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July 28, 2016


Or, why I'm committing to Toptal Visual designers group, a marketplace for the top companies to find the top visual designers for their projects.

James Braddock teaching his son a life lesson about integrity

I was watching Ron Howard's Cinderella Man with my two sons, 9 and 12 years old. It was troubling, on one hand, unbelievable on the other, watching the main character, a man of integrity, struggle to buy milk and keep his family warm during the Great Depression.

His struggles and ultimate victory against poverty, famine, and financial security during a period in history that I haven’t seen or experienced were grounding.


When it’s too cold in my house, I turn up the heat. Fresh water comes easy. Everything comes easy in fact. The three grocery stores within 5 miles from my house have shelf after shelf of fresh food. Heck, we have apps to find a ride, someone to park our car, delivery said groceries and most everything we can want or need.

Seeing Mr. Braddock fight (literally) for the things my sons and I take for granted was again, grounding.

Not only that but the path he took to get to financial security all happened for a reason. Even the Great Depression.

As I watched, I could see my path to reach the point where I’m committing myself to join a global marketplace of top-notch designers.

Commitment doesn’t come easily. Just like the money James J. Braddock earned to turn the heat on in his home, or give his children milk.

My wife made a commitment to me 11 years ago when she gave me the opportunity to chase my entrepreneurial dream. After years of bad luck and failure in the Silicon Valley startup scene, I learned the design and development skills that gave me the opportunity to work for Apple, Facebook, Google, Walmart Big Data, and Kaiser Permanente. Through good and tough times, it all happened for a reason.

  • The pre-AirBnb collection of Washington, D.C. homes and B&Bs helped me refine my:
    • Visual design skills
    • Art Direction and photography techniques
    • Front end development abilities
  • That subscription-based library of videos for parents of children with autism taught me:
    • How to create user-friendly interfaces to filter and search complex hierarchies
    • The meaning of user-centered design from having my initial concept trashed during user-testing
  • That printed book containing thousands of herbs I designed a web interface for users to access the information taught me
    • How to deliver the information at the right time making an experience delightful
    • Grids using a double-strand modular scale for readability and harmony
  • The e-card startup taught me:
    • Agile methodologies
    • User-centered design
    • How to design a brand and a marketing strategy
    • Carry out Information Architecture tests like card sorts and tree tests
  • The search engine for millions of electronic chips startup helped me understand:
    • How to design Enterprise level UX
    • The true meaning of user flows and customer journeys
    • How to plan and run design sprints
    • I can solve complex problems creatively


And tonight, I did a Google search and found Toptal through an article. Toptal's 'why' of helping the world's leading businesses accomplish their goals resonated with me. I have the chance to work on meaningful projects with great clients. I have the opportunity to use my interdisciplinary skills in design and development to help people do what they want to do on a website efficiently while helping companies accomplish what they want to be done effectively. UX Design win-win. This is why I want to commit to Toptal – convergence.

Photo courtesy of Universal Studios

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