My Story

My Story: Balancing Ambition + Action

AJ, The Young Professional

Thanks for reading!

Hi, I’m AJ, and this is my blog. I’m the founder and CEO of The Young Prof, a venture that I relaunched in 2022. At the age of 24, I founded The Young Prof to connect and empower my generation of young professionals.

A generation of hustlers, grinders, and independents, I wanted to create a space where people like me could find community and resources to help them level up in their careers and lives.

I create content that has helped me on my journey. Whether about starting my first business at 19, turning my first profit at 20, or getting recruited by Amazon at 22, The Young Prof is a space to share content and ideas that have helped me with school, money, work, startups, and life.

The Young Prof is still in its humble beginnings but growing quickly. My mission is to make sure that every young professional has the opportunity to reach their full potential and achieve their goals.

I’m grateful you’re here and hope that you’ll join us on this journey!

For ‘Those Who Wander,


About The Young Prof

As mentioned above, The Young Prof is still in its beginnings. Humble and growing, my mission is to help young professionals reach their full potential and achieve their goals. To this end, I offer advice, information, and resources to people like me – a young professional trying to forge his own path.

I dive into topics they don’t cover in school: the skills that are needed to be successful and happy:

  • making and managing money
  • starting and growing a business
  • balancing work, family, and friends
  • surviving college
  • traveling, exploring, and enjoying life

The Young Prof is my contribution to the world; it’s my way of making a difference. I’m passionate about my generation and its potential. I believe that we have what it takes to change the world for the better with the right tools and resources.

However, I did not always feel this way. In fact, my own journey has been a balancing act between ambition and action.

The Young Professional

Where I’m From.

My Hometown

My story begins in Columbus, GA — a quaint city nestled on the Chattahoochee River and Alabama border. Columbus, where everyone knows everyone and most people are/were military, is a charming city with a small-town heart.

Born and raised in the South, I love warm summer nights and the smell of southern home cooking (well-seasoned, of course). I love the warm smiles and familiarity of southern hospitality.

I love the sweetness and comfort of sweet Georgia peach. I’m a Georgia boy, through and through.

1998: The Early Years

I had young parents. My dad was 19, and my mom was 15 — some would say kids themselves. Having young parents gives you unique experiences. You celebrate milestones with them! And sometimes, you learn with them rather than from them.

I watched my mom graduate high school. I was the ring bearer at my parents’ wedding (I was terrible at it). I watched them grow up.

And as part of growing up, I watched them struggle. As new and young parents, students, and young professionals, I watched my parents perform a balancing act.

My dad had ambition but never took action. Spoiled and loved, he struggled to finish anything, including raising me. On the other hand, my mom took action. As a single mother, she put her ambition and dreams on hold to raise me.

I appreciate it then. I was 4. I didn’t always understand what was happening, but I learned some early lessons that I grew to understand later.

Ambition vs. Action

My ambition — and desire for independence — comes from the struggles I saw my mom endure.

When I was young, my mom was sick. She struggled with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder. For over 20 years I watched her go from hospital to hospital, medication to medication, doctor to doctor…

It was hard — really hard. But, I learned a lot from her struggle.

I learned the value of perseverance, the power of a strong support network, and the importance of self-advocacy. My mom taught me how to be strong in the face of adversity. I learned it’s okay to struggle, but it’s not okay to wallow.

Where I’ve Been.

Mid-2000s: A growing family

My parents were married for a short while but quickly split. For the first few years of school, my mom and I lived with my aunt and grandmother. Life was simple — my mom had a decent job, my aunt and grandmother were around to help raise me, and I was getting good grades in school. My confidence and ambition were growing.

I started to explore acting and performance. I joined the school drama club and took theatre and music classes. I loved it! I got the chance to perform in a lot of shows and express myself.

However, I got into a few fights, which made school a little more difficult. My mom and I moved into an apartment. For a short while, it was just me and her. Very quickly, I grew bored and lonely. I wanted a sibling — someone my age to play and interact with. I didn’t have to wait long to get my wish.

During the 3rd grade, my mom met my future stepdad. They met at work and eventually introduced me and my future stepbrother. I remember being excited and a little scared. I had never had a brother before, let alone a stepbrother. More importantly, I was hesitant to share my mom.

It took time, but I got over my initial fear. My brother switched to my school, and we all moved into the same apartment, later the same house. Life was good. I had a brother, a new dad, and a happy mom. I had a family.

2010s: A Time of Change

Life was stable for a few years. I was getting good grades, my brother and I were close, and my parents were happy. I even got a dog. But, things didn’t last.

When my brother and I were in middle school, my mom get very sick. The financial crisis of 2008 hit my family hard. My mom lost her job, and my dad had to take on 2 jobs to make ends meet. My mom had major surgery and had to stay home for a few months.

The stress took a toll on my parent’s marriage. They fought more and more until they eventually separated. We all moved from our home. My mom and I moved in with my aunt. My brother and dad went to live with his mom. It was difficult for all of us.

2012 – 2016: High school

When I entered high school, my parents were still separated. My mom I and I still lived with my aunt. My aunt gave birth to my little cousin, and we got another dog (2 total now). The teen years are rough as is, but being the only guy in the house — except for one of the dogs — was lonely.

It was difficult to find privacy or alone time. Between an intense amount of homework, track practice, orchestra rehearsals, and a long list of chores, I didn’t have much time to be a high school kid. The occasional game of GTA4 or Call of Duty was hard to come by. I realized I was all action and no ambition.

I was lonely, tired, and frustrated. In hindsight, was I being dramatic? Probably. But, did it feel real to a teenager? Definitely. So, I stopped taking action.

I stopped caring about my grades. I stopped doing all of my homework or waited until the last minute. Though I love to read, I rarely read anything that was assigned. I completed projects late or with poor quality. I did just enough to get by.

The only thing I consistently cared about was music. I began playing violin and viola in middle school. I continued playing during high school. I went to orchestra camp each summer. (Don’t judge me.) I participated in the school orchestra each year. I played in a youth orchestra outside of school. Music was the only thing that entertained both my ambition and drive.

Because I prioritized music, my grades suffered. I cared more about composing and practicing than studying flashcards. My hard work and ambition did pay off. I got to travel, get paid to perform while still in high school, and even solo with Mark Wood.

I did do a few other cool things in high school. For my 15th birthday, my grandad paid for me to attend a school trip to Washington DC + NYC:

  • I watched President Obama’s second inauguration
  • I independently toured the streets of Chinatown and Times Square
  • I took my first airplane ride. (I was very nervous about my ears popping.)

Somewhere along the way, my family expanded. My biological father remarried and had my half-sisters. My youngest brother was also born. My family became more spread out, and we lost touch. But, I was able to focus on my passions: music, my friends, and finding myself.

High school was a time of self-discovery. I began to understand my identity. I loved music. I valued (sometimes brutal) honesty. I treasured creativity and independence. All these things shaped my college experience.

I graduated high school in 2016. I was set to attend college in the fall. Life was looking up.

Where I Am.

Where I’m Going.

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