Introduce yourself - who are you?
I have a DO-bias... I am in favor of doing. I am usually found in some form of action: juggling, running, standing on my head, swimming, hiking, flying airplanes, jumping out of helicopters, selling something, organizing people, telling loud and slightly inappropriate stories/ jokes, bothering the woman I love, (Andra Adams). I love playing board games... I love playing games period. I love working with people who are passionate about what they do and who are committed to making things happen : ) I am intense and I have no patience for whining and complaining. My father used to tell me "Run with your heart and your feet will follow." That is how I try to live my life : )
I was one of the co-founders of BMS... the idea began in many different places, but culminated during my time as an investment analyst with KLH Capital. There I had the privilege of working with talented managers and brilliant entrepreneurs. I began there without any experience in business but learned rapidly at the side of wonderful people. What I began to realize was that groups of like minded and highly dedicated people can do anything they set out to do. I felt so grateful for the experience and I wanted to pay that forward to others, and that became the early seed of the idea for Black Mountain SOLE.
I am here to be a resource for people who want to challenge themselves and achieve great things. I want to ensure that experiential learning and collaboration has a home and a framework to sustain itself and extend it to others who are seeking it.
I am most excited about the collaboration and group interaction that will be taking place all the time at BMS. When motivated people come together to create, amazing things happen.
How to unlock the genius within teams of highly motivated people consistently.
How to create a framework that is both effective for people to achieve their objectives and agile enough to incorporate the diverse needs of each individual.
I want to be a purveyor of freedom, creativity, and self expression. I intend to accelerate the development of entrepreneurial communities and lifestyles. I am convinced that open minded and productive people are the solution to any perceived problems we have in this world, and I want to help them rally and do great work : )What are your passions?
I went through the public education system. I hated everything about school until I got to high school. What I learned in high school had little to do with the curriculum I was taking. I learned from the amazing people who befriended, mentored, and coached me to chase after my dreams and encouraged me to try again when I faltered in my endeavors.
The lasting lessons of my life have all come from outside the classroom. I want to make experiential and project based learning available to people. Not everyone wants/needs that, but I did, and if I had known of a school like SOLE when I was growing up, I certainly would have chose it over the traditional system.
Elite physical training
I am committed to helping people discover their passions and empowering them to blossom. That is why Black Mountain SOLE exists!
My father used to tell me, “Run with your heart and your feet will follow.” I have grown to appreciate the wisdom of these words and they are a large part of why I am passionate about what is possible with Black Mountain SOLE.
I was terrible at taking tests, and I knew that my SAT scores would play a major role in getting to where I wanted to be. The results of my first SAT were not what I needed… a solid 300 points short of where I needed to be. I bought every course and book available on taking the SAT, and then took the actual test 7 more times to get my best possible score… a cool feature that the academies allowed its applicants was the right to combine scores from separate tests to get a true “best” score in both aspects of the SAT (verbal and mathematics). My last two attempts leveraged this privilege to the hilt. I slept through the verbal sections and only focused on the math for the first, and did the opposite on the last. And yes, I hit my target. Not only did I get the score I needed, I also won four congressional nominations, three presidential nominations, and received offers from all five service academies (all offers to academies are full scholarship four year bachelor’s degree programs valued at over $200,000).
Clarity and the energy that is available to those who have it is contagious and life giving. My first major lesson in setting big targets and hitting them had me on fire to continue.
I dove head first into my Air Force Academy experience. I loved everything about it… except the classes of course. Why was I being forced to become an engineer? Didn’t they realize that I was going to jump out of aircraft and venture into the darkest dankest parts of the world on missions that get made into movies years later? Rebelling against the academic load, I chose the minimum effective dose method to my studies: D is for done… hey, its the same piece of paper at the end right? Were my future soldiers going to ask me what my GPA was? Hell no! They would expect me to be a rock star at my job and they would expect me to lead from the front. Well, even if my grades did come up I would happily report that my GPA was the furthest thing from my mind while I was at the Academy. I wanted to learn the skills and develop the leadership that would one day save lives. I was going to be the finest Combat Rescue Officer the Air Force had ever seen.
My life long dream of serving in the military as a rescuer seemed eminent, until that fateful day in the fall semester of my sophomore year. The last thing I remember before being rushed to the hospital was sitting at my desk. A classmate had found me unconscious on the floor, I had had a grand mal seizure. I would need brain surgery to correct the issue that had caused it. Both the seizure and the needed surgery would permanently disqualify me from being able to continue to serve in the military.
I was discharged from the Academy at the end of the fall semester. Defeated and feeling empty, I went back to the drawing board. I needed a job to buy me some time while I figured out a new plan. Inspired by the movie Good Will Hunting, I got a job as a janitor and later as a construction worker. Quite the departure from my previous path. My brain surgery went well and the doctors (both military and civilian) provided their full recommendation for my reinstatement into the Academy and military service, but my application was denied and their clean bills of health did nothing to budge the department of defense, the rules were the rules. I was told to wait, and re-apply in five years… and that even if I did, the chances of being given a medical waiver was less than 30%.
I lived with friends and tried to think of businesses we could start, we ended up launching an off road vehicle customization company and made roll cages for jeeps and other rock crawlers. I enjoyed the freedom and the lifestyle, but it lacked the fulfillment that the military path had provided. I was still convinced that the holy grail of life and its meaning for me lay in military service. So I began to concoct a plan to get back in somehow. About that time, a preview for the movie “The Guardian” came out. I hadn’t really considered the coast guard too seriously, I mean, I didn’t really want to be on a boat. But this movie opened my eyes to the fact that the Coast Guard not only had helicopters, but that they also trained elite rescuers to jump out of those helicopters. It wasn’t combat rescue, but it was damn close. The next day I went to the recruiter and submitted my application to enlist into the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard had the same policy regarding my medical history, but I anticipated this, and so conveniently had left it off of my application. This was a calculated risk. If I were discovered, the consequences would likely be prison time. But that paled in comparison to going through life knowing what I was passionate about and not having the stones to take the risks necessary to realize that dream.
While my application was being processed (3 months) I knew that I needed to get my ass in shape for rescue swimmer training. It has a very high drop out rate, and even the very best swimmers fail out. I may have forgotten to mention, I wasn’t very good at swimming… I was terrible. SO, I figured a great place to start would be doing triathlons and enrolling in the lifeguard training program at a local pool. The first day I barely passed the minimum swim test to qualify to take the life guard class. It was embarrassing having young high school kids smoking me like Olympians while I doggy paddled and grandma floated across the 500 meters desperately trying not to drown or worse, quit. But luckily, I made it : ) I loved training, and I started swimming every day… getting into shape was easy as a life guard, I was paid to be at the pool all day, and during my breaks I would swim laps and do exercises, it was perfect. The triathlons were brutal… swimming in the pool and swimming in open water are very different, and running and biking afterward just sucked, but I wanted to be a rescue swimmer, so I gutted it out.
My application finally went through, and I shipped out to Cape May, New Jersey for basic training. My cover story about the giant scar on the top of my head from brain surgery was a “climbing accident”… a superficial wound that only required staples, and had no other issues… and happened while I was rock climbing in Turkey… and I got the medical assistance at an aid station, so there wasn’t any record of it. Sound far fetched? Well, they bought it… or, lucky for me, didn’t seem to care enough to search the DOD database for the actual story. I was very nervous about all this, I could have powered a small city with my anxiety, but I was committed to seeing it through, and to me it was do or die.
I crushed boot camp and got my first pick of slots in the next Aviation Survival Technician Airman Program (the rescue swimmer pipeline). I shipped out to Miami for my training, and for the next year and a half got my ass thoroughly handed to me. I would go into detail, but this is already getting pretty long… let’s just say that there were days that I had difficulty sleeping for fear of the next training session. Ambulances regularly came to pick up broken airmen. Our workouts and pool training sessions were all-day affairs. We started with 21 candidates (whittled down from hundreds that had started the airman training program but that hadn’t passed to go on to swimmer school in North Carolina), class 62-07 graduated a total of 4. I was one of them, and the honor graduate of our class. I was always amazed at the people who would drop out or fail out of swimmer school, those who made it to school were some of the most impressive human specimens and athletes I had ever encountered. There was no question that they belonged in our program from the physical side, but time after time, these impressive bodies would lack the mental toughness to withstand the pressure of our training. I was routinely made fun of for how scrawny I was, but clearly it’s the size of the fight in the dog that counts : )
Once again, the power of clarity had helped me find strength to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I loved being a rescue swimmer, it was a self actualizing experience and an uncommon opportunity to be of service to my nation. The greatest thing about being a rescue swimmer is getting to fly around in helicopters and jump into the ocean… and getting paid to do it!
Having achieved my life’s dream, I began to explore new areas to develop and grow. A friend recommended that I do this weekend seminar called the Landmark Forum. HOLY SHIT, that was one of the most incredible weekends of my life. In those three days I realized things about myself and had personal breakthroughs that completely altered the trajectory of my life. Suddenly, I could see where my thinking patterns and practiced ways of being were limiting me, and if I could see it, I could change it… and I did. The tools that I learned during that program helped me to unleash an entirely new level of energy and power within myself. I started bringing a whole new level of alertness and creative thinking to the table at work and in my personal relationships. I developed a training program for the incoming petty officers and a medical cross training program for flight mechanics at the air station. I was so inspired by the value I had received from the program that I started to volunteer to help coordinate seminar trainings in my local area. A fundamental value of the Landmark programs is Integrity. Without integrity nothing works. The longer I used the tools and practiced the thinking models, I began to realize the price I was paying for living out of integrity.
The biggest area of my life that was out of integrity was my career, I had lied about my medical history to get into my current career, I was completely out of integrity there and I saw how much that was costing me personally. Understanding the likely consequences for admitting to having fraudulently enlisted, I chose to restore my integrity. Despite my proven ability to perform my duties as a rescue swimmer, no medical waiver could be provided, and I was honorably discharged from the Coast Guard.
It was time to start over… again, but this time I was clear about who I was and what matters in life. I reached out to a friend I had met recently, Mark Hunter. He had also dreamed of going to the Air Force Academy, but his eyes hadn’t met the minimums to be a military aviator, so he had gone another route. He had started his own firm in the private equity / venture capital world (I had no idea what that was) and he recommended a handful of books to me. Among them was the four hour work week by Tim Ferriss. That was all it took to set me loose on the world of entrepreneurship and business. Mark and I would spend hours talking about ideas for crazy businesses and ventures of all kinds. I devoured every book I could find on business, investing, and entrepreneurship. The whole thing was so new to me and so fascinating. During this exploration I met Alexandra Kamins, an incredibly brilliant scientist and natural leader. We bonded immediately and found a shared passion for service and creating things. I introduced Mark to Alex and we become close friends as time passed. The three of us didn’t realize it yet, but the ideas and businesses we were discussing were the seeds of Black Mountain SOLE. Alex and I traveled to India and England together and worked on a variety of projects for our studies and for fun. My visa ran out, so I returned to the US. Hearing of my return to the states, Mark offered me an internship at his firm, how could I turn that down? It was the opportunity of a lifetime.
I started at KLH Capital not knowing my ass from a hole in the ground. What I lacked in know-how I tried to make up for in willingness to pitch-in wherever needed with a smile. Apparently I learned pretty quickly, and was offered a full time gig as an investment analyst. It was a whirlwind of learning and scrambling to get deals done! I loved it. We had a team of some of the sharpest young men I had ever encountered. It was a privilege getting to work with and learn from such impressive people, not to mention the experience of seeing how a lower middle market private investment firm operated and evaluated businesses and the entrepreneurs that managed them. Talk about an education. Over the years at KLH working with and meeting hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors, I started to realize that the life experiences I had gone through were the education I had needed to be successful in any calling. The whole time I had been told that I needed to go back to school to get the all-important degree, but really what I had needed was exactly the combination of challenges and opportunities to risk failure that I had been granted through my experiences. This culminating realization started a series of conversations that led to me leaving KLH Capital to start Black Mountain SOLE, a place where people could come to discover their passion, learn practical skills to be effective, and benefit from the mentoring of experienced people who have created results in the real world.
I am committed to helping people discover their passions and empowering them to blossom. That is why Black Mountain SOLE exists. This is what I was born to do.