You learn from successes. You learn a lot more from mistakes and failures. Patrick freely discusses various missteps in his journey and how he managed to pivot out of various corners. Excellent discussion.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Patrick Quinlan: I was born in Germany to a German mother and an American father. I spent most of my formative years in Germany and growing up very much in a German family. I moved to the States in my junior high years. I ended up here in Denver, Colorado at the beginning of my freshman year in high school, which was another transformative experience. I went to a an inner city high school. It was 70% African-American.
I went from growing up in a very un-diverse world in Germany to suddenly finding myself as a minority in the sense that there were less people exactly like me. I thought it’s probably one of the most important things and impacts that I had in my life. It was an incredible experience in that the world is substantially different than anything you think. It is one of the moments that I look at my life that I’m extraordinarily grateful for.
I do think that I suffered on the education side because George Washington High School at that time had an IB program but I was not able to get into that. However, life learning was just awesome in the Denver high school. I was rather unsuccessful in college and got an 0 in my first semester.
Sramana Mitra: How did you do that?
Patrick Quinlan: I think consistency and follow-through is very important. If you’re going to do something, do it well. I have some pretty substantial learning disabilities from a dyslexic standpoint. I just never had any work done with it. By the time I got to college, I hit that wall where I just wasn’t able to operate inside the classroom environment.
I ended up in the military and served in the US Army for a couple of years. It was actually during Desert Storm. It was a great leadership learning experience. My father had also been in the military. He was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the army. I’m very glad I did those two years but I realized that it wasn’t for me. I did end up going back to university.
Along the way, I learned that as long as I addressed how my mind works, I can be very successful. I was 26 when I graduated from college because of the military. Those two experiences of being a minority in high school and going into the military at a time of conflict had a substantial impact on who I am today.
Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking about when you came out of college? Can you put this in a timeline?
Patrick Quinlan: I was actually looking at your background. I’m a month older than you. I graduated high school in 1989. I was in the Army from 1989 through 1996. I started at the University of Kansas in 1991. It took me five years to graduate. Then I did an executive MBA program at Regis University in Denver.