Daniel Wallen
  • @webwallen
  • Sales and Success Engineer
  • The Simulation
I used to be an author and ghostwriter, but a mental health crisis wrecked that business four years ago. Long story/short version: discovered I had bipolar in the worst way possible (by going manic in public). 

This had severe long-lasting legal consequences, which led to an intense bout of despair and depression. I also lost my most loyal client -- we worked together on a full-time basis for three years -- which sucked.

Did I mention a friend turned enemy stole my dog while I was being treated and diagnosed? Crazy times. Depression made it feel impossible to write and my previously reliable outreach strategy quit working.

Clients seemed more price resistant all of a sudden and I believe this is due to an influx of overseas freelancers. It's also my fault for being too dependent on a single platform (Upwork -- but it was Elance when I started).

My record is clean now, but it wasn't at the time, which limited my job and career options to an extreme extent. I worked as a waiter at my family's favorite restaurant for a while and saved enough money to fund a gap year.

"Gap year" means devoting a year to school or full-time studies -- for me, a code bootcamp (Lambda School). We designed programs or user interfaces for apps and websites with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and React.

Plus we developed databases and REST API endpoints with Node.js. One project was a local park database. I made tables with columns that contained info about the park's location, amenities, and rating/reviews.

Our final exam was a cross-functional team project with peers: front-end, back-end, and user experience (UX). We launched a gamified healthy habit app to help fellow Lambda students prevent burnout (a common event).

My contributions included user surveys, a Pomodoro clock feature, and leading release canvas meetings. I also made a custom landing page with HTML/CSS that matched the prototype provided by our UX designer.

Traditional web developer and software engineer jobs weren't a good fit (read: I'm bad at code challenges). So I focused on client facing technical roles as those don't require you to solve convoluted riddles.

300+ job applications later, I'm a sales and success engineer with a business data SaaS called Xplenty. We provide clean, complete, compliant customer data to growing businesses (no data engineers required).

In 2022, I'll be publishing an Amazon mini-series that gets deeper into this story (a lot to unpack, huh?). Shelter dogs play a leading role. I've walked 250(ish) of them. It's the best thing I ever did for my mental health.
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