2011 kicked off on a gain and finished on a loss. That’s the nature of life. And that was the cycle of that year.
The winter began with a lucrative consulting gig. I got hired to ghostwrite a white paper on marketing. This was an amazing project and it paid the mortgage for a few months. Even while focusing on Career Coaching, I’ve strived to earn at least one corporate gig each year. These projects are demanding, tough and rope me back into having a boss. And, yet, they also help keep me on pulse with what’s happening in corporate, enable me to use my biz skills and pay at least one more zero than a typical Career Coaching package will.
Writing still found a prominent space in the career resurrection. Anita and I were making preliminary strides on our relationship book project. Barri, for whom I’d hosted a writing seminar in my house that summer, continued to push me on the break-up book drafts. I stayed on to write for the two online publications, and that included meeting and interviewing some Hollywood A-listers and industry insiders, like Spike Jonze. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my Cleveland script, so I let it sit for a while. Marinate, if you will.
Teaching began to take center stage. I didn’t go to school for education or have any kind of formal training. However, I took quite naturally to it and the students, at least most of them, seemed to connect with me. After two decades of propelling products and profits, I was finally propelling people. And this I loved.
Late spring/early summer of that year, I reached out to my friend Kim, the one who teaches at CSU, and asked if there were any teaching opportunities available. My timing couldn’t have been any better. An instructor scheduled to teach that summer’s Business Environment course had to back out and the department needed someone to take over, immediately. Also, Kim was pregnant and would only be able to teach the fall semester thru half its length. She needed someone she could trust, someone who knew about marketing and someone who her students would accept.
I submitted my Resume to her, came for the job interview to meet with her boss and, because of all the pro-bono guest speaking I’ve done with her classes over the years, had built trust with Kim. And, so, I was hired to teach my first class at CSU. It was remote, at the Progressive Insurance facility on the far east side, and while it was nerve-wrecking at first, it also tapped into all the things I’d done for over twenty years: the understanding of how business works, what Corporate America’s expectations are of its workforce and the critical importance of public speaking. And so I passed this knowledge on to my students. In the best way I could.
That fall, I taught three classes at Tri-C, Business Environment at CSU and, mid-semester, took over Kim’s three Marketing classes. I’d never be allowed to teach seven classes at one school, but between the two, I took whatever work I could. Work meant money and money meant paying bills.
That fall I also had to make a giant decision. Three years after making the biggest mistake of my life, I had to finally confront it. In business there’s something called a death spiral – it’s when you keep investing into something that isn’t giving anything back to you. It just keeps taking with zero promise of any return. My house was that death spiral. And after doing all that I could to do what’s right and whatever was legally and fiscally possible, it reached a point of no return. It was a sunk cost.
And, so, that November, with the help of family and friends I packed up and moved out. And faced the implications of that move. Instead of viewing the walk-away a failure, I made the life decision that businesses constantly make in order to keep going. Playing life by the book, I just got there three years after I should have.
But then. No one declared me too big to fail. No one was going to bail me out.