I was born on a now non-existent Air Force base in California on June 4, 1991. After sleeping 16 days in a drawer, my parents decided that I’d have more fun growing up in Mason City, Iowa, so off to the midwest we went. Ever since then, I’ve been living in Iowa and enjoying its flat terrain and endless miles of corn. I grew up with a mom who was always there for me and a dad who strapped boxing gloves on my hands before I was strong enough to lift them and gave me lots of things to do that, he told me, would “build character”. If not for them, I’d probably have never survived high school.
I discovered the Internet at 12 years old and immediately set out to make a fool of myself on it. However, in between forum flame wars, I started learning HTML. Back then, I thought it was a tool that was good for putting pictures of my pets online. Still, I’m really glad I learned it.
During my junior year of high school, I joined a club called Business Professionals of America. I’m not sure why I joined at first, but I know that my time with the club basically defined who I am. I traveled to Reno, NV for the BPA National Conference during my first year, and I competed in several events related to web development and entrepreneurship. The next year, I served as Iowa’s treasurer in the club, which gave me my first real public speaking opportunity. My experiences as an officer were great, but I think the best part was simply delivering my campaign speech to 500 students. Doing so gave me both a focus for my life and great confidence that I’d never had before.
When I graduated high school I dove into entrepreneurship on a whim. Along with a friend, I founded Radiant Web Design and started acting like I knew how to make websites. Looking back today, I realize that I really knew nothing at all; still, I worked for several happy clients and gained business experience that most people don’t get until after college. I learned marketing, accounting, business law, web design practices, and business etiquette (not to mention how to work my ass off) simply by working for myself.
If high school was busy, college has been absolutely packed. In August of 2009, I started my college experience at Iowa State University. Before classes even started, I was working as a tech support dude at ISU’s student help desk. I can easily say I learned more working there than I did in any of my classes.
In choosing a major, I decided to put my HTML and computer skills together with my experience in Business Professionals of America, and I came up with Management Information Systems.
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I worked a Cyclone Aide. I helped orient the newest class of freshmen during the summer, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I gained so much communication experience, that after the summer, I added a minor in Speech Communication to my program.
In October of 2010 I switched from working as a tech support dude to working as a web development dude for ISU. I figured my experience in making websites on my own would prepare me for work as a web developer. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I came in knowing HTML and CSS; now, I’ve learned PHP, MySQL, and WordPress, to name a few. My time working there taught me that I’m not really cut out for programming. However, I did learn some very valuable skills that will be useful for other kinds of projects.
In addition to my work and classes, I also write a blog called College Info Geek, which I started in June 2010. I was working as a Cyclone Aide at the time, and I thought it would be a great idea to write about some of the things I was learning in order to help students I might not come in direct contact with. 2.5 years later, the blog has grown tremendously and the results are beyond what I could have imagined. Right now it’s seeing around 30,000 visits per month.
Visits are great, but the most amazing thing that came about from the site was a call from a father in Illinois asking me for advice on college and for my thoughts on Iowa State University. I couldn’t believe it; someone from a different state saw me as an authority on college success and wanted my advice on choosing a school!
I’ve also made some great connections with other bloggers in my niche; I’ve gotten to know Shep McAllister of HackCollege, Stephan Knapen of Study Successful, Scott Leighton of The Real College Guide, Holli Nucci of The Sales Appointment, and more. Networking with like-minded people such as these has opened my eyes to the possibilities that are in front of me.
I believe I’ve found what may be my true calling through College Info Geek; I love to teach people and help them be successful. I’m looking forward to putting my Speech Communication minor to good use in the future by speaking about college success, and I’m also in the process of writing THE college success book. The book will be all-encompassing; I’m covering everything, including classes, studying, finances, living arrangements, cooking, exercise and health, and job seeking. I hope to publish the book shortly after I graduate in two years.
Finally, I’ve started working with lifetime entrepreneur Cactus Jack Barringer. You may have seen him on Shark Tank; he’s an inventor and salesman who’s sold millions of units on QVC and other shopping channels and networks. Now he wants to help other inventors do the same, and I’m helping him develop a web and social media presence. To say this is an exciting undertaking would be an understatement!
I have a life philosophy that basically revolves around doing. I’m not content to just sit around and wait for things to happen; I make them happen. I believe half of success is just showing up or speaking out, and that the other half is actually having something to show. I’m committed to personal development, and I’m obsessed with all the amazing new stuff that’s coming out everyday.
This bio is almost two years old. I’ll get around to updating it someday.