Be Humble, Be Grateful, and Don’t Let Anyone Outwork You

August 1, 2016

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Soon after my daughter was born, I pressed pause on finishing college so I could provide for her and her future. At that time, I had no idea what was next. I didn’t know if I was going to mess up or flat out not make it. What I did know was that whatever I chose to do, I would be humble, be grateful, and not let anyone outwork me.

My whole life, I had planned to play football professionally. I desperately needed football growing up because my father was in and out of my life, and my mother juggled multiple jobs to make ends meet. What started out as after-school care became my passion, community and opportunity to travel the country. To make it to the next level, I knew I needed to put in the effort. I stayed after practice as much as I could. I spent many summer nights working out alone to prepare for the upcoming season. I raced my best friend up a steep hill in my neighborhood every night.

The hard work paid off. I played college football at San Francisco City College, and then was recruited to play on scholarship for Western Oregon University. I was playing pretty well and thought I’d go pro – make it big so I could take care of my family. After putting up some average statistics while playing my last two seasons in Oregon, however, I didn’t receive much attention other than from an AFL team, and some invitations to workout for European league scouts. It was a let down to come up short from my original aspirations of the NFL. But I knew I was capable of more than just playing football. Instead of taking even more of a toll on my body to maybe end up on somebody’s roster, I decided to stay in Oregon and finish my studies in Business Marketing.

When I stopped playing football, my college scholarship ended too. Double disappointment. But I was determined to finish what I started. To pay my tuition, I worked more than 40 hours a week and went to school full-time. Despite the financial struggle, I fully expected to graduate, and I got really close. That’s when I found out my long-term girlfriend was pregnant with my daughter.

I made the tough decision to leave college early and move back home to California to be closer to my daughter. I had nothing lined up professionally. When I heard that a lot of inner-city young adults were finding their way and receiving great opportunities at big companies through a program called Year Up, I decided to give that a shot. Two days after moving back, I got an interview with Year Up and they gave me an opportunity to participate in the program.

At Year Up, I worked harder than I ever had with a lot of late nights and early mornings to prepare myself for a career in the corporate world. I honed my technical skills – from creating websites from scratch to delivering elevator pitches. More importantly, I learned how to always carry myself with confidence and dignity. This training helped me land a job working in sales for SurveyMonkey. My career in sales is surprisingly similar to my career in football because they’re both really competitive fields driven by numbers. Salespeople collaborate well, but at the end of day, we’re all trying to hit our numbers. It’s the same thing as football where everyone is competing to have better stats. And my approach remains unchanged – I will not be outworked – so I spend a lot of extra time and effort on professional development.

My daughter is coming up on two years old in September. She’s an angel. My financial situation is much more stable. I can now provide for my daughter without having to ask my mom to borrow money for diapers or daycare. I find myself now asking to help my mom, and show her appreciation for all she's done. I’m getting to a place where I can start putting together long-term plans for my future, and that’s a great feeling.

A lot of things didn’t turn out the way I had imagined, but no matter what, I always try and make the most of every situation. I’m always thinking about what I can do today to be better than I was yesterday. My advice for those who #ChaseGreat... Keep your eyes on the prize and have no regrets. Embrace both the failures and the wins - there’s always something to learn. Just make sure you keep moving forward.