I love bringing people together to meet each other and create new ideas and opportunities.
In their own words
I write a well-read blog, but I can’t draw for my life. I nerd out with entrepreneurs, but i am a terrible dancer. I love cooking at home, but always mess up bread. Always. I read 40 books a year, but I can’t do a handstand. I help to grow Zaarly as a company, but am a terrible investor. I try to stay humble, but you made me write this 😉
Or, as my girlfriend says: “You’re nerdy, but you’re not boring”
Kansas City and I have had an on-and-off thing since 2010. I first visited as part of the Global Startup Organizer’s Summit, getting together at the Kauffman Foundation. KC blew away all my expectations — I really loved the energy at Kauffman Labs and everyone I met in the community.
In 2011, I moved to Kansas City for the summer to be an intern at the Kauffman Foundation. As it turns out, I didn’t even finish filling out the paperwork — making me, quite possibly, the shortest-tenured employee ever at Kauffman. Day one on the job, I found out my boss was leaving to start his own company, which was also an experience that I was welcome to join. I said “yes” before he even finished
asking the question. I started working full-time (and then some) on launching Zaarly.
After about 6 months here, our San Francisco-based investors preferred to have a local office so I moved west. Throughout my six years in San Francisco, I’d come back to KC often for both work and fun.
In July of 2016, I moved back to Kansas City, and I couldn’t be happier to be here. As a native Michigander, I’m proud midwest roots — Kansas City feels so comfortable in some ways, and new and exciting in others.
After living in San Francisco and traveling the US extensively, I’ve developed a unique appreciation of Kansas City’s strengths — to the point where I often find myself defending Kansas City natives who have lost sight of what makes this city so great.
A day in the life
I’m an early riser, usually. I’m up at 6 and over to the Woodside gym to workout and swim. I head into work at the Zaarly office in Prairie Village, but there is no typical day at Zaarly. I have one of those “do whatever it takes” jobs that could be sending me to another city. I could be writing, meeting with realtors or owners of service businesses, hiring/training new team members or taking out the trash. I’m
Outside of work, I enjoy meeting for dinner or happy hour with interesting entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors. I enjoy learning from people in-person and asking tons of questions to try and better understand things they know well. There are a lot of brilliant people out there, and the mystery of finding them and learning from unique perspectives and experiences is fascinating. I love bringing people together to meet each other and create new ideas and opportunities.
At nights or weekends, I default to reading and writing — which are usually centered around my side project, Evergreen. Evergreen is a collection of the best learning resources in business. I’m lucky enough to have a few thousand people who contribute their suggestions on specific topics — which I read, curate, and synthesize into primers that make it easy to dig deeper and learn a complex subject quickly.
I don’t have any personal ambitions for notoriety. My focus is on making the projects that I believe in successful and well-known.
In high school, I was on a very competitive crew team (rowing club). I got up at 4 a. m. for practice every morning, and we trained year-round, with two-a-day training through Spring and Fall racing seasons. My parents were incredibly supportive, and we went all over the country for races. In my junior year, my boat won the championship in the fall, and got silver in Spring National Championship.
This (slightly insane) schedule in high school set the pace for me, and I’ve tried to keep up the intensity that I found in rowing. It taught me a lot about teamwork, training environments, and the results of putting in enormous effort over a long time.
- Move away, And Move Back.
It is very hard to appreciate something unless you have gone without it and have something to compare it to. Spending time in other cities will give you a much better idea of how fantastic Kansas City is. I believe it is the most underrated city in America.
Kansas City will draw you back in — especially if you have family around. Explore other places and come back when you’re ready. You will see KC with entirely new eyes, and appreciate things you previously took for granted (like the complete lack of traffic jams or long lines anywhere, for starters!)
2. Never ever stop learning.
The best ways that I have found are to read, and to ask questions of people who know more than I do. I’ll get a hint of something interesting and dive down a rabbit hole for a few weeks or months, trying to understand something to my satisfaction. This makes for a great hobby, as you start to see the world
differently, understand how it all fits together, and run across fascinating new friends along the way!
Though of course, all Simply, get to know this community and let it get to know you. There are so many people here that seem unreachable, but you cannot know until you reach out and try. advice is born of confirmation bias, so I’m just telling you to do what I did because I think it “worked” for me. But you are different, and your goals are different. No advice is so good that it deserves to be followed without some critical thought.