My Professional Journey
My goal in life is to help other companies achieve their highest potential. It’s not about finding ways to make more money (though that tends to be a nice by-product); it’s about finding creative solutions that increase happiness and community impact. This passion for serving others has always been close to my heart, so it was only natural that my professional journey began just after I graduated high school, by accepting an appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy.
I selected the Coast Guard due to my love of water combined with a desire to serve in a world-class humanitarian organization. I left the Coast Guard with a profound appreciation for team dynamics and a desire to help companies implement the strategies I learned their into their cultures.
After graduating from the Coast Guard Academy with a degree in Government/International Relations, I spent my first three years aboard two ships. On my first ship, I was in charge of a four-man team that serviced the ship’s electronics weapons systems. The Coast Guard ended up selling that ship to Nigeria, and I was transferred to a new cutter where I took over the Navigation Division. Our team was in charge of planning every transit and training the crew on all aspects of ship-driving. During my last year at sea I was moved to yet another position, this time charged with developing the divisions that executed the ship’s primary mission: counter-smuggling. During those three years I managed the planning for more than 10,000 miles of open ocean transit, helped more then three dozen people certify in navigation positions, was directly involved in the interdiction of more than $130million of illicit narcotics, and developed training programs for more than 60 people in maritime law enforcement.
My last two years in the Coast Guard were spent at the Pacific Area Command Center, where I oversaw teams of four to six people that coordinated or supervised all operations in the entire Pacific and Indian Oceans. We did everything from search and rescue and port security missions, to environmental and natural disaster response. The prospect of figuring out how to save two people whose boat had capsized in the Pacific was thrilling; the feeling when you couldn’t help someone in time was heartbreaking, and the joy of knowing your work brought someone home safely was overwhelming.
It was a thrilling career to say the least, but for me something was missing. The missions were intense, fast-paced, and fun. But as I looked forward, I realized that my potential to do what I loved was limited. I was always at my best when helping develop peers and subordinates - be it by teaching others how to drive the ship, creating law enforcement training programs, or, my favorite, helping someone figure out what their own professional career path in the Coast Guard could look like. The more senior I’d get in the military, the less I’d be able to help instigate personal growth in others.
So I decided to get out of the Coast Guard, which presented an entirely different set of challenges. How could I translate my background of “Navigator, Law Enforcement Officer, and Emergency Response Coordinator” to jobs in the civilian world? I had no idea where or how to look. So I started asking people for help. I was introduced to Galon Miller, CEO of a Cyber Security Company in Minnesota, who had me take a strengths assessment. My strengths were that of teacher and connector, and Galon helped me understand that those strength roles should define my career search.
The resulting increase in direction was both immediate and spectacular, and I started looking into People Operations and Human Resources Roles where I could focus on developing processes that served people. Taking a step back, I realized that what I really wanted to do was help individuals and teams perform at their very best. I dove into researching both hiring processes, company culture, and positive psychology. The first product I introduced to the market was an assessment that identified a job-seeker’s strength roles, then provided them with a simple guide to help them build a resume and conduct their career search. I still offer a version of this service but it’s used now as a low cost, highly effective way for companies to facilitate candid conversations about humanistic skills.
But I wanted more personal relationships with the people I work with. So I decided to add a layer of services that involve direct work with companies. I have a natural knack for drawing passion out of people, then helping them wield that passion to accelerate their personal and professional growth. I now work with companies to help shape their cultures, build their teams, and successfully lead their companies. I take a people-centric approach, understanding that when you put people first, the success of the product follows.
I firmly believe that to be effective in your professional life, you must live a balanced life. I’ve done 120 hour work weeks; they suck. I was miserable. The work itself wasn’t bad, but without a chance to recharge between workdays I struggled. I’m significantly happier and more productive when I’m doing things outside of work.
My most prominent activity outside of work is triathlon. I started racing at the age of 12, and have done at least one triathlon every year since. I’ve been fortunate to qualify for two world championships, including the famous Ironman Hawaii. My favorite of the three sports is swimming. Being in the water feels weightless and quiet, and swimming is one of very few things that enables me to think about nothing. A blank mind is blissful for short periods, and I almost always get out of the pool thinking more clearly. Cycling comes in a close second. Cycling is a more social activity though, and I associate it with Sunday afternoons with my dad and freedom. Seeing the world on two wheels provides an entirely new perspective.
Having been hit by cars four times while cycling (none serious), I’m also passionate about my role as a BikeLaw Ambassador. Working with this organization is one way I choose to give back to a community that has given me so much. Volunteering for organizations is a great way to grow personally and take a break from work.
I also try to read at least one book per month (ideally two or three), stay involved at my church, and travel several times per year. Work may be my most significant daily time commitment, but I don’t want it to define me.
That’s my story with a lot of details removed for the sake of brevity. I don’t know what the future holds for me, or for Passions and Talents, but I’m excited for the journey. I’d love to tell you more, and hear your story as well. Just click the button below and we can set up a time to chat.