Anyone that knows me, thinks of how far I often go on the bike and closely associate cycling with my work. Sure my legs have gotten me places but my network has gotten me further.
I’ve made a living out of connecting and helping people. Without the many people I’ve met and those that have helped me along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
When Daniel & the Student Generation team asked me share my story of how I got where I am + to share some lessons learned over time, I immediately thought about the post I wrote about the importance of being dropped for Vulpine last year.
Whereas this article is about incorporating your a passion into a vocation, the Vulpine post is about perseverance, tenacity & resilience. In fact, it has been nearly exactly a year since that post and nearly a year since starting my newsletter & 9 years since starting my own bike shop. But let’s go even further back in time…
Pre-History – first job to odd jobs | 1999 – 2006
- First job 1999 – employed at 15 years old washing dishes, bussing tables & catering at a BBQ joint.
- Summer 2002 – I spent my senior year of high school in Germany on a scholarship
- Summer 2003 to Summer 2004 – I worked landscaping & in a grocery store + finishing high school
- 2004 to 2006 – got into GA State worked as a waiter in fine dining, brunch places & as a barista
- Show up on time, do what you’ve got to do, stay until it’s done right. This sets you apart from the start.
- Learn from your managers. Helping them with tasks beyond your job descriptions. Listen to their stories.
- Quit for new opportunities. It’s easy to stay in a job. Don’t let opportunity pass you by for the sake of job security. (protip: leave on good terms & take a good reference with you)
My Own Bike Shop | 2007-2010
When I share my story with people younger than me, it goes way back to undergrad. Working as a waiter and later as a barista. Back then, I was into the urban cycling scene in Atlanta. I competed in and ultimately helped organize alleycat races with bike messenger buddies of mine. We all liked riding track bikes but bike shops in our city didn’t sell the kind of gear we wanted. What the hell, we thought, let’s open our own bike shop. That was July 7, 2007.
- Starting a business with your buds can rule! I learned so much back then from running the business to working on bikes, brand collaborations and negotiations + everything in between.
- Establishing a network globally and in your community are equally vital. I lean on bonds made then still now. I learned the value of a strong network.
- Starting a business with your friends can suck. Spoiler alert! Here is an old post about it.
Office Jobs | 2008 – 2014
Not even a year into starting the shop and nearly done with my undergraduate degree, I got an internship helping with Web Content & Promotion at a translation agency. My online work for my own shop got me in the door. I did that then project management and, later, sales for this agency. After that, joined a small Ruby on Rails shop that, a year later, merged into full stack software development and developer training company. The merger was my ticket to Amsterdam but that office closed only 5 months later. Three months later, I got a job working at a Dutch startup for 6 months before the next chapter.
- Pay it forward – advice, favors, introductions, etc. Don’t keep count. Just help how you can. You’ll become the person people turn to for help, insight to share opportunities with.
- Overdeliver – don’t just do your job (like i did in the pre-history section) Do that but more: new ideas + higher results = impressed managers & colleagues
- Be nice. – do I even have to say this? Even if people suck, are dumb, mean etc. Be nice. Thank me later.
My Own ‘Office’ Job | 2014 – Current
By the winter of 2014, I had been in Holland for just over a year. I felt confident that I had what it took to start my own consulting business and re-applied for my and my family’s visa’s with a new incorporation. I began to slowly taking on clients. The pace began to pick up quick in the spring.
Now 1.5 years into starting my second company, Twotone Consulting. We’re an Amsterdam based agency stoked on where sales & PR meet. We…
- empower clients by building targeted lists of ideal customers & show them how
- qualify leads, run automated outbound campaigns and generate new business
- offer lead gen appointment setting + shared know how and 1:1 coaching
- develop PR strategies to tell your story to the right people in the right way
- create brand events and activations: sales pro meetups to casual rides
Key lessons so far:
- Trust your team – 5 months in I hired Headroom, then 6 months later my first employees. Communicate well and you won’t have much to worry about execution. Track progress and hold people accountable.
- Trust yourself – from long bike rides to publishing regular content. Make a name for yourself that people can comprehend and share with their network. Be confident about your decisions. Follow through.
- Wake up early – #earlytobedearlytoshred is more than my most famous hashtag. It is really hard. So most people skip it. Give yourself a headstart. It is that simple.
In closing, it might be easy for readers and even myself to see how my “life turned out” in a logical way
But combining work, fun and passion whilst finding time for my family hasn’t at all been intuitive, straightforward or easy at all. Despite bumps in the road, the bicycle has been at the core of each, major professional era for me, the foundation of my closest friendships and the first thing my wife and I had in common ; )
For this reason I do often go back to the early decision to open the bike shop and how it impacted my life. I often say “it always comes back to the bike” but what does that really mean?
The essential formula for me: find a consistent passion that keeps you stoked and keep pushing on that. Over the years, that has meant going faster, further and on new terrain with new people. This dedication impacts how you hold yourself accountable and how you push yourself personally and professionally. Not to mention a constant stream of new contacts and adventures.
Keeping a routine of perpetual improvement that’s fun + remembering lessons like those above that you learn along the way will make all the difference!
I hope this story contains some concrete and actionable tips on how to go incorporate your passion into your job! In case you’d like to read more: I share weekly insights + interesting articles here: bit.ly/Subscribe-to-my-newsletter
Thanks for reading!
Featured image by Ian Matteson for Enve Composites.