Hi, my name is Aaron Montgomery. Throughout my entire life I’ve found myself in unfamiliar situations that I had to learn to navigate largely on my own. Whether it was a new school, a new job, or even a new neighborhood, I was often the first, and /or the only person who was “like me.” I don’t just mean that racially, though that was often the case, I mean folks like me.
I grew up the only child of a single mother, in fact the first couple years of my life we were on federal aid, and I don’t share that to give a sob story. My mother made tons of sacrifices and got us on a great path and I was more fortunate than many, but when you go to private school, or Harvard, or work at McKinsey, or meet venture capitalists and they ask about your family I didn’t find too many other stories like mine.
As a teenager, I was fortunate to attend a very prestigious private school in Michigan on a scholarship, of course. Not only was I was one of a small handful people of color, but I was one of only eight students out of hundreds that was there on a full scholarship. And, as a result, I needed help putting some context around the new world I found myself in.
When I went to college it was more of the same. Not only was I the first in my family to go away for college, and by then you could count on one hand the number that had gone at all, but I was also the only person to ever attend Harvard. In fact, for years I was the only person anyone in my family even knew who went there. So, not only was I literally far from home, but here I was in probably the most prestigious, or at least well-known university in the world without having any idea of what I was in for and no one to guide me or prepare me for the transition which made me feel even more isolated and remote than I would have otherwise.
This theme continued on Wall Street where I worked as an analyst, in tech where I worked for a venture-backed company that was ultimately acquired by Amazon, in consulting when I worked for McKinsey as an associate in one of their largest offices, at CarLotz when I co-founded and launched the company from an idea, and even now in my role as Chief Strategy Officer in fintech, an entire field where almost no one has shared my experiences.
This is my reality, and it always has been. Every campus, every office, every boardroom, every conference, you name it, I’m of one or two and I’m adapting and growing and learning the rules on my own through trial and error.
I won’t say I’ve learned everything, but I’ve learned a lot. And more importantly, I’ve learned how to learn…and quickly. And, I want to share those lessons. Because I want to help people who find themselves in those same situations feel supported, less alone, empowered. I want them to be able to navigate the world with a little more confidence and a little more swagger knowing that they can do it and not just hoping they can.
When I thought about how I could do this at scale, I realized that the biggest lessons I’ve learned aren’t complicated textbook tomes, or consulting frameworks, or theoretical models. They’re stories. Just like the ones you’d hear from your grandparents or your favorite uncle or aunt. My grandfather, with only a 5th grade education, taught me more in the 18 years I knew him than I’ve learned in the 20+ years since he left. So, I decided to share my stories. Let me give you what my grandfather gave me. I want to help you level up. I want to give you my trial and error to help you grow faster and go farther than you ever thought possible. Not just through sharing this book, but by building dialogue with you and building community with other people in the same situations.
This book is just a framework, a tool to help you think about your own life and the lessons you’re gaining from it in real-time. I want to share my stories not just to teach you, but to help you draw out the inspiration for your own stories and lessons.
I want this book in the hands of everyone who can benefit from it. I want it in homes, schools, churches, prisons, wherever. But to do that, I need your help. If you know someone who can benefit from this project, help me put this book in their hands. I’m not talking about CEOs or entrepreneurs or business school professors though I’m happy to sell them a copy! No, I’m talking about the aspiring CEOs, entrepreneurs. Your daughters, sons, nieces, nephews. The neighbor kid who cuts your grass and does odd jobs for you, the babysitter that makes your kids light right up when they see them. The barista who always remembers your order, the student who is working their way through 2-year college and building the plan that their high school couldn’t give them. The released offender who has a whole new perspective and will do anything to avoid going back. I’m talking about ALL of them.
If you know someone, buy them a copy. If you know a bunch of people, buy a bunch, if you teach them or know someone who does, buy a case! Help me get this out. 100% of the proceeds are going towards sharing more content, building more connection, and helping to empower people to reach their goals. Listen, don’t buy this book to help me, buy it to help me help others.
In that spirit, and because I’m so committed to this I’m offering a special bonus. As a part of my soft launch, if you buy more than 10 copies, I will offer you a meet the author Q&A session on Zoom so that I can meet with you and the audience you’ve connected me with and support them real-time. I’ve found this is a powerful way to connect with people who are still figuring out their mastermind group or mentor circle so I’m offering this to get right at the root and help people in the way that will be most impactful right now.
Thank you, so much for listening, and remember, don’t ever settle for what is, instead suspend your disbelief and imagine what could be.