You're never expecting it when the goal posts shift

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
8/10. This goes back to success being relative. I never felt the insane stress to do well in Palo Alto. I was completely unaware. I couldn't expect school to be like the movies because, well they're the movies. I never really got bullied, two people tried but I shrugged them off too. I never really had bad times, and the good times were always really good, if not great.

Grades in high school
C's and below. Career C student, although [teacher name omitted] in 10th grade Biology managed to coax a B- out of me and the awesome [teacher name omitted] got me a B+ in Geometry. Of course I got A's in shop, who didn't?


Favorite subjects
Physical Education, Shop

Struggled with...
Math. Despite my ability to do worse in History (because I just didn't care to remember that crap) Math was the hardest subject for me. I wanted to get it desperately. Math was cool, you could figure things out, but Algebra was Klingon for all I could understand. Although [name omitted], thank her so much for helping me, managed to teach me what [teacher name] had just failed to convey to me, whatever he was teaching was not in my wheelhouse. Outside of Geometry the math experience for me at [high school] was pure torture.

Favorite extracurricular
Sports / Recreation

Life since high school

I didn’t learn the power of negotiation early enough...I missed a huge one early on simply by not being savvy about negotiation. You can never go wrong aiming high, it might work out in your favor.

Attended college / university at
I went up to a community college in Washington because I felt getting away from the Bay Area would do me some good. My parents didn't want me to leave, so they would only pay for school if I went near family, Washington was the only place out of state for me.
I tried a few things, the school had a great diesel mechanic program and I knew from Metal Shop I had potential as a welder. I just wasn't really into it. I thought about trying to do computer science, but the school wasn't really a CS school. I basically gave up after two years when I hit the Trigonometry wall. No more wasting away my parents money out of state at school.
Besides, I had pretty much learnt the entire insides of the modern PC due to playing Quake on my computer at school. I had tuned my machine to perform better than it was intended to. I could probably get my foot in the door of tech support in the Bay Area. That was the end of college.

Post-graduate education or training
I studied for the Windows 2000 MCSE, I had basically all the knowledge, just needed to learn how MS wanted you to apply it. I was all ready to test, but by that time the next version was coming and it was going to be harder. I still haven't passed a Microsoft certification test on something that I've done for the bulk of my career, at an institution that they get design feedback from. The professional certification world is weird.

Places lived in US
California, Washington

Current occupations / past occupations
My first job was a paper route in 6th grade. That lasted about two years until they had cut my pay down to 1/4 and I didn't feel it was worth the time.
Since then I've been (in order):
Combine Operator (not that fun at that time)
Housekeeper (really enjoyed this job, almost stayed)
Pizza Delivery Man (best... job... ever. I just wanted more money)
Online Customer Service Online
Technical Support
PC/Lan Analyst
Information Security Analyst
PC/Lan Analyst (at a higher level)
Team Lead of previous to my current position of E-Business Systems Consultant.
I've done one or two service trips. I really thought about joining the Peace Corps for two years but they require a minimum of a Bachelors. Snobs.

Industries I've worked in
- Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting
- Finance and Insurance
- Information (e.g. Publishing, Film, Broadcast, Telecommunications, Libraries)

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Absolutely not. I was the most unprepared employee for the first 3 years of my career. I had just taken the first PC/Lan job and was in way over my head as I was operating in an enterprise domain instead of a single PC. Wrapping your head around that was not something college ever could have prepared me for. I took a class from an instructor on advanced Java Programming and I dropped because the guy was soapboxing about how linux was better than Windows and used an example of his horrible judgement that impacted his own business. That guy was definitely not preparing people for a production job.

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
I tried to go back to school to be a programmer/software engineer. I seem to get the stuff fine, I have the mind for programming, but there is always a wall I hit where something is just never explained to me the way I get it. Years later I always find an explanation that is like "oh? seriously? You couldn't have just said that 10 years ago?"
I then went through the process of getting back into security. I like computer security, it's fun and very sophisticated technical work. It's always getting pushed further. But right as I was going to test for the CISSP I got my current job. No benefit to getting it now although I could transition into the infosec side more easily if I did.

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
I've come to believe that success is really relative. Some might define success by major financial success, power or name recognition. I think I'm successful. I've got three kids who are doing great, I can feed them and my wife and have money for luxuries like Ice Hockey, concerts, meals out and seeing new movies if we like. I'm not wealthy by any means, but I'm certainly successful compared to a lot of situations.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I used to feel that being recognized was the definition of success. After all, only those whose name is thrown around are what seemed successful. They were known, they had influence, recognition and power. It always seemed like school and TV said it was so easy, it wasn't. I had to move the goalposts. Success became not being a failure rather than being any verb which implied privilege. When that level of success(close to the dictionary definition) is your bar, all of a sudden its black and white: succeed or fail. So not failing became the yardstick of success.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
My greatest accomplishment to date has to be my career. Yes, raising kids is a great one, but I haven't finished that one yet, still a long way to go on it. My career on the other hand has been multiple successes after a few close calls. I never got an advanced degree, had no clue what to do as my ideal job (mechanical engineer) required a level of mathematics that at 18 I had no chance of comprehending. So I delivered pizza for a year down town, got a customer service job at a major bank and have worked my way up to working on the team that ensures our production business portal is never at risk and I coordinate their quarterly releases during execution.
I was a career C average student, I'd say I've been pretty successful. 

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
I didn't learn the power of negotiation early enough. In the job world negotiation is truly an art form. When you get the chance to put yourself out there at what you feel is fair value be certain to not only take a good stab at it, but be ready for possibilities. I missed a huge one early on simply by not being savvy about negotiation. You can never go wrong aiming high, it might work out in your favor.

An unexpected event that significantly changed my life and how it impacted me
It's cliche, but my first kid coming along. This goes back to black/white success/failure. I had always felt very temporary about my career. Yes I had been with the same company for 11 years, but I could have quit at any time if I found a better deal(even if it involved less money). I just never found one outside that came close. But with that little mouth to feed that if I failed it meant she never got a chance? Tell me that wouldn't move your goalposts. All of a sudden that job was no longer optional, it was now a career and it had to be a successful one. I had always gotten average reviews on annual reviews, once I had a family I haven't been below the top review rating. Kids can be great motivation for those who can lack it themselves. It's been empowering.

Anything else you'd like to share?
I hope everyone is able to effectively measure their success in life. It's really hard to be objective.

This alumni is open to your questions and follow-ups.
In order to protect anonymity, we will pass along your message and they can choose whether to respond.

My favorite spot in or around Palo Alto

The Winter Lodge