It's been a long road to get where I am now. While I've learned not to dwell on the past, reflecting on my journey has helped inform the work I'm doing today. Maybe you'll relate to where I've been. Maybe not. But perhaps you'll agree that we each have a purpose. Here's what it took for me to find mine.
Growing up I was surrounded by all things inspirational: a good education, art, music, love...and I had access to the tools to foster that inspiration. We had a computer at home. I was published in a national magazine at age 11. I had a highly privileged upbringing, which is the source of my motivation to build a world where everyone has access to such love and resources.
Once I got to college, I strayed from my predicted path. I studied journalism, played in bands, played pit percussion for musical theater, expanded my photography and one February jumped into Lake Michigan in exchange for a home-cooked Italian dinner.
At an early age, I started my own business, Astek. Over 14 years we grew to 13 full-time team members and seven figures. During this time I embodied the deepest leadership lessons I’ve ever learned, which is why I have the confidence and empathy to coach leaders and CEOs leading companies of any size. I exited the business in 2016.
2007: A Big Year
This is when I had the first light bulb for FeelReal, a crystal clear vision from a dream about organizing Internet community into small-group realtime dialogues. I also hired my first employee for Astek and bought a multi-unit property. I joined the boards of 137 Films and Promethean Theatre Ensemble to apply what I’d learned in business to science documentaries and theater.
2013: Conscious Capitalism
At the peak of Astek’s run, things became very tough. Our mettle was tested and we persevered through many twists and turns. This led me to seek out people who were interested in building conscious businesses that cared for people while contributing to society and being sustainably profitable. I found the Conscious Capitalism Chicago Chapter, which would influence much of my path over the coming years. I was a founding member of the inaugural advisory board and currently chair the Strategic Partnerships Team.
2015: A Look in the Mirror
After a few rough years with my company and the end of a romance, I took a good hard look in the mirror and decided I wasn’t the man I wanted to be. So I set about changing that through health, fitness, mindfulness and a devotion to repairing a few messes I’d left along the way.
2016: Science of Story
The Mabbly team and I interviewed more than 500 companies about their purpose, culture and values. It was an exhilarating ride as Contributing Author, and I penned most of the case studies at the end—stories of companies doing right by their people.
2018: Allyship Coming Out Party
After years of learning about American colonization, racism and privilege, the pinnacle of this year was speaking at the FWD (For Women & Diversity) Summit with Michelle Bess about the white man’s role in diversity. It’s my observation in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion space that most of the work is being done by women and people of color. I seek to change that by educating more people who look like me to get involved in this critical work of our times. I also joined a group of men, ManKind Project, devoted to making a safer and more loving world by holding space for the hardest inner work.
2019: Launching FeelReal & Finding My Voice
This is a year of convergence, realizing what’s possible after many years of deep healing and discovery. I finally incorporate FeelReal as an Illinois Benefit corporation and put the wheels of change into motion. The universe is hearing my call. I continue to work with select leaders and conscious companies to build cultures of love. I start giving workshops to bring people along the allyship journey. I help to launch a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about racism.
I've received this wisdom to share with you:
All that has happened is gone. We must not forget it. Our great test as a species is to heal together and build anew. All love is required for this mission. If we do not achieve this, we will perish together. If we do achieve this, then our imaginations will reveal possibilities beyond our dreams. All pain must be faced if it is to be transcended. All power comes from pain. It’s not found through force, but by letting go and surrendering to all love. You are not meant to do it alone. Nobody is. And it won’t work by building walls around love. Your brilliance already exists. You just have to open the window and let the bird fly free. Remember, peace is not simply the absence of violence, but the presence of truth.