I grew up in a small agricultural town and it had the highest unemployment rate in California. My hometown is exceptionally rural and this placed a limit on my exposure to the outside world. As luck and fate would have it, an opportunity of a lifetime presented itself and I had an opportunity to go away to a preparatory/boarding school for high school. At 13, I moved away to school and my entire perspective on the world dramatically shifted. My goals for my future took a big shift and I saw for the first time what others had which I really wanted to be a part of. The Webb Schools focused on instilling leadership and work ethic unmatched in any school. I embraced the opportunities and finally had a place to utilize them. I developed keen direction, polished by all these little intangibles the school instilled and was off to the races. My high school education has played a part in every success I’ve had since.
Upon graduating high school, I aspired to be in the Naval Academy and despite my best efforts, I did not get in. I didn’t necessarily have a plan B. But as life goes, the unplanned course landed me right where I needed to be. I ended up attending the University of Arizona for college. It also provided amazing opportunities and enabled me to grow in a way I did not see coming. I entered very prepared academically but I credit my college experience to developing my emotional awareness and communication capabilities. As a college graduate, I took a sales job at a financial company and became #1 in the company within two years. I worked there for four years polishing my sales and finance skills. With experience under my belt and a fueled desire to reach further, I intended to go to grad school for business.
While studying for the GMAT, I was approached by a young financial company who wanted me to come work for them in Los Angeles. I was hesitant to say the least, having just left my previous job two months prior so that I could put all my focus toward business school. I was not interested in joining another financial company at this time, especially one that was not near or on the same level of success as the one I had just chosen to leave. At the end, I was able to negotiate 50% equity in the company and I made the decision to join as a partner. The company took off like a rocket shortly after and we were flourishing. In retrospect, I didn’t exactly know how to run a company at the time. We went from booming to a near bust in a short number of years due to the financial crisis in 2008. I learned invaluable and hard lessons through this period and thankfully, I came out the other end of it wiser and really understanding what it takes to run a business well. With more experience, I started a few other companies that thrived. Through starting them from scratch and later selling them, and all the ups and downs that followed, I discovered how to build and run a company and the joy the process brought to me – and I have been doing it since.
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