A passion for connecting

My lifelong passion for connecting people started in the 2nd grade.

My family had just moved from South Africa to Minneapolis, which in the winter feels like moving from San Diego to the North Pole. I learned about 5 foot snowbanks, 20 degree weather and moon boots. I also learned at school that I was really different. And it was hard.

I didn’t think like anyone else. I didn’t talk like anyone else. And I didn’t dress like anyone else. I’ll never forget staring into my pencil box desperate for the words as my class recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

But because I was different, I worked harder than anyone else at understanding people, at connecting with them, and at making friends. I had no choice. And by 5th grade, my accent was gone and my favorite things were ice hockey and Star Wars, just like any 10 year old boy from Minnesota. Except for the fact that I was selling greeting cards door-to-door. It felt amazing to solve people’s problems!

When I was 11 we moved to Salt Lake City, where I started a lawn mowing business and bought and sold toys from neighborhood kids on the side. And when I was 16 we moved to Los Angeles, where I became the bridge between separate friend groups in my high school and won a place on class council.

This passion for connecting people is the common core for everything in my personal and professional life:

  • It’s why I spent ten years throwing 500+ person parties in San Francisco (resulting in at least one marriage)
  • It’s why I created two web publishing products in my first startup and personally generated $1 million per year in sales for them
  • It’s why I created the world’s first group text messaging company (sold to Skype) and why I turned around an events search company and sold them to eBay

My passion for connecting people is the foundation of my strength as a product leader and entrepreneur.

If you’re working on something exciting that improves how the world connects, send me a message. I would love to hear about it!