Chaucer was right; life is a lot like the Canterbury Tales. If you haven’t read the stories, the takeaway is that life is more than just a pilgrimage; it’s about the people you meet along your journey. While I’ve had quite the trek over the years, and I didn’t get to take everyone with me, I’d like to share some of the lessons people taught me along the way.
Give all you can, especially your attention
My mom and I didn’t have a lot growing up, but that didn’t stop her from giving to others without return. As a young boy, witnessing this selfless generosity despite having so little truly shaped my character. When teachers and mentors took me under their wing or lunch ladies befriended me and gave me extra food, I reciprocated with the only thing I had to offer: my time and attention. Over the years, I perfected the art of building friendships, being present, and showing respect.
Having learned so much about giving from my mentors, I decided to share my experience with other high school guys. I helped create a club that taught manners, kindness, and the importance of doing community service. Twice a month, we improved our communities around Atlanta and worked on being better men in society. It may not seem like much, but it was special seeing the impact it made at the time and in each member’s future.
Your path is drawn in pencil, not ink
I played baseball growing up and was actually pretty good at it. It was my whole world, and I always looked for ways to improve. I’d even pay my friends $5 to pitch bags of baseballs to me so I could get better. I made the Braves 400 club, which was the top 25 players in the state of Georgia for baseball, and I even participated in pro trials.
Then, while playing in the Georgia Allstate practice game, I sustained an injury that ended my entire baseball career. Suddenly, my plans to play in the semi-pros and minors, or at least in college on a baseball scholarship were gone. I didn’t have any money to go to school. What was I supposed to do?
As you can imagine, I was a bit lost. My entire identity was baseball, so I picked myself up and decided to go to a professional umpire school in Florida. Out of 450 students, only ten would make it to the minor leagues. Despite working hard and doing well, I barely missed the cut. Because there are only so many positions available in the major league, if you don’t make the top ten the first time, you’ll probably never make it. They even ask you not to come back.
This experience was another harsh road bump for me, but thanks to the people in my life, I realized that my life path wasn’t set in stone or etched in permanent ink. It was up to me to take out the eraser and draft a new course.
Everyone has something worthwhile to offer
I decided to go to college in Kentucky, and worked many jobs to pay my way on my own. At my first major job interview, the hiring manager asked about my hobbies. I mentioned not having any hobbies besides working but that I liked betting on horses every now and then. I explained how I’d research each horse and how I read the races.
The hiring manager said, “If you can learn to diagnose a horse race, you can figure out how to diagnose a sale.” As it turned out, he was a former IBM big wig who started his own business, and he allowed me to train under his leadership. I wasn’t a salesperson, but he saw my work ethic and thought-processes and knew I had the skills to be a kind, empathic voice for their customers. Unlike some leaders, instead of withholding expertise and lessons learned, he willingly taught me everything he knew. He even paid for Sandler sales training and Carnegie classes because he believed everyone, including company leaders, had more to learn.
Learn to wear many hats and even more shoes
After many wonderful years in Kentucky, I ended up moving to New York and got a job at a much larger enterprise. I moved up the ladder quickly and traveled the world. I loved that role for many years, but I eventually decided to throw my support behind two guys who wanted to start a personal finance management company. Given a chance to rechart my course, I decided to help them build something worthwhile.
Joining their team taught me a lot about small business. I quickly discovered what life was like as an entrepreneur building a new business, especially in the financial services industry. For starters, I had to wear many hats across the organization. There’s nothing more eye-opening and humbling than taking on new roles and learning to walk in different shoes. Suddenly, being a salesperson felt easy compared to the work internal teams do every day. It was arduous work.
Then the financial crisis hit, and we took extensive pay cuts and built up debt. Eventually, we crawled out of a hole. After lots of determination, we sold our company to Jack Henry and got our investors six times their value.
Prioritize your values, then find others who share them
Truth be told, I felt jaded with the financial services industry. Working in payments cost me money and caused me anguish. When talking to an old friend about his vision for a world with better payments, it was difficult to shake the legacy thinking ingrained in me over the years. Wade Arnold saw a future where the tools and knowledge needed to embed payments were freely available to any developer through open source libraries. To Wade, the future of payments wasn’t set in stone, and he was ready to chart a new and exciting path that’d never existed before.
I saw first-hand what it was like for entrepreneurs and builders trying to add money movement into a product. It was nearly impossible. Wade and many others felt that pain as well.
Transparently giving away the open source code was unheard of, and I leaped at the chance to join a culture founded in giving.
Somehow, all the lessons I’ve learned from people throughout my journey led me to Moov. It’s honestly all the things that make my heart beat. It’s my love of giving without return. It’s my love for people who share my values and who have worn many hats and know what it’s like to walk in the shoes of developers, customers, partners, community members, and end-users. It’s my love for giving people the chance to succeed, no matter their background, experience level, or industry. I can say, without a doubt, Moov is the greatest, most rewarding challenge of my career. I’m proud to be surrounded by the most experienced, educated, and selfless people I’ve ever worked with.
I feel incredibly lucky that my path has led me to the people at Moov. Our culture of transparency allows us to freely share our thoughts, experiences, and knowledge. It truly helps us persevere together in solving actual problems in the financial industry. And because of the people we hire, we’re all each other’s biggest cheerleaders along the way.
I can’t believe I’ve found this wonderful group of humans all collectively manifesting a world-changing achievement.
If you share our values, maybe you’d like to make Moov a part of your journey. I know nothing would make our team stronger than hearing more life stories, experiences, and knowledge from people like you.
Now that you know my story and lessons I’ve learned along the way, I very much look forward to hearing yours.