Hi, I’m Kristian, and this is my story.

Growing up in a family owned software company, I was always surrounded by brilliant people and technology. At an early age I started working with engineering teams developing software products for the factory automation software industry. One summer in the early 1990’s at the age of 13 or so I was working on a long batch of SCADA system conversions when one of the programmers knocked on my office door and asked me if I wanted to see something. He was running mosaic, one of the first browsers using it to access the World Wide Web. It was only a matter of time before we were building servers and software for this new emerging global network, you guessed it, The Internet.

Fast forward to my college years, I’m studying music production and engineering, still working on SCADA systems, uploading my projects using a very early version of a mobile hotspot, similar to the air card but even earlier. It was the early 2000’s and there was no public wifi. How did we exist!? We went to record stores and strolled down the street from store to store. Music and products had a physical identity. All of that would change very quickly.

After returning from college I started to experience an awakening. Something that had been stirred in me by a book I found on a dorm room floor called The Music of Life. The system engineering business I had built in college had fizzled out along with the remnants of US manufacturing.

My friends and I moved into a two bedroom apartment and started DJing jungle, drum and bass, and house music pretty much around the clock. All of my DJ sets were built using vinyl records that I bought with the little money I had, from local record stores and thrift shops.

Our downstairs neighbors were a family with a two year old. The dad worked as an EMT and the mom worked in the forces of nature. They were very cool about the noise as long as we kept it down when he got off shift. The mom would bring her 2 year old up to hang out and talk to us about the energies in the building and the fire spirits that lived in the electric oven where she would bake the most delightful lemon bars and brownies.

DJing and hustling for odd jobs was liberating but also humbling. Unregulated sharing services had popped up all over the internet offering free music, software, ebooks, and more. The physical world of products that I had grown up in was disappearing before my eyes. My friends and I built computers to run early versions of Logic, Reason, and a DAW I really liked called Buzz Tracker. Despite these innovations and having all that fire power at my fingertips, money was tight and my credit card was maxed out.

Reluctantly as it were, I felt guided to get out of that situation. After putting out some resumes that went no where, a friend got me a job working at one of the first online meeting service providers doing technical support. The core product was able to connect people via a browser plugin so they could share a presentation. No video, no chat, most didn’t even use VOIP, just teleconferencing. Business was booming.

Around that time I started playing keyboard in a hip hop jazz band. My musical focus up to that point had mainly been on singing and music synthesis and production. While this required that I know a little piano, it wasn’t until this project that I really started working on the instrument full time. This coincided with meeting two very important people in my life, my Kundalini Yoga teacher, and my music teacher.

What attracted me most to these individuals was not their divinity or skills, but their humanity and their willingness to openly share with me the challenges and struggles that they had gone through and were currently experiencing. They reminded me more of piers than teachers. They were my mentors.

Work was a drag. Long hours wearing a headset clearing support queues and filling out tickets. The network we were running was a mess, a mixture of legacy servers and new clusters. Virtualization was on the rise but at that time it wasn’t unusual to rent rack space at a network operation center and run your own server. It was on one of these type set ups that I got my hands on my first linux stack to run a variety of new content management systems. It was clear that database driven websites had the potential to showcase creative ideas and provide a publishing platform, but a lot of businesses were still running flat HTML sites. There was plenty of work in designing and maintaining these sites, as well as porting them over to CMS platforms.

One day I was on a walk during my 15 minute break and I encountered a red tail hawk sitting in a tree at my eye level. It was unusual to see a bird of prey like this so close on a corporate campus, but somehow, there was no one else in sight. We observed each other grokking on the deepest level. The message was clear, it was time to take flight. After getting my affairs in order, I quit my job and started freelancing and playing music full time.

At first it went well. Clients were plentiful, but there was a new trend on the horizon. Outsourcing had begun to distribute the industry to less expensive coders and designers living in other countries. My experience in the manufacturing space had taught me this lesson already, but I decided to take the course again. At the same time, the music project I was in came to an end. To cut costs I moved in with a drummer I was working with on a side project.

This was a time of intense growth for me and my relationship with higher forces. Everything I had learned and experienced up to that point couldn’t prepare me for the profound sense of loss and hopelessness I felt at that time. And yet, there was a clarity in living day to day, dollar to dollar. The proof of my purpose was measured in each breath, instead of paychecks and possessions. After selling every automobile and extra piece of gear, and throwing away quite a few things, everything I owned fit into the kitchen nook of my drummer friend’s apartment. They were going through a growth spurt of their own. Together we played and recorded music as often as possible while scouring dumpsters and alley ways for free or broken furniture that we would fix up and sell to the local antique stores.

Fortunately I knew not to give up the tools of my craft. Amongst these essential artifacts were my musical instruments, computers, and recording equipment. My new roommate refused to allow me to get cable internet, so I would ride my bike to a local copy and print shop that had terminals for rent to service the few web design clients I still had. It was rough, I felt I needed my own place. This is how I ended up with two jobs, working in a local bike shop while also working as a gallery associate in a local art gallery. This was around 2006.

These part time jobs forced me into a role that I had never liked, sales. Up until then I was content with relatively few client interactions, spending most of my time working on client work and relying on word of mouth to bring me new opportunities. Now, in a customer facing position, I began to develop my sales and marketing skills on a tactile level.

The gallery owner taught me about inbound marketing. The majority of their sales would come from art walks that occurred once a month. The rest of the time a few folks would trickle in here or there. The key was making visitors to the gallery comfortable by offering them something to drink or eat, and talking to them as little as possible. This would allow the customers to spend more time with the art pieces and develop their own relationship with the work. If a customer spent a long time looking at something one day, and then decided to return another day, a sale was imminent.

The bike shop owner was a completely different vibe. They taught me about outbound techniques. Breaking the ice, advertising, marketing, price cutting, and the ultimate weapon in the bike shop sales tool book, a weapon of mass inventory clearing destruction, the SUPER SALE.

All this improved my client work hustle tremendously. This is also when I started playing keys in a funk band. These were some of the best players I had every seen much less worked with. For those who are not familiar with the regimented style of funk musicians or pocket players, it is a workout requiring an in depth study of repertoire and group dynamics.

Eventually I quit the gallery job and was promoted to shipping clerk at the bike shop given my experience with databases, but the shop owner insisted that everyone in the building who was not buying a bike be selling one, you read that right, so I still kept my numbers up outfitting and upselling while unloading and unpacking the never ending stream of boxes that would arrive in the loading dock each morning.

One day I got a call from a regular client asking me if I knew anything about video streaming. The job would require someone who spoke the languages of network support, audio support, and video streaming. To do the job I shuffled my shifts around once a month. The live stream job took a couple of hours in the morning and paid more than a full day at the bike shop. Still, there were not enough gigs at the time to support me in my basement studio apartment that I had managed to move into.

In 2008 the economy went into free fall and I was laid off from the bike shop. Fortunately I had found a new niche for my freelance work. Word was getting around that I had skills in digital video and it wasn’t long before I had a new book of business producing websites for the film industry. Directors of photography were spending loads of money on designing and duplicating DVDs and mailing their reels to prospects. With a new Adobe tool called image ready and a new video format, Quicktime progressive download, I was able to put these DVD menus online as video rich websites with almost no recurring cost to my clients. This was the beginning of a new venture called foxyea.com, which I still run to this day working in internet marketing and app development helping many clients to produce and launch their products using video, graphic design, and content development.

Meanwhile, live video streaming took off. My main client in this space was VideoSSC.com. This was the beginning of my nearly two decade career as a live streaming video producer, another job I still do today.

As for the funk band, we released a song called Worldwide which you can check out here. Shortly after releasing this song the group dissolved into a couple different projects that went through their own rise and fall, and rise again. My musical focus is now on my own songs and spoken word pieces. Stay tuned for where you can check them out. The Twitch community feels like a great creative space to me, and I have hosted and co produced a couple of hybrid Twitch live streams with 916Junglist.

And that brings us to the present day and why this blog is here. I wanted to give back to this ever evolving space and share my experience and expertise to help you find what you are searching for.

Have a great day,

Kristian