The Early Years: I grew up a Wisconsin kid in a family of entrepreneurs. My parents owned restaurants, developed real estate, started a digital media company, and even bought and sold cars from the end of the drive-way. They always saw opportunity where no one else did.
They also always made me work. When I turned 14, and got a workers permit my excitement wasn’t to get my first job. It was to get my first job that wasn’t for a family business. Those teen year summers were spent working cashier at the local Wendy’s in the morning, stocking shelves at the Eastbay sporting goods warehouse in the afternoon, and evenings bussing tables at the family restaurant.
I worked through college bartending, unloading trucks and managing campus student centers. When I graduated in ‘05 with a liberal arts degree I was ready for that easy opportunity every career counselor had promised, but it turned out things don’t work that way. I got a job as an electronics salesman, and another running a local restaurant in Madison, WI. Neither a direct result of my English and Religious Studies degrees.
The Post-Grad Years: I had also gotten married to a beautiful and talented woman who had her own career goals. When I got offered an opportunity to join a commercial real estate brokerage in my hometown we got our first lesson in communal decision making. We came to an agreement that we would support each other’s careers and take turns helping each other reach our goals.
For the next several years I developed and sold commercial real estate properties including land, retail, warehouse and restaurant space. When my Wife went back to graduate school I decided to take the opportunity to go back to design school to actually learn the basics of all the design work I had been doing on behalf of the real estate firm including designing their first website and print advertising. On the side we started a successful event photography business specializing in weddings and corporate events, and fine art as a secondary revenue stream.
The Early-Adult Years: After design school I interned with Schwinn (Pacific Cycle), and we moved to New York where I started working full-time in design. Our time there was short lived when my Wife ended up in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Chicago for Grad School and internships. I became a freelancer for American Eagle, and began running a craft beer bar in Pittsburgh. My skills in design, management and service all overlapped at the craft beer bar which was relaunching as a brand after several years struggling to survive. I developed their management and training programs, created their first social presences and left them in a position to succeed when we moved to the West Coast.
The West-Coast Years: That would be right now. For the past five years I’ve been based out of San Diego or Carlsbad, CA. The West Coast feels like home. In that time, I started SoCal Sessions-a local blog focused on beer, bikes, beards and local entrepreneurship, and then One Wild Life (OWL) the first mobile co-working space in the world. OWL was just taking off when a partnership split brought it crashing down. That was my first partnership after being a solo entrepreneur previously. I learned a lot about business structures.
Finally, I was hired as a turn-around expert to rebuild the business and team at Iron Pig Alehouse after they went through their own partnership split. Originally, I committed to a year turn-around, and despite really feeling good about the progress made, I stayed on for another six months to really fine-tune the details, and make sure the next person would inherit a well-oiled machine.
Now: That brings us to now. I’m traveling, and exploring new opportunities. Some are entrepreneurial, some are in fields I feel really comfortable in, and some are so far out of my normal box they are uncomfortable. Being able to find the right fit is exciting, and makes me confident that wherever I land I’ll be excited to go to work every day.