And just like that I’m a full-time blogger :)
What do you say when that happens to you? When you’re drafting a post one minute titled “Designing Your Own Lifestyle”, and then seconds later it becomes a reality? Is that fate? Luck? What are the odds that you get terminated the day before you give your 2 weeks notice? I don’t know… but I’ve got to say I haven’t felt this alive in quite a while.
How it happened
All kinds of fast, that’s how. First, I read a memo to all employees that our paycheck’s going to be delayed a week. I’m pissed off because it’s just thrown out there as if that’s totally normal and OK, without any explanations whatsoever, so I decide it would be smart/ballsy/awesome to reply all with a quick “Does that mean our company is in trouble??” Little did I know I was already on the chopping block, and my email would get shut off 5 minutes later (classy).
Within seconds, I get a half-dozen frantic calls from a co-worker, and a pile of text messages saying it was urgent to call him back (I was currently indisposed on the metro). I call him back and hear that he was just let go, and that I should probably watch my back when I walk through that door. The one that’s staring me right in the face 3 feet away. Wow.
I stand there for about 15 seconds running through all the possibilities of what’s about, or not about, to happen – and then I walk in. The whole time I’m climbing up those stairs, I just keep thinking “Today could be your last day. Today could be your last day.” I was a little giddy, and I was a little nervous. (okay, a LOT nervous)
As soon as I walk through that door I’m called into “the office.” I’m told to take a seat, and I say something stupid like “is that the seat for fired people?” and I refuse to sit down ;) And then he Donald Trumps me. “Restructuring” he says. “Aka our company is flat broke,” I think. Goes on to tell me 1/2 of the start-up is canned, and that he’s sorry it *had to be* done now, right before Xmas. No talk of severance, no signing of anything, no insurance mention, nothing. Just a 1-2-3 out the door you go. (after turning over my keys, of course.)
5 years at the company over. Just like that.
What I did over the next hour
There’s a lot of things that go through your mind at this point – but the one thing I didn’t want to do was burn any bridges. After all, a man’s gotta keep his reputation! Do you want to be known as the guy who told you to F*ck off and that he hates your face? Of course not. You want to leave that joint as smoothly and smartly as the first day you signed on.
Plus, as far as my situation went, who the hell was going to MAKE all the stuff our company was selling? All those websites and baubles and widgets, etc? I’m the only designer?? They hadn’t thought about that yet (you’ll see why in a bit), so I promptly emailed everyone in the company – from my personal email since my work email had been disabled – and let them know it was a pleasure working with them. And it had been – for the most part :) And then I called my CEO (who wasn’t the one who fired me) and thanked him as well. Because I think it’s an important thing to do, and it also shows respect.
But ultimately, all that thanking and ass kissing helps set you up for one thing, and one thing only – future business. Maybe off a reference, or a lead, or even with the same company down the road – you just never know. So within all the thank yous and “let’s grab beers” sometimes, I planted the seed that the Design Shop of J$ is now open for business! Even though I have no idea if it is, or if I’d even want to be associated w/ the company ever again.
And guess what happened? The same guy that fired me 4 hours earlier called me up and said he needed my help?!!! HAH! Didn’t see that one coming ;) Who knows if anything will come of it (we’re still in talks to see if this new relationship makes sense – aka if they want to pay my now higher freelance rates!), but the point is you just really never know. And if you can be proactive about it, and let people know how you can benefit THEM – even when they’re least expecting it (like when they’re firing you) or they don’t even know they need you – the chances of success becomes much higher.
It was then time to pack up, and get out of there.
My Newly Designed Lifestyle
So now what? What happens when you’re now part of an ugly statistic of unemployment? Party time – Wooooo!!!! Haha…. nah, this ain’t the old J$ anymore ;) While I did consume 2 adult beverages with a friend right after, I simply went into survival mode and powered up Plan B. The plan I was trying to pull off come January 1st, and the one I’d been saving up $50,000 for. You know – The “be the boss of me” one! We’re two weeks ahead of schedule, and about $4,000 off (boooooo) but reality is what it is and you’ve gotta do what it takes to make $hit happen.
I called up my girl who’d been holding a desk for me at her awesomely sexy design studio (where I’m currently typing this out) and I told her the time has finally come. She welcomed me in, I signed my new $500/mo office lease, and one hour later I was unpacked and working out of the new J. Money Headquarters :) Pretty insane, huh?
I’m not exactly sure what happens going forward as I’ve never worked for myself before. I know I’ll need more money, and that I need to hustle even MORE than I was before (I just lost $70,000+ a year for crying out loud), but I’m feeling pretty damn positive about things.
THIS IS IT!! MY DREAM STARTS NOW!!!
I’m a freakin’ full-blown entrepreneur bitches!!! Haha… This is how I choose to use my time now. I am no longer working anymore. I am blogging, and building, and learning, and networking, and helping, and collaborating, and purely doing exactly what makes me happy every day. And I’m giving myself 1 year to make it sustainable – absolutely no job searching (yes – the wife has signed off!)
I know things won’t be perfect, and I’ll probably have a financial break at next month’s Net Worth update, but at the end of the day I can say I’m DOING it. I am taking this opportunity and running as far as I possibly can with it.If I fail, F it. It’s not every day you get a wake up call like that ;)
UPDATE: There are rumors going around that my (ex) CEO is getting $480,000 a year. How sick is that? For a company 10 6 people strong? Also heard the remaining employees may have to defer paychecks for the next 2 months… it’s safe to say I don’t miss that place.
UPDATE #2: THANK YOU!!!! Wow, guys, THANK YOU for all the love & support!!! I wish I could get fired every week :) Seriously, I have never ever been this bombarded with messages and emails and calls and tweets and everything y’all have been sending over so far. I don’t know what to say. Just know that I am deeply touched, and I am reading every last comment you guys leave! Thank you so much for believing in me – it means everything in the world. The next time I doubt myself the first thing I’m doing is coming back here to re-read all your kind words :) God bless everyone, have a happy holidays!!!
UPDATE #3: The company has since went under.
(Photo by bradleygee)