We should all take our birthday as a time to reflect. I remember when I was living at home, I would come home from school and my mom would have stacks of baby photos piled up on the living room table for me to review. I had no recollection of those photos – those early 1980 blurry kodak photos of a mini me at the hospital.
Growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, I lived in a suburb of the capital of Connecticut. My fondest memories are walking up this massive hill to go to elementary school on the other side. The adventures – I remember my sister and I always meeting new people and learning new things. Taking short cuts through backyards, finding birds with broken wings, and one kid who ate a dozen pink donuts and threw it up on the way to school.
Those are the times we live our life for. Right?
High school I was able to go to such a small catholic high school – my parents loved me so much they wanted me to learn and experience a small high school experience. I remember being so nervous having to leave my hometown friends and meet all new people. I remember a group of sophomore girls, Bridget, Eva, and others saw me running for class president and picked me as their target to have fun with- shouting my name down the halls saying vote for me for president.
Of course we all have our negative memories of high school – but let’s stick to the positive memories 🙂
College was another transition – again going to a school where I didn’t know anyone except my friend’s older brother who was in the graduate program there and rarely saw. Again winning class president, I always tried to listen to others and understand what people are looking for. One girl said I was like a bobble head, always walking between the meetings looking far left and far right for people to wave and say hi to. Kind of learned that from my dad – he was always so friendly to everyone at church, boy scouts, city parades, everywhere.
The next challenge was going into the work world. I remember preparing for my life to be over – that summer between college and work – I backpacked Europe (by myself), drove across the country (with Scott), and took a few days down in Jamaica with Tayan. The thought was, I was entering the work world and my freedom was gone.
I did have the idea of starting my own business, but still at that time I thought I had to save up a ton of money, get an MBA, and then get through graduate studies make a connection and then start my own business in the mid 30s earliest.
Life didn’t seem to go that way- and first day at Deutsche Bank orientation in 2003 on Wall Street I sat next to Greg Schwartz. He had taken his senior design project at Michigan and turned it into a business. He saw in me my ability to network, understand the basics of technology, and market. I remember him showing me his website analytics and I was sold. I dug deep into internet marketing – fascinated that people from around the world could come to a website and do business without even meeting you.
That lead to starting an eBay shop and a bunch of online e-commerce stores in 2004 just figuring out what people would by. Doing this after my 12-13 hour shift on Wall Street, Andrew and I were grinding at nights and weekends. Making mistakes and learning as we went – there was really no one to explain what to do. Just on message boards, but one of my professors from college, an adjunct, Carl Pavarini, had business expeirence and I kept him up to date with what was happening. He mentioned third party fulfillment and I was so excited I didn’t need to ship packages out of my fraternity house anymore.
Basically, years of making mistakes and learning lead me to sourcing from China for my own business and others. Thought it would just be a few months but 10 years later I am married with kids and here for the long haul.
Probably would have had a breakdown if it weren’t for my amazing wife Wendy. I remember I met her during my startup Social Agent – thanks Amy for doing some amazing Weibo search work – and she was so amazed a foreigner was doing a Chinese app. I remember her Tibet trip and her explaining me to calm my mind and meditate. Who knows, probably would have been another foreigner here who lost his mind and went to the crazy house.
Fast forward through years of China business hustle, and I am loving where we are today. Started my personal blog 10 years ago and it is my passion. To share knowledge and information with others and connect with people around the world.
We have the Cross Border Summit coming up in a couple weeks – and honestly the timing of it is based a bit on my birthday! We of course do it during the trade show season as so many people are in China from around the world already, but also I prefer to do it in the Spring phase, as its my birthday and also the Spring is “sprung” such a happy time of year as things are warming up and people are so excited for business.
A huge thanks for our amazing speakers the list is so long. And those attending the summit, thanks for trusting us to provide you with an amazing event full of education, networking, and business deals!
And thank you – for watching (reading) this blog. Those comments and likes on my videos still get the girly high schooler in me all blushing, so sharing this video is appreciated.
But the main point is, life is a journey. It is a ship, and we need to keep adjusting the direction it is going in to stay on track to getting to the end destination. Sure I’ll be dead soon enough, and til the day I die I will be in pursuit of getting one step closer. But the sooner we all acknowledge that – that there is no end, there will always be another challenge, another opportunity, another thing to learn – that was a huge mindset shift for me.
There is no end. The journey is the end.
I’m 36 years old today, I plan to live at least another 36 more – and I hope to connect with you along this journey we call life.