Growing up just outside New York City in an education-oriented commuter town, I had the perfect balance of space and stores yet the full range of resources. Dozens of respected colleges and universities within a short distance, good hospitals, good schools, 24-hour bowling and mini-golf places and, of course, lots of great Italian and Jewish food along with a deep sense of community. All this while getting to run around in wooded areas and parks.
From there, I went to college in New Jersey, where I started in astrophysics, dipped into early Japanese history, detoured through comparative religion, and eventually ended up in computer science, focusing on animation, visual simulation, and computer-human interaction studies. And then I graduated... into a recession.
But, that worked out well for me in the end, as it meant I learned a great deal about how business worked, and put me in a nearly perfect position for when the Web came along. During the Dotcom Boom, I got the chance to experience it from inside a savvy "old-school" tech company, and see how they responded, both well and poorly, to the new challenges. From there I had the good fortune to land myself at an up-and-coming small company, called Yahoo! Balancing every day on the edge of potential disaster from just one real screwup or missed opportunity, I got a tremendous education into setting priorities, what really can and can't be ignored or done without, and working with fellow pride-driven peers in a high-pressure environment.
As was to be expected, it couldn't last. The company grew from 300 when I started to over 3,000, and the culture shifted, poorly. I moved on to helping run a true startup (I was employee number nine), which was incredibly well-run and agile. So agile that, in the midst of the Dotcom Bust, we were able to reinvent ourselves almost overnight into a wireless services provider attractive to what is now Openwave Systems, who purchased us, making us probably one of the last successful Dotcoms.
Given the intense several years I had just been through, combined with the rapid souring of the industry, I decided to use my newly-recognized knack for working with and communicating clearly with regular (non-techie) folks and advised, consulted, and contracted for several years, helping traditional small businesses understand available technology and decide what best suited their needs.
By 2006, I had grown bored with programming and hard-core tech, and looked into re-entering the more corporate world. I decided, with the moral support of my lovely wife and the financial assistance of my wonderful mother-in-law, to move towards the upper management path with an MBA. And, once again, I graduated into a recession.
So, here I am, slowly networking my way back into the salaried position world...