3 chance meetings that changed the course of my life, and helped me win an award

Last night I was humbled to receive the Marketing for Good Award at the 2018 Amy Awards put on by the Atlanta Chapter of the American Marketing Association. I was honored to stand beside my friend Jeff and accept the award, realizing that so much of that recognition doesn’t belong to me at all. It’s the staff and volunteers of 48in48 that deserve it, that and three chance meetings that changed the course of my life.

The first chance meeting was in my sophomore year of college when I happened to hear about my wife. A friend told me about her before I met her, and then once I met her, it was all over. I can still remember where I was standing in a coffee shop the first time I heard about her and can still remember her smile the first day we finally met in person (after having had some great conversation over the phone). Meeting and marrying her changed everything. I can’t image anyone else in the world putting up for the crazy stuff that I do, like starting 48in48, or many of the other adventures we have had. My wife has always supported my crazy dreams.

The second chance meeting was in 2007. It was my first day starting an internship at a large church, and I ran into the sarcastic IT guy Aaron Reimann. We got along immediately. Aaron taught me how to properly code a website, and I can honestly say I would not be in digital marketing right now if it weren’t for him taking the time to teach me that. Aaron and I co-founded Sideways8 in 2010, focussing on digital marketing and WordPress development. Aaron and the team at Sideways8 built the technology backbone for 48in48, have volunteered at every 48in48 event, and have been the foundation that has helped 48in48 grow and help people around the world.

The third chance meeting was at a Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce lunch in 2013. Jeff Hilimire was being interviewed as the entrepreneur of the year. From that interview, I learned that Jeff was an agency leader, and had adopted from China like I had, so I figured I would meet him and try to get coffee sometime. He was gracious enough to meet with a complete stranger, and because of those commonalities (and many more), we hit it off. That growing friendship led to Jeff asking me to start 48in48 with him, which has led to many adventures, travels, laughs and websites built to help nonprofits. And, last night led to our receiving the Marketing for Good Amy Award.

I’m truly thankful for the adventures that each of these chance meetings has brought to my life. It’s funny that such a random thing as hearing about a stranger’s sick grandmother, walking into a guy’s office or introducing yourself after an event can change the entire course of your life, but it can. I’m glad it did.

Here is our acceptance speech from the event last night:

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