I come by my passion for entrepreneurship righteously.
I grew up around entrepreneurs and inventors. My mother and grandmother were small business owners, my grampa could make anything, and my great-grandfather was an entrepreneur and patented inventor.
As a child, I was designing “applications” on flip-pads I would hang over the “monitor” of the “laptop” I made from cereal boxes and typing paper, running a pretend “Computers & Disks” business with my little sisters. Innovations were pouring out of that play-business so ahead of the time & technology, my sisters and I have often joked how there must have been Silicon Valley spies outside our bedroom window.
I won “Best Invention Idea” in my 8th grade class for a computer-slash-robot that could clean my bedroom. (I’m still waiting for someone to build it.) By the time I eventually learned what entrepreneurship, startups, product design and marketing meant, I was already an innovating, problem-solving powerhouse.
Things took an unexpected turn when I went to college…
After a life changing car accident my freshmen year in University, everything about my professional trajectory changed. I reassessed my goals – knowing I wasn’t going to be able to complete my degree.
Ever the trailblazer, it never occurred to me that I would have to pick something else to do. I simply started my own business with the intent to build the expertise I would need – and I began freelancing immediately. For each new client, I made sure there was something that I didn’t know how to do in the contract so I would be forced to learn .
In those days I had a part-time job at a national bookstore chain – and I would use my access to software books and tutorial magazines to learn the next steps. With enough of a portfolio to demonstrate some skill, I started out my “employed” career in marketing and multimedia, cranking out logos and magazine ads for a PR agency, quickly finding the value in being able to turn visual designs into websites.
I was always an early adopter, but because I was learning the finer points of web design during the advent of the “Designing With Web Standards” movement, I didn’t know that I was learning a 1-in-a-thousand skill that would set my career apart. It wasn’t long before I found myself a job as an adjunct professor at a technical college, teaching web design, multimedia and film editing.
With a real resume and a robust portfolio, I moved to the “big city” ready to turn my collection of skills into a “real career”.
Snatched up by the startup scene in San Diego, I showed web application developers how slim I could trim down their code to deliver software that was loading 75% faster, and 10x easier to build. I spent a bit more time at other companies crushing the front-end web developer game before I realized that my real powers belonged under a new title..
User Experience Design was emerging as a role in software companies, and it described me perfectly.
I spent the next five years working for a company that built software on every platform that existed. My work included full-scale mobile applications for Verizon and AT&T, before “app stores” even existed. Putting music and video on any device in your house was the goal, and every platform – from phones to televisions – bent their interfaces to my commands.
The company rewarded innovation and my patents are in your phone, and on your smart TV today. By the time I left, I had helped establish UXD as an integral part of all levels of development at the company. I had three patents under my belt and I was ready for the next move.
Consulting independently, I began working for companies who wanted more than a minion, they wanted ideas, quality work, and killer solutions. I loved being called in to bring clever, ugly duckling ideas into their swanning glory. With an eagle eye for improvements and innovations, I became known as a talented problem solver.
My expertise caught the eye of a woman who would become my mentor. She was responsible for creating an innovation team within a very large corporation that, frankly, was going to die out if they didn’t innovate, and fast.
Innovation, Lean Startup & Accelerators, oh my!
I was added to a small think tank that was made up of a couple product managers, UX designers, developers and data scientists. Our job collectively, was to vet new ideas and validate if they were actually a viable business, or a waste of time. (The measurement of a good idea in this case meant that it would bring in 5 million dollars in annual revenue for the parent corporation.)
Using Lean Startup and human centered design, we would run small measured experiments for each idea, validating it along the way with customer research, prototypes and marketing experiments. With a new “startup” to work on nearly weekly, I quickly added growth hacking, innovation thinking, fast-design and using the latest in tools and leading technology in efficient, novel ways.
Beyond our building & testing concepts for the organization, we were responsible for forging an innovation culture within the corporation at large. I was personally responsible for documenting our frameworks, then teaching others how to capture lightning in a bottle.
At the same time, cannabis legalization was emerging, and I saw the opportunity to position myself as a thought-leader, where nearly EVERY business would be a startup, in an industry ripe for innovation. I became known as the “Cannabusiness Oracle”, offering my consultancy and mentorship services to the visionaries who had found their way into the cannabis industry.
When my mentor chose to leave the innovation team to focus on her own vision, I chose to leave as well, ready to finally launch my very own startup. I joined a business accelerator, and began hashing through the process.
But things didn’t go as expected…
Despite my expertise, I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger.
I circled around my business concepts over and over – getting them to the point where I would be confident to ask for funding, diving in fully to the culture of startups… and then falling back away from the idea. There was SOMETHING about this whole process that didn’t sit well with me.
I couldn’t bring myself to create and commit to something that didn’t have profound impact to make the world a better place… and the whole game of “get as big as you can as fast as you can” went against what I considered my moral compass. In fact, the closer I got to launching my startup, the less I identified as a startup founder.
I was already chronically unhireable by this point, but now I was having a crisis of faith that was burning down the grandiose visions I had built for my career. I had two professional choices as I saw it… Either I become a startup founder, or it was time to become Director and VP of some this or that department… but I couldn’t bring myself to commit.
Why was I faltering? What was really blocking me?
A book found me and the problem started to unravel; “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek asked me the most important question that would carry me through my confusion – “why are you really doing this?”
I knew I wanted to be an inspiring leader, so I sat down and really asked myself, why. What was at the heart of my motivation? What was it that motivated me to bring a vision into reality, and would keep me focused when the going got tough?
What did I really, truly believe in?
After spending so much time self-investigating, my “big why” crystalized.
My work must be influential in making the world a better place. Anything less than that is unfulfilling.
And once wasn’t going to be enough. One vision would never hold me down. I had to help as many people as I was capable of bring their vision into the world.
I suddenly saw my litany of technical and creative skills converge into what it really was… an equipped mission to unify.
Unifying people to transform, to bring clarity, to communicate empathy in digital space, to trailblaze through obstacles, dissolve illusions, clear confusion and build empowering, authentic community.
After years of working in technology, from websites, branding, launching marketing campaigns, learning human-centered design, growth hacking, business models, launch strategies, innovative problem solving, lean startup and every form of technology between…
I could bring all the shortcuts and insights and strategies used by big companies, filter them through the lens of entrepreneurship, leadership and spirit-led business – to do what I loved to do; help others fast-track and amplify their big idea, over and over.
I would use what I had learned to pave the way for as many world-changers as I could. I wanted to be the fairy godmother hype-man in their corner, clearing the path, serving as a guide, helping spirited founders manifest & amplify their purpose.
And so here we are.
Every day, I help thought-leaders & visionaries who are bogged down in the details of taking their project to the next level. I help them trailblaze through the confusion, get back to doing what they love, and see their vision become reality.
My clients are bringing their heart-led mission to the world; they are founders, creators, healers, authors, educators and community leaders. They have big plans, I make sure they don’t go it alone.
No matter what you’re building, underneath every bit of code, there is a human being, living a human experience, seeking to be loved and brought closer.
Let’s talk about your vision & how we can make sure it gets shared with the world.