-to-be-unsuccessful) online business.
While sharing your new online business ideas with friends and family may seem like a way to hold you accountable, it backfires almost every time.
It’s pure psychology:
When you share your new entrepreneurial identity, you start to believe people think that’s who you are. This newfound status achieves part of your new identity goal, you feel good about yourself before even getting started, and you’re less likely to succeed.
Next, when it finally came time to market myself in the real world, self-doubt took over.
I wouldn’t see immediate results, get discouraged, stay behind my computer, and quit – every time. I never gave it my all. I stayed in a safe, predictable bubble, trying to distance my personality from my business.
If I didn’t put my face to it, it wouldn’t matter when I quit, I thought.
As featured on:
This blog is the first time it worked. Here are my theories why:
Most people who write “About Me” pages focus on how awesome they are and list all of their professional accomplishments.
Don’t get me wrong – I like a success story.
But even more than a success story, I like the story of the person who fucks their life up and then gets it back together.
So here’s my story – I hope it gives you an idea of who I really am.
1987 – From the Void of Nothingness to a Real Live Human Baby
I was born on September 11, 1987, at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan.
Eager to hit the ground running in the 80s, I decided it was time to be born three weeks before my due date.
Well, that and the fact my umbilical cord tried to kill me/emergency C-section. My mom was 22 at the time – her 24 hours of labor is something I’ll spend my life trying to repay.
I was the firstborn son to my amazing parents Marc and Kelly, and we lived in a small house in Livonia, Michigan, about 20 miles outside of Detroit.
My very first memory came at 3. I was sitting Indian style (like a boss) in preschool trying to impress a girl by humming the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song. I don’t think it was very effective.
In January of 1992, when I was 4, my little brother Alex was born.
Whereas I tried to be considerate weighing under 7 pounds at birth, Alex was an 8 pound 10-ounce unit of a baby.
1995 – The Stress of Girls and Social Darwinism
In the fall of 1995, three important things happened:
My family moved to a new town, I started 2nd grade, and my secret love of females began.
And although I tried to hide this secret like Iran-Contra, word got out to my parents after an overly-aggressive, under-desk footsie session.
Overall, my experience at the new school was positive at first, and I made a lot of friends in 2nd grade.
However, I made a classic mistake.
In 3rd grade, I joined the dreaded “Magnet Program” – a class for the apparently gifted children – AKA the smart kids, weirdos and outcasts.
I learned that it’s not the best idea to be different at that age.
Quickly cast aside by my friends from previous years, bullies saw me as a target in 4th and 5th grade. My only defense was avoiding conflict and trying to fit in at any cost.
I recall dreading any time that classes would mix. During lunch, when we were forced to sit sequentially at long tables based on a single file line, I strategically placed myself in the best position to avoid any bullies.
It was social Darwinism at age 8.
However, things improved.
Over the next two years, I avoided conflict, played sports to fit in, got my first girlfriend (hand-holding at its finest), and prepared for middle school.
Life was now 100% real. And it was about to get even more so.
The 2000s – My Teenage Years
In 6th grade, I joined the middle school basketball team, and the bullying became a thing of the past.
I didn’t have too long of an awkward phase. But in 7th grade, I transitioned from a nerdy haircut, glasses and braces to contact lenses, spiked hair (with occasional frosted tips because, 1999), and no braces.
Besides staying busy with school and sports, I remember watching a lot of MTV after school (back when they actually played music). It was classic episodes of TRL with a constant stream of Eminem, Jay Z, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Blink 182, The Thong Song – you know the good stuff.