Q&A with Bellevue University Alumni, Matt Bills
Why did you choose Bellevue University?
My reason for choosing Bellevue University is an interesting one. My then fiancé (now wife) Kim, and I met in high school while stationed in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Our parents are both military and following my 10th grade year and her 11th, her parents got stationed at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and mine in Virginia. We stayed together long distance for my last year of high school and Kim’s first year at Bellevue University. Going to the same school as she was always part of the plan and Bellevue University’s online program was icing on the cake!
What was it like to manage being a full-time student and employee?
Having the option to attend school at night and online while putting down roots in the corporate world changed my career trajectory more than I could have imagined. Choosing to attend an institution that allowed me to work on my degrees while gaining invaluable experience in the “real” business world enabled me to put what I was learning in the classroom to work, in real-time. By meshing my formal education with my experience at work, I was able to move up the ranks throughout my 20’s. Eventually, at the age of 27, I became one of the youngest individuals to be promoted to director in the 35+ year history of my Fortune 500 employer at the time. Don’t get me wrong, it was difficult and I have a long list of people who helped me along the way. Facing a night of classes and homework after an exhausting day at the office is a heavy load to carry. There were certainly moments when I wondered what in the world I was doing, but staying positive and focusing on how I could use what I was learning to benefit my career and help others kept me going.
Who were your biggest supporters?
My family and friends were always a great support system, constantly encouraging me to stay focused and achieve my goals. However, my strongest support system then and now is my wife, Kim. While attending college can be quite an undertaking for anyone, having a spouse who was going through the same experience as me was the cornerstone to balancing our home, work and school life. She finished her undergraduate degree at Bellevue University a year before me, yet we finished graduate school at the same time and even walked in the same commencement ceremony. It was a wonderful way to cap off our experience at Bellevue. Having a spouse who can relate to your journey was incredibly beneficial.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur, developing your own businesses and products?
My wife and I are what you would call serial entrepreneurs. We both get an incredible amount of enjoyment in taking an idea, turning it into a business and making it grow. In the last 10 years, the resources needed to create a business have become increasingly affordable. In fact, there are countless businesses whose sole purpose is to make creating a business an easy process. While you must be willing to invest in your product or service both monetarily and with your time following inception, there truly is no better time to be an entrepreneur. Our portfolio of businesses seems to grow each year and we love every second of it. That portfolio includes: Aspects & Angles Photography™, Get It Sold Listing Services™, Kim Bills, Realtor®, Elite Wear®, Just Throw It Premium Pillows™, The Real Home Marketer™ and Real Estate Investing.
What inspires the ideas for your businesses and products?
Everything! I draw inspiration from the things I know and love. I am constantly inspired by seeing others succeed. There is an element of society today in which people become resentful toward those who are “doing better” than them in life. From my perspective, other people’s success and innovation lights a positive fire under me to do more, to get more creative and to keep building the life I love.
What advice would you give you someone just starting out earning their degree?
Stay positive. While I know that is a cliché answer, it’s true. Tackle each day one at a time and remember why you are making the sacrifice: For your future and that of your family. As someone who has interviewed thousands and hired hundreds of people in the last 13 years, trust me when I say that your degree will open doors. Whether society agrees with it or not, many companies look for candidates with a degree. Once you get in the door, the rest is up to you, but having the key that unlocks the door is a great benefit to have in your back pocket. Your future self will thank you.
Do you recommend online learning, and why?
I do! In today’s world, flexibility is king. We are all running a million miles per hour and in ten million different directions. Having the option to schedule your study time and homework around your schedule versus needing to rush to class after work is truly an unmatched benefit. Plus, it’s cool when you meet some of your online cohorts from the late night discussion boards at your commencement ceremony!
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Toward the end of 2019, I made the decision to leave my six-figure job in favor of a life that would allow me to fully control my own destiny. This wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I know how common it is for people to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves, “Am I doing what I love?” Unfortunately, when the answer is no, nothing changes. If you’d like to know more on my thought process before, during and after the decision to leave the corporate world, click here.