During my life I’ve fell victim to substance abuse, been poor, homeless, depressed, desperate, well-to-do, entrepreneurial, and thankfully… enlightened. Much of this evolution was brought about by caring people in the community who helped me understand I had more to offer the world (and vice versa). Thanks to their intervention, it’s been an illuminating journey.
My challenges began at age nine when I was approached by neighborhood kids to participate in some less than legal activities. I had a reputation as a problem solver, and they had a problem to solve. It was around the time home alarm systems were gaining popularity - these chaps were the reason. After a wee bit of tinkering, I devised a way to work around these systems. They had an updated business model, and the success gained me a new group of ‘friends’, and a ‘part-time’ job as criminal strategist.
At the time, I was in heaven – endless candy and a killer comic book collection. However, a host of substances offset those ups. My new friends thought it was a riot to get me high; whatever they partook in, so did I. It didn’t take long for me to get addicted, and eventually struggle with addiction until the age of 19 (when I had my ‘Come to Jesus Moment’ - you can learn more about that in my TEDx Talk).
I wish I could say life after addiction got better. Between the ages of 19 and 25, I was married, divorced, had a child, and a nervous breakdown. From 26 to 35 was no picnic either - I found myself lost, and attempted to take my life on several occasions. In the middle of all this, I found employment at a Social Enterprise. For a large portion of my tenure, I served in an outward-facing capacity; supporting the mission by serving on other nonprofit and community boards. That’s when I met my first mentor – someone who made me realize there was something inside of me that I couldn’t see. He saw potential and pushed me to move in new and uncomfortable directions… and I did.
I worked 18-years building that organization from a startup into an enterprise generating over $50-million in annual revenue. Getting there was the fun part as I got to apply all my gifts, skills, and passions into a truly ambitious effort. I took my love of strategy, and in 2013 founded a strategic consultancy focused on revenue and profitability solutions through the discovery of what ‘customers’ want, what they do not, and what they are willing to ‘pay for.’ With a command of this data, I worked with stakeholders to build strategies yielding a larger likelihood of success; earning my clients significant revenue gains and multi-million-dollar awards.
My entrepreneurial journey taught me a lot about myself. I did some things great, and other things not so good. When the time came to make some difficult decisions, I was lucky enough to find a home within a Leadership Institute focused on behaviorally-based talent development solutions. That experience instilled within me what it truly takes to be a leader; it is our responsibility to create leaders in our wake.
Both my personal and professional experiences instilled in me the desire to help people reach their full potential. As someone who has overcome adversity, I know all about falling off the horse getting back on. I’m privileged to have had my insights featured in media outlets such as Forbes, MarketWatch, The Huffington Post, Fox Business, and others. I’m also an award-winning philanthropist, volunteering as a board member for Suit Up Springfield, and supporting the business community as a facilitator for Valley Venture Mentors, Producer and Host of The Engine on NewsRadio 560 WHYN, and a member of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s Plan for Progress Committee.
Throughout my life and career, I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, Private Equity Firms, Silicon Valley-based startups, ‘Mom and Pop’ shops disrupting ‘Main Street’ foot-traffic, and established businesses on their way to becoming multimillion-dollar ventures. These experiences have shaped my philosophy that people are transformed through lovingly-critical feedback and supportive services imbuing them with the power to become the best version of themselves. It’s worked for me.