have always loved finding out how things work. When I was a kid I would take apart just about everything. I would be sitting in my parent’s car and wondering how the seat belt would grab hold when the car stopped short. So I’d figure out a way to bust one open and find out … much to the dismay of my mom. I really don’t like it when I don’t know how something works.
I love to build and create. I was an erector set and LEGO maniac, constructing room-to-room contraptions to deliver dog treats to our little dog Pookie when she was on good behavior. Yes I said Pookie; not necessarily proud of picking that name as a child … and Yes, I was a big nerd; although I am proud of that.
That curiosity and that desire to create is exactly what I believe being an entrepreneur is all about. I have always been a self-starter and it’s probably because I became the man of my house when I was about 12. We grew up in difficult circumstances and it has absolutely molded the person I am today. That upbringing affected my understanding of a typical adult-child interaction and removed boundaries for me… or maybe it was the interaction between those adults who knew what was going on, and a precocious and inquisitive little 12 year old who questioned everything. I think I have driven a few people nuts over the years, but I would like to think it’s all in the name of fun … and innovation. I never accept that anything should be done a certain way, or anything is the way it is, just because it’s been that way for the last 100 years.
I love technology, but that passion actually arrived a little bit later. Because my mom didn’t have a lot of money I didn’t own a computer until I went to college. I purchased this ancient Mac computer from one of my friends and fell in love. Like I said … nerd. In those early days of the internet, that computer, the way it logically made such sense to me, and the access it granted me to new knowledge, changed everything. I have not looked back since.
This new-found passion for technology developed through my time at Hamilton College despite my official concentrations in Government and Economics. I think it stems back to my simply wanting to know how everything works. Technology and computers just came naturally to me. I began designing websites as a hobby and to make some extra money while in school and quickly realized the internet offered unlimited creative and financial opportunities. With a rigorous basketball schedule throughout my college career and my other academic concentrations, I didn’t formally study IT nor travel abroad. To make up for that I applied for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship after I graduated and was lucky enough to get accepted. I spent the next year on a jaunt through Portugal, Spain, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Micronesia, Guam, and the Marshall Islands studying how different countries were incorporating the world wide web and the “internet” into their existing technological infrastructures. My technology passions were finally in full swing. One of my destinations was a small Micronesian island state called Yap far out into the Pacific Ocean. After being greeted by native bare-breasted women as I deboarded the plane in Yap I miraculously bumped into an island native who had attended Hamilton! I felt like my entire year abroad had similar coincidences. For instance, there were only 60 Watson Fellows traveling the world that year and I randomly came across another Watson Fellow in Thailand. The odds of that are about 1 in 100 Million!
During that year abroad and armed with this newfound passion for tech, I co-founded an e-commerce company called AllAboutDance.com and began building my first real business. Over the next few years my passional for digital marketing truly set in and we built that business into one of the top e-tail dancewear companies in the United States. We acquired one of our largest competitors in 2008 and ultimately sold the business in 2010 despite a grim economic outlook. I have taken those Internet marketing, SEO, and entrepreneurial skills into the next few start-ups that I have helped scale at organizations like ReferLocal, Maxx Bench, and LSEO.com. LSEO is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Marketing (especially Google Adwords and Paid Social Ads). I joined the agency as President and began helping companies from the Inc. 5000 and Fortune 100, down to Medium sized businesses scale and grow through performance marketing. During my three years there we grew our own company revenue by over 500% and tripled our client base. I directly led a team of 20, most of whom I recruited, hired, and groomed. I really appreciated our staff. The focus and drive of our team help land our company as a finalist for SEO Agency of the Year while also becoming a Platinum winner of NEPA’s Best Places to Work. I am really proud of the culture we assembled there. I thrive in innovative, challenging, and fast-paced environments. I love working with companies that are committed to building a people-first culture or dynamic company, and love the start-up mentality even within larger organizations. There is an exciting balance of risk and reward associated with companies in that awesome stage of development or rocketship growth.
My first startup experience, particularly with catalog production and digital photo shoots at AllAboutDance.com, combined with my strong interest in technology, also exposed a passion for photography and design. Capitalizing on the dance industry background, my collections have often trended toward movement and the performing arts. I have been lucky enough to have my photos featured in Times Square, as well as numerous sites and photography collections, including the key artwork for Finite and Infinite Games, a collaborative interdisciplinary film project that melded the contemporary visions of choreographer, visual artist, filmmaker and fashion designer. I have also dabbled in film and was asked to run the lead camera in the production of XIII, a Film created as a living memorial to Murray Spalding 1944-2010.