Paul was born and raised in Red Wing, Minnesota.
Until mid-way through his studies at Carleton College in Northfield, his time and energy were mostly devoted to his gifts as an athlete. Basketball was tops, tennis, football, golf, lacrosse, beer olympics weren’t far behind. The people and culture of Carleton stretched his intellectual curiosities to such a degree that it continues to drives him to this day. Paul graduated with a B.A. in Economics. Bill Clinton gave his final commencement speech of his presidency at graduation, handing Paul his diploma.
Paul taught English and western culture in China for one year as an ambassador to the City of Red Wing Sister City Commission. The program promotes cultural exchange to foster strengthened economics, world peace and a greater understanding of world issues. Paul was awarded the title of Outstanding Teacher and the provincial Westlake Friendship Award, given to the foreign expert with the most outstanding work in their field.
After a trying transition to American culture upon return, Paul moved to Chicago. For three years, he invested in learning the business of commodity trading. He started out as a clerk for two commodity options market makers at the Chicago Board of Trade. Juggling orders, positions, options and futures in both the soybean pit and the US Treasury Bond pit tested his mettle. Paul worked his way to his own proprietary trading position in the soybean options pit, spreading risk and volatility across multiple option positions, using the futures market to hedge and leverage options risk.
It was a tough business. The market was soft. Paul had to fight for every trade, while big money traders next to him would devour entire orders. Life in the pit was exciting, but it had its consequences. And with electronic financial innovations moving markets online, it was clear to Paul that a change was needed. So, he took time to do an internal auditing of his well-being, happiness and fulfillment. Through many iterations of introspection, Paul distilled his search for meaning all the way down to “water”.
He recalled memories on the Mississippi River growing up. Entire vacations spent on the boat. Weekends spent camping at the beach. Quick weekday evening runs to catch premium, glassy waterski conditions. He recalled past dreams of being a tugboat captain, running fully loaded barges up and down the Mississippi. While studying at King’s College in Cambridge, he explored a rustic, old canal locking system that connects much of England. There’s just something about the water, that inspired Paul to commit to finding a way to work on it, in it or next to it.
To the varying degrees of shock and dismay of his friends and family, Paul enlisted in the US Army in 2006. He volunteered to play his part, even in a war that he didn’t believe was right, as a Deep Sea Diver. It was a bold move. The Diver program is known for its exceptionally high standards and rigorous training. Attrition rates are some of the highest in the military. In phase one, 85 to 90% of diver candidates washout of the course, many of those voluntarily. Paul was the only initial entry candidate out of 17 to qualify for advanced training at the Naval Diving & Salvage Training Command in Panama City, Florida.
After one tour to Iraq/Kuwait, Paul returned to Minnesota. He earned an MBA at the Carlson School of Management – University of Minnesota, focusing on entrepreneurism, ethnographic research and innovation. This reintegration into civilian life was coupled with an integration into a business focused environment. It was his second significant experience with culture shock, due to the military and its powerful effect on perception.
Unable to identify his role in the corporate environment, Paul followed his heart and enrolled in an audio production and engineering program at the Institute of Production & Recording. Learning multiple mediums of expression and design opened greater possibilities for him to express his newfound insights and perspectives. A short film that Paul conceptualized, was selected by his peers, to be created by the class. It was his first experience as a Director.
During this time, Paul was compelled to share perspectives from a modern American soldier’s point of view. He did this in varying ways. The Star Tribune published an article that he wrote called Among Iraq war’s many losses: Trust and KFAI radio aired a program that Paul produced and hosted called, Sounds From a Soldier’s Soul.
After Paul’s commentary piece was published, a civil rights attorney reached out to him. This attorney had represented many veterans who have been targeted by the authorities for their political views or activism. Paul was invited to speak to a class at William & Mitchell Law School called, “Law and the Justice of War – Examining legal, moral and ethical issues arising from war.”
Since stepping into the public discourse, Paul has joined efforts with a Minneapolis based non-profit that aims to return some of our local taxes that support bloated, wasteful Pentagon spending. Paul cares deeply about meeting the essential needs of the entire community and shares his experiences in the military to shed light on the truth of our federal spending priority problems. He wears a lot of hats as a volunteer: recruiting, coordinating, and training volunteers, meeting facilitation, public speaking, lobbying public officials, new media outreach, coalition partner outreach, event tabling, event photography/filming, audio/video editing, persuasive writing.
Paul is blessed with an amazing wife, an active young son, a bright smiley daughter, a tongue ready golden retriever, two incredibly loving and supportive parents and a big sister without comparison.