Whose life is actually like a professional bio? Most of remember best the strange, random events of our life.
1987 & Mars.
“Wee, Pop, look at me!” That was the only line I had in my second grade play. I was the planet Mars. All I remember other than my exact line, was that when we watched the video of the play in class the next week, I closed my eyes because I couldn’t bear to watch myself on the TV. I said I was too embarrassed. Life’s funny that way.
1990 & Comic Books. So much in my life was started by comic books. The first time I earned money was in fourth grade, by selling comic books on the playground. I bought them at the convenience store in multi-packs, and then resold them individually. They may or may not have been labeled, “Multipack: not for resale.” Please direct any inquiries into the legality of this to my lawyer, Jackie Chiles, ESQ.
1993 & Snow. I didn’t like [middle] school. Doing well in school seemed to be what everyone else in my family did—it just wasn’t my thing. What I did like doing was working. One of the first ways was going door to door shoveling driveways when it snowed. My buddy and I would get out as soon as we got up (snow cooperating), and keep going until it was so dark that no one would open the door anymore. Coming home at night and warming up with a bunch of five and ten dollar bills in my pocket was so satisfying a feeling that I still remember it.
1996 & Band. The redemption of my academic career began with a class my sophomore year in high school. Because I’m tone deaf and completely incapable of playing a musical instrument, I searched for a class to replace the Band class, that by some horrific confluence of events I was in. A kind teacher agreed to aid my escape from band class by supervising me in an “independent study in computers” course. This would prove to be a critical turning point in my young existence.
1997 & the Internet. While I was taking this computer course I realized that this “internet thing” might not be a fad, and I should probably buy myself a computer. I bought a used 486 with 8 Megs of RAM for way too much money. That computer remains to this day, the best bad deal I’ve ever made. I learned to make web pages in my computer course, and after spending a ton of time reading up on HTML I started making a website for, you guessed it, a local comic company. Over the next few years (through the beauty of hiring classmates and cold calling), my web business had clients that spanned the country.
1999 & a Miracle. It may have been a miracle that I graduated High School as a member of the Honor Society. Actually—it was the independent study in computers and Journalism class I had taken that were the “miracles”. Having something that I was good at (both running a web design company and eventually being editor-in-chief of my high school paper) were the first times in my life that I was proud of an accomplishment. Having found a niche (relatively speaking), I realized that I had to do well in school in order to get some breathing room from my parents (Let’s just say my performance my freshman year in high school wasn’t inspiring.) The latter half of my high school career was the first time I tried (and visibly excelled) in school. At this point in my life, I believe I had what one could call “momentum.”
1999 & Voting Chili. “Vote Chili.” This was my campaign slogan for my freshman year Presidential campaign. Man, that’s a sweet slogan. Here I was at Rutgers, a freshman, away from home for the first time (and loving it) and I (randomly) decided to run for class President. About 2,000 knocks on freshman dorm rooms later, I found myself on the short end of an election. And knowing I had the coolest campaign flyers wasn’t much solace. The memory of lying in my dorm room wondering “what the hell just happened?” is as vivid as if it were yesterday. One never forgets the disappointments. Turn the page and by the end of the school year, I found myself working full-time as a Director of Marketing at a publishing & Internet company. They paid my tuition and salaried me, and I worked. I left behind my own venture to devote my full-time energies to the dual purpose of this new firm and school.
2002 & Braveheart. There’s a scene early in the movie Braveheart, when a young William Wallace met his Uncle Argyle after his father’s funeral. Here we learn that William didn’t understand the benediction because it was in Latin and Uncle Argyle promises to remedy William’s Latin knowledge-gap. And so, this is a long-winded explanation of how on earth I ended up taking Latin my senior year at Rutgers. Seriously. Despite my linguistic shortcomings, Latin ended up being one of my favorite classes ever. All because of William Wallace and Braveheart. Aside from conjugation, my senior year at Rutgers consisted of ridiculous 4-day weekends, a capstone paper on “Inefficient capital markets”, never waking up earlier than 10AM, being Class President at the BusinessSchool and giving the farewell address at graduation. Likely the greatest nine months of my life.
2003 & New. A big year. I started off the year by visiting India for the first conscious time; I had been twice before, both occasions where I was too young to recall or comprehend. This trip was a seismic shift in solidifying my identity, as I, for the first time, opted-in to a big part of who I am. Describing the significance of the experience could fill an entire book—so I’ll leave it as a Neo-like ‘whoa” moment. Six months later, moving to Cincinnati, OH after graduation with a truckload of Ikea furniture (awaiting painful assembly) was the progression of “new.” Moving to a new town without family or friend in sight was a defining experience and should be a required part of growing up. The year of “new” was capped by the purchase of my first home. A couple of years earlier I could barely tell you what state the Ohio River was in (sort of kidding?) and then I was living alongside it.
2006 & Strange. I joined the ranks of reality TV through the strangest experience of my life, participating in the TV show, The Apprentice LA.
2007 & Leaps. Aside from the surreal experience of becoming a pseudo-celebrity for 5 minutes and watching some painful editing of yours truly on national TV, I leapt back into the technology world with my move to Silicon Valley.
2009 & Outrage.After seeing a financial collapse, record unemployment and debt, and overall horrifying national prospects I grew increasingly outraged. After almost a year of stewing, I quit my job to run for Congress and do something about it.