If you’ve seen Jonathan Miller at one of our recent Smart Start or ConnectU events, you may have noticed his broken leg – which hasn’t slowed him down at all. Although, scrolling through the photos below might give you a tiny hint about just how that accident occurred! Jonathan is a dedicated member of our Alumni Network board with a sense of adventure and determination that we love having around.
As you read through his 20 questions feature, I hope you get a sense of his contagious enthusiasm for life and learn a little from his #EcclesExperience. Make sure to follow along on our Instagram stories for his takeover and get a sneak peek into life as a business owner!
1. What was your first job?
Selling Cutco Cutlery and Cookware to my mom’s church friends my senior year of high school. Then when I came back from traveling around the world after I got my B.A. in History from UCSB, my first “real” job was selling office equipment B2B outside sales for a Xerox franchise.
2. What is the best job you ever had?
Owning my own mortgage company, my current job!
3. What is a book you read recently? What was the best part?
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari Very interesting in how they discussed Western Europe essentially taking over the world from about 1500 A.D. to 1900 A.D. through their ability to set up business structures and legal systems for people to trust investing their money in different stocks with companies such as the British East India company. This allowed them to essentially conquer India. Or another example was a small country such as the Netherlands conquering large territories essentially by utilizing credit and capital raising in a short period of time. A lot of good concepts in this book, a very different way of looking at the world and our short history as a species on this planet.
4. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Enjoy life. Travel. Gain experiences that you cannot do as easily when you are older with a family and greater responsibilities. That is what I prioritized when I was 20 years old and I don’t regret any of my time spent in other countries. Don’t rush into a career, you will have plenty of time for that when you are older. Do something that you are passionate about, don’t settle for a job that you don’t like. Don’t be too self-destructive though and live in moderation.
5. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Traveling the world in my early 20s for three straight years living out of a backpack and working whatever jobs I could find to get by and experience that particular country. Being the top producer at my two previous companies I worked at for almost a decade. Marrying my wife and raising two beautiful children. Starting my own company finally at the age of 43, it is never too late.
6. In what way were you most impacted during your time at the Eccles School?
The greatest impacts DESB had on me were the network of fellow students, alumni and faculty that I developed. Some of the classes I took were mind expanding and eye opening. I also enjoyed the different clubs and trips we went on together. Lassonde was a great experience for starting a business and making more connections.
7. Describe yourself in one or two words.
8. What is the best business advice you have received?
Be true to yourself, don’t work at a job you don’t like spending half your waking hours at. When you are choosing business grad schools, consider if you want to live in that area for a few years after grad school because most of your network and job connections will be established in that metro area that you choose for grad school.
9. What is something you learned at the Eccles School that you will never forget?
DESB expanded my mind set beyond just sales to the greater worlds of accounting, finance, marketing, operations, statistics, negotiations, etc. One of the best skills that I still use on a daily basis at my current job was just expanding my knowledge of Excel. It made me a better-rounded businessman.
10. What is the best way to start the day?
I like to go through my Facebook, Linked In, and Emails on my smartphone right when I wake up while I am still lying in bed, a more gradual transition to really waking up. Our business uses Facebook for marketing so it is good to respond to any potential customers early. Then when I get into the office I start drinking my 16 ounce can of diet energy drink for my caffeine. I usually drop my kids off at school every other day on the way into work, but I love seeing my wife and kids first thing in the morning too.
11. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always thought I was going to be a lawyer until I worked for an attorney when I was 20 years old and a junior at University of California Santa Barbara. Between that and a tough legal writing class that I took that year I realized that I was not passionate enough about that career path. So I am glad I figured that out before I spent time and money going to law school. It did create a bit of an existential crisis though where it took me several years after that to find my career path in the mortgage industry as a loan officer and now as an owner of a small mortgage company.
12. Who was your most influential professor at the Eccles School?
Believe it or not, I think Taylor Randall may have been my most influential professor. I loved his class, it was accounting which is not my strong suit but he related it to all facets of building a successful business and made it very interesting and entertaining.
13. What is the best business decision you have made?
Starting my current business doing real estate finance in November 2017, who knows where it will lead to in a few years? That is the beauty of starting your own business, it can go in any direction depending on what opportunities you come across when you start down that road. I control my destiny now.
14. If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for?
I honestly don’t think I could win a medal in any Olympic sport, but I do consider myself a pretty good snowboarder and downhill mountain biker. I have always been good at the “pub” sports such as billiards, darts, horseshoes, cornhole, etc.
15. What job do you think you would be really good at if you weren’t doing what you are now?
Any sales job, I have always had a natural inclination towards sales. Give me a product or service and I can sell it.
16. What song do you have completely memorized?
I used to know almost all the lyrics to “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, LOL. I was never very good at memorizing lyrics or lines from movies though.
17. What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Travel to other countries on other continents, it really can expand how you view the world and even change your view points on issues in your home country when you return.
18. What is your favorite memory at the U?
One favorite memory is riding my downhill bike on a run from the dormitories or the medical center all the way through campus and then catching the Trax back up again, hitting little jumps the whole way down. Or riding my longboard down around campus was always fun too. It is hard to pin down exact memories, I had a lot of good ones. Probably the best memories came from spending time with fellow students at networking events and on road trips for events with the business school. Tailgating for football games was always fun!
19. What is something you thought you knew about the world but it turns out it was different?
I had a much more conservative view of the world and didn’t believe much in social government programs while I was growing up. Once I left the bubble I grew up in and experienced many different people from different walks of life and different countries, I became a lot more liberal in my belief system and started supporting government’s role in regulation and basic human services such as education and health care.
20. If your life were a movie, what would the title be? Who would play you?
I always loved the movie “A River Runs Through It” when I was growing up, but now maybe I would say the title would be something like “Business and Life”. Alec Baldwin or Ben Affleck would play me as the charismatic sales guy trying to balance a successful business career with his personal life and passionate pursuits outside of his business.