A lot of times in my life, I get advice that I do not understand the full ramifications of what’s being communicated to me at that time. Only in hindsight do I see the wisdom of the advice, generally after I get the experience first-hand (the hard way).
I was working a one-year contract to roll out Windows 7 computers for Siemens Healthcare. A few months into the contract my role was changed. I would provide a white glove service to the employees of Siemens. Healthcare technology lags because of the sensitive nature of data and the reliability of it required. The transition from Windows XP to Windows 7 was a huge deal at time and it confused a lot of people. Naturally I did what I could to help.
I used my creativity and problem solving skills to:
- Create and develop user-friendly audio/visual guide for data migration.
- Researched and created an instructional guide that corrected a potential data transfer issue in 7700+ computers.
- Consistently praised for my attention-to-detail, creative solutions and positive mindset, among other things.
Simply put, I did a great job but the contract was coming to an end. Our office was in a basement of the building, a training room (sidenote: there is ALWAYS a basement in IT) a little after lunch.
I asked my manager, Robert, what I should do next in my career.
He looked at me and without missing a beat, his reply was:
START A BUSINESS.
In my naivete, I didn’t follow up on the answer. I guess I was looking for a ‘quick fix’ or rather I was so focused on how I was going to pay my bills next month that the response just sat in the back of my head and I didn’t act on it. I started to pursue getting a full time position at Siemens in any capacity that I could, hitting up everyone I knew at the company and being sure to let them know I was looking for any opportunity.
I was 28 at the time and I always felt that I needed more experience, cash flow or anything else that would allow someone else to take me serious as a business owner.
My job search at Siemens fizzled out and I ended up in Center City Philadelphia as another variation of Help Desk.
But I never forgot the advice that was presented to me.
Later on …
I reached out into the business world on a small scale at first, by starting a freelance IT repair business. Long story short, that didn’t work out because I realized I didn’t like computer repair AND dealing with every day people for pennies. Later on I tried to do a cell phone screen repair (link to the story) and even selling Kodi for bootleg movies but I realized I really didn’t like low-end level clients.
So I continued to work a job and improve my skills nightly in different things. Hell, the only reason I am good at IT (and a lot of things) was because I was always trying to solve my own problems, which involves research and trial and error. Because of that I look at problems differently and try to create solutions that SOLVE the problem instead of merely putting on a Band-Aid of the issue. And to do this, I pull on ALL of the experiences I have in life.
SIDE STORY: Over on Designed by Paris, I have a concept shirt for the Philadelphia Museum of Art that is focused around augmented reality (AR) with an accompanying video. This concept started because I didn’t like the fact that the Main Store of the Museum was lacking an iconic shirt to sell year round.
I pursued the AR angle because I figured t-shirts are worn year round EVERYWHERE and if someone wears this shirt in Sydney, Australia on vacation 3 years from now, anyone who sees it could then scan the shirt and get an informative video about the Museum thousands of miles away, for free.
In my mind, what better way to get world-wide word of mouth exposure by selling a popular item (t-shirts) combined with a neat technology (AR) without any extra intervention? However I forgot one major flaw which was only revealed when I showed the project off to other people at the Museum:
Body shapes and sizes vary widely around the world and therefore would distort the scanning of the image which of course kills the experience of getting the AR experience properly.
And the lessons I learned stay with me forever.
While working in Center City approaching my 3-year anniversary at my job, I applied for a bunch of jobs in other places to try to make use of my skills and bring me closer to what I felt like I wanted. Of course the leads and job boards always went nowhere. So I started to apply for fewer jobs but with more EFFORT with different ways to try to get attention to myself with the resourcefulness that I knew I possessed. This led me to one of the 2nd greatest failures I had but the cause of the same greatest realization I had from before confirming it wasn’t a one time thing:
Story of Living Beyond Breast Cancer
I came across the job posting for a Social Media Coordinator from Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) on Craigslist.
For the record, Craigslist was a great way to find jobs if you were able to stand out from the crowd. I used to write personalized my cover email and then schedule them to go out around 9:24 AM the next business day to make sure I was on top of the inbox when they looked at it. I even added email tracking to it so I could see when the emails were opened and how often (which allowed me to easily send follow emails if I didn’t hear anything).
So I came across this job posting from Living Beyond Breast Cancer which had a deadline in 5 days on a Monday. So the entire week, I worked on my cover email and my proposal to show why I am worthy of the position.
Here is the cover letter I sent: Notice the headline. I tested variations of that headline on other jobs and received decent responses. The number 19 was chosen because there were 19 pages in the proposal.
The proposal was something marvelous if I could say so. It was based online (I can’t remember the service I used to make it) and the initial page which is black on the PDF had a looping version of their logo being animated in which I made in Adobe After Effects. You can see the logo animation below.
And of course I made sure the email would be schedule by Boomerang for Friday morning. I also had the email tracking enabled with 2 different services to see when and if it was opened along with and to see if the link to the proposal was clicked. Additionally the proposal creation software provided analytics as well when it was viewed.
The outcome of all this work was…
The email was never opened so the proposal was never viewed.
But I learned a very valuable lesson (again)!
Did I just write and create a client proposal along with spec work for a FUCKING 9-5 JOB?!!! The fuck is wrong with me?
End of 2017….
START A BUSINESS. In the back of my mind late last year, I heard it again. I sought out my first client (Designed by Paris) and went from there. This time I am ready and I learned that I was not ready years ago from a personal standpoint. My very first thought from what my manager told me years ago was “why or how I didn’t stack up.”
That mental process discolored my perception of myself and changed my trajectory of my life into a self-inflicted hard mode. Additionally, I disrespected my manager by asking for his advice and ignoring it. He knew that I couldn’t see past the fog of myself but his answer got to the heart of the problem and truthfully that was the action I needed to take 4 years ago. I try to pass the wisdom on to anyone who ask me. Getting a job is like landing a client anyway without any of the freedom and flexibility of having clients.
Thank you for lesson in the Wisdom of Business Robert!
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