March 2017


I started my first business at 14 yr old and why that doesn’t matter

I started my first business at 14 yr old. Maybe my age makes it sounds like an impressive accomplishment or just something to say for bragging rights? I can honestly tell you, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is “starting” and defining success.


Thomas Edison once said, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” Have you ever taken the time to quiz yourself or dream about this statement? The catch 22 is we have no idea what we are capable of until we enter the territory of the unknown. People seem to have no problem being “brave” and discovering the answer to the question “how much alcohol are you capable of drinking?” There seems to be little fear of the consequence of “failing” while learning the answer. When I was a child I watched many successful stock brokers, archaeologists, treasure hunters, and real estate moguls (including the one with small hands) on T.V.  I remember thinking, “I wonder if I could do that?”.

American Dream

I was fortunate enough to grow up inside one positive aspect of American culture often referred to as the “American Dream.” Americans seem to gobble up as many stories as possible about people who have gone from rags to riches. In my earlier years far more inspiring was watching teenagers who by a stroke of luck, or brilliance became successful in tech or trading stocks during the dot-com boom of the 1990’s. I’m not sure if it was my 9-year-old pride, arrogance, ignorance, insecurity or an open mind. But I remember thinking “if these kids can do this, I should be able to as well.” Any why not? Every success story comes from a baby human being, born ignorant and uneducated, right?


Starting. Often the biggest hurdle to any of my past success was the failure to even start. I phrase it that way on purpose. Failure to start is a failure. Starting something and learning after awhile that you will not be able to continue,
2 scenarios.

1.Failure to start=definate failure
2.Starting something and learning after awhile that you will not be able to continue=potential failure

What one will you choose?


I could write feel good headlines like “Quit my day job, became a travel blogger, now my life is better than yours” or “I used to suffer the 9-5 routine but now that I have mastered social media, I only work 1 hr per day from a penthouse in Singapore”.
These kinds of headlines are good and fine, but is everyone really looking to quit a “normal job” and start making a living from a computer? Probably not.  Often there are far more relevant headlines that I wish saw getting the same amount of attention. Our society is quite focused on money being a measurement of success. Until this changes, I guess we will keep focusing on these types of headlines.

defining success.

So how would your defining headline read? “I finally started going out in public with very little makeup on because I’m ok with the way I look” or “I got the courage to speak about what happened to me in my past” or “80% of my choices used to be dictated by what others thought of me, now it’s nearly 0%”
The point is that if there is something in your life you think you should start doing then do it. If it’s starting a business GREAT! Get some good books, read up about what you would like to do and learn from people who have done it or are already doing it. Work for someone (for free, if you must) who is a master in this just to learn the ropes. See what is done well, see what can be done better.


If it’s about becoming a more courageous person. Maybe consider what steps you should start taking to free yourself from fear.  As Aristotle taught, one of the best ways to become virtuous is by developing virtuous habits. For example, courage. Each time you are faced with a small choice to be courageous or fearful. (even with a silly choice of trying a new food) choose the courageous. By doing this, in time you will have series of courageous choices that amount to you being defined and growing into a courageous person. Click HERE for a pretty great write up on his teachings.


When I started my first business, a small I.T. helpdesk, and service company at 14 years old I can honestly say I didn’t know that it was possible to make a successful business out of it. But I intended to find out. I calmed my childish fears by saying. I have 4 years to figure this out then by the time I graduate I will have to be a serious adult, if things aren’t working out by then I guess I will have to get a “Real” job like everyone else. Although these thoughts seemed to pacify my fears at the time, they didn’t resolve my core fears of taking steps that most others in society didn’t often take or didn’t approve of. These fears would continue to haunt me for years. They would affect the choices I had to make in business, relationships, and life. I had some positive support from my family that I could try to do this if I wanted to. This certainly was a huge help during “difficult” times.

Commented insecurity

Most other people’s comments (extended family and often friends) only increased my insecurities if only temporarily. If I would have a slow week at work, comments like “it’s the middle of the day, why aren’t you working” or “I had a friend who tried to have a service business, but he was so sick of it after 2 years he quit” or even the innocent “I could never do that.” . These comments made it very difficult for me to stay confident in the fact that I COULD do it.

Fear & Doubt hesitation and regret.

A wise old man once told me, “Charlie, there is no room for unwanted house guests in your life. I asked him what he was talking about. “fear and doubt have been lodging with you too long,” He said. “Also their cousins’ hesitation and regret. It’s time you throw them out”. Certainly hearing someone say they saw these “house guests” in my life and defining it this way made me more aware to not allow any space for them anymore in my choices and though patterns.

Learn to define success based on your own desires and goals. Don’t get discouraged by headlines that seem impossible for you in your current situation. Likewise, don’t be discouraged by headlines that don’t reflect outcomes that would enrich your life.

The unsettled settler.


The Unsettled Settler. Life outside the lines

The unsettled settler.

“It’s time you settle down, isn’t it?”
“Maybe you should settle for this right now.”
“He/She’ll never settle down.”

These are some common phrases heard around the world. Words possibly spoke in love (or fear/anger) to a son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild.
But what does it mean to hear those words, when inside something feels more “unsettled” than permanent?
The unsettled settler.

Some call it escaping, while others call it growing; Running away or stepping forward?… Laziness or fully living?… Maybe it’s quitting? Or just beginning?

The goal isn’t to turn against society, to be obstinate or ornery. Instead, it’s to live a life enriched with experience beyond the ordinary.

To “settle” used to involve taking risks, traveling across an unknown land beyond the edge of “comfort and common”. This was not a negative trait during those early years of civilization. Rather, It was a necessary part of human nature. We still carry this nature with us today.

There are many ways to traverse across the unknown. While travel can inspire, travel itself seldom grows a person. Most importantly, it’s the choice to take interest in things unknown, to open your mind beyond the familiar to have the strength and independence to live not only according to the rule of society and expectation of those around you.

In this blog, I will share some stories of growing up as an “unsettled settler” in a rural post-industrial midwest and my journey since then. My journey started with a strong desire to travel, explore and meet new and interesting people. But after starting a business and allowing it to take over my life and well being, I responsibly quit and spent time abroad. This was my attempt at getting a balanced view on life, my purpose and passions and what I consider “of value” in my life.

I hope to have other “settlers” share some of their own passions and life experiences that will inspire others to push the boundaries they currently have around themselves and give courage that it is NEVER too late to make choices you believe in no matter how “unknown” the path, how challenging the work, or absurd the thought.

Go, explore, learn, dream.

The “unsettled settler”


Rear-view Thinking. (staring backward running forwards)

I have a tendency to look in the wrong places for direction. I use my mirrors, but I don’t use my mirrors for a revealing time of self-analysis. For example, glancing at the side mirror of my car to determine if it is safe to make a lane change. Instead, I stare into the rear-view mirror. I recently found myself in a situation where I was surrounded by beautiful scenery, awesome friends, exciting experiences and I was lost in thoughts about situations from my past. I was missing 90% of what joy and happiness I could’ve taken from that moment. I’ll share a few “reflections” on staring backwards while moving forwards.

Past reflections

I am realizing that this “rear-view mirror” mindset only allows me to look at a reflection of my past. A reflection is not an accurate view. They are frequently molded, bent and twisted.  My view of the past is strongly shaped by my emotional state when these past events took place.For example, during times when I was desperate for attention, situations that brought attention (whether healthy or not) were felt as a positive experience. The desire to be noticed is a real and valid emotional need. But my choice to meet this need in ways that were often unhealthy or harmful to myself is overlooked in the “rear-view” mirror.

Missing the current moment.

Sometimes my attention is SO devoted to staring at reflections of the past that I miss what could be happening in the present moment. In an effort to “see a sign” or “learn a lesson” I miss out on healing, rebuilding and useful situations that help me grow and develop.  It becomes so difficult to communicate very simple and deep human expressions of love towards another person if our focus is elsewhere. Or what about the great sensation of feeling a warm pacific breeze blow through your hair as you breathe a deep breath healthy and fed. (even if that means eating a worm or grasshopper in Thailand) There are many cliched statements about living in and enjoying the moment. There is a reason so many statements meant to inspire this choice have been written.

Missing the future.

When I am driving down the road and I take a moment to look in the mirror for a 1/2 second. The person in front of me slams on their brakes or I drive directly through a hole in the road. This potential danger I searched for in the mirror becomes much less important than the immediate one in front of me. I can give myself much needed time to prepare and react to dangers ahead if I am willing to keep my eyes looking forward. It is not only about dangers in front of me, but also positive goals, achievements, and purpose in life.

Potential dangers in “waiting for the future”

There is a threat also of only dreaming about life in the future as well. For example thinking that life will begin only after….. I get a new job. I graduate. My divorce is final or I have a wife, two kids, a dog and a white picket fence. (I hope I can have a dog and wife one day, not sure which one should become part of my life first) Standing still waiting for the future can create an additional “blind-spot.”

Reflecting on the past can be a very helpful and useful part of working through some painful experience. It also helps our understanding of why we feel what we feel today. But focusing too much in the rear-view mirror makes me miss out on the beautiful scenery currently around me. Not to mention potential potholes in the road ahead. Time to see what lies on the horizon, be present and enjoy the moment I am currently living in.