I made a conscious decision that I was gonna go to culinary school. I was gonna focus on food, and I was gonna make a career around food. I was in my mid-20's. People were starting to ask, "Hey, what are you gonna "do when you grow up?" And, I didn't have a good answer. So I felt a little pressure, of okay, well I need to be serious about something. So, what do I like the most? And it was food. So, I decided to go to culinary school in Los Angeles. It was a two-year program. It was from six in the morning until 11 AM. And all in it cost about $25,000. During that time, after the first six week increment I was asking the teachers, like okay, well what else should I be doing? And, what they said was, get a job. And that was something I was really familiar with. So I went and got a job, and I was fortunate enough to have a classmate who was working for Wolfgang Puck. And I asked him, "Hey, do you guys "do you need anybody? "I'm looking for a job. "I would really like to come work for you." And, during that time I went to school from six AM until 11 AM. And then we would go and work from noon until more or less 10 o'clock every day. And then work on the weekends. And, so that's, I was able to pay for some of the school that way. But that was how we, that was how we lived. We had a tiny apartment. I think our first apartment, when I was in school was like 500 square foot studio. It was, it was tiny. A little closet, what we did was, you know we did what we had to do. When you go looking for things when you go looking for opportunities a lot of times, they present themselves to you. A lot of times significantly faster than you would suspect. Let's say it's, you know, it doesn't even have to be in food, it could be, hey, I want to be a teacher. Okay, well, if you want to be a teacher, go talk to a lot of teachers. I knew people who knew things around food. And so I started to talk to people. I did a lot of research on almonds. I had a couple little small projects that I had tried and failed. And with almonds I knew more of what I didn't want it to be. I knew that I was, I didn't have a lot of resources so I had to do something that wasn't extremely expensive to make. I didn't want it to be refrigerated. It's another level of complexity for a one-man show. I started looking around in California, California grows the almond supply for the world. So I took a shot, I bought a 25 pound box of almonds. And that was, I guess the rest is history. (laughs) I'm in a unique position because I have a family that's incredibly supportive of what I'm doing that this wouldn't be happening without them. There's a lot of things that have aligned for me and that I definitely don't take for granted. My family, and my friends have helped me put me in this position. But the growth opportunities from here are pretty large. I have my tax accountant who helps me. From the first time I talked to him I was doing this part-time I think I just sold my hundredth pack. And he was like, "what are you trying to do here? "What's your goal?" And I told him that if I was able to sell $10,000 of packages, $10,000 worth of almonds in a year that I had made it. He kind of just nicely said, "Come talk to me when it's "like 100,000." And, so I started looking for opportunities. In the first tax year I sold a little over $300,000 in almonds. Which is a far cry from from 10,000. How do I do twice as much? How do I do five times as much? I want to still be doing this in 10 years. Hopefully it's still in this business but I want to get to interact with a variety of people that I want to get to keep learning to continue gaining experience. I want to keep doing this. Somebody starting out who wants to do something similar to this, I would say, number one is being tenacious. Don't let people tell you that you can't do it. There's always gonna be blocks. It's just a matter of overcoming those. Not just a matter, you have to do that if that's what you want to do. The pitfalls, try and learn as much about what you're getting yourself into. I'm not out of the woods at all. There's pitfalls every single day. Being aware, look for the pitfalls and surround yourself with good people. That's, I mean, if I can say one thing is, surround yourself with as many smart like-minded people as possible. And, things have a way of working themselves out a little faster.
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