The Under 30: Brian Cunningham (Winner)

The Under 30 is a series that explores the lives of the young people around us. Learn more about why we’re doing it here.

Brian Cunningham // 27 // Mantua, NJ // Accountant


Brian is a great guy. He lives in New Jersey in a home with his loving wife and his dog, Bauer, who is very cute and also very, very scared of everyone. His dog is named Bauer, and not Milo as was the original plan, because Brian fought to have him named after Jack Bauer. As a fellow 24 fanatic, I cannot understate how proud I am of Brian for that accomplishment.

He’s been working as an accountant for a few years and is in the midst of attempting to get his CPA. As someone who has not had to take professional licensure exams of any sort, that whole situation seems pretty terrible. And yet, in addition to working full-time, spending time with his family, and working out almost every day, Brian also takes the time to study and take tests that are several hours long each so that he can progress in his career.

It almost feels, though, like that’s just what he should be doing. He should be studying, working, and still making sure to spend Sundays having dinner with his extended family. Making time to go to the gym, taking care of his dog, all of that, in some context it could just seem typical.

Of course, there’s much more to him. For one, he knows far more about college football than most. And not in a simplistic fanatic way, in a real intricate, analytical way. He keeps up with politics and contrary to what’s popular, often offers very measured takes. He can also drink a pint of beer quicker than virtually anyone else I know.

Brian is a great person to be featured as the last Under 30 profile. The first reason for this is that he insists it’s a ranking system and I’m counting down to the best profile. See exhibit A:

You know what, sure. Brian, you win, you are the number 1 out of 32 in a non-linear unranked group of people on a list I created on the Internet.

But really, he represents quite well what I was hoping to highlight through this series. Someone who goes about his family, professional, and social life without a great deal of brouhaha but who still deserves to be recognized. Throughout the time writing these profiles I’ve been happy to hear from people that have enjoyed reading stories that those living them sometimes take for granted. We imagine our lives, our friends and jobs and social engagements, as something typical, but we shouldn’t.

We’re not typical. We’re all out here making our own way, hopefully having a positive influence, and affecting those around us, even when we don’t realize it. Whether you’re on a list like this or not, whether someone is telling you every day or not, we are all playing a crucial part in today’s world. We are all important.

Just not as important as Brian, because he is ranked first.

Straight From the Source

What’s your Favorite Hobby?

Nothing worthwhile. All my hobbies are pointless and generic. “Oh, I like watching football and movies and spending time with my family and friends!” Big fucking deal. Everyone does that. But I do spend a lot of time and energy focusing on college football. It’s so fun to me. Asking a bunch of unpaid teenagers to play a really complex game at a high level, it’s designed to be weird and exciting.

I also enjoy lying and saying I’m going to finally learn how to play guitar, or lose weight, or pretty much anything productive. So yeah, my hobby is lying.

What’re you most proud of?

Tricking someone into thinking I am a decent/responsible person to marry. That shit is legal now, she’s stuck forever. Unless she kills me, which I wouldn’t rule out. I also briefly brought back Mom jokes, and Raise Up in 2016.

Where do you hang out?

I’ve become the ultimate homebody. It’s entirely too much work and effort to go out. I can get drunk at home on my own couch, and fewer people are mad at me when I decide to take my shirt off because I’m sweating too much.

I also spend a lot of time at the gym. That isn’t to say I’m so fitness nut who mainlines kale smoothies directly into my bloodstream and get in morning cardio (Running is trash), I just like to go and move heavy shit. If you follow me on Twitter dot com (@Dr_BrianMD), you’ll know I try to sneak in one subtle “Hey, I work out” tweet a week. It’s therapeutic. I don’t even go with a plan. That isn’t what you’re supposed to do when you go to the gym. But it’s how I unwind after a full work day with an hour plus commute each way. Plus, it gives me an excuse to eat like a jerk. That third slice of pizza to you is gluttonous, to me, it’s fuel. I’m constantly torn between thinking, “Should I try to get into shape, or should I put on an additional 30 lbs?” I go back and forth all the time. Sometimes I lose 10–15 lbs, decide it isn’t worth it, and spend a week eating nothing but burritos and candy just to even back out. I think the only thing that holds me back in either direction is the idea of buying a bunch of new clothes.

What was the question again?

What would your ideal job/career be?

Anywhere where I can make a lot of money without really trying, like maybe being in charge of Ponzi scheme. I know a lot of stupid people. I could make a decent living and not have to work too hard to get it. And isn’t that the American dream? Just get paid a shit ton of money without trying too hard? People who brag about earning everything they got in life are dorks. If you don’t want a hand out, I’ll gladly take it.

What’s the best advice you would give?

Life is a slow, painstaking, pointless march towards the grave. So if you can find little moments or things that make you happy, embrace them.

Don’t skip leg day. Paul Ryan skips leg day.

Also, drink plenty of fluids.

What do you wish you did more of?

I really want to learn how to cook. I started learning a few things this past year. My father in law is an amazing cook and it’s cool to see everyone come together for dinners every week. And it’s one of those hobbies where the reward is seeing other people enjoy the fruits of your labor. The only problem is if there’s that one jerk who doesn’t like what you cooked, I don’t think I would have the restraint not to shove them into a trash can.

Why didn’t you make Forbes 30 Under 30?

A lot of people are saying I did make it. A lot of people are saying that. Great people. Unfortunately, the haters and losers at Forbes are very biased and mean. Sad!

You can keep up with Brian here.

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