A little more than one year ago I was driving from New York to Boston in a car filled with all my belongings to start a new job in a new city. Last weekend I spent 3 days on Powder Mountain in Utah connecting with some of the most inspiring entrepreneurs in the world. This is the story of what happened in between and what’s to come.

I was moving to Boston to be a programmer at a company called Ladder, which I had only heard of a few weeks prior to moving. I was hired straight out of the coding bootcamp Flatiron School.

A little background on me: I graduated from Binghamton University with a double major in Economics and Philosophy. I had taken a few computer science classes in school, but never coded consistently. I loved startups, markets, business, and had big questions about the world, which is why I pursued studies in economics and philosophy.

After graduating I was interviewing with some startups in the New York City area, but never found what I was really looking for. I didn’t really know what I was looking for. This whole time I was teaching myself iOS development through Udacity, simply as a hobby, picking up something I got a taste of in college.

Eventually after some discussion and encouragement from my parents, I applied to a coding bootcamp, Flatiron School, in Manhattan to learn iOS development. After 12 weeks of intense learning I was ready to be a full time developer. Companies of all sizes come to Flatiron looking for developers to hire.

I had never heard of Ladder previously, they didn’t even have an app iin the App Store yet. This was a real early stage startup. In the first interview that I had I met with Brett Maloley, the CEO, Leland Fidler, the head of product, and Tom Digan, Ladder’s lead investor. The first curveball that Ladder threw at me was in that interview. I was asked: “How many gas stations are in the US?”. Caught a little off guard, I walked the interviewers through how I would solve the problem. I guessed 2,000. The real answer was 168,000. Yikes.

Luckily they weren’t looking for the right answer, but rather how I got to that answer, and they liked my reasoning enough to give me a coding project to demonstrate my skills. For the next 4 days I spent all my waking hours working on a project, trying to make it as perfect as possible. I stayed up till 4 a.m finishing the project, but didn’t send it out until 8 a.m because I didn’t want them to think I was cramming after leaving it until the last minute.

After a second interview I was offered a position at Ladder. After all the work that I had put in at Flatiron and working on my coding project, it had paid off and I was offered a full-time position! It was a dream! Except it was at a company with no track record, in a new city, away from all my friends and family…

I took the job. This was what I wanted. A chance to be part of a startup. To help build it from the ground up. To be part of the thing that I had been obsessed with for years. I took the leap and accepted the offer.

When I was in the car driving up to Boston for the first time, I listened to a podcast featuring an ultramarathon runner. He had a quote that stuck with me for the rest of the year. “When you think you’re done, you’re only at 40% of your body’s capability.” It was a year filled with highs and lows, late nights, and big breakthroughs and accomplishments. It’s hard to quantify how much I learned in one year. All I can say is that it was an incredible year of learning and growth and I’m excited for what comes next.

So what does this have to do with Utah? The CEO, Brett Maloley, was planning on going to a Summit Wellness Weekend, a gathering of inspiring and interesting people in Eden, Utah, on Powder Mountain. Its an exclusive group, and I’ve heard a lot about it. From what I heard incredible, talented, and interesting people from all walks of life gather together to make friends, and experience the beauty of Utah. Brett wasn’t able to go, so two days before the event he asked if I wanted to go. Truth be told, I was a little nervous. I would be the youngest one there, and wouldn’t know anyone. The most important thing I’ve learned in the past two years is to say yes. Do The Thing. I bought a ticket last minute, flew out to Utah the next day, and had an incredible weekend. I was surrounded by inspiring and interesting people, and was so grateful for the opportunity.

I never would have imagined myself going to Summit. A year ago, I also wouldn’t have imagined myself doing what I am now. Entrepreneurs and risk takers know that some of the best outcomes come from when you close your eyes and take the leap. You’re never certain if you’ll make it to the other side. You don’t even know what’s on the other side! But you do know that if you don’t do anything you’ll never move. If I never said yes to Ladder I never would have gotten the opportunity to help build what we have, and meet so many amazing risk takers.. It has been an awesome journey so far, and I can’t wait for what Ladder dives into next.

Alex Mason

Alex Mason

iOS Developer - I love making stuff. I also love reading, running, and having strong opinions about silly things.

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