July 11, 2024

From Lawn Care to Director of Account Services at Bitcoin Magazine With Allen Helm (DF#157)

From Lawn Care to Director of Account Services at Bitcoin Magazine With Allen Helm

Overcoming Fear of Failure and Embracing Setbacks as Stepping Stones

Join us for an inspiring episode featuring Allen Helm, who shares his journey of breaking free from college to pursue a successful career in lawn care and eventually becoming the director of account services at BTC Inc.

What You’ll Learn:

- How Allen Helm transitioned from breaking free from college to building a successful career in the Bitcoin industry
- The importance of taking risks, self-improvement, and learning from failures in pursuing your passion
- Advice for young adults to consider gaining work experience, developing skills, and saving money before deciding on their path

This episode highlights the value of work experience, continuous learning, and following one's passion.

Whether you're a parent guiding a young adult's college decision or a professional navigating a career change, Allen Helm's story offers valuable insights and advice for success.

Enjoy the episode!

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Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Summary:

In this episode, Allen Helm discusses his decision to forego college and pursue a career in landscaping and lawn care. Despite starting at the bottom, he worked his way up to become the director of account services at Bitcoin Magazine.

He shares how he quickly advanced in his career through certifications in lawn care and pesticides. By taking on extra tasks and showing dedication, he was able to convince his boss to give him more responsibilities and eventually a leadership role.

In this inspiring story, Allen Helm shares his journey from chemical operations manager to working in sales at State Farm before pursuing a career in Bitcoin. His determination to follow his passions led him to where he is today, emphasizing the importance of real-world skills and networking.

About Our Guest:

Allen Helm is the Director of Account Services at Bitcoin Magazine, with a background in lawn care and chemical operations management. He decided to forego college to pursue his passion for cryptocurrency and has since made significant strides in his career through hard work, networking, and taking calculated risks. Allen is a strong advocate for continuous learning and personal development, which has been key to his success in the industry.

Connect With Our Guest:

Action Steps & Recommendations:

  • Focus on being the best at your current job and continuously strive for improvement
  • Obtain relevant certifications and additional qualifications to increase your skill set and market value
  • Take on extra responsibilities to showcase your capabilities and willingness to grow
  • Network with industry professionals to explore new opportunities and expand your career prospects
  • Don't be afraid to take calculated risks in pursuing your passions and interests
  • Invest time in learning new skills and staying updated with industry trends and developments
  • Attend industry-related events and conferences to connect with like-minded individuals and expand your knowledge

Timestamps:

  • 00:00:00 - Allen Helm discusses breaking free from college and his career journey
  • 00:01:43 - Allen Helm describes his role as director of account services at Bitcoin Magazine
  • 00:09:36 - Allen Helm talks about his transition from a fertilizer company job to his current position
  • 00:10:20 - How Allen Helm increased his salary through certifications
  • 00:10:35 - Types of certifications related to lawn care and pesticides
  • 00:13:29 - Allen Helm's strategic approach to advancing in his career
  • 00:19:57 - Transition from chemical operations manager to State Farm Insurance job
  • 00:24:59 - Addressing skill set translation and degree requirements in job interviews
  • 00:27:10 - Transition from State Farm to getting into Bitcoin
  • 00:29:52 - Allen Helm's journey from lawn care to working at Bitcoin Magazine
  • 00:30:08 - Impacts of investing in networking and education on career progression
  • 00:36:33 - Recommendation to pursue real-world skills and connections over college degrees

References, Resources Mentioned & Suggested Reading:

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Allen Helm [00:00:00]:
There are 18 year olds out there that know exactly what they want to do. They set their mind to it. They're like, I'm gonna be an engineer. I'm gonna go work at Boeing, and I'm going to do this. And if you are that kind of person, props to you, but you are 1% subsect of the population because most people are not like that. I know me at 18. All I wanted to do was to go out, party, and have no responsibilities or anything like that.

Hannah Maruyama [00:00:28]:
Aloha folks, and welcome to the Degree Free podcast. This week, I talked to Alan Helm. He is the director of account services at Bitcoin Magazine. In this episode, we have a wide ranging conversation. Alan talks about his experience breaking out of college, how he then proceeded to build a career for himself and transition not once, but twice into his current role working in an industry that he's extremely passionate about. It was amazing, super encouraging. And at the end, he gives a really actual advice for parents and young adults who are facing the college decision, and what he would do if he could go back to when he was 18. Please enjoy this episode with Allan Held.

Hannah Maruyama [00:01:06]:
Welcome back to the degree free podcast. I am here with a very special guest. Would you like to introduce yourself to the degree free listeners?

Allen Helm [00:01:16]:
Hannah, hello. My name is Alan Helm. I'm the director of account services here at BTC Inc, which is the parent company to Bitcoin Magazine, the Bitcoin Conference, and then our fund UTX.

Hannah Maruyama [00:01:26]:
Awesome. Alan, I have been looking forward to is a very patient man. And, Alan, we have all been trying to get him on for a couple months, so this is a very big deal. Very excited to interview him and have him tell his degree free story today. So, Alan, what is your job exactly?

Allen Helm [00:01:42]:
Well, first off, it's a pleasure. I should say that you have been 10 times more patient with my schedule, and I appreciate you guys working around it and everything. So super excited to be on. As far as my job and, like, my day to days here at BTC Inc, we're a startup. We're a scrappy startup just like every other Bitcoin company in the world. So there's a lot of hats that are worn. But, specifically, my responsibility on the day to day is I am driving strategy as it relates to managing our active accounts. Not only am I working with some of the junior guys to upscale them on their inter day to day interaction with clients, But I'm also figuring out, like, okay.

Allen Helm [00:02:19]:
Hey. Client a is about to wrap up with this product. What are we doing to keep them involved with us? And, like, oh, they're not interested. Why is that? Like, is it something we did wrong? So, like, do we need to improve, like, process efficiencies there? Or is it purely, like, they're just not interested at this time? It's like, okay. Well, then give them some time. Let's see how they're doing in 6 months.

Hannah Maruyama [00:02:41]:
What you're doing is so fascinating because you're working in print and essentially it's digital, but a little bit, you're in a journalism print medium. And so I wanna get into how people can look for jobs in that field. There's a ton of people interested in journalism. There's a ton of people interested in writing. There's a ton of people interested in working for informational services businesses and media businesses like you're in. I'm gonna dive a little bit into the background for that, but what I would like to start with and what I'm trying to start with in these episodes is, did you buy a college degree before you got this job?

Allen Helm [00:03:15]:
College degree was something that I had attempted, did not complete. I grew up in what I would call, like, your average American household, Catholic schoolboy growing up. The standard operating procedure for everybody was, hey. You gotta go to college. You're gonna get a 4 year degree, then maybe you get your masters. And that's what everybody does if you wanna be successful. And in my case, my parents were like, hey. You could be a doctor or a lawyer.

Allen Helm [00:03:39]:
I was like, no. I wanna do the business thing. They're like, no. We're gonna pay for your school. You're gonna be a doctor or lawyer. And so I was like, okay. That's a fair trade off. I can get in.

Allen Helm [00:03:45]:
You'll pay for some of my school. We'll do that. And it took me 3 and a half years of being miserable to realize I do not wanna be a doctor, and so I dropped out. And that's where the fun, and by fun, I mean problems, that I needed to figure out with solutions began. And, ultimately, now we're, like, 10 years removed from that, was probably the best decision I ever made in my life.

Hannah Maruyama [00:04:06]:
So I wanna take you back to that time because I know that this is something I just did another episode recently. He's a little bit closer to this decision. He's 22. He's a financial analyst, so he's degree free too. So for us, for you and I, we're about the same age, and so we have to rewind a little bit to go back to how we were feeling at this time. But was there a specific moment that you remember a catalyst moment? Because I had 1 where I was just sitting in a class and the professor was drawing on about Jackson Pollock, and I can't stand Jackson Pollock. And I was just went, I can't be here 1 more minute. Was there a moment for you that you just went, I can't do this.

Hannah Maruyama [00:04:41]:
I cannot do this 1 more day.

Allen Helm [00:04:43]:
Yeah. I wanna say I went through, a number of those types of moments, but we'll call them mini moments where it was like, I wouldn't get the grade I wanted on an exam, or I'd be talking to my advisor and he'd be recommending like, hey, you need to take this course these courses for this semester. And I'm like, oh my gosh, I do not wanna take biochemistry 26100 or whatever. Or, no, I don't wanna take this lab. Like, I'm not interested. Like, why am I doing this? And then I would go and, like, hang out with my friends who are all at the business school, Cornell Business School at Mizzou. And, you know, I was hearing them talk about, like, their finance classes and, like, econ. As a kid growing up, like, a late stage millennial, early Gen z, YouTube, it was my library.

Allen Helm [00:05:26]:
I wasn't interested so much in the entertainment things, but it was, like, economics and science and cars. And how all these things worked was like what I liked and what I would watch. It was never biology or anything like that. My friends would be talking about their econ classes. And then through YouTube, I'd be like, yeah. I know exactly what you're talking about. And then I go home and be like, I'd go to prep for my lab the next day and be like, why am I doing this? What's going on? So it was a number of those mini moments. And then finally, 1 day so tough to remember now.

Allen Helm [00:05:55]:
I can't remember if it was before the conclusion of winter exams or after the conclusion, but there was always a week prior where, like, all the college kids are just going out whether you've been done or not done. And I was always kinda known as the lively, fun, go getter person, and I just had a night where it like, something snapped. My girlfriend at the time, now wife, was first to see it all kinda go down, and she literally pulled me aside and she was like, you need to go home. She was like, you're not coming back here. So we packed up my car the very next day and that was that. I left, never came back.

Hannah Maruyama [00:06:27]:
Okay. So, wow, you just left. The next day, you just left.

Allen Helm [00:06:30]:
Yeah. It it was fast. It was literally I woke up that morning very hungover, not feeling great.

Hannah Maruyama [00:06:35]:
Parents listening.

Allen Helm [00:06:37]:
Full disclosure. Packed up my 2008 Ford Escape and went home, and that was that.

Hannah Maruyama [00:06:44]:
Okay. So when you got home, how did your parents react to that?

Allen Helm [00:06:48]:
So I I do wanna preface I love my parents. My parents and I have a good relationship now. Things are good. At the time, it made things very rocky. They were disappointed at first. I think a little bit shocked more than anything. They were like, hey. We had no idea you were feeling this way.

Allen Helm [00:07:04]:
Why didn't you tell us? And I was like, yeah. I was kinda telling you guys. I could have been probably better. Some of the communication things, and they were just, okay. Take a week. Figure your emotions out, essentially. And then that week went up. Alright.

Allen Helm [00:07:17]:
You're gonna enroll in the community college. I'm not gonna tell you what classes you're gonna take, but this is coming out of your own pocket. He was like, you need to do school. So I was like, okay. I will enroll and start over again and start doing business classes this go around. And that was right around the time that my car also broke down completely. So now I had no method of transportation. Parents were paying for anything.

Hannah Maruyama [00:07:38]:
And how old were you at this point? You would be 21 ish. It must have been.

Allen Helm [00:07:43]:
I was 20. So I'm on the younger end when it comes to classes. I'm late July, so always the last drive, last to get licensed, that sort of thing. See, I was 20 at the time if you put together the hangover thing. Not

Hannah Maruyama [00:07:55]:
No judgment here, man. I'm just listening.

Allen Helm [00:07:58]:
Yeah. So community college thing, that's what I needed to do that. I said, okay. I figured it'd be good structure. Car broke down. Didn't have the money. And that was really the first thing. There's a couple of things.

Allen Helm [00:08:08]:
Okay. I have no money. 2, also, I used to work out and was a big sports guy in high school. I'd gotten very overweight. A lot of the things that kept me happy, I was supplementing with vices that were being an excuse to make me happy, essentially. Lose this car, that was kinda like the final straw. My now father-in-law was like, hey. You need to get a job.

Allen Helm [00:08:29]:
My dad on 1 hand saying I need to go to school. My father-in-law being like, you need to get a job. So I start applying, and the thing I was good at at the time was we my buddies and I had a small landscaping lawn care business, and that's what I knew. So I applied to TruGreen, wanted to figure out the fertilizing thing.

Hannah Maruyama [00:08:48]:
Remember the job title that you applied for?

Allen Helm [00:08:50]:
I was a route manager. Fancy for you get to get behind a truck and push fertilizer through.

Hannah Maruyama [00:08:56]:
Was that the first formal job you'd ever had? I'm curious.

Allen Helm [00:08:59]:
There was multiple small things I'd done on the side. I was doing, like, stagehand and rigging stuff for Live Nation for a little bit. Prior to that, I had worked for, like, another lawn care cutting guy, big commercial style mowing things. Prior to that, those things were hourly and not a you need to show up 7, 5.

Hannah Maruyama [00:09:19]:
20 years old at your first job, you're a route manager for a fertilizer company. How do you get from that to where you are now?

Allen Helm [00:09:27]:
I can't remember where I heard this. I'll just give my dad credit for it because maybe he was the 1 who said it. He was like, you're gonna be a garbage man. You better be the best damn garbage man that you've ever been. I would say it's a pretty fairly common saying that a lot of people say. That fertilizer job and this is no knock to anybody doing landscaping or lawn care or anything like that, but it felt like my garbage man job. I have no skills. I'm personable.

Allen Helm [00:09:51]:
I can talk to people. I've done a little bit of lawn care, but there's a lot to learn here. And so I was like, I'm gonna be the best thing, lawn care, route manager, technician that there ever was. I found out real quickly with, like, my boss. I was like, hey. How do I get raised as fast? He's like, well, you can get certified in x, y, and z, and you can follow these guys. So I was like, alright. Let me just get all these certs.

Allen Helm [00:10:10]:
I get this 1 cert, that's $2 raise. I get this next cert, that's a $3 raise an hour, and it was not a lot at the time.

Hannah Maruyama [00:10:17]:
So when you say certs, are they lawn or arborist type certs, or were they OSHA certs, or what were they? I'm very curious.

Allen Helm [00:10:25]:
Yeah. So these were through the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Anyone can kinda get on a lawnmower and cut lawns, but it's not really a good idea when you give a 19 or 20 year old chemical pesticides and are applying them in mass. For 1, we don't want you to get cancer. For 2, we don't want you to give the neighbors cancer. There's a couple certs on just how to apply pesticides. And then once you had that under your belt, you can move into some horticulture type thing, slant management. It could go all the way to fungicide and different kinds of things.

Hannah Maruyama [00:10:56]:
I just did this for a kid I was working with up in North Carolina. I literally just broke all this down. That's why I was asking because it's state by state from what I found. Sorry. Please continue. I'm not a derailment at all. No. No.

Allen Helm [00:11:07]:
No. All good. I was just gonna say that entire world of pesticides, Monsanto, the like, the Dow companies, well, we would never use Roundup. That's like Home Depot type stuff. We were more like Dicamba and different kinds of things. Getting into technicals doesn't matter. But there's a lot to learn. I kind of poke in fun saying that this was my garbage man job, and then I kind of got obsessed with it to the point even to this day.

Allen Helm [00:11:31]:
I look at everybody's lawns, and I'm like, you need to do x, y, and z to this. I joke around that when I retire 1 day, I'm going to buy a 48 inch x mark and run my own fertilizer and lawn mowing company because I loved it that much.

Hannah Maruyama [00:11:44]:
Oh, wow. That's such a good story. And it's also the thing that I really wanna point out to and I've pointed this out to a lot of parents, but your first job is not your last job. So that was your first job, but it clearly taught you a ton of things. Clearly, still to this day, you can tell that that experience left a mark on you, and it taught you how to be strategic about what you learned in order to get where you're trying to go. So you moved up, moved up, moved up. And then once you got to the ceiling of this job, what was the highest title you left with?

Allen Helm [00:12:12]:
I should preface, because it's helpful context, that because I cared more about this job than my community college classes that I failed out of those classes too. So not only did I not take half of my exams at Mizzou, but I also flunked out of the community college. So now I've failed out of Mizzou and then failed out of the community college. So I had no choice. I had to be the best dang lawn care tech that had ever existed in the world. This is a mentality that I have adopted to this day every place that I have worked since then. And it is, how do I get my boss's job? What do I have to do to get my boss's job? If I were to be the owner of this company, what skill set would I need to learn? I don't know if it was from sports or just competition by nature, and I try to be as friendly competitive as possible. I wanna be a good team player and a good teammate, but I wanna be the best person at the end of the day.

Allen Helm [00:13:02]:
So it's like trying to figure out and identifying who are the good people at this job, how can I observe, learn, ask questions, and that sort of thing? Did all that specifically with Green n b, TrueGreen. Spent 2 years with them. They were a smaller branch of company, so there was just no moving up. I know there's a ceiling here. I need to go somewhere else where there isn't. So I found this company called Heritage that needed a chemical operations manager to essentially run inventory hiring training programs, reporting to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, all applications and stuff and that sort of thing. And while they weren't a national company, and this guy was running, like, 5, $6, 000, 000 in revenue a year with 50 trucks, This subset of the business had really no leadership for some time. It was in disarray.

Allen Helm [00:13:51]:
There's no reporting for a long time. I I mean, I was like, I can do this. And at the time, I was 21, 22, and he's like, I don't believe you.

Hannah Maruyama [00:13:58]:
How did you convince him?

Allen Helm [00:13:59]:
So I said, hire me as a tech. You need a tech. I'll do it. And so slowly but surely, I was like, alright. There's no reporting here. I know that the lady at the time, he used to do all the auditing. Her name was Wendy. Only a matter of time before Wendy shows up.

Allen Helm [00:14:13]:
I'm gonna use that as my opportunity when she's like, where is all the reporting for me to be like, boom, here's the stack of things.

Hannah Maruyama [00:14:18]:
What did you use to do that? So it was in disarray and you probably, I would imagine, had too much software or reporting or accounting experience at that point. How did you learn how to do that?

Allen Helm [00:14:29]:
So so I'm backtracking here a little bit. So going back to how I would take my boss's job at Green n v True Grain, there was a lot of reporting that my boss would have to do. And I was, hey. I can do this for free for you, for easy. I just wanna learn. So I got to learn how to use, like, a lot of the systems, and I got paid no extra for it. I was literally, let me do this for you and way to kinda build trust with the boss. So he

Hannah Maruyama [00:14:51]:
could get his job?

Allen Helm [00:14:54]:
Yeah. Get his job, but selfishly more so in that kind of environment, you don't get kids usually like me who are like wanna learn skills. So something like that, when you have somebody who's, like, pestering, like, I wanna learn, I wanna learn, it's very well received.

Hannah Maruyama [00:15:07]:
I say that all the time on this podcast. I try to tell parents, when you have young adults and they go into jobs and they just go, I wanna learn, people will bend over backwards to let them most of the time.

Allen Helm [00:15:17]:
Absolutely. And I've learned that sometimes some people will also take advantage of that, which is what I learned at this job. So to answer your question, how did I convince new boss at Heritage to let me take on this department? At the prior job, I was just mass collecting and writing down what are the processes of everything that we're doing. So I was always trying to be more and more efficient, like, how can I hit more houses? How can I cut down on more time? Little things like, I'm not gonna wear my seat belt in this neighborhood because I can get out of the car faster. And then at stoplights, I can pre write my notes or something, whatever. So it was, like, less time to put it on the door. And then it got to the point where I could do some door knocking and do some selling even though it's not my job at all. But then by doing that, it would make more houses on the same street so I could do more.

Hannah Maruyama [00:16:03]:
So I am a big fan of the door knocking or different types of sales experience like that in a young adult age because that will teach you failure. It'll teach you method. It'll teach you discipline. It teaches you so many things. Would you say that that's something that you think most people need that sort of experience? Because I'm sure that sales experience translated into lots of different things later in your life.

Allen Helm [00:16:27]:
You need rejection in your life for sure, which obviously up to that point, there is a ton of rejection. I'd flunked out of school. It was embarrassing for all friends. Parents were upset. So door knocking was just another step in the collection of rejection.

Hannah Maruyama [00:16:41]:
Sure. When you put it like that, I realized how true that sounds. But yeah.

Allen Helm [00:16:46]:
But it is something that a lot of people need. I think it's very important for character development and learning how to not just accept no. Learning the psychology of different humans and how to communicate with them and get what you want, which some people would say is manipulation, but a better word I'd like to use is negotiations, essentially. If you know you can bring value to somebody and they don't know it yet, people's defaults always know. How do you best communicate my instance, I wasn't a door knocker. So I knew I had an advantage being a guy with a fertilizer gun, wearing a fertilizer uniform, and doing the neighbor's yard. And I'm like, hey. Mister Jones over here has got a really nice yard.

Allen Helm [00:17:22]:
$24. I'll do it 1 time. It'll kill all your weeds. He'll be like, no. I'll be like, okay. I'll see you next week.

Hannah Maruyama [00:17:28]:
And you'll ask him again. Oh, wow. That's awesome. So you now got the job at Heritage. You're doing the reporting. And when Wendy came in and she asked for the audit, did you in fact plunk down your

Allen Helm [00:17:41]:
1 of the big things was they called them MDS binders, material data safety sheet, which is more than a sheet. It was literally like a whole binder of every chemical you've ever used and what are the safety procedures for it. So that was 1 thing she needed to say. And I had secretly when I left Green NV, I stole 1 of those binders and then went online and found all the PDFs to recreate my own. And so I printed them and put them in 5 trucks that we had at the time, and then I also took a lot of the reporting materials and just literally recreated them completely and just filling out my own reports on my own. So I just had this cache of reports. So she came by, and, obviously, I wasn't there at the time. My boss calling me.

Allen Helm [00:18:17]:
He's like, hey. You need to bring the truck back, yada yada, whatever, kinda freaking out. And I was like, hey. We're good. Don't worry. So I popped it out. When he was like, oh, you actually have this. Mike never has this.

Allen Helm [00:18:27]:
And he just had this look in his face. He was like, what?

Hannah Maruyama [00:18:30]:
Right. Because you're 20, 21, 22 at the time.

Allen Helm [00:18:33]:
Yeah. 21, 22 at the time. Did he

Hannah Maruyama [00:18:35]:
promote you after that and give you the management job?

Allen Helm [00:18:38]:
No. It wasn't after that. It was really more of just a game of persistence. Right? Just like with the next door neighbor, it was just like, hey. I can do this. Hey. I can do this. Hey.

Allen Helm [00:18:45]:
I can do this. And eventually, like, everyone on that team had quit. It's just me doing everything all by myself. And I was getting to a point where I was like, I can't do this anymore. I was like, I need to hire some people. He was like, Yeah, we can hire people. And then he never moved on it. So I went on ZipRecruiter and Indeed, and I was like, I'm going to put my own job posting and just feed him interviews.

Allen Helm [00:19:07]:
I did that for 1 day and had 50 applicants. I was like, here. You're gonna set up interviews with these people today or I quit. And that was finally when he was like, why don't you just do it, Alan?

Hannah Maruyama [00:19:18]:
Wow. Okay. So now you're a chemical process manager. Is that what the technical title was?

Allen Helm [00:19:24]:
Chemical operations manager.

Hannah Maruyama [00:19:26]:
Chemical operations manager. Okay. So how did you get from chemical operations manager to where you are now? This is such a good story.

Allen Helm [00:19:34]:
So same girlfriend that pulled me out of college. We in that time now wife. During while I had that job, we were not together. We were not together at that time. I was living in Soulard Saint Louis, which was where all postgrad kids live. It's like the French Quarter or all the bars, the fun thing. We had a house there.

Hannah Maruyama [00:19:51]:
You're fun. It's okay.

Allen Helm [00:19:53]:
I don't party at all. Now I don't. Things have changed a lot, I should say. But, you know, I was still kind of like in some ways, but, like, at this time, very fit. Had my own job. It was just fun. I was living with my best friend that I've been friends with since I was, like, 3 years old. Life was great.

Allen Helm [00:20:08]:
It was Mardi Gras, had a party. We had reconnected at that event, and then we found out that we were gonna have a kid. I had always taken the mentality that I was, you know, similar to the job that if I were ever to be a father, that I would be the best father ever. And I knew that I was not in a financial position or just generally in a point in life where I was ready to have a kid, but I wanted to be the best dad. So I was like, I have to figure it out. So to answer your question about how did I get to here where I am now, essentially, the catalyst was my son. We got to a point where she was in her 2nd trimester of being pregnant. And I was I think I was working 16 hour days.

Allen Helm [00:20:43]:
I would show up to the shop at 5:30 to open up, and then I would be there until midnight trying to fix pieces of equipment to make sure that the guys could get out the next day.

Hannah Maruyama [00:20:52]:
Like,

Allen Helm [00:20:52]:
it was very strenuous, albeit the overtime pay was really good, or at least I thought it was good pay for what it was at the time. And, also, it was just what I was saying earlier that when you ask for help and you're younger, sometimes mentors will wanna help you, but they'll take advantage of you. This was 1 of those situation. There is a carrot being dangled over my head that if you work this long, you know, something's gonna happen. My wife being in her second trimester, I was just like, I can't work 16 hours a day. In the back of my head, I was okay. I wanna be the best employee, best person I can to upskill myself, but I also wanna be the best dad. And these 2 things are conflicting with 1 another, and there needs to be a balance between the 2.

Allen Helm [00:21:28]:
I was like, I can't do this anymore. I need to find something else that I can do. What do I know? I know that I can sell clients. I know that I'm organized, and I've demonstrated time in and time over again that I can learn. I just need to put those skills on a piece of paper and in a cover letter and start applying for entry level positions. I found a job with State Farm at just a local insurance agent in this town called Kirkwood. And I timed it out so that when my firstborn, Keller, was born, I would have 30 days off from the moment I quit to just be at home, get this whole transition in place, and then start this job at State Farm. And so I went through the interview process, did the whole thing with the resume.

Allen Helm [00:22:11]:
I just curated it so that, a, match the job description, but then really leaned in. So, hey. You don't need to pay attention to this no degree thing. I'm not even gonna mention the degree thing. I'm just gonna write Mizzou or University of Missouri Columbia, and then really go on hard on all the things that I've done. And so that was enough to get an interview. And then the next step was just being personable with the insurance agent. And I think 1 of the things that he gravitated to, and this is something I hadn't mentioned yet, having been in lawn care a lot of time that you're driving either out on someone's yard, I would have my headphones in 247, and I was having some podcast playing.

Allen Helm [00:22:47]:
If I wasn't learning things for the job, it was what else can I be learning on x, y, and z? And all the popular podcasts now that everybody listens to, that's just essentially what I was listening to at the time. The hiring manager, the insurance agent, I'd mentioned that to him, and he really gravitated towards it. He's like, okay. This kid can learn. The learning aspect was important for him because you obviously can't sell insurance without having your insurance license. Had to take an exam. All the certs that I had gotten were relevant. He was like, okay.

Allen Helm [00:23:14]:
He could take the exam. So I took it, passed it with flying colors, and I had the job. Albeit, I was making about $35, 000 less that year, and my wife was still in school. And we just had her kid, just little 1. We had no health insurance at the time. Things were hard.

Hannah Maruyama [00:23:31]:
I wanna pause for a minute because the biggest thing that I want to get your perspective on here is 1 of the things that I hear the most frequently, and I hear this both from parents of young adults who are about to go and figure out where they're going to go in life and what they're going to do, but also from people who are trying to change jobs. A lot of the times people will not even attempt to change industries because they will just assume that their skills don't translate. Because clearly you had a ton of skills from your lawn care experience and from all of that that you did. But a lot of people will just go, oh, I don't have any skills. That I hear that all the time. You probably heard it before too. People just say, oh, I don't have any skills. And you'll go, what are you talking about? You have so many skills.

Hannah Maruyama [00:24:10]:
But specifically with people, I've found that this is people that have business, entrepreneurship experience, or sales experience. They just go, oh, I don't have any skills. And did you just instinctively know, oh, I was doing sales before so I can do sales in this other industry and you just went for it. How did you address that in the interview that you had? And then also, how did you address did they bring up you being degree free in that interview or no?

Allen Helm [00:24:31]:
So the short answer to skill set translation into other sectors of industry, it was kind of a no brainer to me. I've always kind of had this this goes all the way back to me dropping out of school. Right? Like, I've always gravitated towards business, economics, sales, and that sort of thing. I knew I just had to get a job somewhere where I could improve those skills on a day to day basis. And I knew having done the long care thing for, like, 4 to 5 years in a professional setting, I was like, 4 to 5 years of genuine selling experience is gonna translate pretty well to insurance. Yes. I don't have an insurance license to sell and I don't know the product, but I've also demonstrated I, through my certifications here, can learn. When that question was inevitably brought up by the hiring employer at State Farm, where he was like, can you explain to me why you didn't finish college? I was honest with him.

Allen Helm [00:25:22]:
Number 1. Honesty is always super important, especially when you're meeting anyone for the first time. Right? And people can sniff out when you're lying or being deceitful. The truth always comes out. It never pays well to lie. So I I was very honest with him, the situation, and I was like, yeah. I mean, it was a failure that I learned from, and I've turned it to as much of a success as I possibly can at this point. And, also, here's some proof that I have been able to learn and pass things, set goals, and accomplish it.

Allen Helm [00:25:49]:
It was a good answer. Obviously, a good answer for him. I mean, he hired me. But from the standpoint of figuring out, k, how do skills translate to other things? It's just this balance of x, y, and z. You know, the employer is gonna ask where you're deficient in. You need to have a good explanation to the employer for how you can achieve the things that you are missing in the skill set that's needed, if that makes

Hannah Maruyama [00:26:10]:
sense. Makes perfect sense. And you summed that up really well. I hope that everybody heard that too. That was really key for those of you going, I don't have any skills or I don't know how the current ones that I have translate into the job that I want. Awesome. So now this is really good. This is quite a story.

Hannah Maruyama [00:26:24]:
You told me this is gonna be quite a story and it is. This is an epic in every way. So you went from Mizzou to community college to lawn care, and then you went to State Farm. And after State Farm so how long did you stay there, and what happened next?

Allen Helm [00:26:39]:
This is where things start to get fun. I was only at State Farm for 9 months total. And in that time, my son, when he was born, had some respiratory issues. So he was in and out of the hospital quite a bit. He was born November 2020. So this was 2021. This was, like, height of the pandemic in and out of the hospital, and we haven't chatted about this too much. I had been interested in crypto, I guess, since 2016, 2017, right when I dropped out of school out of desperation of needing money and just trying to flip money as much as I could.

Allen Helm [00:27:11]:
And the show called mister robot, that was, like, really into it. That's not important for the story.

Hannah Maruyama [00:27:16]:
It's all important to the story, Alan. It's all good.

Allen Helm [00:27:20]:
I got, like, burned really bad in 2017 with crypto. Like, I lost a bunch of money.

Hannah Maruyama [00:27:24]:
Playing in the coins. It happens.

Allen Helm [00:27:26]:
Yeah. Playing essentially, putting it all on black or all on red with this 1 token or whatever. So I got burned really bad. I left a sour taste in my mouth, but I was always in the back of my mind. The YouTube algorithm would pop some things up. Twitter would always pop things up. I had an account specifically focused on just Bitcoin, so I was only following Bitcoin people. And so every now and then I would check it.

Allen Helm [00:27:48]:
And then 1 day, I sent in the hospital. It's 2021 very beginning of 2021. So this is, like, January. I see all of a sudden, like, prices creeping up. Okay. I start looking into this Bitcoin thing, and so I start getting really obsessed with it as I do with anything I'm interested in. And then I find out that my boss at State Farm is also obsessed with crypto. So our days go from what I'm supposed to be doing, selling insurance to us spending 3 to 4 hours every day talking about what's going on on crypto.

Allen Helm [00:28:20]:
Yeah. He's telling me about Chainlink and Shiba Inu and Dogecoin.

Hannah Maruyama [00:28:25]:
For those listening, those are all alternative cryptocurrency tokens. They are different from Bitcoin.

Allen Helm [00:28:30]:
Very different from Bitcoin. And I started getting down into the sect of Bitcoin maximalism and Bitcoin only and, like, really why Bitcoin is very different from every other cryptocurrency out there and is, like, a hardcore money. As someone who had been struggling financially and understood that the dollar was losing value very rapidly, I just overnight, it was like, I gotta get a job in Bitcoin. I don't know what I'm gonna do, how I'm gonna do it, but I am going to get a job. With my boss, like, we're having these conversations every day and it shifted from, oh, what's the next thing to gamble on to? I was subconsciously, Hey. Actually, we shouldn't be doing any of that. Like, we should only be buying Bitcoin. And so I started progressively becoming not a good employee, but taking the day to only look at Bitcoin things beyond Bitcoin Twitter, that sort of thing.

Allen Helm [00:29:12]:
And then 1 day, Anthony Pompliano had decided to spin up the Crypto Academy. It was a very brand new thing, and I hopped in. I think it was the 3rd cohort. Yeah. They had done 2 betas, and then technically, I was the first. And I remember filling it out and getting to the end, and there was a cost associated to it. I won't say on the show how much it was.

Hannah Maruyama [00:29:30]:
We just had Kenny on, and he talked about it. So you're good.

Allen Helm [00:29:33]:
I think it was, like, a 1000, $2, 000. And for me, at the time, it was a lot of money. I did not have the money to do it. My wife was just about to finally finish her dental hygiene school. I'd loaded up on her credit card the fees to complete that exam, and unfortunately, she didn't pass it that first go around, which meant I was gonna have to pay it again. And then the application for the course came back, and pomp was like, yeah. You can get in. I had to tell my wife.

Allen Helm [00:29:57]:
I was like, we are not gonna take your exam yet. I need to take this course, and I'm gonna max out our credit card for $1, 000 or whatever because I was super convicted in the sense that I have no connections in this industry. I don't have the skill set to get in front of somebody right away, but I know this is the path. If at the very least, I will meet somebody that will give me guidance to get to the next step to get the job that I want.

Hannah Maruyama [00:30:23]:
Yeah. You need a network.

Allen Helm [00:30:24]:
Yes. In short. And this is my 1 shot at escaping a very poor salary and very poor commission structure, and solving the problem of me wanting to have enough time with my newborn and my wife who's going through postpartum and school and all of that. She there is a lot of pushback at first. We eventually agreed on it together, took the course. I did it in secret during the workday.

Hannah Maruyama [00:30:48]:
I love it.

Allen Helm [00:30:49]:
Lo and behold, I met a bunch of great people in the show. I met c k from Bitcoin Magazine through Bitcoin Twitter and that sort of thing. And 1 thing led to the net. Inevitably, I got a job at Bitcoin Magazine as an account manager. And I remember going to my boss, and I felt really bad because I was like, this guy's paying me money out of his pocket, and I'm just over here trying to get a job elsewhere. And I told him, I was like, hey. I got a job at Bitcoin Magazine. And he was so excited for me.

Allen Helm [00:31:14]:
He was like, totally makes sense. And he was also like, how how did you

Hannah Maruyama [00:31:18]:
do it. He was probably, like,

Speaker C [00:31:20]:
wait a minute. Wait a minute.

Hannah Maruyama [00:31:20]:
Give me the information I wanna go to. How long have you been at Bitcoin? I think I know. But for the listeners, how long have you been at Bitcoin Magazine slash the Bitcoin conference?

Allen Helm [00:31:32]:
So September 7th will be

Hannah Maruyama [00:31:33]:
3 years. Wow.

Allen Helm [00:31:34]:
Almost 3 years.

Hannah Maruyama [00:31:35]:
It was a long road to get where you are. And just so people understand too, I believe that your job is hybrid, or is it fully remote your job?

Allen Helm [00:31:42]:
Technically, I can be remote if I want. I'm actually, I'm in our office if you can't tell with the the quick

Hannah Maruyama [00:31:48]:
exit pillow. I was wondering. I was like, I think you're in the office. That's a pretty amazing you're able to take your lawn care experience and roll it into transitional jobs and eventually end up in an industry that you care about a lot. And this is something too that kinda wanna talk about a little bit because a lot of parents are worried about their young adults when they break out of college or if they decide not to spend money and buy degrees. Then they worry, oh, you know, well, they'll never get to work in their passion. It is my belief that you need to pay your bills first, which you definitely did, in order to find out what you wanna do that actually is your passion. Because it's very difficult to find your passion when you are spending money you don't have, when you just graduated high school and you have no work experience, no real world experience.

Hannah Maruyama [00:32:35]:
I think the question I'm trying to get across here that I want to get your perspective on is, when do you think you had earned the right to follow your passion?

Allen Helm [00:32:44]:
That's a really good question. It's gonna sound cliche, but I think I earned the right when I finally decided to work and improve on myself, start improving on myself rather than feeling sorry and woe is me, and I'm doing this degree for someone else. It was like, no. I'm gonna take the reins of my own destiny, which sounds cliche, but the mental desire to make a switch to just try and not being afraid of failure and then failing a lot and then figuring out, hey, why did I fail? What caused this failure? What are the steps to rectify said failure? And maybe if there were people involved in that failure, maybe they'll help me too, again, if I come to them with a solution or something like that.

Hannah Maruyama [00:33:25]:
I wanna make sure I respect your time. But I think my last question for you is if you could go back now or if you were 18 again, instead of buying a college degree, what do you think you would do instead to get where you are now?

Allen Helm [00:33:40]:
There's no 1 size fits all question for everybody. So for me specifically, everybody needs to analyze, like, where there are in life. There are 18 year olds out there that know exactly what they want to do. They set their mind to it. They're like, I'm gonna be an engineer. I'm gonna go work at Boeing, and I'm going to do this. And if you are that kind of person, props to you, but you are 1% subsect of the population because most people are not like that. I know me at 18.

Allen Helm [00:34:02]:
All I wanted to do was to go out, party, and have no responsibilities or anything like that.

Speaker C [00:34:09]:
Hey there. I hope you're enjoying our conversation and getting a lot of value out of it. Here's a little behind the scenes. We don't pay our guests to join us. They come on purely to share their stories and experiences in the hopes that you can learn from their mistakes and take some lessons away so that you can change your life. The more our podcast reaches people just like you, the more brilliant degree free people we can have on as guests to come and share their stories. So if today's conversation resonated with you or you've listened to multiple episodes, please take a moment and share this episode with a friend. Just a simple click on that share button or a shout out on your stories will make a world of difference.

Speaker C [00:34:46]:
More shares means more listeners, and more listeners means more amazing guests for you. If you could do that right now, you would play a huge role in keeping this chain of knowledge going. Thank you for being a huge part of degree free.

Allen Helm [00:34:59]:
And it's because growing up, I wasn't put in a position to have said responsibilities. And I think you had mentioned earlier, it's very hard when you don't have a concept of to pay bills on this day or this is going to happen to get a sense of time value of money, your time, your money, what you can afford, what you can't afford, and what you need to do to grow in order to essentially have your time be more valuable. But for me, I think the biggest thing I would change is out of high school, I would not have enrolled in college at all. I would have gotten a job, learn some hard skills and soft skills because I think both are equally important. And then from there, that would have probably enabled me to have at least some money saved up and a couple of punches to the gut where I'm like, hey. Maybe I don't like making $15 an hour pushing fertilizer. Maybe I want to go actually pursue something greater. Then from there, you could deviate.

Allen Helm [00:35:53]:
Maybe you do find out that college is the path for you. At least then you know what you're getting into because you understand, like, oh, yeah. Things are expensive. I don't wanna be a $100, 000 in debt and student loans. Or b, you've made some connections now, and that can actually help you get a job and kick start things down the road where you don't even need a college degree. It really just like the degree as a whole. It's just a signal to employers that you're a reliable person. And more and more now, I see hiring managers that are just like, oh, it's just like everybody has 1.

Allen Helm [00:36:26]:
What makes you different? Like, you're going through these resumes. It's like, you really wanna stand out. You gotta make a website. You gotta make a fun video. You gotta know people at the company. Good luck trying to get in front of a hiring recruiter if you know nobody there. Not to say people can't do it, but it's just like there's so many little things that you can do proactively to ensure success, and that doesn't happen being thrusted into just a college degree right away, and you just have to do more school. You're not learning real world skills and how people actually act on a day to day.

Hannah Maruyama [00:36:59]:
That was really good. And also, thank you because I think that's really actionable. So I want to thank you because we're just a time. Amazing job, folks. Alan Helm from Bitcoin Magazine. He has come on and share some wisdom today for all of us and his incredible story of his journey from lawn care to working at Bitcoin Magazine. Thank you so much, Alan, for coming on the degree free podcast.

Allen Helm [00:37:26]:
No. I appreciate you having me on, Hannah. And if I could do a quick plug, for those that don't know, the Bitcoin conference is happening here in Nashville, July 25th through 27th. I have a very special code for myself. It's b m 10 for 10% off all tickets. If you're semi interested in Bitcoin, highly encourage you to attend, but it's much more than that. It's a festival and a celebration of 1 of the biggest and fastest emerging industries in the world, and you have all kinds of speakers. If you're in the political side, we've got, like, Tulsi Gabbard, Vivek Gramswamy, RFK Junior that are going to be there.

Allen Helm [00:37:59]:
If you're into sports, we've got, like, Ben Askren. We've got Karate Combat that's showing up and doing fight and that sort of thing. If you're into the tech side like Google, Amazon, Intel, all those companies are there. So from, like, a networking standpoint, you could do it. It's a great event. I can highly encourage anyone considering it to go.

Hannah Maruyama [00:38:17]:
Thank you so much for your story and for your time. This has been a really good episode. Super appreciate you, Alan.

Allen Helm [00:38:22]:
Thanks, Hannah. I appreciate the time.

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