Growing up a child of the U.S. Marine Corp, my 3 sisters and I moved around the majority of our lives. From Hawaii to Germany, California to North Carolina, we had to learn how to adapt to change. My mom was born in American Samoa, where family and tradition play a strong role in life. She insisted on raising us in the States where we may have a chance at a better education and future.
My professional life began right out of high school, at 17 years old there wasn’t much I could do. I knew I had the passion and drive to do something … but didn’t know what it was. After a few months working construction and other odd jobs, I realized I needed to figure something out. I literally opened the phone book (yes phone book) and it opened to the section “Signs”. Well this was interesting since I took some graphic design courses and always had artistic abilities.
Finally, after calling several, one sign shop was hiring and the manager told me to come by for an interview that day. I had no idea what to expect, I threw my best clothes on and headed to their office. This was my first interview, and had no how they even made signs, my thought was they were mostly painted. So going in I wasn’t sure what would be asked of me.
Turns out it didn’t matter, since all they needed me for was digging holes for the signs, and painting the signboards white … didn’t really need much knowledge for that. I took the job, and dug the best holes anyone could dig, and painted those boards without a blemish for $5 an hour, under the table. A few months of digging holes and painting boards, my passion and drive for more was still there. Passing through the art room several times a day and watching the creative team design signs on the computer, I realized this is where I wanted to be.
I read and studied every chance I could to learn the programs needed to design a sign. I had some artistic ability and learned a little about Photoshop in school, so it wasn’t to hard. I took home stacks of “Signs of the Times” magazine, and read them thoroughly. I learned what made sign effective, the best use of colors, and typography. The magazine featured Signs from all over the world from Las Vegas to Tokyo. I gained large amounts of knowledge on usability, legibility and the benefits of effective advertising.
I saved up $700, opened a $500 Best Buy account, borrowed $50 from a friend and purchased my first computer. Little did I know this investment of $1250 would be life changing for me and my family.
My big moment was just one step away. After teaching myself how to design on the computer I approached the sales team, I believe her name was Lisa, with the question … “Can I try designing a sign for a customer?” … Whew! This was a big leap, the guy that digs holes and paints our boards wants a swing on the computer against our art team? Well she gave me that chance. I would produce 3 concepts for the client, and if they approved any of them, I may have a full time role in the art department.
I did it, and the designs were submitted to the client. It was a tension filled wait to hear back from the client, after a couple days the results were in and they loved one of the designs, with some minor revisions. I thought wow, I made it! I spent the next couple years learning more and more about signs, advertising and business in general, all while developing my design skills. I realized that pretty much every business needs a sign. Early 2002 I had started my own sign shop, and my first son, Jeremiah, was due for arrival that summer. You could easily say my passion and drive grew even stronger.
This new thing called the “internet” was becoming more and more appealing to me. Web Design and Development was hardly even heard of, but something told me it would be good to know more about it. A gentlemen walked into my shop and he was selling a phone book ad. He told me if I purchased and ad from him he would build a web page for my business. I thought that was a pretty good deal, but asked him if I could watch him build the web page, and he agreed.
After watching him I was even more intrigued at how HTML code could make things show up on a web page. I began reverse engineering, and soaking up all information I could about creating websites. I spent countless hours at Barnes & Noble reading book after book on coding web pages. After a few months I could create a website from scratch, I already had the design ability in photoshop and just needed to take those design skills and turn them into a web site. It didn’t take long before I started creating websites for my existing clients. Shortly after I quit making signs and made websites full time.
For the past 12 years I have been making a pretty good living creating websites for all types of businesses. I have had the privilege of working with small start up clothing brands to building out large scale infrastructures for State Universities. Some of my most recognized work experience includes Dell, AMD, Penn State and H&R Block.
Along the way I have been a part of teams, helped produce websites for large ad firms and design agencies, and worked along side some of the best internet marketers on the planet. There are 2 specific people I consider mentors that play a major part of influencing my work and my personal mindset. The 2 two people are Alex Charfen and Mike Dillard. You see, while making my way through life, creating websites, my skill set grew tremendously and my drive always lead me to challenge my capabilities, but I was lacking something and did not even know it, personal growth.
I met Alex in 2008 and Mike around 2009 … I created graphics, and worked on websites for both of them. Alex was in the Real Estate Education market with a membership base of 7,500 which we grew to 30k+, while Mike, a network marketing expert, had a site with about 70,000 members. Both were very successful and making millions. What I took away from working with these guys was another milestone in my life. They taught me to grow as a person and to use my skills to really help people.
For many years I was building websites for customers with no real end goal in mind. My thought was they need a website and I need to make money. I spent years using this funnel: market myself, get some prospects, land a client, do the work, and then do it all over again. I was constantly looking for the next client. I realized my clients did not need websites they needed more business and more customers and I was just building their site and sending them on their way. If you really think about it I was selling cars without engines … pretty lame right?
It was time to change the way I viewed my clients, and the way I allowed them to view me. I still build websites, but now they are purpose driven around my clients goals and needs. From start to finish I take ownership of every project and treat it as if it is my own. I can help you and your business grow online using proven concepts.