As a kid
I was born in Santa Maria, in 1987 while my dad was working for Apple serving the LA area including Paramount Pictures. He got to work a lot with the Star Trek team, and had great stories about Will Wheaton writing him bad checks, Michael Doren’s mig and has some of Brent Spiners original scripts. I don’t remember all that much about California other than the fact that you could see the Reagan Library from my back yard, and that I love In and Out Burger.
In 1991 my family relocated to Issaquah, WA. Rather than enrolling in private school, my parents opted to home school, where in addition to studying basic early education, my education was influenced by a more classical leaning curriculum mixed with the freedom for exploration of subjects of my choosing. My mom helped found a weekly co-op (later called Legacy that grew to provide classes for thousands of kids). My studies ranged from studying US history under former chairman of the Washington State Republican Party Kirby Wilbur, to Latin and Greek, and world history.
The flexibility allowed me to study at my own pace. When I was thirteen, I decided I wanted to accelerate my learning, so I taught myself faster techniques for reading, learning, writing and math to move even faster. The same sort of brain hacking I used in high school, I still use on a daily basis. In 2004 I graduated with twice the state required high school credits, at age 15. I’m not a genius, I’m just cocky and think I can figure anything out if I try hard enough.
After I graduated from high school in 2004, my parents thought I was a little too young to go to “big kid school” so I began studying at Bellevue Community College. There I earned an Associates in Business while also filling my schedule with whatever interested me. First I served as the Community and Campus Relations Representative, then I was elected as Chief Justice of the student body and served as arbitrator of all student related grievances from parking tickets to suspensions. I learned to love coffee at that time.
During the summer of 2005, I spent the summer in Europe traveling between Barcelona and Istambul with my family. It was a great sampling if european history and culture. I continued on several months after my family went home and spent a a lot of time in Siena, Italy where he took time to study history, religion, philosophy, and Italian.
After I got home in 2005, I was elected as the Student Body President of Bellevue Community College and was responsible for a staff of 10 elected representatives and oversaw a budget of $1.2M of Student Services and Activities Fees which was distributed to over 46 programs. That same year I also served as the student member of the Governor’s appointed Board of Trustees, the President of the Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and President of Rotary International’s college chapter the Rotaract Club. Seriously, I had no life.
While at these positions I had the privilege to work on state education legislation, and work with State Attorney General Rob McKenna, Gov. Christine Gregoire, and Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. When It was all done, I gave the student commencement address, and chose Spiderman of all people to talk about… Ya know “knowledge is power, and with great power comes great responsibility.”
In 2006, I transferred the the UW, and got my own apartment in the U-Distrct. At first I thought I would be studying business because I’ve known my whole life that I wanted to be a business owner and entrepreneur. However, on my first day the advisors told me that based on my track record I should study anything BUT business to round myself out incase I wanted an MBA.
So I enrolled in the Comparative History of Ideas department, founded by Jim Clowes. I had gotten my mouth wet in politics, business, history, philosophy, and I wanted more. After taking the first class called The Enlightenment and It’s Discontents, I was so fascinated with the power that ideas have had in shaping history, that I turned right around and peer facilitated it the next quarter. So I taught the class one day a week to a group of freshmen.
Through out the rest of the program I studied history of China, India, the Middle East, Medieval Jewish history and culture, Greek and Roman philosophers, the works of 17th century European enlightenment and scientific thinkers, 19th century social and economics philosophy, and 20th century post structural writers, all focusing on how the ideas discussed influenced the future development of their contemporary and succeeding societies. On average I would need to read at least thirty books per quarter, so I learned to absorb, summarize, and apply information even faster. My senior project was a magazine focused on the influence technology has on our global culture. My advisor was Dr. Philip Thurtle, a frequent TEDx speaker on technological sociology. Also, he always speaks with out wearing shoes.
In Spring 2008 I was hired directly out of college and worked for a privately held Seattle based group of companies. I lasted a grand total of 8 weeks. I was given a million dollar marketing budget from the CEO Darren Burg. His temper was awful, and I knew there was something shady. One day there was money missing from the budget. I asked him about it, and he and I had a confrontation and I was let go. A few weeks later my anger about the situation was justified when the front page of the Seattle Times said he was charged by the FBI on 9 counts of embezzlement and Fraud. He’s the Bernie Madeoff of Seattle.
So as an unemployed recent grad in the Fall of 2008, I did the only think I could think of to get a job. I cyber stalked successful entrepreneurs on Facebook and asked them what they were working on. Believe it or not, it worked. Kelly Smith, the CEO of Curious Office was just launching the project that would later be known as Inkd. While I was there I was exposed the culture of Tech Startups in Seattle, and got to work right next to Kelly, a seasoned tech startup vet.
It was educational but brief. I told Kelly that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and his advise was to get sales experience, and I did have an offer on the table.
I spent a year selling TV ads for KIRO TV (during the height of the great recession, and during a writers strike). After a year they moved everyone to commission only. I bounced to the only other available job, even though it was in an even worse industry. I sold print for Pacific Publishing for six months.
Finally, I got a legit gig selling daily deals for a company called FreshGuide, right when daily deals were beginning to be cool. Within 2 weeks we were purchased by PopSugar, a San Francisco based publication backed by Sequoia Ventures. My job was to manage their Seattle based publication using daily deals to replace advertising revenue.
I made it a year and a half with PopSugar. Then the economy started to get better and suddenly the world realized they didn’t need 100 daily deal sites. The small businesses certainly didn’t want to keep discounting either. By Summer 2011, the opportunities with PopSugar were no longer in my wheel house.
After leaving PopSugar in July of 2011, I was determined to go it alone and make something work. I filed with the state and to from my own holding company, Gavroche Enterprises. The name was borrowed from my old senior thesis. It harkened back to the idea that Gavroche was this kid in Les Mis who believed in ideas that were bigger than what he could possibility understand, but he believed in it so strongly he even lead others in the cause, and ultimately died for it. While I have no plans on dying, I want to do business with that sort of reckless abandon, and work with others who have the same attitude that being all in is what it’s all about.
I wasn’t alone. In 2011, nearly everyone I knew had felt the effect of the past few years, and we were tired of the scarcity of the job market. One of my friends decided to start a translation agency, and needed a partner who understood marketing. Another had connections to import south seas black pears. So my new holding company had it’s first few shares of businesses. Sadly neither of those ventures amounted to anything for their own reasons.
While I was with PopSugar I met a lot of people in the fashion industry. I began helping in the development of Seattle Fashion Incubator, and the leader of that coalition, we purchased a textile trade show. We rebranded it and moved it to Seattle. We worked our asses off to to make it a success. After one show we had a great turn out, but barely broke even without even paying ourselves. I was out. Besides I had something else that, by that point, seemed to actually be working.
After the years of working with the small business owners through KIRO, Pacific Publishing and PopSugar, I had quite the network of small business owners. One I continued to cultivate. During those years they kept on being apprehensive about whatever I was selling. The truth was that it was a trinket; something that might be cool to try, and at best a tiny piece of a marketing strategy. What was more was that I began to see that all the technology I was so excited to work with briefly with Kelly, and I knew so well growing up, was actually making these small business owner’s lives harder, not easier.
The idea began evolving when I was at Pacific Publishing, an idea to rebrand marketing itself, into something fit for the digital world. It needed to be dynamic, always changing, and leverage the power of a team working together for many businesses. It needed that all for one and one for all spirit, it needed a name that implied we’re in a cut throat venture. Marketing needed to be turned into Marketeering.
In December 2011, I settled on the name. In January 2012, I didn’t even bother to file for a new business license, just a DBA, and Marketeering Group was born. None of my ventures were making money yet, I had a severance check from PopSugar and a little bit of unemployment. I bought things from Value Village, fixed them up and sold them on Ebay for a small profit. I used it to buy a new computer. I contacted a hand full of my past clients and told them the plan; and they bought into it, big time.
The concept is simple, we needed to consolidate all digital marketing activity a business should be doing, and make all possible additional marketing activity they could be doing, and make it available at a predictable monthly rate equal to what they may have paid twenty years ago to the yellow pages. So I outlined the way I envisioned the business working in 24 months, built a package to sell, and in the mean time do all the work myself, hire contractors when I could, and grow step by step as the clients came in.
Since it’s founding Marketeering Group has served small business owners in the Seattle area, by being a digital ambassador, providing full service packages with transparent, public prices. The result has been that Marketeering Group has been the fastest growing marketing company in Seattle in 201. In 2015 Marketeering Group increased to 21 full time 100% local team and serves more clients than any other marketing company in Seattle.
I’m the second of 5 brothers. The oldest is 2 years his senior and is a published science fiction author, and the youngest was born in 2002, when I was 16.
Much of my pre-high school time was spent with the family and family-friends in North Bend Wa, where my we were part of a large group of other families who also home schooled, that helped leverage various expertise for a more enriched education. We had way too much fun, I didn’t even know it was preparing me for a building a business. We would teach ourselves photography, photoshop and web design for fun in the late 90s. It was all about being creative, and building something cool out of it.
From 1999 until 2001, my parents built a massive seven thousand square foot house on a secluded hill behind Snoqualmie. It became the center of the social seen often for hundreds of people around Christmas, the fourth of July, and any other occasion that needed a large place for hosting.
Not only did I assist in the construction, but while we were living in a rental house, I decided to earn a little extra cash by setting up an under the table lawn mowing business on Snoqualmie Ridge. By the end of the summer I had three other kids working for me, and I walked away with $8,000 spending money, that I blew on a snowbaord, a laptop and believe it or not, a suit, because I was a “baller.”
While at Bellevue Community College I met Norelle. She was a journalist at the school paper, so we worked in the same building. We had an accounting class together. After three days of her coming in after me and sitting on the far end of the room, finally I just stood up and switched seats. I figured I’d give being captain obvious a try. She thought I was a bit of a tool. Apparently the first time she met me I had my arms two other girls, then said “what’s up” to her as she passed by. I made sure we got past that.
Her dad was strict though. First date he told me to have her home by 10:30 (keep in mind, she was 17, I was 18), yeah, I totally forgot about that curfew. Despite that, everything else wen’t pretty well. We dated until she left for a year for an internship in Texas.
She got back a year later and started school at Seattle Pacific University. It took 3 weeks flat before we were back together… kinda like magnets I guess.
In December 2008, I had nothing but a job offer from KIRO and a credit card. I maxed it out to buy a ring and asked her to marry me the day before Christmas Eve.
We got married at the Hollywood Schoolhouse in Woodinville on September 5th, 2009. We had way too many people there, and we were WAY too young, but that was by far the best decision of my life.
I don’t really believe in doing things half way, even if I’m cash strapped and don’t have the time to take off, it was our honeymoon, and there are some things you should never compromise on. So France it was. The Sorrento hotel manager was a friend of mine and they took care of us for the night. The next day we flew to Pairs then jumped a train to Provence. We rented this amazing cottage that was part of Chateau Talaud, and explored the south of France for a week before heading back up to Paris for the rest of the Honeymoon.
Norelle studied Journalism. She always wanted to work for the Seattle PI. It was about the same time as when she graduated from SPU that the printed PI closed. I’ve never met someone who loved to read more, so in 2010, with jobs scarcer than ever we came up with an idea for how to keep her skills and connections sharp despite the lack of jobs at the time. She started a blog called Seattle Wrote, where she created a network of Seattle authors, and wrote about their stories and experiences. Now there have been hundreds of authors she has worked with.
We both struggled working jobs that neither of us enjoyed. The recession was the nail in the coffin for me. I saw friends and family have their entire livelihoods and retirements wiped out. I had to be be an entrepreneur. I could never rely on corporate America, it would fail. Norelle provided the most support in the first year of Marketeering Group while she was still working another job, by moonlighting to write blog posts and email campaigns. In December 2011, we signed our first big client. My first hire was Norelle.
Some people think it’s impossible to work with your spouse. It takes a lot of patience and humility. But the truth is I could never have built the company without her. She’s my partner in everything. If I faced the challenges and the hours of running a bootstrapped startup by myself while she worked another job, there is no way she would have understood or had the patience for me personally.
I’m a big picture guy, I can take in and summarize a lot of information and turn it into action. I fumble the little things.
I have a tendency to learn by exploring, or giving it a go. If something interests me I’ll show up and learn everything I can about it. As a kid I wished I was Indiana Jones, my fascination of history is downright childlike, it lights my fire. If there is a mystery tied to it, all the better. So for a little fun I decided to join the Freemasons. I got a little carried away.
I spent 3 years working with other members to revitalize the membership and image. First I rebuilt the website, and researched and wrote dozens of original pieces on the fraternity, it history, what influenced it, and what it has influenced throughout history. That made the lodge the most visible online in the state. I then turned my focus on the building.
It’s a beautiful hundred year old brick building that was originally the telephone exchange for Seattle. However had a inside was a very nasty 1970s church cafeteria feel. So I designed and lead the volunteers to remodel it with exposed brick, mahogany walls, Youkon Goldrush bar, and a fireplace, turning it into probably one of the best event spaces in Queen Anne.
Somewhere along the way I ended up skipping a few steps in the normal leadership chain, and in 2013 I was elected to be the Master of the Lodge. That made me the youngest Master of any Freemason’s Lodge in Washington’s history at age 25. So if you want to know my view of the organization, I’ve published it several places in my own words: “Freemasonry is an ancient and global fraternity, that’s goal is to build up society by fostering and promoting every moral and social virtue in Men.”
Oh yeah, I kept going through the higher ranks and was made a Knight Templar in 2014. I have a legit sword too.
I don’t have too much time for hobbies. I’m married, I run a business, I’ve got a busy family, I’m involved in quite a bit and I’ve got a lot going on. But there is one thing…
For the heck of it I started writing what was supposed to be a fantasy book about the life of Charles II, about four years ago. I wrote about 100 pages, then got completely distracted by the amazing advancements and complexities of the English Civil war and the early Enlightenment. Now, I’m no where closer to finishing the book because the truth of that time period is way too interesting and has heavy implications on the world today.
One project I was able to finish was the fact that I also studied my own ancestry as part of my research for that book. I found Ellice Island records from my Great Grandfather, Cyrl who came from England on the HMS Lusitania in 1912. So I did some extra digging and later tracked his direct ancestors 900 years to shortly after the battle of Hastings, and through Norman lines to Emperor Charlemagne and through public record as far as Cyrus the Great of Persia, building a family tree spanning 2600 years. (FYI Genetically, all Europeans are descended from Charlemagne, the guy got around.)
For our fifth anniversary in 2014, Norelle and I went to England and found everything relating to my family including the old estate (barely livable), and this kick ass stain glass window with my family’s coat of arms in it.