A young, creative mind, and aspiring rap mogul.

Mick Jenkins - Comfortable (ft. NoName Gypsy)


Maybe I’ll upload some of the songs that I have had on repeat.


A summer of reflection/beginning

As the last few fleeting weeks of summer wane away, I am forcing myself to once again reflect on these past few months and the ever-so-imminent future.

This summer has been one of the most fulfilling, fun, productive, and adventurous summers of my life. After five visits, New York City and the bustling streets of Manhattan feel like home. A trip to the Costa Rican rainforest and beaches not only cleared my head of technology, but also reminded me just how lucky I am to lead the life I do. Road-tripping with some of my closest friends back to my homeland of Canada proved just how important a place it is for me. And, sharing the little hideaways and quirks of Ottawa that I’ve been able to enjoy for years with my friends was an unimaginable joy. Not to mention, the taste of pure freedom and responsibility that we can expect to have plenty more of these next few years. Finally, to top it all off I spent a few days in Philadelphia with my best friend, and learned that no matter where our paths take us in this next chapter of our lives we will always be able to pick right back up where we left off.

If I told you I knew what was to come of these next few months, I’d be lying. There are so many moving parts in my life right now it’s quite scary, exciting, motivating.

T-minus 7 days until I ship off to the other side of the country. When my true gap year begins. Regardless of how much or little I enjoy it, I’ll always have this past summer to reminisce on.

Where vs. If: Changing the way we look at college

More than once this past summer I found myself wondering: “What’s wrong with me?” While my friends excitedly discussed their dream schools and the fears of rejection, I was struggling with a fundamentally different question: should I attend college at all?

As I fill out my college applications, tuition rates continue to soar, saddling students with oppressive loan debt, while a stagnant economy diminishes job prospects for graduates. Higher education institutions are at risk of insolvency. Yet, why did it seem that I was the only senior in all of Northern Virginia that didn’t presume college was the inevitable next step? When I brought up the idea of not attending university, I was immediately met with naysayers telling me exactly what would go wrong, painting a bleak outlook for my future.

The first hurdle I had to overcome when talking with college graduates, students, and applicants was the preconceived notion that a university education would prepare me for the “real world.” College has long been the stepping-stone from adolescence to adulthood by providing young adults with the knowledge and reasoning power needed to secure a full-time job. Unfortunately, with the upheaval of the job market and economy as a whole, simply graduating will not guarantee even an entry-level position. Even if you are one of the lucky 48 percent of students who start their profession directly out of school, excitedly working a 14-hour day is not a skill that can be taught in the classroom, but having the passion to do so is becoming increasingly necessary.

Perhaps getting a job isn’t the be-all and end-all of your college experience, or even life goals. Post-secondary education can still present one with the intellectual playground whereby ideas are tested, expressed or challenged amongst bright young students and mentors, right? Absolutely. But, fortunately for your bank account, a collaborative learning group — or study group of any kind — can sate that need for about the price of a box of pizza. Dale Stephens originally outlined this premise in his book, Hacking Your Education. Instead of eating alone, he recommends inviting “a small, but diverse, group of people over” and discussing with them what you have been learning, projects you’re working on, and challenges you’re facing, from there just let the ideas bounce across the room.

The professional network, which has become an unofficial prerequisite for jobs, can be built more and more easily outside of college thanks to the interconnectivity of the online community. However, if the college campus environment is one that you would thrive in, I encourage you to go and explore that missing puzzle piece at a school of your choice, but skip the tuition like Kirill Zdronyy did. To replicate his story, simply find a dorm couch to crash on, attend lectures at a top-tier university, and build a successful startup company with other students. Zdronyy utilized many Stanford resources, and even got them to be one of his first clients, all without ever being a student.

The final, and most grueling, illusion to break down was the statistic that college students make on average $800,000 more in a lifetime than a non-college graduate. Those six figures are alarming. How could you possibly argue with the numbers? Well first, let’s figure out what the real numbers are, because as any economics professor would say, it’s important to factor in opportunity cost. For those four years spent at school paying $30,000 per year, one could have been earning at least $30,000 as well, bringing the total cost of a University education to about $240,000 ($60,000 x 4 years). Let’s go one step further and take the $120,000 you would have actually spent on college (not including opportunity cost) and toss it in to a saving account with a 3.5% interest rate. Over a 50-year period you would make approximately $670,000, a huge dent in that original $800,000 figure. Students who don’t pursue a college degree are able to get a four-five year jump on their career and start saving immediately, where as the rising loan rates keep graduates in debt for years after finishing in the classroom.

Our society has shifted. Decades ago when professors and professionals started conducting studies about who would make more money today, there were two distinct groups of students. Half who were motivated and ambitious chose to go to college simply because there were no other options. The other half were unmotivated teenagers, who did not have the will to succeed, thus did not go to college. No longer is our high school population split so evenly down the middle, and there are an exceptional amount of other opportunities to pursue other than a four-year college.

In order to get rid of the selection bias in the previously mentioned case studies, a more interesting — and accurate — test recommended by author and financial analyst, James Altucher, would be to take 2,000 students who were accepted to Harvard and make half of them go while forbidding the other half from attending. In 20 years we would be able to check back in and see which group had actually made more money. Altucher and I are in agreement that it would be the latter half.

The more I disputed convention, with friends, family, teachers, and, anyone else willing to hear my arguments, the clearer it became that swimming against the current is much more difficult than floating with it. Bewilderment best describes the collective reaction that everyone had to my “If college, vs. which college” stance.

After facing all of these factors, here I sit, an applicant to over ten schools… What happened?

For one, I succumbed to peer pressure. Having a cookie cutter answer for the: “Where are you going to school next year?” question, made my life a whole lot easier and allowed me to put off my decision for several more months. But, in the end, it became apparent to me that I was exceedingly fortunate to be in a position to even weigh such a decision. There are many smart, talented people that don’t have the luxury of choosing whether or not to attend college due to financial or familial difficulties.

As of now, I still have no idea whether or not I will be attending college next year, but even if I do, I will be confident in my decision and far more educated about the responsibility than many others. As investor and businessman, Carl Icahn, said: “In life and business, there are two cardinal sins: The first is to act without thought, and the second is to not act at all.” Given the significant investment of time, money, and effort those four years would require, I have to make a thoughtful choice based on sound rationale, not simply because it is pre-determined.

Thank You

I’m in an interesting place in my life right now. After four years of hard work, and often times over-work, I am finished with high school. I am incredibly blessed and privileged to be standing where I stand today, so it’s only right that I give thanks where thanks is due. 

I have very little idea where this next year will take me, but rather than fretting on the future, I need to focus on the right-now.

First and foremost, thank you to my parents. I’m sure this gap year is probably not what you’d expected, or maybe even hoped for, but you’ve been supportive from start to finish. Not many kids have as amazing and open-minded parents as I do, so now it’s my turn to show you I know what I’m doing.

Then of course, my friends. Lukas, for always making me smile, and for being a walking case study that “different is OK.” Daniel, for being a goon. The bond we share through music and the craziness that is TFS will never be broken. Alec, your genuine demeanor will take you an incredible distance in this life, never lose it. However much flack you get, know that it is because people look up to you and enjoy your presence. Every other person I met at school during these four years, you have all made an impact greater than you know.

Annie Dineen, you were the first person who ever made me feel like I could actually do something in the music industry. You treated me like an equal, and although you probably don’t even remember it, I will never forget the moment you called the music business “our industry.” Thank you for always being my sounding board for crazy ideas, my editor for essays, and for laughing at my jokes. Only upward from here.

To Henny Yegezu, for giving me a real opportunity to thrive. From selling tickets to this crazy journey of GoldLink, you have trusted me. That means the world, and I’m happy to call you a friend, mentor, and teammate.

The man, myth, and legend, Jon Tanners. Although you could still be catfishing the fuck out of me, I appreciate you and everything you have done for me as a mentor and all around person. You’ve showed me that hard work really does get rewarded, in a big way. Looking forward to the Fall. 

Rebecca Samuelson, despite the thousands of miles, and huge time difference, you are still someone I know I can always turn to. I’m very happy you’ve found the crossroads between music, entrepreneurship and technology; I hope to join you very soon.

My yung guns: Alex Siber, your work ethic is unparalleled. You motivate the hell out of me and everyone around you. Can’t wait to watch you kill it this summer. Elliot Ebaumz Baumohl, Peach Ringz has been fun, but I’m ready for us to take over the coast. Both of you guys are the future of this industry.

Thank you to everyone who has ever talked to me, emailed me, sent me music, laughed with me/at me, taught me, loved me, hated me, pushed me, and inspired me. I wouldn’t be the man (child) I am today, without you.

Onward and upward.

I went to New York and acted like a tourist for a bit.