Updated: May 19, 2021
This feels like a fitting first blog post to make since it's an obvious question people ask when you become a coach. The short and sweet answer is because I enjoy helping people and wanted to be in control of my time and life. The longer version outlines the road it took to get here, the ups and downs, and digs into the details a little more.
A brief history on my story. I grew up in Cumberland Gardens, which is located in Allentown, PA. It's basically a public housing neighborhood for low-income families designed by the city. When you grow up in this type of environment, there's often not a lot of expectations for you from people outside of this type of community. You don't realize this initially, but it doesn't take too long to recognize your situation. Things like living your dream and financial freedom are not even a thought for most. For me, I didn’t even think going to college was possible. I remember being in high school and seeing people's names on a bulletin board that were committed to colleges and thinking how lucky these people were to have that opportunity.
At 16 I enlisted in the military, thinking this was the only way out for me. When I look back, it's kind of crazy how fast it all happened. I inquired for more information from the marine corp. reserves and had someone in our apartment within a couple of days. In the matter of about a week, a 16 year old made a major life decision and committed a nice chunk of his life, mostly due to thinking there were no other options. I also wanted to act cool in high school telling everyone I'm going to be a badass marine.
Sadly, this is the case for a lot of people, in all stages of life. They think they only have limited options. Even people who are brought up in better financial situations. Society has created this blueprint on how you should live your life. Get good grades in high school, go to college, find a career, buy a house and car, get married, have children, retire at 65. All these major decisions being made a such a young age. An 18 year old is basically deciding what they want to do for the rest of their life, committing by paying a small fortune, and graduating with massive debt, probably not even sure the thing they chose is something they're passionate about.
Now you're stuck in a career you don't care about, but need to keep working to pay off your student loans, that new car you bought, etc. Now we're just living for the weekend, struggling to wake up in the morning for a job that doesn't provide any fulfillment.
We will touch more on this a little later, so back to my story. During boot camp, I came to the realization being in the military wasn't for me. It wasn't long after completing all my training I decided to be discharged from the military. But now I'm stuck again. No job, living at home with my mom. I always had a job since I was 12 years old, all the way up to this point. And now I'm completely lost. I found some work at temp agencies for a bit and ended up working with my best friend at an anesthesia packaging plant. It paid decent, but we had to work some crazy long hours. Some days we worked 13,14 hours. I'll never forget walking out of work one day and asking myself the most cliched question. “Is there where you want to be in 5 years?” Obvious answer was HELL NO. Then the next question was, “Well, where do you want to be in 5 years?” This was a game-changer for me
I decided to enroll at Lincoln Tech for the "Electrical Engineering Technician" program. I was naïve and thought that I would be an engineer but didn't realize I was studying to be just a technician, with no credits that would transfer to an actual accredited engineering program. Didn't matter though, I excelled in the program, graduated, and landed a job at Lutron Electronics. I bought a used car, was living in a nice little apartment. Things were going pretty well, but it didn't feel like it was enough. I had tasted a small piece of success and started to realize I can be so much more. Things that once didn't seem possible, were becoming possibilities. I was extremely determined to prove to the world that a kid from Cumberland Gardens can make something great of himself and become an engineer. I then embarked on a 6 year journey to get my electrical engineering degree at Penn State.
I started off going to community college while working full time at Lutron, to get some of the basic credits. Did this for about 2-3 years, and then went full time into college at Penn State. I sold my furniture and moved out of my nice little apartment, into my friend’s apartment, and slept on his floor for a short while. Then swallowed my pride and ended up moving back with my mom, while attending school. Also, picked up a part time job as a delivery man for dominoes. I basically gave up decent pay, a decent job, decent living conditions, to be broke and start from scratch.
A lot of people thought I was crazy, but I had a vision. I knew what was now possible. I worked my ass off to get my engineering degree at Penn State. During my time on campus, I almost got evicted from my apartment twice. My mom didn't have good enough credit, so I had to take out loans myself, at criminally high interest rates. But the loans didn't cover everything. Luckily, I had an amazing friend loan me around 2k to help me pay rent. I would also donate plasma twice a week to help pay for food. I was on a mission to prove the world wrong, and nothing was going to stop me. Unfortunately, I realized halfway through, being an engineer is not something I'm passionate about. But like I mentioned before I was committed and would need to work for many years to get my student loans paid off to even think about starting a new career.
On my graduation day, I was so happy to see my family who drove from Allentown to see me. I felt so happy knowing I made them proud. On the way out of graduation, my car broke down, literally a block away from campus. My family went home without me, and I stood to make sure my car got fixed. Little did I know there was a surprise graduation party waiting for me back home, but I needed my car to get to my upcoming job at Lockheed Martin. After graduation, I stood at a friend’s apartment since I had nowhere to go until I found a way to somehow fix my car and get to NY to start my job. At this exact time, I realized the bank had frozen my checking account due to unpaid hospital and credit card bills. I get a little chocked up writing about this because I remember what the feeling was to go through all of this.
Luckily, I had family members help me get my car fixed and ultimately to NY to start my career. I had around 100k of student loans, unpaid hospital and credit card bills, and a credit score of like 570. I was determined to get ahead, and at some point in my life, really do something I care about while working towards financial freedom. About 4 years ago I gave myself 5-10 years to leave my current job as an engineer, into something I actually care about. I'll be quitting my job as an engineer at Lockheed Martin literally 4 years to the day I made that statement on Facebook.
So, what does this story have to do with me becoming a coach? The answer is simple, I want to help people find a career they care about and not have to go through some of the things I did. I want people to know they have choices. I want to bring out the untapped potential in people, and help them live fulfilling life, while doing the same myself.