I'm fortunate to have traveled the globe, work in a successful career and have a wonderful family. But before all that, I was a Club kid.
I first stepped into the Boys & Girls Club in Conyers, Georgia
, as a first-grader. In school, I spent much of my time with kids who looked, thought and learned a lot like me. Going to the Club was important because it introduced me to new experiences and people — kids from different age groups, backgrounds, races and academic skill levels. If I hadn't had that exposure, I would be very different today, from my career choices and how I lead a team, to the way I raise my daughter. I have the Club to thank for that.
Activities and experiences at the Club taught me humility. At school, my test grades were good, my confidence was high, and I felt like one of the smartest guys in the room. Because Club staff encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone in the computer room to try flag football, I experienced what it was like to be the youngest, worst player. Learning from kids who were older and better was a humbling and valuable experience.
Today that helps me as a leader. I like to think that everyone on my team is smarter than me, so I listen and take their advice very seriously.
An Uncharted Path
Meeting so many different types of people and having experiences at the Club gave me the courage to make my own unique choices in life. Today I'm part of the C-Suite at a successful company, but I didn't take a traditional path to get there.
I started college studying finance. At an internship about midway through school, I got interested in computer programming. Halfway through my junior year, I changed my major to information systems. A short time later, I ended up leaving school early to take a position in programming.
Since then, I've been fortunate to have worked with various companies, from a real estate investment trust, to Equifax, to a civil rights nonprofit, to Softgiving — a financial technology start-up founded by a fellow Boys & Girls Club alumnus
where I am the chief technology officer today.
While I didn't complete my college degree, I am continually learning. College is important for some people and professions, but I don't believe it's necessary for everyone. There are many unique combinations of skill sets, especially in a fast-growing field like technology. I've spent significant time learning quickly outdated technology skills. What's always valuable is the appetite to learn and improve yourself and not be satisfied with where you are.
I attribute my early days at the Boys & Girls Club and understanding how to work with different types of people to my success as a leader and passion for lifelong learning.
Great Leaders Start Here
There are many ways to define a great future. For some, it's being the first to go to college and become an engineer. For others, it's starting a business or protecting our country. But today, too many young people are unprepared for the workforce, and an overwhelming number of employers believe young people lack essential skills, like judgment, problem-solving and adaptability.
Your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America
will help more kids like Dalton develop the skills they need to succeed.
Did you know that 1 in 16 people living in America has been a member of a Boys & Girls Club like Dalton? If you've ever been a Club kid, join our free alumni community to connect to ongoing opportunities, events and each other. Learn more and become part of the Club after the Club.