Steven’s Background. Steven grew up with simple midwestern roots. The family lived well below the poverty line in Dayton Ohio. His father was a preacher and his mom worked secretary jobs for minimum wage. He remembers the family always struggling to pay the bills and he decided at an early age to try a different path. So he read a lot, studied hard, and was the first person in his immediate and extended family to graduate from college.
During his college years, his mom got sick. For many years, she had a lump below her neck, but didn’t go to the doctor due to financial reasons – the family did not have health insurance. This turned out to be stage four lymph node cancer, and before it could be caught, she passed away when Steven was 19.
It was through these difficult times that he learned optimism in the face of fear, self-sufficiency, persistence, and the importance of telling your family you love them.
It was also during this time that he discovered teachers like Brian Tracy and Dennis Waitley. He studied everything he could, read hundreds of books, and applied what he learned about writing goals, reviewing them often, and learning how to make them a reality. So at age 20, he set those goals – to start a business, have a successful relationship, move to California, and to be a financially secure before he turned 30.
After school, Steven left a job in the midwest and relocated to San Diego, CA to help start a new tech company. That company grew from 8 employees to 800, and had a successful IPO. The risk turned into reward and Steven was able to see many of his initial financial goals come true 64 days before his 30th birthday – right on track with the goal he had written 10 years earlier.
Business. Steven is the founder and CEO of TakeLessons.com, a venture-backed education technology company and Internet marketplace, doing business in over 3,000 cities across the world. Starting as an idea in his spare bedroom Steven built TakeLessons into a successful company used by over 20 million people each year. Steven is responsible for building the team, driving the long-term vision, and has led the company through multiple rounds of venture capital.
Before TakeLessons, Steven was involved in other tech-enabled Internet businesses. One of them had a successful IPO and the other was sold to a public company.
Steven shares his knowledge as a keynote speaker or on panels around the USA speaking about being an entrepreneur, growing a business, and personal growth and success. He has appeared on ABC, NBC, Fox News, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc, and a host of other news publications and podcasts.
Steven has an interest in public governance and has been asked to speak and provide insight around building societies that work for all people, how to make government work for Americans, building startup communities within local ecosystems, and the role tech plays in our lives.
As an investor, Steven sits on the board of advisors for several internet based, VC-backed businesses and has invested in several other companies focused on technology or real estate.
With public stock investing, Steven subscribes to the simple philosophy of finding great, dividend-paying companies that are trading under value and at a margin of safety – also known as old-school value investing.
Creative. On the creative side, Steven has been writing and playing music since he was a kid, learning his chops playing in the family gospel band as an eight year old. He paid for college by becoming a highly-regarded club DJ, and later started an alternative rock back and released two albums on Convertible Fly Records. One of his songs made it into a movie and one of his proudest moments is when a couple from North Carolina used one of his songs as their wedding dance song. He now writes, creates, and explores music in his home studio; on occasion, he releases original songs and you can find them here.
Steven has studied photography for many years and enjoys taking pictures of people and his travels. One of his pictures was used as the main image of HGTV’s Hot Properties San Diego TV show. You can find Steven’s photography here.
“In the words of the great Italian producer, Federico Fellini, “Nulla si sa, tutto si immagina.” Nothing is known, everything is to be imagined.
Wherever the road may lead, I’d like to stay in the intersections of creativity, entrepreneurism, and public service for the greater good. And more importantly, I want to create more incredible experiences with incredible people!”