I didn’t grow up with much. It’s funny how the things  you lack when you are a child ends up guiding your adult life in some subtle, and some not so subtle ways. 

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, a single level ranch home built in the 1970s. My mother was a kind hearted and strong woman. Single mother.  Once I got into the later years of elementary school and into middle school, it became a hard and fast rule that I couldn’t have any friends come over. Being the rebellious type, I would have to sneak some of my friends in if I wished to play video games with them (and not be outside or at their house, again). 

So naturally within the first few months of me owning a home (a duplex), I wasn’t just satisfied with having 1 roommate. No. I needed to rent out my room to other world travelers and maximize the sociality of the space. I was also looking for additional streams of income because I had just quit my corporate job, entered a sales job based only on commissions and had very little quality prospects.

My roommate at the time, bless his heart, was patient as I tried to keep up with the mortgage payment and utilities.  Though over time I could sense that he was becoming somewhat frustrated with the “stranger of the day” as he put it. He moved on the following summer. I proceeded to turn that room into an airbnb as well.

I downsized my footprint of personal belongings to what would fit in a 2 x 6 coat closet and slept on the couch, and sometimes, on the floor with a $12 mattress cover I bought at Walmart. I was LEAN. I was MEAN. I was willing to do everything I could to make it. 

In my first year, 2017, I probably hosted 200 people. I started just a little later in the year, maybe Q3.   In some ways, I loved it. It allowed me to have some semblance of social life even though I was working nearly nonstop to make ends meet.  I got to meet like minded people traveling from all over the world on a budget and offer a space (no matter how humble) and felt like I was doing my part in paying it forward since I had been hosted and welcomed to many places in the world on my travels. I took guests out to eat sometimes, paying for their food or drinks, and enjoyed a lot of great conversations and learned a lot. 

I really flipped the entire idea that I cannot share my space or house, and attacked what mental lingering of my mom’s rules, and the potential lack I felt as a child, over time. 

I learned an abundance of business know-how, professionalism, and standards over time and after countless failures. I increased my sense of responsibility, regardless of what happened. It was hard at first, but I’m incredibly grateful that life showed me this path and pulled me away from the “it’s everyone else’s fault” nonsense that is perpetuated and made popular.  At the time and in the beginning, though; it was torturous. Having no money and having to refund someone, without knowing if I could pay a bill that was racked up because people kept turning the heat past 85 in the winter (the house was made in the 1880s… it was…. drafty). 

Needless to say, it’s funny how life finds a way and you end up making it out okay in the end. 

As I look to increase my proficiency, relationships and influence in the hospitality space, I can always point back to that simple desire to share my home with friends and create unforgettable experiences that kicked it all off. 

What can you point to your past that made your current passions, hobbies or career possible?

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