Spotlight: Cory Ames
I asked the 22 Year-Old CEO of Firegang some Questions: here’s what he had to say…
I’ve been blessed enough to meet some incredible people in my lifetime. Some of these connections have been brief, transient wisps of genuine relationship. Others have spanned most of my young, 22 year old life. Regardless of where people have fallen on this spectrum, I have tried to make each interaction matter. This is due in large part to Cory Ames. We all have people in our life that have radically transformed the way in which we interact with the world around us, and Cory has been one of those catalysts for change in my life.
Cory dropped out of Gonzaga University. 3 years later, he is living in Austin, TX and is the Chief Executive Officer of a digital marketing agency. Last fall, he was an event speaker at DCBKK, a business conference in Bangkok, Thailand. I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks abroad with him last year traversing the fields of Germany, the rain of Ireland, and the beaches of Spain. I learned many things about the man, but I can sum it up best with a brief list.
4 things I know about Cory:
- He loves the flavor of coffee.
- When he sets his mind to something, he is near impossible to dissuade.
- He is intensely honest. With others and himself.
- His curiosity knows no bounds.
While I may be a little biased, I think that any young entrepreneur could benefit from his insights. He has been a valuable resource and friend during my journey of starting Maribel Creative Agency. His observations are extremely valuable and his unique perspective on the world had to be shared. So without further ado:
Q & A
HBM: How did you get started down this path?
CA: I got started down this path by reading the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss when I was 17 years old. Tim’s book opened me up to the ideas of creating freedom in my life, to learn whatever it was I wanted to learn, travel wherever I wanted, and create wealth outside of working for someone else.
This introductory taste to entrepreneurship and the freedom I felt it could create for me got me hooked and into the business world.
HBM: How did you get started at Firegang?
CA: My brother and my boss lived in Seattle, WA at the same time. I believe they connected at a meet up for using Infusionsoft, a CRM software. My brother began his career in online business working for an entrepreneur local to the Seattle area. Casey (my brother) came on with no experience but a tenacity to learn and take on more responsibility.
My boss heard Casey’s story and thought someone like him may be a good fit for his business as well. At the time, I was enrolled at Gonzaga University, working in a cafe and working on a side project, a website of mine, learning the basics of digital marketing. Casey suggested I would be perfect for a role in Firegang.
I connected with my now boss over brunch in Seattle, and about a month later after some additional application work and interviewing I was hired part-time as Project Manager Assistant.
HBM: What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
CA: Don’t get caught up in having to start your own business, be your own boss, etc. etc. at such a young age with no experience. Learn from entrepreneurs more experienced than you. This was something I’m learning now retroactively having gone down the path that I now have.
If I felt I had to go off on my own, and start my own business, my growth would have been much slower. I have had more resources to work with, I have been able to leverage my boss and mentor’s network for amazing business and personal connections, and most importantly, I have been able to learn from the mistakes he’s made and shared with me over my time working for him.
To get these opportunities, learn skills and invest time (and money if you have it) in experiences that would make you more valuable to another more experienced entrepreneur’s business. This can encompass a wide-range of things. I would say to read books, travel, take on odd projects that challenge you and do things to stretch your level of “big” thinking.
You never know when an opportunity will come your way. Your job is just to be prepared for it.
HBM: Obviously becoming a CEO at such a young age is incredible, what attributed to your rise?
CA: I would attribute my rise in the organization to my willingness to seriously be a student. I think when I first joined Firegang I knew more things than I know now. Once I seriously took on the role of a learner, I got some of my ego out of the way and was able to learn more from everyone I worked with.
Also, I think I have this thing where I non-negotiably believe that I can do anything if I apply myself. So, while having no idea of how to do a particular thing (i.e. like be a CEO), I’m extremely confident in my ability to figure it out with enough time.
Sometimes that thing about me gets in me over my head. But, it’s overall opened me up to accepting greater and greater challenges, and opportunities, so I would say it’s impact has been net positive.
HBM: What does your daily routine look like?
CA: Wake up with no alarm, meditate, make breakfast (coffee with butter and MCT oil), go on a walk or do some sort of movement, do some journaling, write and read for 1–2 hours, then start working on the most important thing for me to get done that day. I’ll break for lunch and a workout around 12–2, then take calls with team members in the afternoons.
HBM: What people/publications/resources do you look to for guidance and/or inspiration?
CA: Over time, I have taken a lot from the Tim Ferriss Show. I like to follow entrepreneurs who are doing things in business that I would like to do myself. I’m big on books though. I don’t follow a ton of blogs, only a few, and those are mostly for enjoyment and personal fulfillment.
I usually only pick up books that have been recommended to me 3–4 times. There’s so much to read out there. Can’t read it all.
HBM: What role have relationships/mentorship played in your development?
CA: Everything. I wouldn’t be in the position that I am if I wasn’t given the opportunity to work with Firegang about two years ago. If my brother wasn’t on his hustle connecting with entrepreneurs in Seattle, I may have not connected with my current mentor.
Granted, I had to do my part and ensure I was prepared and qualified for the opportunity (i.e. learning the skills, reading the books, etc.), but I would still be working on some small website if it wasn’t for the relationships that have come into my life over the course of these last two years.
This is exactly why I would tell younger aspiring entrepreneurs to go work for someone else they want to learn from. There’s a great video from Jack Ma the CEO of Ali Baba saying exactly that. Go work for someone else in your 20s, work for yourself in your 30s.
Good book on relationships aligning with your goals: Never Eat Alone.
HBM: Any parting thoughts or pieces of wisdom for my audience?
CA: Be cautious of following crowds.
Follow Cory on social media:
Twitter: Cory Ames