Do surfers really float alone on their surfboards, contemplating the ocean and life like they do in Hollywood movies? How about in coastal Maine in the middle of winter—when the biggest storms and waves roll in?
“Yes, I’ve done that many times since I first took a surfboard into the Atlantic Ocean when I was a kid,” says Mike Szajner, a senior content developer and Trueline’s resident surfer. “Being one with nature and with the ocean allows for a lot of reflection.”
Szajner grew up in Leominster, Massachusetts, a suburb of Worcester and the birthplace of Johnny Appleseed. He visited Wells, Maine, with his parents every summer, and that’s where he fell in love with surfing. Even so, growing up, his life mostly revolved around a different sport: baseball.
Living With Aloha
After a successful high school baseball career as a second baseman and outfielder, Szajner took his talents to college. Because of injuries and other situations, he bounced around to four different schools in four states—including Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and St. John’s University in Queens. Ultimately, he earned a business degree from Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. But he didn’t know where his life would take him.
For more than a decade, baseball was all-consuming, but despite the amount of time he dedicated to the sport, Szajner never had dreams of becoming a baseball star. He was a Boston Red Sox fan as a youngster, but now, in his 30s, Szajner doesn’t watch baseball, doesn’t follow the sport and looks back at it as a vessel to a college education and not much else.
“I had faith that something would lead me to a promising career and fulfilled life,” Szajner says. “I invested a lot of my life in baseball, but it didn’t give me a purpose.”
Working in sales jobs left Szajner feeling professionally satisfied, but he says he didn’t have a clear understanding of who he was as a person. Things changed when he moved to Maine, met his fiancée, Kasey, and had a son, Bodie, named after Patrick Swayze’s character in the classic 1991 surfing and crime action movie, “Point Break.”
“I always dreamed of being a father and having a family, and sharing this with Kasey has been instrumental in aligning my goals and priorities with who I want to be as a person,” Szajner says.
He says he found further alignment and a sense of community at Trueline.
Finding his True(line) Self
Like someone who falls off a wave and gets back on the board, Szajner interviewed for a position at Trueline several years ago, when he moved to Maine. He didn’t get the job. When he interviewed again during the fall of 2020, he had a good idea of what he needed to do to get the job.
“I checked out the website and realized again how the company’s values and culture aligned with my personality and that my skillset aligned with the job description,” he says. “I thought I’d be a good fit within the organization.”
Being a remote employee has had its ups and downs, Szajner says. He’s gotten to spend a lot more time with his family, and in January, his fiancée gave birth to the couple’s second child, daughter Bailey. Still, he hasn’t had the opportunity to meet and develop connections with the majority of Trueliners.
“The flexibility of working for Trueline is something I’ll always cherish,” he says. “Evolving as an employee, while growing as a father, has been a unique and interesting experience.”
Since becoming a father and getting back into surfing, Szajner has become a more spiritual person, and he says he’s a man on a continuing mission to discover new things about himself. As he reflects on becoming a father for the second time, he thinks back to the ocean.
“When you’re riding a wave, you can’t think of anything else, and you’re just present,” Szajner says. “It’s the same feeling I got becoming a father. Those moments of serenity and peace and a feeling of connection with your child are real. And it feels amazing.”
The Real Mike Szajner
Did you know? Mike can walk on his hands, flew to Oregon alone at age 12 to go to snowboard camp and once lifted weights at Muscle Beach in Southern California.
Who’d play you in the Mike Szajner biopic? Emile Hirsch.
Bucket list: To take a family trip to a tropical surf destination; and to road trip cross country in a van, trying the local food along the way and making memories we’ll never forget.
Greatest achievement so far: Becoming a father and being a good dad.