Sceptical Optimism Sceptical Optimism

Life From MBA to Web Software Hacker


I am a 35 yo MBA, PMP type who through a series of personal transformations, decided that I wanted to start building stuff. As a junior software engineer at Cloud City Development, I spend my time building things for clients and chasing new business. We work out of Parisoma, a coworking space that has been a huge well spring of friends and cool experiences for me. I've personally launched and and am currently working on something a little stealthy... Outside of coding, I love the bay area, I love outdoor athletic culture and food. This post is a brief window into how I got here, enjoy!


During college, I learned about html and the static side of building websites. At that time, digital photography had captured my imagination so a ton of energy went into learning about html, layout and display. I also spent a summer working for an SEO outfit out of Oregon. Half way through the summer, Page Rank started ruining our business. College finished a year later, armed with a degree in environmental science, all I really wanted to do was see the world. I actually had developed great passion for the internet but at the advice of someone (who will remain unnamed), I chose to join the Navy. Joining the Navy left my tech interests dormant while I spent 2000 - 2005 living all over the world while maintaining residence in Japan, Italy, and Afghanistan. The scope of all the things I did and learned on that journey extends way beyond this post.. so stay tuned. Some high points from that period; racing with a triathlon club in Italy, snowboarding in Nagano, Japan, getting first hand exposure to the process of nation rebuilding (building) in Kabul, Afghanistan, learning the streets of Sorrento, from the back of a Ducati...


After realizing that while interesting, life as a Naval Officer would not carry me through my years, I decided to end active service. Upon separation from active duty, I promptly moved to Dalian, China. Attending the Dalian University of Foreign Languages, I spent a good ten months developing some fundamental proficiency in Mandarin. People always ask me how well I can speak, at this point I'm losing the feel but in China, I would take trains till there were no more English speaking people and then force myself to survive, so since I'm still here, I must have developed a solid level. China offered me a ton of new experiences, friends and challenges, it rocked!

BUSINESS SCHOOL (BLUES...) | 2008-2010

I pretty much grew up believing that my destiny (yes Luke, I have one too) involved attending Thunderbird School of Global Management. From my high school days, my father had been a teacher at Thunderbird and I becamse obsessed with the idea of becoming "an international business man...". B-School erupted into chaos when the securities markets collapsed and my dreams of getting into global finance evaporated. Still not wantting to believe that the jig was up, I passed CFA level I and got my PMP cert. Graduation arrived in May of 2009, of the 60 or so students who started and graduated with me, I was one of a handful to have a job offer as I walked. I took a role in business development for a Thundebird Alumnus at a government contracting group. That role was somewhat interesting but I can legitmately say that I took it out of necessity, there were pretty much no options to work in the commercial sector.


After a brief winter (read snowboarding) interlude studying for CFA II (was still in employ of gov contractor) in Salt Lake City, I roadtripped to San Francisco. Ironically, I ended up staying at the house of Joe Gebbia @joegebbia on Rausch in SoMa, which I booked via AirBnB and was the location that AirBnB was being run out of at the time. It was sitting on the couch at this place I first heard the term Ruby on Rails... hmm, is that like a precious mineral? I ended up renting the second room I looked at, a 1-bedroom with parking at 777 Arguello, yes for $1450 (what a steal). By November of 2010 I had decided to find greaner pastures and left my employer. By Feb of 2011 I had sat tons of interviews ranging from Tesla, to Startups to Hedge Funds and finally settled with a position at HP. I had connected to another Thunderbird Alum who recruited me onto his team. Mar of 2011, I embarked on finding another place to live. To do this, I posted a listing on Craigslist advertisting that perfect house, with the tagline that if that sounds like a good idea, email me. A super cool guy who was arriving to San Francisco to complete his internship @callmephilip messaged me. We never moved in together but became great friends. Along the way, Philip liked and idea I had and we made Making pitchklub unleashed a torrrent of energy focused on making products.. (more in this topic to come).


Interestingly enough, I had never previously felt particularly connected to Apple or the fan-culture of Steve Jobs. I read his biography in the winter of 2011. I had certainly felt and observed in other situations but reading his biography crystallized the realization, for many leaders success represent the outcome of a life structured around invidual activity pursuits that become mastered over time. I realized, I had never done anything in my life with a singular focus that could be tied to anything like love of action or mastery. Once I realized that, I immediately quit my job at HP. I made a commitment that never again would I do anything in my life that I didn't have great intention to do. By May 1, 2012, I had finished my last day at HP and had began searching for a pure pursuit, a few days later I googled coding bootcamp and found I signed up and amazingly, after a 15 minute non technical, non puzzles interview, Shereef Bishay told me, do the Hartl Tutorial, make sure you like it and you can start Dev Bootcamp in June. From June to August, I lived ruby on rails, ruby, object oriented programming and product development. By the end of Dev Bootcamp, a bunch of students had made some crazy commitments to go full force in web programming. Dev Bootcamp represents the most effective, efficient learning experience of my life. One day at Dev Bootcamp, seated around the "square table", a group of people kind of bantered back and forth about entertaining work culture, ie, beer keg's, parties, etc. I promptly voiced my opinion, I want to work and I want to work with people who want to work, not got to work to be entertained. To this statement, Tim Connor, who I didn't know at that point, kind of agreed with me and we started talking about work etc. He met me the following week for coffee at Four Barrell. After a 20 minute conversation, he asked me if i'd like to apprentice for Cloud City Development. I happily accepted.. the rest is my current life...

If any of this resonates with you and you would like mentorship or to just connect over coffee, please let me know. :)



A Dream Team

We have traveled many miles.

We will help you build, scale, grow.