This post is a reflection on my 5 year work anniversary at RevLocal. There’s no way I could boil it all down to one blurb, so I decided to look at the 5 stages of my journey. While I’ve had friends venture into three different careers in that same time (which is cool and the new normal), I somehow held the same job since leaving school at DU. It’s been a wild ride.
Stage 1: Is this real life??
Every day my alarm went off that first month I remember thinking, “Is this real life?” Half way through the day the doubts continued, “Is this the rest of my life.” When I accepted the job, it sounded sexy on paper – new startup, lead the sales team, blaze a trail. The reality of my first pitch with a small landscaping company made me feel like a washed up yellow page salesmen. “Is this what I worked so hard for? High school, DU, selling books, MBA – for this???”
Funny how the least sexy jobs on paper pay the biggest dividends. And the most glamorous internships or jobs tend to mean zero responsibility and development.
Then things started to change; or maybe my perception changed. I leaned into the challenge. I started to enjoy working with small businesses and I realized how massive the opportunity was within our space – never before could the little guy show up on the front page of Google, now they had their shot with a company like ours. Clients started to have success with our services and I felt like we were doing a great thing.
Stage 2: Adulting
Adulting. I learned what it means to be a great employee. How to create a professional network. How to become a student of your craft. I started to understand personal finance, investing, and my student loans.
Then RevLocal became my identity. I would obsess over every part of the company and its expansion. Not just our little sales team that was starting to grow, but our culture, our operations, and our product mix.
Twelve hour days became the norm. If I didn’t work a few hours on Sunday I wouldn’t be able to turn off my brain and go to sleep. I could reasonably see us becoming the next QuickBooks, Paychex, or Salesforce – household names in the B2B community. All the while, we racked up awards for our growth year after year.
There was something special in our KoolAid and I was one of the main contributors.
Stage 3: The tug-of-war
The Passport Protector tug-of war. After a couple years of working with small business and entrepreneurs, it’s impossible not to wonder, “Why don’t I start my own business? If that guy has succeeded, why can’t I?” But I never knew what I would want to dive into.
Until the summer of 2013 when we were headed to Europe and my passport was denied for ‘wear and tear.’ The idea was born and the opportunity looked ripe. Plus I thought it was the perfect test to see if I had the ability to walk the walk of entrepreneurship and actually build something.
I successfully juggled 50-60 hours per week as a sales manager with RevLocal while launching my LLC. I studied crowdfunding, tested product designs, learned about manufacturing, and created a business plan. It’s also the most burnt out and stressed I’ve ever felt.
Stage 4: Time to Choose
The fork in the road. While I somehow balanced being a sales manager at RevLocal and launching a crowdfunding campaign, I did not successfully balance a great relationship with Brie. And for the first time, I felt slighted at work. I had been given massive opportunities I’ll forever be grateful for, and the leaders of the company were heroes in my eyes. But one major decision blindsided me. Years of work and trust disappeared in a flash. (PS – there may be a +40 year old reader thinking I’m stupid for criticizing an employer in a personal blog. There’s also a reader younger than 30 who appreciates honesty and transparency more than corporate-speak. )
Meanwhile my relationship with Brie was strained. And it was then that I decided to truly put our relationship before work. Even if I said she was #1, my actions sometimes spoke otherwise. I told myself, “I can give my all at work and who knows if a job will always be there for me. Brie, however, will be.” A couple months later we were engaged.
Stage 5: Sticking Around
Despite the major conflict, I’m still here. Wounds heal and I took the feedback to become better (with the help of this book).
The dance of balancing life and keeping the workaholic in check is still a challenge. The urge to leave and do my own thang still tugs at me. The biggest reason I’m still at RevLocal after 5 years? My team.
I’ve never had as much fun working with other people and feeling like I make an impact as I do now. I lead a team of 12-15 people across five cities made up of young kiddos straight out of school to sales veterans finally enjoying their dream job. I still love working with small to medium sized businesses and I geek out on marketing. But the biggest kick is leading people towards their potential and seeing them grow.
Stage 6, 7, 8, 9, 10?
Will I be at the company another 5 years….? Who knows. The opportunity still checks the big boxes of what I’m looking for in my career. I am so very grateful I took the leap to Columbus all those years ago. And I’ll forever be indebted to a couple guys who took a chance on me at 23 to be their first sales rep.