My mission is to grow powerful people. To do this I learn, teach, and mentor so that they can better survive and thrive. I’m passionate about purpose, people, context and culture.
I’m driven, and really always have been, to help people survive and thrive by understanding knowledge. I’ve always been hungry to learn more, know more, and teach more. When I was young this was all about understanding how the world had been by reading history, how it could be by reading science fiction and how it should be by reading fables of Arthurian legend, noble knights and stoic warriors. In my undergraduate studies at CU Boulder I studied Political Science and History. Gaining a better understanding of how people influence each other and move toward consensus on how to live through words, written and spoken.
I recognized the Constitution for the United States as the greatest framework that existed for maximizing the chances and opportunities for an individual to survive and thrive. Enough centralization to protect against external threats of war, disease, collapse, and enough limitations to diminish the risk of state oppression and terror of the individual. I recognized the need for the option of force to back the consensus, not just influence. I decided the Constitution needed protection, and as a United States Marine officer we swore to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Critically, officers do not swear to obey orders, but only to support and defend the Constitution.
I deployed to Afghanistan twice. On the first deployment I learned important lessons about all of my passions. Recognizing the purpose of our presence there and how to best serve that, the people whose interests were involved, population, fellow Americans, our adversaries, the context we were working in historically, environmentally and crucially: culturally. We lost friends who were genuinely good people trying to help people from another land survive and thrive.
On the second deployment I learned even more. Our sister team was attacked by the very Afghan security forces they were embedded to mentor, inflicting 25% casualties on the team and leading to my joining as a combat replacement. We recognized the impossibility of our supposed purpose – to make Afghanistan safe, stable and free – and narrowed our purpose to the achievable within our context. We would keep each other safe, we would make the Afghan security forces we were sent to mentor a little bit better each day, and we would help them to protect the population in the area as best they could. Through difficult circumstances and setbacks, including the savage disregard of our adversary for the people, we met those goals.
On returning, I was assigned to United States Southern Command and there worked with an intelligence and operations team to help our Commander understand the context of all of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Some deeper thinking about the purpose and context of the employment of the military led to considering more alternatives to making the world better. As our focus was less directly on combat and more generally on international security and collaboration I was moving on the spectrum more towards influence and words than force in my daily work and became more fascinated with a third major method of influence: trade.
Together my wife Abby and I decided to part ways with the Corps and to pursue deeper understanding of commerce by studying business at UNC Kenan-Flagler. There I added a third major lens and lever through which to understand and affect my passions. As I came to understand the power of trade to help people survive and thrive I began testing possible industries to join. Technology emerged as the most ethically neutral and scalable approach to help make the world a better place, and I found I could best apply my passions for purpose, people, context and culture in the discipline of product management. I Interned with Amazon and learned lessons about scale and customer-centricity. I chose IBM for my full time opportunity to embrace their elite Enterprise Design Thinking and Product Management bootcamp training. There I learned even more about putting the customer and user’s problems at the center of the design and planning. Of meeting their needs and being the best at their ‘job to be done’ to earn their trust and confidence.
Like everyone, I’m still very much on the path of deeper understanding, and always will be. I know that I’ll continue to be guided by my passions for purpose, people context and culture and helping people to survive and thrive through knowledge.