Origin Story/My Values

Origin Story

I was born in 1984 into a family of three. My parents were older: mom 34, dad nearly 40, and my sister was already 6. We were the quintessential definition of middle-middle-class. Neither of my parents were college educated. My dad worked as a dispatcher for a shipping company and my mom worked as a convenience store cashier; then, later in life, as a teller at a bank. Our family home, a 1100 square foot brick bungalow in South City St. Louis, was located one block north of the elementary school my sister and I attended and within walking distance of our extended family — one aunt (my dad’s sister) and both of my grandmas (both of my grandfathers had passed away by the time I was born). ​My childhood was pretty humble. We didn’t travel too often, but did take vacations together as a family: Lake of the Ozarks, Memphis, Chicago, once to Disney World. In hindsight, the one thing that stands out to me about my childhood is regular family dinners at my grandma’s house on Sundays. On occasion (about once a month), my immediate family and my aunt’s immediate family would all get together for dinner. There’s a quote out there, somewhere: Grandma’s House: Where cousins go to become friends. Looking back, for me, I think that was certainly true.

Other Major Events

  • In 2013, my wife and I got married in front of a small gathering of our closest family and friends
  • In 2017, we sold the house that my family and I had called home for over 30 years and moved from the city to the suburbs
  • In 2018, my first child was born; fatherhood has truly been a transformative experience for me and one that I now wish I would have had earlier in life

In Regards to Technical Work

My path to technical work is my own. Some people grew up inundated with technology. I did not. My family didn’t own a computer until 1996. In grade school, I did run a fairly popular website about wrestling star, The Rock (really really). But, as opposed to playing with technical gadgets (of which we had few), I preferred to spend most of my childhood outside riding bikes, playing sports, and hanging out with friends. This is still how I prefer to spend my non-working time today.

Obstacles

I think it’s fair to state that I’ve encountered a few obstacles in my life. The death of my mother and father at an early age left me with an extreme case of anxiety that I still deal with today (effectively managed through exercise). Additionally, to this day, I continue to fight what has turned into a life-long struggle with feeling isolated and like I don’t belong, regardless of the context. Although I am improving it this area, I often have a hard time recognizing and establishing common ground with some people.

Values

My values have been shaped by the experiences I’ve had in life. They are direct outcomes of the events that I mentioned in my origin story. They include:

  • Embodying a growth mindset — who I am tomorrow is different than who I am today
  • Favoring character over competency — competency can be gained over time; poor character is much harder to improve
  • Focusing on work/life balance — time is an extremely precious commodity; use it deliberately and carefully
  • Challenging yourself — growth means constantly pushing yourself to the edge of your comfort level
  • Engaging in meaningful work — find meaning in your current work or pursue other meaningful things
  • Providing autonomy — if you give individuals meaningful work, the resources to succeed, and the freedom (space) to do a good job, you will be amazed at the quality of the work that they do
  • Being transparent — not doing so is disingenuous; in the long-term, nothing good will come from being opaque
  • Delivering value frequently and consistently — no matter what you do, focus on value above everything else
  • Displaying humility — humility keeps egos in check and allows teams of people to be honest and open with one another
  • Having an opinion, letting it be known — argue as if you are right and listen as if you are wrong; for more of my unfiltered opinions, follow me on Twitter
  • Believing that anyone/everyone can be a leader — there are “leaders” and then there are those who lead; leadership is a trait that can be fostered and developed, not a role that is assigned
  • Having a sense of humor/not taking things too seriously
  • Living a principled life — stand for something or fall for anything; reflect on your own values, know in what you believe, don’t waver from your values
  • Being a minimalist — in regards to everything (people, lines of code, services, possessions); the more “things” that you have, the more time you spend managing those “things”
  • Doing the dirty work — there’s plenty available and someone has to do it; give me a workhorse over a unicorn any day

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