I was a devoted Los Angeles Kings fan and played ice hockey my entire youth, and of all positions, I chose to be the goaltender. I idolized the King’s goaltended Kelly Hrudey, and one time I snuck into their locker room, met him, and for a moment, the world stopped. I might have been small for a goalie (as most covered the entire goal with their bodies), but I was the fastest goalie in town and had moves that put Mick Jagger to shame. Losing only fueled my fire to be an even better goalie. I ate pucks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a great time.

Funny full circle fact: I was eventually elected Senior Class President by the same kids who had bullied me in elementary school!

I attended college and got two degrees, with honors, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and eventually got my MBA.

After dreaming of becoming a movie producer, I tried to break into Hollywood. I ended up on sets like The Practice, where I met William Shatner, but took him to the wrong studio, and that was when I realized that famous people get angry fast. I was a grunt, a page, a go-for this and go-for that. My excitement faded when I realized that it would take almost 30 years to move up the movie ranks. I transitioned to the mortgage industry, made lots of money, and somehow spent it all. Then I found myself, like many other loan officers, out of a job when the market crashed in 2008.

At a low point in life, and not being able to make ends meet, I took on a variety of jobs from construction to teaching karate. With a mortgage, thousands in credit card debt, and not enough money to pay the bills, I hit rock bottom. I was drinking a lot to cope with everything falling apart, and I ended up with a DUI. I tried to hide it from everyone, and it took me over 10 years to share that it happened with my parents.

I was ashamed, broke, lonely, embarrassed, and stopped going out. The bills stacked up, and my house went into foreclosure. I took out student loans, and didn’t spend it on school. I got a roommate to help float some bills, but then he moved out one day and took my car. I never saw it again because he got a DUI and the car was impounded. I didn’t have any money to get it back.

Everything that I had worked so hard for fell apart in front of my face. With a heavy heart, I asked my parents to borrow money to hire a bankruptcy attorney. Up until this point I was very secretive about everything that had gone wrong. It was my rock bottom. I remember trying to talk to my mom and dad and I couldn’t talk. All I could do was cry. It was miserable. They helped me with the cash to hire the attorney and I mailed in an application filing for bankruptcy.

That was a tough pill to swallow.

Two weeks later, I found the application in my mailbox, returned to sender because the postage was .32 cents short. I knew that the world was speaking to me. Bankruptcy was NOT the right decision.

I will never forget that moment.

I stood there, bankruptcy paperwork in my hand… then tore it up, right there, in front of the mailbox (then I cleaned it up because I felt bad for littering).

I made a commitment at that moment to work my way out of the hole I was in.

During this time as I was trying to make ends meet, I made a decision that ultimately ended up being one of the worst decisions of my life, but more on that later.