Not all that many years ago, Alex Hollings, regional HR manager for an aerospace defense contractor, left his cushy corner office and impressive paycheck for the uncertain world of writing. Fresh out of college and a few years removed from the Marine Corps, that guy hoped he’d find a way to make his passion into a livelihood, lest he be doomed to an eternity of conference calls and health insurance open enrollment periods.

After more than a year of writing piecemeal contract articles and doing technical writing without a by-line, he spotted an unusual posting on Facebook. SOFREP.com — a website he’d followed since his days in the Corps — was looking for veteran writers. With his face flush and certain he wouldn’t get a response, that guy submitted a resume and writing samples before pushing the idea of working for such a publication out of his mind as a flight of fancy.

As some long-time readers are already aware, that HR guy-turned-writer was me — and to my utter astonishment, SOFREP decided to give me a shot. Soon, I was on contract to write two columns a week. Then, as my work grew in popularity, my editors came back and asked if I could increase my workload, and as the company continued to grow and change, I soon found myself smack in the middle of a news organization I had admired for years. In what seemed like an instant, I went from motivated amateur with my face pressed against the glass to deeply entrenched insider with work reaching tens of thousands of readers each day.

To be perfectly honest with you, that concept still blows my mind.