Guided by an early notion
I have loved to draw since age 3. After noticing some ability by age 6, my father asked if I wanted to enter a drawing contest. His department was raising safety awareness by having employees draw caution themed pictures and there was prize money. I won but the jury decided not to award me the purse when they found out my age and that I wasn’t an employee. In the end they agreed to pay only a portion of it but nonetheless I was profoundly transformed by the notion that I could make money doing what I loved.
What chutzpah can get you
At age 16 I found my first customer as a freelance graphic designer at the local gym when I vocally criticized the poster for an arm wrestling event while standing next to its promoter. I had no idea who he was or that it was his event. A week later my poster replaced the original one and the promoter, now happier, remained my client for another 5 years. I learned that being openly critical can create opportunity when you know you can deliver the better solution.
Shipping product against odds
My first interactive product, I designed the user interface for a touch-screen kiosk that was to be placed at the World Watch & Clock Fair. In order for the team and I to deliver on the opening of this renowned international event, the last leg of the project required us to work 72 consecutive hours. I had never imagined I would have to work that hard, but we absolutely needed to succeed. To this day, I can still recall what that protracted focus felt like and I learned what shipping product on time can demand.
Believing is not seeing
I created an e-commerce site to sell grocery coupon codes and discounted 35mm film rolls thinking I had great foresight from the assurance that people predictably buy food and take pictures. Digital cameras were fast becoming the norm and I embarrassingly realized I hadn’t been paying attention to the trend. I learned the necessity of looking 5 years into the future where convenience likely wins.
Oh, the places you’ll go!
I’ve lived on two continents and in three European countries. I moved to the Bay Area seeking opportunity, back to where my parents had originally lived before becoming expatriates. I relearned my profession in English as I had undergone my entire education in French. I experienced a year and a half of unbridled enthusiasm and then the dot com crash. I learned that doing what you love is a privilege and to enjoy every moment you can.