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My Story

Transformation   [trans-fer-mey-shun]
1. change in form, appearance, nature, or character

My name is Coach Tony, and I live in the Merion Village area of Columbus, Ohio, with my wife of twenty-two years and my partner in life, Liz. We enjoy living our urban life, visiting with friends and frequenting fun restaurants and bars while spending lots of time at Indian Lake. 

After a twenty-five-year career in technology, marketing, project management, and leadership, I have chosen to focus my life on my passion for helping individuals and businesses achieve their biggest goals.

I fulfill this mission by wearing many hats:

  • I am a consultant specializing in technology project management (check out my LinkedIn profile for more).
  • I am a master life and health coach who uses goals to help people unlock the life of their dreams (see my Operation Melt Coaching services).
  • I am a multi-published author (4 books and counting) and blogger (see the Operation Melt blog) focused on self-improvement topics.
  • I am a leader dedicated to building and developing teams and growing talent.
  • I am an amateur athlete (runner, weight-lifter) continually working to improve my performance.
  • I am a dad joke connoisseur who loves to laugh and make others laugh (free dad joke included with every blog).

This hasn’t always been my story, and I haven’t always known myself.

As you will read below, the central theme of my life has been transformation. 

I escaped generational poverty

I grew up in a family trapped in survival mode, driven by poverty and a perpetual financial rollercoaster. Every decision in our household was about staying alive, fed, with a home, and allowing us to get through school. While we did survive (obviously), this was not the ideal situation for development.

I broke free from the survival mode mindset with the help of an Air Force Junior ROTC instructor, Chief Doyle Hamlett, who helped me learn ways to motivate myself by setting and accomplishing goals. I discovered how to keep score as a form of self-motivation. I worked hard to earn promotions, awards, and other external recognition – all of which reinforced that I was successful, mattered, and fit in.

Junior ROTC days - rank, awards, recognition focused

The lessons I learned from Chief helped me build a positive momentum that carried me through the next 10 years and beyond. He taught me that I had choices and I owned my path. I didn’t have to live in survival mode.

I became a first-generation college graduate

I was accepted to Ohio Dominican College (now University). Though I had no idea how I would pay for it, I committed to becoming a college graduate. I chose a relatively inexpensive college and one that felt like a second home. I used grants, scholarships, and a lot of student loans to fund my goal.

My college experience taught me how to create my own path through life:

  • As a computer science major in a liberal arts college who wanted to learn things that weren’t part of the standard curriculum, a large portion of my courses in my major were independent study. 
  • Through a series of fortunate events, I (and my best friend, who would later become my wife) shaved an entire semester off my education and graduated in three-and-a-half years.
  • I worked for the college the whole time I was there, in computing services or as a resident advisor. 
  • I lived on campus year-round, meaning I wouldn’t have to move back to my parents’ house.
  • I built my own freelance IT business, tutoring professors on how to use their computers, email, and the early days of the Internet and helping local companies establish Internet connectivity and websites.
  • I became well-known on campus through student activities. I was into a bit of everything from college council to being an orientation leader to running the radio station. I was everywhere, I was well-known, and I was making friends.
Ohio Dominican Days - Big Man on Campus

Still overly motivated by keeping score, I focused more on the quantity of relationships, activities, and experiences than on quality. But I learned a lot and really enjoyed my college years.

When I graduated with a bachelor’s degree with honors, I was done with survival mode!

I built a successful career and climbed the corporate ladder

When I graduated college, I was well-positioned to start a career in IT at a time when IT was really hot. I was also a unicorn of sorts in the technology space. I had not just deep technical skills, but my liberal arts background and the newly found people skills I developed in college meant I knew how to talk to people. 

I had momentum and choices, and I was ready to be done with financial struggles.

I built a lucrative career in technology and was still creating my own path.

  • I was a software developer who built web-based tools when that was still a trailblazing activity. 
  • Using my diverse software and infrastructure skills, I became a solution architect.
  • I continually straddled the fence between being the IT guy and working closely with marketing and internal communications teams – I design and build technical solutions and write coherent proposals for clients.
  • My unusual combination of talents ultimately led me to project management, which values a diverse set of knowledge, skills and abilities. 

I was out of survival mode, making good money and climbing the corporate ladder, which fed my appetite for scorekeeping. As a result, I spent lots of time focused on my work (sometimes working around the clock for multiple days), and my workaholic tendencies yielded big scorekeeping dividends. This allowed me to begin reversing many of the bad habits I learned while growing up in survival mode. 

I felt free.

Most importantly, I transitioned away from quantity in my relationships and focused on quality instead. This resulted in me marrying my best friend, Liz. She was an advocate for me for years, and we were already strong partners in life and loved each other dearly.

Liz and Tony's wedding day

What better starting point could you ask for in a marriage?

I became a servant leader

I moved away from managing technology to managing people.

I was promoted to my first people management position over a small team within a market department. But, despite my arrogance and belief that I could do anything, I wasn’t immediately good at this role. I made some early mistakes and missteps, wasn’t listening to my team and really wasn’t a great manager. 

Fortunately, there were people around me who cared and wanted me to get better. I got tons of very direct feedback from my boss and my team. I took the feedback to heart, made some course corrections, and became a MUCH better manager. 

This was a very uncomfortable, humbling, and embarrassing situation, reinforcing the benefit of being open to, internalizing and acting on feedback. I learned about the value of humility, which is one of my core values today.

By reinventing myself, I was able to transition from a poor manager to a humble, servant leader that people wanted to follow. I took on responsibility for larger teams and became a mentor to a large group of people. 

Tony the leader

After struggling for years just to fit in, I was a leader that people wanted to follow. It was an amazing experience to serve others in a way that helped them grow and achieve their dreams. 

I escaped another life-long struggle

I had just turned 40, and life was going really well, or so my scorekeeper brain would have me believe. But, there was a significant issue I had ignored for years.

My health!

I grew up as a poor, fat kid with no friends. By the time I turned forty I was no longer a kid, I was no longer poor and I had lots of friends. But I was still dealing with my lifetime of obesity.

Tony before picture

I had just watched my dad, who was obese his whole life, fade away over six months and die at 59 years old. I was on that same path.

I made my first appointment with a doctor in over fifteen years, and that’s when I had a big shock. I stepped on the scale, and it said 325 pounds. That was just the first of many negative surprises in that appointment. How could I have possibly let my health get so out of hand?!

I made a decision… it was time to tackle the one problem that had stuck with me since I was a child. I committed to losing over 100 pounds in under a year! 

Like many of my prior successes, I decided to do it my way. 

  • No surgery. 
  • No fad diets. 
  • No giving up anything that I loved. 

I was going to use data (e.g., my scorekeeper brain), project management, and technology, and I was committed to success.

As chronicled in my Operation Melt blog and book, my weight loss transformation was successful.

  • I lost 100 pounds in just nine months
  • I ran my first 5k race at twelve months
  • I completed my first half marathon at 16 months
  • I ended my weight loss at the 18-month point, down 131 pounds total

Through the power of goals and project management, I transformed from a 325-pound couch potato to a fit, healthy athlete capable of impressive performance.

My weight loss transition

I gained more than I lost

My weight loss was just the tip of the iceberg in this story. What I gained was more important.

I found my confidence again!

I know that there is pretty much nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it. I am healthier and, in many ways, happier than ever. I am even working to break free from always defaulting to keeping score.

I am NOT my numbers!

How do I know that I found my confidence? Amongst other things, I am living in vulnerability and putting myself out there for others to see. I am sharing my story.

Significant weight loss is a visible, public thing, and people see it happening. With my weight loss journey, I doubled down by publishing a blog and proactively sharing the physical and mental ups and downs along the way. 

Then, I took it a step further. I published my first book (Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year), which shared my story and my project management approach to weight loss.

Operation Melt Book

Why? Because I had a story to tell, I was proud of it and knew it would help people.

My confidence wasn’t my only gain… I gained a mission.

I became a different kind of leader, one with a mission

What I have shared here simply scratches the surface of my story. I have had many successes, setbacks and learning experiences in my life. Unfortunately, I lacked a broader mission I was passionate about to bring it all together and help me focus.

The universe helped me discover this mission.

While I was working on my weight loss journey, I lost my job of ten years. The company treated me fairly and took care of me upon my exit, so I had plenty of time to find another job. I decided to use this gift of time as a sabbatical to give myself a little breathing room between jobs. I used this sabbatical to process all this transformation and to think.

I had one question I needed to answer during my sabbatical: what next?

After years of transformative experiences, I needed to reacquaint myself with myself.

What do I really want from the next twenty years of my career?

How do I want to embrace the “new me” post-weight loss?

What is my real calling?

What mark do I want to make on this world, and how do I want to be remembered after I am gone?

What is my mission / calling / purpose?

This is when I determined my next step and my mission. My calling is to use my unique path, experiences and talents to help people (individuals and businesses) achieve their goals and unlock the life of their dreams.

Ultimately, I want to build a world where no goal dies of loneliness.

This means it is okay to try and to fail; failure is part of the process. But never even trying to accomplish something important to you, like me not working on my health for forty years, just isn’t right, and it makes me sad.

We all deserve the chance to be happy and to make our dreams come true.

Check out my books