I’m currently serving as Director of Customer Success for Buzz.Report, a Raleigh-based software company that delivers social media feedback monitoring solutions to college and university auxiliary service providers.
Read more about my background on my LinkedIn profile.
I’m originally from Pennsylvania. I was a nerd before it was cool. I didn’t play sports. I started programming computers when I was 7. I wrote my first line of code on a Vic 20 (the predecessor to the Commodore 64). I later got access to a super high-tech machine: the Apple IIGS computer (with 512K of memory!) Pretty much devoid of a social life, I got along better with machines than people, and I always liked taking things apart. Watching Star Trek and playing video games were the highlights of my teenage years. I was a 98-pound weakling with poor hygiene. I was never picked for anyone’s team in gym class, and I was 18 before I ever kissed a girl. I avoided everybody at all costs. It seemed only fitting for me to spend the rest of my life working in a server closet, resetting passwords.
My first job was at Wendy’s. Being surrounded by fast food and acting completely antisocial didn’t make for a good combination. Food was my best friend and my worst enemy. When I graduated from technical school and took a job in a high-tech factory, I found myself sitting most of the day. I ate what I wanted without any restraint whatsoever. It wasn’t uncommon for me to eat a whole package of hot dogs in one sitting, or drink a 12-pack of Coca-Cola in one day. I beefed up to 285 pounds by the time I was 24 years old. I kept a bottle of Tums by my bed, because I almost always woke up with indigestion. Six short years later, I was down to 212 pounds. My energy was better, and I rarely ever got sick. Five years later, in 2013 (the time of this writing), I’m still hovering right around 200.
My experience has taught me that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Breakthrough performance gains are possible in every area of life. Going through a roller coaster with my health was my first lesson, and deciding to start my own business was my second. I believe that we cannot know what is possible and what is not. I’ve also come to belief that all of us can improve our performance drastically by changing our habits in simple ways. Finally, I believe that every art form can be broken down into simple and easy-to-learn process steps. Talent is not a privilege bestowed to the lucky few by divine right. Talent is universal, waiting to be tapped. These beliefs define the core of who I am in life and in business.
In 2007, I decided it was time to pivot.
I liked the work I was doing for my employer. I made good money and had a comfortable lifestyle. I lived out of a suitcase at the time, flying from one customer facility to another to work on the control systems of large machinery in newspaper facilities. Every job was like a science project. Sometimes, I would be at a facility for a day. Other times, I might be there for months. But something was unsettling. I wasn’t calling any of the shots. I was working on someone else’s terms. I went where I was told to go, when I was told to go there. On one day, when I was feeling particularly bold, I walked away from that job. No backup income source, no safety net, no nothing. But I was sure that I would succeed.
Two foreclosed houses and a repossessed car later, I began to doubt the soundness of my strategy. I became aware of a supreme weakness of mine: the tendency to make overly-optimistic forecasts during moments of excitement. A series of painful and embarrassing moments taught me that while anything is possible, many things are improbable. I never looked back on my decision to become an entrepreneur, but in hindsight, it’s obvious that I was grossly unprepared for the undertaking. I decided that I would never allow this failure to jade me or allow me to become cynical. Instead, I would help other introverts succeed in their endeavors–and I’d help them do it without making the disastrous mistakes I’d made myself.