Hustler. Hacker. Slacker: An Afternoon with Paul Jendrasiak

As I’ve grown a little older (I turned 35 in February), self-reflection has become a large part of my experience.  Taking the time and examining the events, decisions, luck (both good and bad), people that have come and gone (again both good and bad), circumstances, etc. that have shaped my life to this point has had a positive effect on things going forward and is something I look forward to doing more of as time goes on.  If you’re a bit older than I am – you’re probably thinking to yourself something like ‘you think you’re older now?  Wait til you’re 50, son’.

It was exactly at that time that I was just beginning to branch out on my own as a service provider in the SEO and Internet Marketing industry.  At the time and up until relatively recently, I didn’t know Paul very well.  In all reality, I had an idea as to the businesses he was involved in – but aside from that I really knew only one thing about him: Paul Jendrasiak was everywhere around here.If you live in West Michigan, are active on social media channels around here, or even if you’ve spent any time at all in Grand Rapids, chances are you’ve heard of Paul Jendrasiak.  In case you are unfamiliar, Paul is the founder of Spambully, a photographer for GRNOW, and co-founder of Hello From Grand Rapids, among many other business ventures over the past 20 years.  I first met Paul at a cocktail event in 2010.  Prior to that, we’d connected informally on Facebook, when it was the thing to do to be counted as among his near capacity friend count.

When I was first starting out, I attended my fair share of networking events and the like.  If you’ve ever engaged in such activities – you know that it usually becomes pretty apparent who the regulars are – and Paul was seemingly at all of them.  If I was the guy with his hands in his pockets lurking on the outskirts of the party like the captain of the chess club at a high school dance, Paul was the star quarterback in the middle of the dance floor.

Over the past few years, I’d gotten to know Paul a little bit through his Facebook page and occasional chance interactions.  He was always laid back and cool and always seemed to make time for everyone.  But it wasn’t until his recent presentation at a GRAPE event called “Hustler. Hacker. Slacker: Confessions and Ramblings of an Accidental Entrepreneur”, and a subsequent conversation over coffee a week later that I realized how much he and I had in common and how his life experience resonated with me both personally and professionally.

The truth is, listening to Paul’s talk about his experience growing up – and by ‘growing up’ I am actually referring his early adulthood years – felt as if I was listening to the older brother I never had.  Paul’s remarks on growing up admiring musicians and an affinity for photography yet letting go of those dreams in favor of a more practical career path resonated with me and had me hanging on his every word.  It isn’t that his experience is a perfect reflection of mine – far from it.  But there is a feeling of familiarity in listening to Paul describe his path to this point in his life (he’s 42), and certain parallels when I think and reflect on this point in mine.

So with that, I encourage you to check out Paul’s talk below.  It’ll probably be the best 20 minutes you’ll spend today.  And by the way – as to turning 50 – I’m looking forward to it and I’ll report back in about 15 years’ time.

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