Published: 07:48 PM, 06 October 2019 Last Update: 07:57 PM, 06 October 2019
We’ll all have to face challenges in life, but not allchallenges are created equal. Some of us encounter our roadblocks later inlife, while for some of us those problems appear much earlier on. As ithappens, problems that arise in childhood can be especially difficult toovercome. Often, the struggle can be intense enough that when the person inquestion makes it through to the other side, they’re left with an inner knot ofgrit and resolve which they take with them throughout the rest of their journey.
So it has been with travelpreneur Michael Peres. With tensof thousands of Instagram followers —and hundreds of clients rely on him inorder to manage various needs they have — the polished facade the Canadianpresents these days masks issues which had been present from the very earliestchapters of his life.
A complicated introduction
Peres was only nine years old when he was diagnosed withADHD and other learning disabilities. The medication prescribed to him (100mgof slow-release Ritalin) was at best liberating, at worst debilitating, andabove all inconsistent. Sometimes, Peres felt fantastic, on top of the world,unstoppable. Other times, however, he’d have to contend with bouts of depression,heart palpitations, and occasional lapses into trance-like states. Butthroughout this emotional rollercoaster, one thing remained constant — the loveof computers which would come to define his early professional steps.
Today, he no longer takes Ritalin, but this is only as theresult of a long, drawn-out tapering process he had to persevere through duringhis college years. This wasn’t the only issue he had, though. Having grown upin a religious community in Montreal, Quebec, Peres’s education was lacking inmany of the secular topics. Despite the lack of a well-rounded curriculum, hestill found a way to make a name for himself in the community, by fixingcomputers for his school and other people around him. This would prove to be avital experience, as it taught him what it means to graft, as well as theimportance of marketing, pursuing opportunities, and sheer hard work.
When he graduated high school and enrolled in university,Peres found that he was a long way behind his new peers with regards to asecular education. This forced him to become his own teacher — to the extentwhere he had to stop going to class and start learning the course material onhis own, right from the very beginning. While this left a few holes here andthere, on the whole the experience was positive; and when he graduated with adegree in Computer Science and mathematics, he was as well-equipped for thefast-paced, relentlessly modern working environment as were any of hiscontemporaries.
The virtue of doingthings the hard way
No matter how you look at it, working through such adifficult first few experiences is going to leave the individual with their ownunique perspective on the world. Because they were forced into a system thatwas never quite built to fit them, they often end up with a counterintuitiveliberation from the hum-drum, mundane procedures of everyday life. Because theyknow what it is not to fit in, they’re not overly concerned about going in thesame direction as the rest of the herd. When you combine this degree ofliberation with hard work; in-depth knowledge of an industry; relentless drive;an individualistic, creative spark; and a refusal to settle for anything butthe highest standards of work produced, you have the potential for something abit special.
Peres’s story is instructive because he hasn’t fallen foulof any of the classical speed bumps either. He knew early on that he wasn’tmeant to work in a cubicle — and he put his money where his mouth was byturning down generous six-figure starting salaries from a number of prestigiouscompanies and firms. He knew from the very beginning that he was going to livehis life on one set of terms and one set of terms only: his own, doing thethings he loves. Peres’s dreams and ambitions simply weren’t for sale.
Making a clean break
After pursuing further studies, he made the decision tobreak from everything he knew and hop on a flight to California. It was farfrom glamorous in the early days. Having set out with less than $100 to hisname, the initial stages of his business life were an exercise in making themost out of every single opportunity he got.
He did this by developing his own, disruptive techniques inorder to build the kind of high-quality portfolio he knew his work could liveup to. He did this by admitting something so many of us are afraid to — heacknowledged that the various worlds we live in are basically just a successionof games, each with its own rules and its own rewards.
By keeping his eyes on the prize, he was able to operatewithin a model of steady progression, building on every step he took withoutthe kind of backwards movement we so often see with hotshot youngentrepreneurs.
Keeping perspectiveto keep progressing
Even throughout the course of managing the numerousbusinesses and startups (of which Hexa Tiger, a bespoke web design andconsultancy firm, and Hecto Fox, a cloud computing and web hosting firm) he’sfound a way to use what some people might consider limitations to his ownadvantage. The most clear-cut example of this happening is how he works hisADHD into his daily work life.
Peres knew from the get-go that he’ll always have ADHD, butrather than let this defeat him, he has always been determined to turn hisweaknesses into strengths. One example of this is how he’s crafted his lifearound doing things he loves. Of course, we’d all like to get there, but you’veprobably got a question on your lips: what about things you don’t like doing,but have to do? The answer we can learn from Peres’s experiences is simple —either come up with a way to reward yourself, or delegate. And why not?
Knowing that he underperforms when he needs to focus on justone thing at a time, he’s developed enough different skills to a professionallevel that he can effectively multi-task his way through each and everybusiness decision; now coding; now tweaking a website design concept; nowanswering emails; now further growing his network. The key takeaway here isthat rather than trying to work against your differences, often what’s requiredis to engineer them into creative solutions.
The route to happiness, fulfillment, and just about anyother goal you can name doesn’t lie in dismissing things as being impossible.More often than not, the magic happens within those moments when we allowourselves to imagine — not to say ‘Of course not,’ but rather to ask ourselves‘Why not?’
It’s too much of a stretch to say Peres’s problems helpedhim, and besides, that’s probably inaccurate. A much more honest account of thesituation would be to note that while Peres had adversity to deal with early onin life, it was the skills he developed in coping with those challenges thatlaid the foundation for the work which was to come. It’s not easy to break intothe web development market at this stage in the game, but he put his head downand played to his strength — things we could all do with emulating. If you’reinterested in reading about some of the specific steps Peres took to break hisway into the market, you can find them here.