Four out of ten Americans go their entire lives never living outside their hometowns, and most Americans move fewer than 12 times as an adult. But Columbus CapTecher, Frankie Cleary, more than doubled that count during a 15-year period where he visited or lived in 34 different countries.
A Columbus native, Cleary started his career in the Navy. "I worked in nuclear power maintenance and operations, basically like a Homer Simpson on an aircraft carrier. That's what got me really interested in traveling." But his wanderlust didn't hit full swing until he bought a one-way ticket to Mexico City. After a series of staying in hostels and riding around in "chicken buses" he found himself in Panama and took things as they came before he eventually landed in Germany for year before he started to run out of money.
"I wanted to figure out a job that I could do while I was traveling, and I read an article about a guy who had made an iPhone app. He wasn't a millionaire or anything, but he made just enough that he was able to quit his job." Still, Frankie had navy engineering experience but no software expertise to speak of. A trip to ebay, a book on iPhone apps, and a barely-working $200 MacBook later he was off and running. "You couldn't even unplug [the laptop] without it turning off. I remember at one point traveling in South Korea and having a little studio apartment with a cardboard box for my desk."
During his trek around the globe Cleary learned Spanish and Portuguese and spent his days working on apps and his nights absorbing the local color. "I'd like to stay at hostels. So, I'd work there for my clients and then I'd go out at night and do something like salsa dancing."
Today, Cleary is back in Columbus thanks to some serendipitous timing, "I had done a month in Southeast Asia at the beginning of 2017 and a contract I was working on ended. I thought I would just keep doing what I was doing and then someone from CapTech reached out.
"We clicked and I'm here about a year later. Even though it has limited my traveling ability a little bit, I love what I do. I love being able to travel as a consultant and I even fit in a trip to Ecuador earlier this year and I'm hoping to spend another week and a half in Indonesia in the fall."
Now that he is back in Ohio, Frankie plays John Mayer inspired music with his sister at local venues and open mic nights, but he says it's his traveling in part that helps him be a good CapTecher. "Traveling to unfamiliar places got me out of my comfort zone and presented me with challenges or things that I might not know how to figure out right away. I think it has really honed my ability to adapt, stay flexible, and be a better communicator, and as a result, has made me a better consultant for it."