Some questions come up repeatedly or require more time to answer, so I’m logging them here. Have something you want to ask? Contact me!

What’s your favorite book?

Growing up, my parents read me the typical children’s books that you’d think of. As I started to get older and have a better sense of things, I had exposure to literature that was decidedly not typical. My mom read me things like Rhinoceros by Ionesco, The Metamorphosis by Kafka, and Candide by Voltaire. Which is pretty awesome, in hindsight.

All these years later, Candide is my favorite book. I love the closing message that we must cultivate our garden. This inward journey and pursuit of bettering ones own life still resonates with me to this day. Particularly when things get hard.

I also love fantasy and science fiction novels. So for the sake of it, I’ll also mention here that my favorite fantasy series is The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and my favorite sci fi series is Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

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Where are you from?

I was born in New York and grew up outside of the city. I was lucky. I had a privileged childhood with the best parents I could ask for. But when it came to deciding where to go to college, I had a lot of reflecting to do.

It felt like most people in my high school went to college somewhere between Boston and Washington, D.C. Then, moved to the city for a few years, got married, had a kid, moved to suburbs, commuted into the city, and then had kids who did the same thing. Rinse and repeat.

It all felt incredibly boring.

I ended up going as far west as I could before hitting the Pacific Ocean. I went to college at Pepperdine University, where I met my best friend and wife. After college, I had a remote job and she got a job in Denver. She had family and friends out in Denver, and a few of my buddies were also interested in making the move. So we did!

I’ve been in Denver since 2010 and I love Colorado. The open attitudes and variety of lifestyles feels right to me. I love the outdoors and the sunshine. The city of Denver is an amazing and dynamic place, with great businesses, parks, art, and food.

We’ll see what the future holds, but for now Denver is home and I love it.

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Which Linux distro do you run?

I’ve done a lot of distro hopping in my day, but I have spent meaningful amounts of time on four different Linux distros: Debian, Fedora, Pop!_OS, and elementary. I love them all for different reasons.

Shout out to elementary for being the first Linux distro I installed on a computer on my own. I followed a bunch of documentation of course, but I can’t overstate how proud I was when I pulled this off. 🐧

Debian: If I had to pick one distro that will be around until the end of time, it would be Debian for so many reasons. Their ability to absorb other projects when they lapse, build this huge community, and support so many different system architectures. The Debian community itself is an incredible accomplishment and testament to what we can achieve together. I’ve spent a lot of time on Raspbian too, playing around with Raspberry Pi.

Fedora: I had a lot of fun running Fedora because of the accessibility of the community that comes through their online presence, attendance at conferences, and more. Red Hat’s support of upstream communities is great and probably way under-appreciated. I found it more stable than its old reputation suggested. I did have difficulty contributing to the community, though I think overall it’s impressive how they keep things current.

Pop!_OS: Having worked alongside the team who makes Pop!_OS, I know how hard they work to ensure compatibility with hardware and to smooth out workflows for professional users. The steps they’ve taken to unify activities between different projects really makes a positive impact for users. It’s all built on the incredible work done by Canonical and the Ubuntu teams, but Pop! adds extra value on top of it all and stands on its own two feet as an operating system.

elementary: This is the Linux distribution that’s closest to my heart. I believe their ecosystem approach is what’s needed for people to switch their personal computing over to Linux. I’m also a big believer in independent developers and developers getting paid for their work. Elementary cultivates all of this and more. Their design-first philosophy shines because let’s be honest: it’s a beautiful environment to operate as user.

I don’t spend all my time in Linux, though. I do run other operating systems, depending on what I need to get the job done.

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Is all the tech you use open source?

No, this isn’t really possible in the first place, but I don’t push it either. I’ve come to the opinion that it’s about using the right tool for the job, and pushing things in the direction of openness whenever possible.

While there are often open source solutions to problems, usually time is the hidden cost to making it all come together. And expertise! There are a lot of things I just don’t know how to do, even if the code is open and the documentation is great.

I don’t have the luxury of having tons of free time. There are a lot of things I still want to do; both for myself and for my family.

That said, I contribute to open source projects, support and work with open source businesses, and hope to get to a point in the future where more technology is open, transparent, and ethical.

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Why did you start your own business?

I wanted to be my own boss. I had worked for interesting companies doing interesting work. I learned a lot from a lot of people and met incredible people along the way.

But I got to the point where I wanted to be in control of my own schedule. I wanted to take time off, work on things I wanted to work on, pick the companies and projects that most interested me.

Spoiler alert: It was totally worth it.

I spent a decade helping grow other people’s businesses. I realized I could start my own business, capture more of the value I was creating, and be in charge of my own destiny. Of course, a few supportive and influential people in my life encouraged me along the way before I could go for it.

It would not have been possible without the support of my wife, who was for some reason far more sure of my success than I was at the time. But she was right! So far, so good. And I have a lot more I’m working on next.

Real talk: It was not glamorous in the beginning. I started on my laptop in the kitchen, so that was v1 of the office. Here’s a shot of v2, after I bought some gear from Micro Center. I prioritized buying a quality surge protector, of course.

Everything I hoped for in having my own business has turned out to be true. My health has never been better. From nutrition and exercise, to sleep and relationships, taking on this challenge has transformed my life for the better. Now that I know this, I’m working like hell to keep it.

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I want to start my own business, where should I start?

This is a big question and can go in a lot of different directions. I’m going to outline the few major stages that I had to go through and that seem to be consistently with others who I have helped quit their jobs and start their own businesses.

  1. You have to acknowledge that you have the ability to be in control of your own life. If you don’t think you can control your life, why bother? You can control what happens next. You can change your life. (To a reasonable extent, anyway.)
  2. Sit with the painful reality that you are not in control right now. Or at least it feels like you are not in the driver’s seat. If you are working for someone else, you’re working for a paycheck. It doesn’t have to be this way.
  3. You need to start shifting your mindset. You need to value your contributions, your input, and most importantly your time. You need to think like someone who is in charge. This might mean debunking limiting beliefs about what a business owner looks like, talks like, dresses like.
  4. Start and continuously make social commitments to friends and family about the change you want to make. The business you want to start. What it will look like. The details can change, but commit that you are going in this direction.
  5. Now, don’t psych yourself out. You just need to set a series of tasks in motion. At the end, you’ll be your own boss. Every day think: What is the immediate next step I need to take to move forward? It could take days or years, but break things into actionable steps.
  6. Build out a network of support. From friends and family, to professional support staff like suppliers, attorneys, and accountants. You’re going to need support for the journey ahead. Every successful athlete has coaches. Every successful entrepreneur has mentors and advisors.
  7. Set a financial goal and commit to it. Tied in with this is what your product will be and what you’ll charge, for starters anyway. When you hit this goal, it’s time to quit your job. Whether that’s a percentage of your current income, or a savings goal. When that number is achieved, it’s go time.
  8. Moving forward, the challenge is to remember why you started this business in the first place and stay true to that. Own your time. Make sure you’re charging enough. Hire help when you need it. Don’t lose your vision or the life you wanted when you made this big change. Maintain your purpose.
  9. Send the elevator back down. Now that you have achieved this level of success, help other people do it too. Share tips. Be encouraging. Support freelancers and side hustlers who want to go big. Lend a hand and let others into the club.

This might seem easier said that done. But I’ve already helped several people make the leap. I promise, it’s not as hard as it seems like it from the outside. If you’re seriously asking yourself this question, let’s talk! Contact me.

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