I treated myself to a peppermint hot chocolate at the Webster Groves Starbucks and grabbed a chair across the table from Ben (who had already purchased his own drink). Having met once before we gave each other brief updates on our lives before we delved deeper.
At the ripe old age of 19, Ben moved from Chesterfield to Austin, Texas. It all started when his mom tasked him with building her a website to show photos of her paintings to family. This was an interesting request because Ben had never done anything like it before, but that did not deter him. Picking up the book HTML for Dummies, he quickly built her a site and within weeks it was ranking #1, #3, and #7 on the top search engines (this was before Google).
That led him to start his own SEO business. Within the year he was handling contracts all over the country from his parents basement. One particular client, Financial Services Group, called him 3 months into their agreement and asked him to move to Texas to work for them full-time. Ben and his girlfriend (now wife) decided it sounded interesting, so they made the move!
Working there was fantastic for him. He climbed the ladder and was able to wear just about every hat in the office including, search development, running the sales team, handling business development. When the company sold several years later Ben went out on his own as an independent broker, handling credit card processing between banks and merchants.
Sure, that was a good experience too, but ultimately it wasn’t exactly what he was looking for. He was up at all hours of the night for international meetings and he wasn’t able to leave the house much. It wasn’t until he and his wife had their first son, Jackson, that they decided it was time to move back to St. Louis and for Ben to join his dad’s practice as an advisor for Edward Jones.
For sales people, it’s an age old problem. How do you quickly grow your business network? The answer for Ben was to create a networking group. Twice a month he hosts a white collar luncheon that brings together about 65 “captains of industry” and “pillars of the community”, including Michelle (Coffee #60)!
Ben has found that, for him, the best thing about working for Edward Jones is that he can run his business as he sees fit. It gives him the ability to follow his gut rather than his boss' objective. Oh and… “I’ve always run my own business, because I’d make a terrible employee…”
As I’m sure you are dying to know, I DID ask Ben his favorite thing about St. Louis! He said “Oh boy… my favorite thing about St. Louis... Until this winter I might have said the snow, but I’m happy to be through with the snow. It’s my… It’s where I grew up, it’s what I know as home. It’s family. Yeah. St. Louis is a great place, there’s endless things to do. I think you can be anybody and do anything here. so the opportunities are endless, but when it comes down to it, that’s what’s most important to me and this is where they are.”