Interview with Alumnus Michael Kuzni (Class of 2009)
San Francisco Bay Area Private Academy Alumni Shares
One of the RCS goals to #CelebrateRCS in or 50th anniversary is to connect with RCS Alumni and see what God has been doing in their lives since graduation from the best private schools in the Bay Area. Dr. Hearne recently interviewed RCS Alumni, Michael Kuzni, class of 2009.
As part of the interview, Dr. Hearne asked for Michael to share his thoughts on this month’s theme verse, Deuteronomy 6:5-7: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Michael shared, “This command is a daily reminder for me as a Christian for how to go about a task as mundane as my daily routine and interactions with any other individual. I believe that during our upbringing and even later on in life, we naturally tend to mirror our surrounding influences, whether we aspire to be like them or not. Likewise in verse 7, Moses specifically says to diligently teach the love of God directly to our children, and indirectly to others by walking “by the way” and setting an example for non-believers to have a positive influence. This has been embedded in my mind and in my heart.
When did you begin attending RCS and what year did you graduate?
Who was your favorite RCS Teacher?
Before he was Dr. Hearne, he was Mr. Hearne. Dr. Hearne has a patience level that is unmatched, and that great patience level was a crucial factor in our relationship. As a student that was in and out of the principal’s office every week and slacking behind on my grades, Dr. Hearne did not abandon me to failure in my education. Dr. Hearne took it upon himself to tutor me every summer in math since I was so much further behind in comparison to my classmates. He keyed in on my strengths and weaknesses while watching me solve a problem, and drilled me on how to write out equations and formulas instead of watching me try to look at a problem and attempt to train myself on how to solve it in my head even if it meant getting the wrong output many times. Dr. Hearne fully understood that schoolwork alone did not motivate me the least bit, and that I just wanted to find out what was the fastest way to complete an assignment so that I could go do something else. I credit Dr. Hearne for putting forth the effort to ensure that I would indeed graduate high school, as well as always boosting my morale to key in on my strengths instead of just weaknesses.
What activities did you participate in while a student?
I enjoyed woodshop class during high school because it finally gave me the chance to shine with the skills that God had given me. I did not find myself in competitive sports or theater. Working with my hands and electronics are my niche.
As a student what did you love about RCS?
I loved the personable atmosphere. As a young student, getting to intimately know a peer or mentor was simple at RCS. The students knew each other well, and the teachers know each student well. The teachers knew how to adapt their teaching to the personal learning abilities of each student, and as a result the quality of education that each student receives differs from that of a large public or private school.
What have you been doing since graduating from RCS?
After RCS, I attended Los Positas College full time and then transferred to California State University East Bay to complete a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship in 2016. I recently got engaged to my beautiful fiance Sarah and I am thrilled to spend my life with her.
What are you currently doing?
During my high school years, I had spent every weekend working in the family retail business. When I graduated high school and went to college locally, I continued working at the family business during the height of the recession contributing wherever I could, specifically in sales and marketing.
I took up an obsession with marketing and bringing customers through the door at the age of 18. I taught myself HTML code that I could apply to Craigslist to spice up our ads in comparison to competitors in the area, and it worked. I believe that helped us stay in business during those years.
My fascination with e-commerce took effect when I was 21. We had some items that had been on our shelves for about 10 years, so I created an Amazon store to sell it. The item sold about about a month later, and I shipped it out and received payment. A “light bulb” sparked in my head and I began to sell products from our in-house professional audio and DJ brand that we have online, which up until that point we were only selling a few units in the store each week. Within a short period of time when I was 22 years old, I created the Amazon store, eBay store, and a website for the brand. Items started selling and at that point, I now had two jobs, one in the retail store, and one in our online store.
I made the decision at that point that we would not wholesale our brand to other stores or online vendors, it would be 100% exported by us, the manufacturer. I used Apple as an example for what I want our brand to be positioned around. About four years later, after being accepted to sell our products as well with Walmart, Sears, Rakuten and Jet, and with reviews and ratings being optimal, my focus shifted nearly 90% from our retail store over to online, even though I was building this brand physically at the store and still helping with day-to-day tasks.
Today, by the grace of God and with the support and help of my father who believed in me, our online business is grossing nearly three times our retail business. Business is no longer only reliant upon if a customer is going to walk through the door to purchase an item. We have landed accounts with large companies as a result of our online presence. I fully understand that I am not a computer expert, and that I am not a marketing or e-commerce guru. Although I struggled in school, and at times put tears in my mother’s eyes and caused my father to worry about my future, I have found my calling. Although it didn’t look like it at the time, RCS taught me self-discipline and a drive to succeed. I thank God for the success of the family business and my father and mother for sticking with me through it all.