I wrote my first post on this blog — it’s pretty terrible — on October 21, 2013. A year later to the day, I landed at Brussels Airport. There’s a tie between the two and a transparent story about the last year or so of my life, so allow me to tell it if you have a few minutes.
This story really started two summers ago. I had just gotten married in March 2013:
… and about eight weeks after that wedding, I moved to Houston, TX for the summer (my wife stayed in Minneapolis). I was in the middle summer of a business grad program, where traditionally you intern for a large company (or whatever size, really), hopefully do well, and they consider extending you full-time employment. The previous fall I had tried in vain to get summer gigs with Anheuser Busch (straight-up rejection) and Microsoft (flew me to Seattle to reject me), and finally I got a gig with McKesson, which is a Fortune 15 health care company that probably no one truly realizes is a Fortune 15 company. I used a hook-up from my father-in-law plus a halfway decent interview to secure the gig, and despite them having offices in Minneapolis, they wanted me to work out of Houston. So I lived apart from my wife for a summer, although we met up 2-3 times.
The McKesson experience was, by and large, terrible. I had entered thinking I had a chance to turn it into a full-time gig. I think health care is pretty much the future of America in some ways, so this was exciting to me. Instead, on about my sixth day there, when I went over some expectations with my manager and asked how the end-of-summer process could work, she said, “What end-of-summer process?” I tried to back off it, and she said something like, “Well, we’re not going to have head count.” I was defeated, but I wanted to do my best regardless. In that same meeting, she told me she’d be off for about 3-4 weeks of the 10 weeks I was there.
Job went on much like that — pretty off-task, periodically did some interesting things, and met with a lot of high-ranking guys. My boss came back from vacation and chastised me for meeting with high-level people when she was away. I half got-it, half-didn’t. I’ve maybe grown up a little bit since then.
I came back to Minneapolis and was pretty defeated. For people that actually know me (as opposed to people that periodically read this blog), this was when I started posting shit on Facebook like “I’m unemployable!” and other pity party-type statuses. I was looking around for a job, but the whole thing was totally skewed. See, when I came back for my second year, all my classes were at night. Hence, I could work during the day. So half of me was looking for a job in Minneapolis that could start ASAP, but then, at the same time, my wife and I were basically thinking we wouldn’t stay in Minneapolis more than a couple of more years (terrible sentence structure there), so I was half-looking for a job somewhere else that could start in March or June. I was all over the map and flailing.
I had 2-3 classes, and as I said they were at night, so I needed something to do with my time. I’m a total fucking joke if I’m not busy. I worry, I overthink, I bother loved ones, I’m just horrible. I had a few blogs before, but never really stuck with them. So I thought to myself … what if I wrote a blog, and I wrote it about all the different kinds of things I’m interested in? In October 2013, I got off my fat ass and started just posting stuff.
I was super self-conscious at first, especially about sharing to networks (like Facebook). Most of the stuff I was writing initially was pretty banal/trivial/trying to explain concepts already in the news, but still, I almost didn’t want people to see my finished work. There’s a concept called “The Click Publish Moment” which I referenced in this post too, and basically I was terrified of people judging me or ignoring me — but at the same time, I wanted eyeballs. It was a weird time and here and there, I thought it might be something I do for a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months, and then move onto something else.
Thing Is, It Made Me Feel Better
Minneapolis gets cold in the winter, as you might imagine, and it’s hard to justify doing a lot of things outside. My winter break was basically from late November until mid-January, and I didn’t go home for Christmas last year. My wife was working, and it was frequently -10 to -30 outside. I’ll be totally transparent here: I was extremely depressed at this point in my life. I had a good marriage (less than a year), and good family/friends — and I know that should be enough, but it wasn’t. I felt like a total and abject failure pretty much every day I got out of bed. This is around the time I started trying to write openly about how the hiring process was going for me. I found that kind of cathartic in a way — it made me feel better, and blogging was something I was doing 3-4 times a day (and sometimes more). If you know me personally, you probably know I have a huge problem with consistency and wanting to be consistent but feeling as if I’m not, and this blog, however ridiculous and trivial and missing white girl syndrome it can be from time-to-time, became one of the most consistent, most productive, most happiness-producing things in my life. Honestly. I’m not saying it replaced people, because that would be terrifying — but it was an outlet, and people need outlets.
April 2014 Incident
I was getting closer to my official graduation and had nothing in the way of a job. Nada. It looked bleak. My wife and I were kinda focusing on NC and Boston, but were pretty open. In early April of 2014, we went out on a Saturday night — it was a good night, although admittedly I was probably more wasted than I needed to be when it was over, and on the walk home we got in this huge fight. Fight lasted for 30 minutes or so (maybe longer), as fights are wanton to do, and things were said on both sides that probably weren’t ideal. Days later, after we had talked it out but this cloud still hung there, I had to go work for Teach for America in Memphis (part-time gig) and she went to visit our friends in NYC.
Here’s what happened over this weekend: a bunch of our friends mentioned this blog to her, because at the time I was writing pretty transparently about how much the hiring process can suck, and basically said it was a bad idea and I shouldn’t be doing that. In a way, I don’t disagree. In another way, I was kind of pissed off that people would direct that at her, instead of me (a lot of these people are persons I consider some of my best friends in the world, no joke). At the same time this was happening in NYC, I essentially got fired from Teach for America — or rather, told there wasn’t enough money to take me to another conference in Atlanta later in April — because of a series of dumb misunderstandings with my supervisor (one time I tossed her rental car keys, she missed them, and they clanged on a table. That became a huge issue.)
My wife gets back from NYC, and I get back from Memphis. She’s pissed, I’m pissed, this fight is still lingering, and … I would say that Monday night/Tuesday night period was maybe a nadir of my 30s so far.
May was the official month of my graduation and for the beginning part of the month, nothing was really working on the job front — but I was having better months on this blog, getting over 100K, then 120K, visitors. Those don’t seem like big numbers. In a lot of ways, they aren’t at all. But I don’t know 120K people, and it’s remarkable to me that 120K would ever read something I said and say, “Wow, this has some merit.” At the same time, I was gaining followers on Twitter (which can be meaningless), followers on WordPress, etc. It seemed people were maybe paying attention — at least here and there.
A funny thing happened around the middle of May 2014. I started to get calls from people because of my blog. I had a company in Boston call me, then one in NC, then one in DC, then one in St. Louis, then one in Seattle … it was crazy, and all happened in maybe a two-week span. I flew to Boston, then flew to Charlotte for a NASCAR interview (friend connection). I got Boston, didn’t get NASCAR. Then someone from Texas called me, we did a phone screen, and someone else called me. She had read this post, which features Simon Sinek, and Sinek had just spoken at a conference given by that organization, so she wanted to talk to me more. I got another call from Boston, and another from NC.
All these calls, pretty much, were people that had seen me post on LinkedIn or found my blog, or seen my blog on my resume (yes, I list it there, which maybe is Amateur Hour) or my Facebook. They were actually drawn in by this thing. I created an “inbound hiring funnel.”
I went on a couple more interviews — I flew a lot in June, which sounds sanctimonious until you remember that I literally spent a good chunk of the previous nine months contextualizing myself as a total failure who maybe had a blog that people read from time to time — and ended up moving to Dallas/Fort Worth to take that job with the Simon Sinek-post-reading woman (she’s now my direct boss, and a great one at that). It’s a travel network — advisors, suppliers, and on-sites — and so far, it’s been pretty cool.
A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers gave me the opportunity to go to Belgium on a “Study Tour,” which means I go around to different cities and learn about the culture/hotels/etc. and then help create content and work with advisors on sending people here as travelers.
When I got the trip cleared, I realized that I’d be landing one year to the day after starting this blog. I thought that was pretty cool. I’m not saying this blog is even very good or anything — I write stuff and finish and think “Whoa, that was smarter than I really am” and I also write stuff and finish and say “Fuck, that was terrible” — but I think it’s played a really important role in my life, and my growing up, over the past year. I’ve dealt with some hard topics, thought about my life, thought about business and work, thought about cities, and honestly learned more about a ton of different stuff than I ever thought possible.
If you’ve ever read a single post on this blog — even just one — I honestly just want to say thank you. Again, it sounds sanctimonious probably — but I honestly mean it. You’ve contributed to a huge journey in my own life, from the depths of thinking “God, I am totally worthless” to thinking “Hey, I have something I can do alright, and I like doing it, and there are people out there responding to it somewhat.” So honestly, thank you. Thank you. Fucking thank you. I can’t say that enough.
I did about 275K for the first year of this thing, so I’m going to aim for half-a-million in the second year. Can I get it? I have huge doubts. But I know I’ll keep writing and keep trying (and hey, now I’ll have a job too!).
Again, thank you for reading this and thank you for everything over the past year.