I want to thank all of the people in my life who have reached out recently and provided listening, ideas, suggestions and empowerment to me. In the past I would have never been so vulnerable and real with my wife (yes I’m a married man now), my friends, myself, nor my clients and everyone was great with me. Even my gardening clients. Some of whom were even willing to have me design their gardens and pay out of their pockets to hire people to do the physical work that my body cannot handle anymore.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind and I have faced some interesting fears, disempowering beliefs and unresolved past failures, and I did the work to move past them. One of the most interesting things that came up over the last two weeks was a memory of running a 200 meter race at track meet at St. John’s University during my freshmen year of high school. I was really bad my freshmen year, one of the three worst runners on my team, to be exact and was in a race for the slow kids who actually all happened to be my teammates. I remember getting to the line and not wanting to give my all because I didn’t want to make my teammates feel bad by beating them, so I give just enough effort to not finish last and not enough effort to compete with anyone else in the race.
What I realized in this flashback was that I thought that everyone in my high school was better than me. I went to Fordham Prep, a really high-level Jesuit (Catholic) High School in the Bronx after attending public elementary and middle school in the Bronx prior to HS. For the first-time in my life I was around people outside of the friends that I grew up with and a lot of the kids at Fordham Prep were from well-off families in Westchester County (the northern suburb of NYC). We weren’t poor by any means growing up and some of these kids were mega-rich and mega-privileged and I felt so out of place because the kids at Fordham Prep lived in fancy homes in fancy neighborhoods and had access to any and everything and I told myself that everyone here is better than me.
I carried this disempowering thought with me throughout life and as an adult have at times thought that everyone around me was better than me and have worked extremely hard to make up for this perceived deficiency. It’s how I went from being the third-worst runner on my high school track team to being named captain of the team my senior year of high school and running at major invitationals against national powerhouse runners and teams my senior year go high school. I carried this over to my college running and in my sophomore year of college was keeping up with runners who would have dusted the track with me during high school, yet I never ran well in meets because I psyched myself out so badly prior to races as a result of believing that everyone on the line was better than me.
Moving into my career — at 21 years old I was the top app’t setter in my first “real” job among 25 other app’t setters in the company. In my next job, got promoted to Assistant Marketing Manager in less than a year at Whole Foods Market, which is nearly unheard of for someone with no marketing background and no prior industry experience. I have carried this on over and over again and my propensity to work harder than everyone led me to work crazy long hours in a crazy stressful job where I was helping my clients implement a food waste diversion technology that reduce the amount of food waste and the amount of carbon emissions that my clients produced. It was my dream job and the job was really stressful at times as I had 52 clients spread among 7 different states and at some level had a hand in 63 of our 71 clients in the U.S. I also mentally punished myself every time that a client issue happened and thought that the only way I could stop the issues was by working harder. I worked myself to the bone for 2.5 years and then it happened.
I was in Planet Hollywood’s kitchen in Times Square and after wrapping up a routine site visit, I reached two feet forward to grab my notebook, which I had put down during the site visit and as I was reaching forward I felt the worst pain that I have ever felt in my life in my back. The pain was so bad that I screamed in their kitchen. The entire kitchen staff ran over to me as they thought that I cut myself with a knife or got my hand caught in a piece of equipment and everyone asked me if I was ok. I said, “I didn’t cut myself or get my hand mailed by equipment and I’m not sure if I’m ok. Could you get me a bag of ice and grab me a chair in the restaurant?”. I sat for a bit and knew that I was in trouble.
I saw my Sports Medicine Doctor two weeks later and was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, a permanent condition where one of the vertebrae in my back got pushed forward. The only two reasons that she could up with for the injury was that my back was taking a lot of weight as a result of the fractured rib that I suffered in October 2015 (4 months before this injury) and stress. When I heard stress as one of the major reasons I knew that I had to quit this job and I called my boss and gave him a months notice. It was a really hard conversation and I had to do it. He honored my 1 month notice as we had done some amazing work together and when I left the job I felt like the biggest failure in the world. I saw only the failures and none of the good things that I accomplished for years.
So I went about my life as if I never even did anything great at this job and moved on. Interestingly enough, an opportunity just arose literally 2 weeks ago to go in with another sustainability company in Boise to submit an RFQ for the city’s sustainability consulting bid. I said yes, in the midst of feeling like crap for not being able to succeed in my business and we went about working on the RFQ. I told the person that I was partnering with that we should hold nothing back in our experience and I started to see all of the great work that I did. I started to realize that I did some incredible things, saved dozens of accounts, created incredible sustainability programs for clients and help day clients divert over 5,000 tons of food waste from landfill and helped my clients eliminate over 400 gigatons of carbon from reaching the atmosphere. I realized that I am an incredible sustainability consultant and have a ton to offer to businesses and the proposal started flowing from there.
I pushed myself harder than I have in years and we wrote a fantastic proposal. The City of Boise even sent us a winning sustainability bid from 2017 that we did not ask for and we saw the level of work that went into their proposal and started putting that work into our proposal. We met with a proposal expert at the Idaho Small Business Development Center who significantly helped us with our fee schedule and a few compliance pieces for the proposal and gave us a green light to submit our proposal based on the work that our businesses do, the content in our proposal and our feasibility for completing the work.
This entire process was incredible and we just turned the proposal into the city. I would love to win one of the bids in the area of climate change and sustainability planning, which we potentially are in good shape for and even if we don’t win the bid we have an amazing proposal that positions us as experts in the sustainability consulting realm and can use this proposal to submit to commercial RFP’s and other government RFP’s. I let go of feeling like everyone around me is better than me and put my all into this RFQ and this is the win.
I am present to the impact that I make as a sustainability consultant, am excited to jump back into this work and have created a new mission for Pure Love Sustainability Inc. — to reverse and eliminate climate change. It can be done and I can lead this movement. I am ready to rock and am still looking for a standard consulting, sustainability consulting, project manager or instructional design job for the time-being while I am building up Pure Love Sustainability Inc. so I can run this as a full-time business with full-time revenue and make a huge difference.
Thank you to everyone who showed up during this time, I really appreciate it and you. Thank you for believing me and helping me find the light.