About me? What to put here? Unsure!
This is just my little corner of the internet where I store my thoughts, some musings, some videos, a syllabus or two. Allow me to ramble, it's what I do best ... according to every ex of mine.
I'm a big data numbers guy and a dedicated real estate agent, analyst, advisor. Some of my past real estate clients have become really great friends and that's been the highlight of my career--the friends you make in service of others. I measure my "production" and "volume" based upon how many past clients invite me to weddings, Thanksgivings, the theatre or Burning Man.
Judgemental armchair economist. I study trends in the workforce and have been doing that since urbanist author Richard Florida interviewed me for his book The Rise of the Creative Class, back in 1999 (?) I think it was. So when I saw eXp for the first time in June 2021 I thought it was a hoax. How had I never heard of this brokerage model? I love business models--I can tell you ten different ways to structure a non-profits. But I had never heard of eXp's.
Debt free, uber modern, tech-forward. Culturally progressive, financially generous, so inclusive of agents. I examined the snot out of it and needless to say, it's a winner. I've embraced it all. There is something so inherently GOOD about eXp. And I think it starts with Glenn, the CEO. But that's another blog.
But I'm not a blogger, an Instagram entertainer, nor a prolific poster of content anywhere. I'm no influencer; even my two wicked-smart Australian Shepherds barely listen to me. But once in a great while I have something to say.
I am a fan of serial commas and I hit the space bar twice after a period because I learned to type in 1986. I am a Gen Xer, 11th-generation American, named after my grandfather, and can trace my lineage back to the second voyage of the Mayflower where there was also a Robert Sneddon on the crew. (So everyone who came to this country after 1629 is an immigrant. But you don't hear me complaining about immigration, do ya?) Ha. Ha.
I grew up on an aging family farm on the edge of a coal mining town in central Pennsylvania. My grandfather grew tomatoes, green bell peppers, flowers ... and funnel cakes and perogies. In our hothouses. The youngest of five, I was raised by a single mother, Dolores, who somehow managed to get two bachelor's degrees in the 1950s while having three children. She was just amazing. And often mistaken for Doris Day. She died right before my college graduation.
My father Laurens was tall and lanky and looked like Prince Charles. He was a chemical engineer and his shining moment was leading the team that developed the rocket fuel that sent Apollo to the moon. Three years later NASA cancelled the program, he had a nervous breakdown, and died from deep depression. I was ten.
My mother raised us and I remember falling asleep next to her on the couch watching TV late at night ... alot. She was always fascinated at how fascinated I was with 1) cop dramas, and 2) news channels. Peter Jennings and Hawai'i Five-0 were my favorites. Book 'em Danno.
I got a job the month I turned 16 and worked 20 hrs/week during the last two years of high school at a roadside diner called the Big Wrangler--primarily so I could always eat. We lived on social security. My mother's mortgage was $130 and that was half of our income each month. I went to school without lunch money often. If she forgot to put it out for me in the morning I just didn't bring it up.
Somehow I stayed on the path of a boy scout, studied as much as possible, wrote compelling essays and hustled my way into some great universities.
Got a full ride to Lehigh via an Army ROTC scholarship. Then, years later they, the Army, figured out I was gay--even before I knew it, actually--and kicked me out. And then the DOD spent the next ten years harassing me until I had paid back all that tuition. Tuition I wouldn't have otherwise spent at such an expensive school, had I not got that scholarship. $85,000 over 20 years + late fees and interest. While my college pals were buying new cars and houses and travelling back East for weddings and alumni tailgates, I was paying $500+ a month back to the Army. Merciless.
Nonetheless, I persisted. If it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger, right?
I've since lived in six states as a city planner / real estate re-development professional. Been a non-profit CEO or executive director four times. Ventura, California was probably my favorite place I worked on behalf of property owners. (I've also been a mediocre actor/waiter/model in LA and an earnest well-liked cop in DC.)
Speaking of which, I saved Sen. George McGovern from getting squashed by a Greyhound bus while directing traffic near the National Mall on the day the WWII Memorial opened. Whew! That's probably the closest I've ever come to actually shitting my pants--and I've been shot at several times. Police work is the hardest work I've ever done. Every day you save someone's life and nobody writes about it. It's truly a selfless public service existence.
I've volunteered on campaigns for Clinton/Gore, Kerry/Edwards, and a half dozen more--sometimes for months without pay. A small price to pay for freedom. I've bartended at Teddy Kennedy's house a dozen times--back when senators from different parties still spoke to one another. They often included me in their conversations if they were standing right in front of my bar. One time Teddy said to Sen Robert Byrd of West Virginia, "hey Bob this guy went to Lehigh." And Senator Byrd chatted me up, found out my dad's from Morgantown and our families had plenty of overlap socially back in the 50s. What a hoot.
Good sleep is my only real addiction. I've never smoked one cigarette in my life. I like working out, but I love pasta and big Napa cabs even more. Passed the Level II Sommelier exam in 2015. I ran a Harvard alumni club for 7 years. I drive an old Ford F150--like really old. I love my dogs--Australian Shepherds. The require a lot of attention but it is such a great change from being glued to a computer screen all day.
I don't play video games, but I consume one audio book per week while walking the dogs--usually on self-betterment or business (Dan Sullivan, Robert Reich, Brene Brown, Jim Collins, Tim Ferriss, Brian Carruthers, don Miguel Ruiz, Chris Voss, Steven Pressfield, Brendan Kane, Ryan Holiday, Annie Duke.)
Big fan of philosopher Werner Erhard and his lifetime of awaking others--kinda one of the OGs in that space. "You are nothing if you are not your word", "without integrity nothing works," "vanilla or chocolate? just choose."
I recommend the Landmark Forum to everyone who wants to be a leader of people. Or just happy.
I've been a paid hiking guide in at least ten US national parks and I've taught kids how to ride horses too. I should paint and sketch more--like i did in my 20s. At least three personalities you see on TV regularly own paintings of mine.
I daydream about kayaking and surfing more than I do it these days; alas just too much time needs to be spent on income generation. I was a lifeguard on the Jersey shore (Cape May Point) during the summers of college and miss being really really tan. And $1 Rolling Rocks. And Wawa Italian hoagies. I'm paying for all that sunshine now though--five big scars on my chest and back from skin cancer removals.
I dig live theatre and musicals and corralling people into group outings to go see live theatre and musicals, together. Broadway musicals are just so beyond my skill-set; I have mad respect for those that do it well. So in 2018 I bought tickets to see Dear Evan Hansen when it came to SF--like $38,000 worth of tickets--all for Compass agents. Fortunately I only lost about $300 on the gamble--returns and cancellations and flaky agents--but that night was just magical when it all came together. I swore I wouldn't do that again--organize an event of that size alone and put it all on my credit cards--and then Harry Potter the musical came to town. So I did it again.
I am grateful for being an over-educated white male in America whilst the darkest corners of our society still seek to oppress the brown, the immigrant, and the queer; I do my best to be a part of the solution, not the problem. I've been gay bashed twice; the first time put me in the ER on a Christmas Eve 1992, the second time I got in the first punch, then out-ran all of them. I've had my nose broken three or four times in fights--usually by homophobic dicks who attack me, or others. Breathing through my nose is really hard today from all the scar tissue.
And speaking of breathing, I was the first person on my block, i think, to wear a mask to protect myself and others in 2020. And I still do not complain about it. Four people in my familial ecosystem died that year. I dont think most of us have truly grieved for the 1,000,000+ Americans that died in that one year. One million. And nobody talks bout it anymore, like it was thousand years ago. (For comparison 60,000 died in Vietnam over a 10-year span.)
I came damn near close to dying from West Nile virus in 2002. Hospitalized for a week. We need a better health care system in this country; no one should have to declare bankruptcy due to medical bills from chronic illnesses--as I have. If 30 other countries can figure out how to afford healthcare for all people then why can't we? Oh right, our military budget needs to be 10X larger than all of Europe combined. Forgot about that.
I volunteer at a local Episcopal church's food bank almost every Saturday morning, breaking down cardboard boxes for four solid hours. I don't love it, but I see 30 other people volunteering each week just to get extra food. It is humbling.
I've served on ten non-profit boards and donate to progressive causes frequently. I should raise more money, more often, today--like I did in my 30s.
If you're like me--I have yet to determine what my superpower is. Is it OK just to be slightly above average at a few things? And below average at a few more? I'm working on two books about the economy, aggregating others, and wealth creation without having to hurt others by aggregating them. And some days I think they should just be one book. And other days I think they are just un-publishable short stories. And that I should just make TikToks about my dogs and how much they shed.
I have always loved the Bidens and all the open-minded, progressive, down-home, blue collar, authentic Christian goodness they stand for. They are my people. Go Scranton or go home.
So write to me and tell me about you.