If you’ve been a reader here for any amount of time over the past eight years, you already know the backstory and the short version is, I’m back in the agency world. If you are semi-new here, here we go with the love story:
Seven years ago, I graduated from college and was in the middle of the internship program at an agency in Chicago. I remember coming home, telling my parents about the past two months of intern life and agency life and in general, how much I LOVED the work I was doing. You could tell by looking at me, I was IN LOVE with this life. I was working on cool accounts, I was learning a ton, and I was having the time of my life in the big(ger than I was used to) city.
Here I am, graduating on my favorite chair at Mom & Dad’s house. 🙂
The following summer, I learned how to skydive. I was bit by the bug HARD, and as summer ended and winter approached, I wanted to find a job in a city that would allow me to skydive more. It should also be noted that I had a secondary motive: to find an opportunity in Texas that would allow me to be closer to Barry. He was supposed to be working at Skydive Spaceland in Houston. We had only been dating for a few months at that time, but I knew the day I met him that this was the guy I was supposed to be with.
I got the job, so I moved to Austin to join a new agency. I think we only had 15-20 something employees in the office at the time. I was deeeeeep in the analytics game, and I was, again, stoked on life. The work was challenging, the team in the office was HILARIOUS, and I was learning a ton. And the weather was amazing.
Buuut, Barry had neck surgery that put him out for six months, and he never moved to Texas. And I remember the moments that lead to when I changed my mind about working a “real job” (as my skydiving friends put it).
I remember when my skydiving gear arrived. I had it shipped to the office so I wouldn’t miss the delivery at my apartment. I put a picture of me skydiving on the ladder that was in the office lobby, and instructed the UPS man to not walk under the ladder with my gear. I remember walking around the office with my rig on, showing it off.
More distinctly, I remember calling the owner of the skydiving center where I had trained that summer. He asked how things were going. I was cradling my rig in my arms, completely overtaken by what skydiving meant to me, about to utter a sentence that would change my career trajectory.
“If I’m being honest, I’d rather come back up there in the spring and do your social media, marketing, PR, events and stuff.”
GAME OVER. ALMOST.
My parents didn’t approve of this plan. I had a GREAT job, I was learning a ton, I was obviously happy, why would I give that up to move back to middle-of-nowhere Illinois and be THE marketing person? How much could I possibly know about marketing to run the operation?
I took that feedback and filed it away.
Fast forward to New Years Day, 2011. I was on Shell Island, somewhere around Tampa, sitting on shells, drinking cheap beer, and looked over at Barry. He explained that experiences like this weren’t uncommon in the skydiving industry. He rattled off countless experiences that he had, that most people would pay A TON of money for, that were offered up just as a thank you for being part of the skydiving community. I was intrigued. This was a different version of life that I didn’t know could exist.
We talked about what moving back to Illinois would look like. And when my parents came to the skydiving center we were camping at for the holiday weekend, I remember the actual life-changing moment.
My dad sat down next to me on a bench and said (to the best of my knowledge), “all you’ve been talking about is skydiving, skydiving, skydiving. And I totally get it now. Being here, seeing this, I totally get it. And I think you’d be stupid not to pursue that opportunity if it will make you happy.”
In March 2011, I left the agency world. I started a company called 3Ring Media and set off back to Illinois to enter the skydiving industry as a young hopeful jumper, and a marketing professional.
I worked for one season in Illinois, and then when winter came around and we were looking for winter work (perpetually chasing sunshine), I met the owner of a skydiving center in California. He only hires year-round employees. DONE.
Our “holy crap it’s cold here but we’re moving to California” faces.
So here we are, almost five years later, sitting in sunny southern California. I’m married now. We have two adorable Puggles. Three of the past five years I spent as a marketing/PR/events/competitive skydiver. Then my friend Adam died, and, combined with several other factors, I fell out of love with the sport. I started my own company, again, in 2014. Planet Green Socks, named after Adam, officially executed four events, the last of which was Adam’s memorial. I knew I was done after that. From May – November 2015, I took a fat sabbatical and figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
I took a personal development course, and went to/helped coordinate two women’s entrepreneurship retreats. Went to countless concerts. Cruised around Europe for two weeks. I took a road trip around California with Barry, and then up to Portland and back.
Roadtrip to Portland to fly in the tunnel with these fools.
On the drive home from Portland, as we were passing Mt. Shasta, I took a call that, again, would change the trajectory of my life.
I was talking with one of my mentors, who was now with W2O Group, the agency I left in Austin. I was totally honest about where I was at, what kind of work I had been doing, what I was interested in, and that after all these years, I missed agency life.
The time I spent in the skydiving industry was SO amazing, both as an employee and an entrepreneur, and more than anything, I learned a lot about myself. But, I missed the fast career growth and learning that comes with agency life. I felt stagnant. I was hesitant because I was scared to step back into a life that I so desperately loved but felt so far away to me. I loved DZ life and all the perks that came with it, but I missed doing the WORK from agency life.
So I signed the contract in November last year, and have been working with a bunch of BRILLIANT people on a ridiculously awesome account, and at the beginning of this month, they converted me over to full time.
Tough days at the soft launch for our client last weekend.
If you’ve been a reader here for any amount of time over the past eight years, you’ll probably remember my ever-changing stance on what work/life/love should be. As I mentioned in my Welcome Back post, while some of the posts from back in the day are borderline embarrassing to read now, they represent my life, and my body of work.
Now that I’ve grown up a bit, here’s the deal: I’ll never say “never” about anything career-related again. If I were a politician, you’d call me a flip-flopper.
If we’re being completely honest, I was actually, legitimately worried about changing my status on LinkedIn and Facebook and all that. I thought for sure that someone would call me out and say “OH MY GOD YOU SWORE ENTREPRENEURSHIP WAS THE BEE’S KNEES, WHO ARE YOU NOW, YOU FRAUD?” and the whole world would melt down. (More on that in the next few days.)
And you know what? Starting my own company, working for myself, and working with the clients/companies I’ve worked with over the past five years definitely was amazing. And as mentioned on my Unicorn for Hire page, I LOVE talking about all of those things and can always make time to help a sister/brother out if they need a hand with something. I don’t want to lose touch with the community of women/small businesses that I’ve been so blessed to work with, and while I am not technically “for hire” in a traditional sense, I am absolutely available to talk about these topics on a broader scale.
If there is one thing that remains true, it’s this:
I LOVE marketing/PR/social/etc. I LOVE doing the work. I LOVE being part of a team, regardless of whether that is remote or in an office. I LOVE learning everything I possibly can about ALL the things.
When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t change the path I’ve chosen. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t take a chance when faced with big life decisions. If there is anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that life is far too short. And I’ll be sticking with my Sense of Possibility as I continue on these trips around the sun.
Right now, and for as long as they’ll have me, this is where I want to be.
So that’s the love story. I fell in love with a career path, I fell in love with a sport, I fell in love with a man, and as I sit here today, I am SO in love with life, I actually have to pinch myself.
Boomerang Status: Official.
**I noticed when reading the comments on some of the old posts, that the community was largely in corporate jobs, but some have started businesses, and some are back to the corporate jobs. If you left, started a business, and came back – why? What differences do you see in your approach to work now? Do you think you’ll stick with the job or maybe do the solo thing again in the future?