Several of the leaders I listen to and read quote Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. The line they quote is:

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

I didn’t have the chance to hear Mr. Jones speak while he was alive, but this quote is very interesting. I believe the quote because of the people who quote it.  Also because it sounds true. So I decided to look back 5 years and think about who I have met and what I have read in that time that changed who I am. Five years ago was March 2008. I was two months past quitting my job as an IT guy for a bank and was working from home building Magento ecommerce sites.

Part 1 – People I’ve Met

1. Ryan

I actually met Ryan a few years prior, but he was one of the first people I had met that worked from home and built websites. He was kind enough to have lunch with me one day and answer my questions on how to do this “start a business” thing. Although Amanda and I had taken some S.C.O.R.E. classes they all focused on getting an SBA loan and opening a storefront. This wasn’t something we were interested in.  Ryan showed how simple it was to open a simple Sole Proprietorship and do business on the internet. I’ll never forget when he said that “Most people want you to grow up and get a ‘real’ job. I’ll take a ‘dream’ job any day over a real job.”

Impact: He encouraged me to start my own business

2. Galen

I met Galen about four years ago right after the birth of his youngest son. Actually my wife Amanda met him first when she took some food to their house. She came back and said “You’ll like him. He’s a talker.” Over the years we’ve gotten to be good friends and regularly go out to catch a movie after the kids are asleep. Galen has four kids and three are older than my oldest.

It’s good to know someone who is a little further down the path of fatherhood to let you know that things will get easier. Galen also has a very mature faith. I feel comfortable asking his advice because I know that he listens to God and has a lot of wisdom. I remember interrupting his lunch one day when I was wrestling with the decision to quit leading mission trips at my church. His counsel that day helped me start down the path that would lead to Amanda and I beginning our Life With A Mission. It’s great having friends like this in your life.

Impact: He models how to be a good dad and a spiritual leader

3. Mike and James

I wish I could retrieve my tweets from around August 2011 because if I could I would be able to find a series of tweets between me and James. He and Mike were heading up the project that eventually would become WooCommerce and they needed someone to build an Authorize.net payment gateway plugin. I said I could do that, and then Jay asked me if I wanted to be paid hourly, or split the sales revenue. “Split revenue?” I thought. I had never had the opportunity to split revenue, and although a paycheck sounded very nice and I had no assurance of sales I chose the split revenue.

At the time I was still doing hourly freelance work, but this opportunity was my first product. It sold a few hundred bucks the first month. And then again the second month. By early 2012 that one product was selling over $1,000 per month. Not bad for a few hours of work. I’ve since expanded my product portfolio and love the recurring revenue and stability it has brought. Now I get to work with Mike and Jay on a daily basis at WooThemes and am so glad we met.

Impact: They introduced me to selling products and to WooThemes

4. Scott & Sara

Both Amanda and I grew up public school kids. Early in our marriage we scoffed at the thought of homeschooling our kids. But when we started planning slow travel with our family the public school calendar was very limiting. I saw public school as a tunnel you enter and then don’t emerge from for 12 years. We met Scott and Sara when they attended our church and we knew they homeschool their kids. When we were researching homeschool as a possibility to give us the freedom to travel the entire year they invited us over to their house and they answered all of our questions. When we asked about our kids getting ‘socialization’ with homeschool Sara said “There are socially awkward kids in public schools, what’s their excuse?” Sara also shared what a typical day looks like and explained how curriculum works.

We left that dinner feeling very comfortable and excited about homeschooling. Now that we have been homeschooling Kindergarten for our 5 year old and pre-kinder for our 3 (now 4) year old for the past seven months we absolutely love it. We love the time we have with our family and the freedom we have to direct the focus and pace of our kids’ learning.

Impact: They showed Amanda and I the truth and freedom of homeschool

5. My Kids

The people I’ve met in the past five years who have changed me the most are my three kids. Fatherhood has had its challenging parts, but it’s been so rewarding. I’m truly honored to be able to be dad to Annabelle, Roman and Zander. I can’t wait to watch them grow and share adventures with them.

Impact: They taught me humility, love, and selflessness

I’ve changed a lot in the past five years, and I’m excited to meet more people who will help shape who I am in the next five years!

This post got a little long so I’m going to continue in another post with “The Books I’ve Read.”

Photo Credit: Ben K Adams via Compfight licensed under Creative Commons.

Posted by Daniel Espinoza

I'm a digital tentmaker, web developer, a native Texan, avid reader, and a wanna be polyglot. Follow Daniel on Twitter @d_espi.

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