Hello! As I start making content to document and share some of my experiences, I wanted to throw out a post to give some more context into my story. It will help set the scene and give you a better understanding of why I write or talk about the things I do.
As I write this post, January 2021, I am living outside of Las Vegas in the "PaySplit house". PaySplit is a startup I work as a Business Development/Marketing Advisor for. My full-time job is as a Product Lead for a fast growing startup in the WordPress Hosting space called Convesio. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had with work, amazing people I have met and all the travels/adventures, but the story didn't start here.
For me it all started smack in the middle of the US. I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas in a place called Overland Park, aka OP. Growing up I was always a pretty good student but as my academic career progressed, school just really wasn't the most positive place for me. At the time I definitely would have told you I hated school and it was worthless, now that I've matured a little I can say I see both sides of the argument as well as pros and cons of traditional education. I just really wasn't interested in doing any of the work the teachers assigned and would have much spent my time learning other things.
Anyway, Around 16-17 my baseball career came to an end after many years of struggling with arm injuries. This was a time for me I was very lost, I hated school and baseball was really that thing that kept me working hard towards something. After some time lost and bouncing around looking for something to fill the lack of fulfillment I had without baseball, I started taking an interest towards Digital Marketing. Mostly doing things like building websites with WordPress, running Google/FB ads, SEO and things of that nature. Junior and senior year of high school I was running my own digital marketing agency and helping another agency run paid ads. This was something that gave me a lot of confidence and I think helped pump me up to make some of the decisions I did. Knowing you have some skills or know-how to make money online is an empowering thing. After taking some risk I often hear myself saying, "well... if all else fails we can just find a few clients and start another agency".
As it came time to decide where to go to college, I was in an all out research rampage to find some sort of excuse to dropout and move to San Francisco. Excuse you ask? Yeah, my parents were not very stoked about their kid wanting to move to SF, dropout of school and look for jobs in tech.
Due to working with so many different software products as a digital marketer, a mentor who had spent time in Silicon Valley working on startups, and some other interests of mine I decided I HAD to go to SF and wanted to be in the startup world building cool products, meeting interesting people and making money.
Eventually I found out about coding bootcamps and decided learning to code would be a good way to get a job in tech. I found a program called MakeSchool and the year I applied they got accreditation and started offering a 2 year Bachelor degree program. This was the perfect thing to get my parents off my case... little did they know I had no intention in finishing the program, just go long enough until I had the skills and network I needed to get a job.
I ended up moving to San Francisco in August of 2018 to start the MakeSchool program and focus on learning to software development. The first 6 months after moving to SF I lived in a small room with a roommate in the Tenderloin. Now, the Tenderloin is not the nicest of areas in SF and it took quite a bit of adapting as this was my first move outside of suburban Kansas. Used H needles, human poop and trash littered the ground. There was more homeless in a 1 block radius of the Tenderloin than I had ever seen in my whole life prior. It was an eye opening experience to say the least and a necessary part of the adventure that I really came to appreciate.
Within about 8 months of moving to SF I had met Tom, the CEO at Convesio. One conversation led to another and eventually I joined the startup full-time as a software engineer. The time in between was spent with many long days and nights coding, lots of happy hours, meetups, networking events and many new friends made. I worked my ass off those first 8 months, and completely forgot what a comfort zone was but thats the stuff I enjoyed the most when I look back at it. I have 2 buddies that I would always pull multiple all nighters in a row with to finish building a project back MakeSchool, we still talk about those "war stories" from those nights and either die laughing or just appreciate it. -- Jake and Ikey, if you're reading this much love for you guys.
My first 8-12 months full-time was no joke either, let me tell you. Your transition away from being a student into being a professional is a different one. I had lots of encounters with imposter syndrome and just being stressed about messing things up or the usual things people get stressed about with their job. On top of that just adjusting to the whole adulting thing. It really took some time for me to find some comfort and confidence in my role. But once I got into the swing of things, started adding value, and then had some time to travel and reflect, I started becoming much less stressed, my confidence shot up and I started having fun with it. -- I learned changing up your environment and taking the occasional break is very important for your mental too!
Sense going full-time with Convesio, about 2 years ago, I have lived a pretty nomadic lifestyle. I moved 3 times in my 2 years of living in SF. Starting in the sketchiest neighborhood and ending in one of the nicest (East Cut/FiDi). Outside of SF I spent 2 months in Asia, 3 months in Europe, some time in LA, and of course Vegas where I am currently hanging out. My job being remote is something that made this possible and I really live for that freedom. Being able to change up my environment has really helped me stay motivated and energized.
That pretty much sums up the places I have lived and the personal side of things. Professionally (job & stuffs) I took some risks with dropping out of school but I can pretty comfortably say it paid off at this point. I never quite saw myself as a lifetime Software Engineer, just something I would do for 3-4 years to bring value until I could get the skills to go into a management or product role. Side note, all this being said I love coding and building things, I am just more interested in the product/business side of things.
Why am I telling you this? Well when I first signed on to Convesio I was hired as a Software Engineer. I loved the people and the product at Convesio so I really wanted to join. My first year 1.5 year I really just hopped around taking on as many tasks and learning as many skills as I could. One thing I can say is I care a lot about the company, the product and the people involved, this makes it so much easier to put it more work into it.
Well, almost 2 years into working at Convesio I got promoted to Product Lead. Being a Product Lead or PM was a big goal of mine, I just figured it would maybe happen when I was 24-25... not 21. This is a good lesson learned though that if you have a plan, an entry point on that plan and the work ethic to execute its pretty limitless what you can achieve.
Outside of Convesio I have built lots of little passion projects and helped different small-med businesses with websites/marketing. About 6 months ago, I joined the startup PaySplit as a business development and marketing advisor, which ultimately led me moving to the PaySplit house in Vegas 3 months later, where I am currently hanging out.
So there you have it, that pretty much sums up the story of to how I got here today. Of course there were many details, stories and incredible people I didn't mention in this, but all of that will be sprinkled throughout my other content coming in the future.
Well, if you are still reading at this point I really appreciate you, thanks for being interested enough to make it through.
A closing thought to leave you with: Sometimes I sit back and think about the goals I spoke about, wrote down or envisioned when I was back in high school, dreaming big and thinking about my future. Things like dropout of school, work at a tech startup, get into management/product role, move to SF, etc. A lot of things that people said I was crazy for thinking about and wanting to do. But looking at where my life is right now, college dropout, nomadic lifestyle, surrounded by amazing people, paying my own way and slowly but surely starting to make name for myself in the startup world. It's crazy that when you have the vision the curiosity and work ethic, you really can make your dreams come true.