I'm from Byron Bay, Australia. It's located at the most eastern tip of the country, and for the lucky people who live or visit here, the first place to witness our glorious sunrises. It's also one of the most beautiful places on Earth. There are rainforests that go down to white sandy beaches, and perfect waves that roll in all day long.
I grew up surfing; my big brother taught me. We'd go surfing every morning before school and again after school, way into the dark. I was competing at a young age because I wanted to be a pro surfer. I was good enough, but somehow I got the message from my parents and society that I should go to school and get a job instead. I ended up moving to Sydney and doing odd jobs there. Realizing that working in a restaurant kitchen was never going to be for me, I went back to college near my hometown and studied finance and economics.
After graduating, I got a job at an advertising agency in Sydney. I started promoting a nightclub event on the side, which became really successful. So I gave up the advertising business and partnered with my brother to promote nightclubs. After he bought me out, I applied for a stockbroker position for the largest bank in Australia. I got the job! I was required to take an exam on trading, economics and compliance; everything that had to do with the stock market. I received the top mark out of all the people who took the exam, even the CEO of the company. I'm not sure if anyone's ever beaten my score since. It’s important to set your mind to things.
I traded for retail clients and doing share allocations for floats for companies like Billabong, a worldwide company that makes surfing clothes and accessories. One day, Marketing approached me and said, "Hey, how would you like to do some presenting on TV, talk about trading, give reports…things like that"? I said yes and became a spokesperson for the bank. People would hear me talk on the radio or see me on TV. Once, a woman at the supermarket asked me for a stock tip. It was super exciting.
I moved to England and travelled between London, Paris, and Barcelona selling hedge funds, working from wherever I wanted. I had so many adventures and fun in Europe during those two years. But I always wanted to return to the States after a trip in my twenties, So I decided to pack up and just move to California. I had no plan at all, and actually no worries either. I thought that if it didn’t work out I could always return to Australia.
But it worked out! I taught surfing lessons in Santa Monica for the first summer and eventually landed a job as a production assistant on a movie set (my experience as a talk radio host got me really interested in the production side of things). It was one of the most fun times in my life. Plus, it felt very creative to me. I met all of these amazing people—sound guys, cameramen, production people—and thought, "I want to do this."
I developed enough skills to get a job for DirecTV, which was owned by News Corp at the time. I was legitimate. I did promos for sports and movies and other content. A couple years later, I worked for FX and other studios as a commercial producer, eventually going freelance and producing commercials for Ford and Harley Davidson. The hours were super long. My office was always moving, but I didn't feel satisfied.
When a job opportunity at Online Trading Academy popped up in my inbox, I thought, "WOW!" I really like the education space; it’s so much more fulfilling than just selling for the sake of selling. Plus, the job required knowledge of the financial markets and productions skills, both of which I was experienced with and good at. I sent them a letter, and one rainy day when I was feeling low, I received a call asking if I would like to come down to Irvine for an interview. I said yes in a heartbeat. That’s how I ended up at OTA.
I love my job. I love the idea of helping people and providing students with a roadmap to empower themselves. That feels good to me. I also think it’s important to say “yes”, be positive and always try to make things work; because if you're always trying to make it work, then you're headed in the right direction. Maybe not as quickly as you'd like, but you're heading forward. Just like when you have to wait a long time for dinner, somehow it just tastes better.