My Earliest Years

I can remember my earliest years of being an “entrepreneur.” I was about 7 years old and I became interested in being a carpenter. We lived in a cul-de-sac that still had homes going up, so I walked across the street to ask the contractor if I could have some of the scrap wood.

I remember banging together the scraps of 2x4s to create two guns that I could sell: a base model (1 fixed “gun”) and a premium model (with 3 spinning “guns”). I walked back across the street to the same contractor later that day and presented two options, the base gun for a dollar and the premium gun for three dollars. I can’t remember which one he bought, but the memory of building something and selling it was ingrained in my mind.

I later began selling lemonade and Kool Aid with my scrap wood masterpieces on the street corner. From when I was about 11, I spun up a fairly lucrative lawn mowing business – mowing a route of about 9 customers each week for $10 per lawn – including edging.

Forming Foundations

Those were my beginnings as an entrepreneur, something God placed in my foundations early on in my upbringing. My dad is a salesman as well so he likes to think it’s just “in my veins”. I was born in San Mateo – so I suppose the innovation and drive of the silicon valley also lives in my roots. I always found myself thinking ahead 2, 3 and 5 years – struggling at times to live in the present. All the while I had some really great parents, mentors and church community to support me. Did I mention that God’s grace and favor along the way opened doors left and right?

As I reflect on my beginnings, here were 4 foundations that were important to me.

Results-Oriented

As an athlete doing basketball, baseball, soccer, dodgeball, track and golf (a game against your mind and the elements), I was highly competitive in my upbringing. I loved winning and achieving results. In the fifth grade, I loved solving math problems faster than anyone else. I also remember raising the most funds for a school-wide fundraiser called, “Run for the Arts” two years in a row. My wife jokes with me often about how she enjoys the journey, while I enjoy seeing the result. It came from my early age.

Relationships & Mentors

My church, while growing up, stressed the importance of loving God and loving people well – that relationships were a keystone to the Christian life. My intense focus on tasks and results definitely made it challenging to truly love people well – something the Lord is still working in me today. Thankfully, I had several business and personal mentors growing up. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise – but a companion of fools suffers harm.” I’ve made it a goal of mine to have greater mentors speaking truth and wisdom into me – sometimes over-relying on their words instead of relying on God and His words.

God Gets the Glory

My mom and dad divorced when I was about 10 years old. What could have been devastating was changed for good as mentors and family members surrounded me with support.  As a result, I became a youth leader in a good size non-denominational church and my faith was vibrant. We had a great focus on making disciples and glorifying God with our lives. After my mom remarried, she and her new husband, Gil, learned some lessons about remarriage and wrote a book called Restored and Remarried. Today they travel and speak all over the country about how God took their trainwrecks and made something beautiful and restorative from them. Probably the most influential thing my mom says is, “We get the adventure, God gets the glory”. Glorifying God more is what lead my to do a Christian leaders internship right after high school down in Texas.

Big Vision

While in Texas, my eyes were opened to a much greater picture of the world than the great northwest from which I called home. At this large teen ministry, nearly 1,000 young adults operated a $30 Million operation of youth conferences and missions trips around the globe. We were challenged to dream big and believe God for what only He could accomplish. Along with these challenges came tons of experiences, leadership development and passion for God that I still possess today – nearly 10 years later. I praise God for how His grace has kept me in Him.

Those early years are really important to understand. Even writing this blog has helped me better grasp the ways God has prepared me for what I’m doing today. There were a few more formative years in my college and young professional life worth sharing about.
Stay tuned for the next post.

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