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Adversity, Challenges, and Overcoming Obstacles

We’ll all have to face challenges in life, but not all challenges are created equal. Some of us encounter our roadblocks later in life, while for some of us those problems appear much earlier on. As it happens, problems that arise in childhood can be especially difficult to overcome. Often, the struggle can be intense enough that when the person in question makes it through to the other side, they’re left with an inner knot of grit and resolve which they take with them throughout the rest of their journey.

So it has been with travelpreneur Michael Peres. With tens of thousands of Instagram followers —and hundreds of clients rely on him in order to manage various needs they have — the polished facade the Canadian presents these days masks issues which had been present from the very earliest chapters of his life.


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A Complicated Introduction

Peres was only nine years old when he was diagnosed with ADHD and other learning disabilities. The medication prescribed to him (100mg of slow-release Ritalin) was at best liberating, at worst debilitating, and above all inconsistent. Sometimes, Peres felt fantastic, on top of the world, unstoppable. Other times, however, he’d have to contend with bouts of depression, heart palpitations, and occasional lapses into trance-like states. But throughout this emotional rollercoaster, one thing remained constant — the love of computers which would come to define his early professional steps.

Today, he no longer takes Ritalin, but this is only as the result of a long, drawn-out tapering process he had to persevere through during his college years. This wasn’t the only issue he had, though. Having grown up in a religious community in Montreal, Quebec, Peres’s education was lacking in many of the secular topics. Despite the lack of a well-rounded curriculum, he still found a way to make a name for himself in the community, by fixing computers for his school and other people around him. This would prove to be a vital experience, as it taught him what it means to graft, as well as the importance of marketing, pursuing opportunities, and sheer hard work.

When he graduated high school and enrolled in university, Peres found that he was a long way behind his new peers with regards to a secular education. This forced him to become his own teacher — to the extent where he had to stop going to class and start learning the course material on his own, right from the very beginning. While this left a few holes here and there, on the whole the experience was positive; and when he graduated with a degree in Computer Science and mathematics, he was as well-equipped for the fast-paced, relentlessly modern working environment as were any of his contemporaries.


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The Virtue of Doing Things the Hard Way

No matter how you look at it, working through such a difficult first few experiences is going to leave the individual with their own unique perspective on the world. Because they were forced into a system that was never quite built to fit them, they often end up with a counterintuitive liberation from the hum-drum, mundane procedures of everyday life. Because they know what it is not to fit in, they’re not overly concerned about going in the same direction as the rest of the herd. When you combine this degree of liberation with hard work; in-depth knowledge of an industry; relentless drive; an individualistic, creative spark; and a refusal to settle for anything but the highest standards of work produced, you have the potential for something a bit special.

Peres’s story is instructive because he hasn’t fallen foul of any of the classical speed bumps either. He knew early on that he wasn’t meant to work in a cubicle — and he put his money where his mouth was by turning down generous six-figure starting salaries from a number of prestigious companies and firms. He knew from the very beginning that he was going to live his life on one set of terms and one set of terms only: his own, doing the things he loves. Peres’s dreams and ambitions simply weren’t for sale.


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Making a Clean Break

After pursuing further studies, he made the decision to break from everything he knew and hop on a flight to California. It was far from glamorous in the early days. Having set out with less than $100 to his name, the initial stages of his business life were an exercise in making the most out of every single opportunity he got. 

He did this by developing his own, disruptive techniques in order to build the kind of high-quality portfolio he knew his work could live up to. He did this by admitting something so many of us are afraid to — he acknowledged that the various worlds we live in are basically just a succession of games, each with its own rules and its own rewards. 

By keeping his eyes on the prize, he was able to operate within a model of steady progression, building on every step he took without the kind of backwards movement we so often see with hotshot young entrepreneurs.


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Even throughout the course of managing the numerous businesses and startups (of which Hexa Tiger, a bespoke web design and consultancy firm, and Hecto Fox, a cloud computing and web hosting firm) he’s found a way to use what some people might consider limitations to his own advantage. The most clear-cut example of this happening is how he works his ADHD into his daily work life. 

Peres knew from the get-go that he’ll always have ADHD, but rather than let this defeat him, he has always been determined to turn his weaknesses into strengths. One example of this is how he’s crafted his life around doing things he loves. Of course, we’d all like to get there, but you’ve probably got a question on your lips: what about things you don’t like doing, but have to do? The answer we can learn from Peres’s experiences is simple — either come up with a way to reward yourself, or delegate. And why not? 

Knowing that he underperforms when he needs to focus on just one thing at a time, he’s developed enough different skills to a professional level that he can effectively multi-task his way through each and every business decision; now coding; now tweaking a website design concept; now answering emails; now further growing his network. The key takeaway here is that rather than trying to work against your differences, often what’s required is to engineer them into creative solutions.  

The route to happiness, fulfillment, and just about any other goal you can name doesn’t lie in dismissing things as being impossible. More often than not, the magic happens within those moments when we allow ourselves to imagine — not to say ‘Of course not,’ but rather to ask ourselves ‘Why not?’

It’s too much of a stretch to say Peres’s problems helped him, and besides, that’s probably inaccurate. A much more honest account of the situation would be to note that while Peres had adversity to deal with early on in life, it was the skills he developed in coping with those challenges that laid the foundation for the work which was to come. It’s not easy to break into the web development market at this stage in the game, but he put his head down and played to his strength — things we could all do with emulating. If you’re interested in reading about some of the specific steps Peres took to break his way into the market, you can find them here.

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