Describe your path up to what you’re doing now.
I got a job teaching right out of college and I decided right away that I had made the right choice. I knew helping others learn was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
How did your childhood influence your ideas and what you do now?
In 1980, my parents bought my brother and me a computer. We spent hours learning how to program that thing and we were fascinated. During my early years teaching math, I incorporated a lot of computing into my lessons and the students loved it. I eventually ended up leaving teaching to do programming full-time, then I went part-time doing both for a long time. Now, I’m teaching high school computer science full-time and helping adults learn programming in my spare time.
Did you or do you have a mentor? Who was it and how did they inspire you?
My greatest mentor was my dad. I lost my dad when I was only 37, but his influence on my life is still dawning on me on a regular basis. So many lessons I learned from him without realizing their impact until later in life.
In addition to my dad, I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with some of the most influential people in tech, venture capital, blogging, etc. Through those relationships, I’ve learned about the power of habit, meditation, writing, reading, compassion, and gratitude.
I have a question. Where were you born?
New Jersey – it’s a great state to be from. 🙂
Where do you live now? If there is a change of location what caused it. Can you share?
I chose to move to Delaware in 2002. I was going back to teaching after a five-year period of building websites and email lists to support my business ideas. I found a job at a school where I wanted my own children to attend, so we moved 90 miles to Delaware.
Was there a point in your life when you decided to take a big risk to move forward?
Moving to Florida in 1994 was a big deal for us. I tell people all the time that it’s horrible living there, but the long-distance move was a big plus for our family. I didn’t see this as a way to move forward at the time, but it certainly was.
When we left Florida – and teaching – in 1997, on the other hand, we knew we were taking a big risk to make something happen in our own business.
Going back to teaching in 2002, and moving states again, was perhaps not as risky, but the change was daunting and the impact on our lives has been hard to calculate.
Do you feel a responsibility to contribute to something bigger than yourself and what do you hope to contribute?
Yes. I would like to help people become more self-aware. Much of the pain I have had in my own life has been eased when I took time to reflect on my own behaviors and I’ve been willing to make changes. The pain I still endure is in cases where I’ve either not done that reflection or not acted on what I learned. I would love to help more and more people realize the power of reflecting on one’s own actions.
Are you satisfied creatively? Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
I’m actually at a good point right now. I’d like to write a little more than I do, but I’ve been doing a solid job in 2021 of following through on my ideas.
If you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be?
I would not have sold my Netflix stock.
Are your friends and family supportive of what you do? And why?
Yes. Much of my extended family have no idea what I do and how it generated the income it does, but I’m fortunate enough that they all understand me and how I roll. Everyone is very supportive. The worst I get is a kind of eye-roll thing as if to say “Well, okay, we’ll see.”
How does where you live impact your creativity?
This is something I’ve not thought much about. We moved into the city in January 2020 just before things started shutting down and I know that was a fortunate twist of fate. The ability to still be around all other humans safely and have places to walk, even if they were all closed, was a real boon for my creativity.
If you could give one piece of advice to another creative starting out what would it be?
Don’t use the word creative to refer to a person. Creative or not, we really are all more than what we do.
How do you keep learning new things?
I read a lot! I mean a whole lot! People keep talking about YouTube, so I finally started doing more of that too. It’s awesome! (But you probably know that already.)
All right, what does a typical day look like for you?
I’m finally back to in-person teaching, so it’s different than it was for the last 18 months or so.
Wake up when the alarm or dog gets me up. If the dog is still sleeping, I spend a little time in meditation. If not, that comes after our walk, during which I listen to 40-60 minutes of an audiobook (double-speed).
After the walk, I’ll write for a while, eat breakfast, and head to work.
After work, I invest 1-6 hours (usually scheduled out ahead of time what to do on which day) on projects of my own (or occasionally for a friend or client). On Saturday, I invest 2-5 hours doing the same. This is always programming, or writing up specs for my assistant, prototyping new ideas for websites/apps, and deciding which ideas to put to rest, give away, or sell.
Cookies, and like my dad, I love a great sandwich!
Do you have a favorite book?
I absolutely love the Harry Potter books! Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite, but there is still a special place in my heart for the first book. My memories of reading that book fill me with delight.
Do you have any favorite movies?
Actually, no, but I do really love movies!
The Godfather Part II and The Shawshank Redemption are near-perfect films. I’m also a big fan of Seven Samurai, The Big Lebowski, and Groundhog Day.
Current album on repeat?
The Gentle Side of John Coltrane
Last question. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave?
I’d like to know that there are people who learned something from my experience and that those lessons had a positive impact on their family and friends.
Find more about Bill at http://bsoi.st/
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