I’m a digital marketing and SEO professional living in Columbus, Ohio, and I work as the Director of Search Marketing at Startups.co.
More importantly, I’m a devoted husband, dad of two, lover of mafia movies, tortured Cleveland sports fan, avid blogger, web & graphic designer, and WordPress aficionado.
I’ve been happily married to my wife Gina for over five years! We have two children (Carter and Ellie), and we’re proud owners of a Golden Retriever named Rocky!
Since that point, my life has been consumed by a healthy dose of three things – toddler & baby stuff, sleep deprivation, and SEO. It’s definitely not easy, but I absolutely love it!
9 Things you didn’t know.
While I’m a pretty open book in terms of talking about my life, there are likely some hidden gems that you didn’t know about me. These are the quirks that make me unique and form the basis for how I approach life.
Ashton Kutcher’s (last person I’d expect) speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards (last place I’d expect) pretty much embodies everything I believe in and strive to be as a professional.
#2. The early years
My dad was in the Air Force and stationed overseas on the Greek island of Crete. As the island facilities weren’t up to proper medical standards in 1982, we were sent to Wiesbaden, West Germany where I was born.
#3. Former athlete
My early life identity was formed around sports. Although I excelled in many sports, I had plans to play Div. III college football, was a two-time captain, as well as all-league in high school. However, God had other plans for me, as my recruiting letters dried up after my 2nd torn ACL.
#4. Secret vocalist
Although I’m certainly am no ‘American Idol,’ I am a fairly competent singer if I do say so myself. Even though I was a “jock,” I was a regular soloist in high school choir and most recently performed a duet of the Frank Sinatra and Celine Dion song “All the Way,” as well as “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles with my wife at The Movement Mission concert to benefit ovarian cancer research.
Here it is:
#5. Huge Sinatra fan
I absolutely love the music of Frank Sinatra, and I wish that I could rock a fedora like he did! If I could go back in time, I’d want to hang out with the Rat Pack – a.k.a. the coolest cats that ever lived. My wife and I danced to Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” at our wedding.
#6. Wedding dancer
Speaking of our wedding day, I’m not a good dancer by any stretch, but – thanks to my wife’s instruction – I definitely busted a move!
#7. History buff
I consider myself to be a student of history. And while I like most history, the eras that I find most fascinating are the prohibition era which led to the formation of the modern American mafia, and WWII which showcased the exploits of “The Greatest Generation”.
#8. Mob movie lover
I have an incredibly odd fascination with the history of the mafia (a.k.a. “La Cosa Nostra”) and count most mob movies/shows among my favorites – i.e. The Godfather, Goodfellas, Casino, A Bronx Tale, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, etc. My family often jokes that I wish I was born Italian rather than German-Irish.
#9. Creature of habit
I’ve found throughout my life that if I find something that I like, I can do it over and over again without a lessening of enjoyment. I often read books or watch the movies/shows multiple times over. I love picking up the intricate details the 2nd (or 50th) time around.
My path to SEO.
The honest-to-goodness truth about me is that my career has been Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Win.
It may seem hard to believe now, but I didn’t always hanker to be an SEO. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t even know what SEO was until late 2006.
It was at that point where many paths of my life converged and set me on a trajectory that has led me to where I am today – and in a lot of respects saved me from a life fraught with unhappiness.
What follows is not me saying I’m the best at what I do or even as successful as I’d like to be personally and professionally. That being said, it is certainly a unique story. Just knowing where I’ve come from and where I want to go, I consider myself very successful and grateful in the sense that I could have given into adversity, packed my ball and gone home – but I didn’t.
Due to a combination of hard work, perseverance, and a little luck, I’ve made it farther than I’d ever thought I could, and I hope that my personal story can serve as inspiration for others who are right on the cusp and just need the right motivation.
Anyhow, here it is…
I began college at The Ohio State University in 2000 as a graphic design major. However, after several years of toiling, changing majors, procrastinating, and (admittedly) having a little too much fun, I found myself dropping out of school and working part-time at The United Parcel Service (UPS) – which partly contributed to my demise.
I tried college again at Columbus State Community College – and I quit (again) after less than a quarter.
After four years of pure hell, poor treatment, and hard labor working at “Big Brown,” I’d made my way from package loader to supervisor. What did I get for my dedication? Even worse treatment. My experience is pretty well captured by this, this, this, and this.
It was at this point that I reached my breaking point, decided I was better than that, and quit – again. I took two menial part-time jobs and worked 7 days a week for almost 8 months straight.
This was probably the lowest point of my life.
And then, along came my good friend and future colleague Eric Leslie. He was kind enough to understand my plight and gave me a job at his former company, Cornerstone Local.
At the time, the company did two things, A.) filled attendance for conferences/seminars/webinars and B.) local search marketing. I started as a cold-caller filling conferences.
In light of fact that they soon found out I was perhaps the worst telesales rep in history, and in lieu of firing me within about a month, the company agreed to allow me to try my hand at the local search marketing side of things.
The company was in need of someone cheap to build websites, and essentially told me that if I could translate my graphic design skills into becoming a web designer, I could stay.
I was just happy to have a job that wasn’t UPS or 7-days-a-week, and willing to do anything to keep it.
And so, with few options left, I taught myself web design. I quickly found that I loved it, and my passion and skillset has been growing ever since (here’s the book that got me started).
It was at this point that a light bulb went on in my head, and that things began to click as I found a professional niche I could thrive in.
Over the course of 1-2 years, we built several hundred small websites, launched a retail-facing marketing and design company called Your Marketing Corner, and established a sister company in Latin America in which we built several hundred more sites.
The thing I began to run into during this time was that we were building all kinds of pretty sites, but we couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t find them in Google.
This is when I found SEO and discovered my true passion – almost by accident.
From that point (circa 2006), I read voraciously about all things web design, SEO, and over time added a little programming and a lot of WordPress to my repertoire. I had a lot more time on my hands back then, so I had a lot of time to test, learn, and hone my craft by reading SEO blogs and design tutorials.
I caught on at a company called People To My Site (which has since been renamed to The Shipyard), worked my way up from SEO strategist to SEO Director in 3 years. At this time, I started my own blog “Agent SEO” which has since been rebranded/redirected for this site.
From there, I decided to expand my marketing horizons and went to work for Germain of Columbus, a local automotive group, as their Internet Marketing Director. There I had the opportunity to focus on holistic marketing strategy.
After a year, I decided that I loved SEO too much to stay away, and left Germain to join Rosetta (now SapientRazorfish) as an SEO manager. A promotion to SEO Director, and another job later, here I am at Startups.co.
To complete the transformation, I met the love of my life, had a wonderful little son, and went back and finished school at ITT-Tech with two degrees, an Associates of Web Design, and a Bachelors in Business Administration & Marketing Management.
Through it all, I worked with a lot of great clients both big and small, too many great people to count, and learned a great deal about the industry and myself.
The bottom line.
Honestly, I feel that I’ve been very blessed in life.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve failed again and again, loved, lost, made my own bed, slept in it, worked hard to pick myself up, clawed my way through a lot of turmoil, and somehow managed to come out clean on the other side while finding who I truly am in many respects.
Above all, I’ve learned that there are a few things that are important in life: be kind, be thoughtful, love your friends & family, fight hard to make an impact, work your ass off, know your own worth, never give up, never stop learning, and never stop dreaming.
If when I die it can be said that I’ve done even a fraction of these things well – then my life will have been well-lived.
If you’ve read this far, you probably have too much time on your hands. Even so, I sincerely thank you and hope you enjoy the site!