Career Coaching Backstory #12: 2013 – Sinking Ships, Cortés Style, Part 2

From January till ~ June of 2013, I lived 6 months in a monastic lifestyle: work, work out, write, sleep, repeat. Once in a while I’d go out with friends, but, mostly, I was like a bear in hibernation, in my own woman cave, shutting off the noise of the world and staying away from all temptation. From 2009 to 2012, the volatility of things – of everything – took its toll and I had to just go in and see what person would re-emerge.


The Summer of 2013 found me lighter – in pounds, in personal space and in commitments. It also became the transition before everything expedited to completion. Like that split second when you throw a ball in the air and it stops and spins before falling back down, July and August, were my moments in the air.


Keeping busy with clients and a new game plan for 2014, I decided to try dating, again. I went on POF, a newer and free platform, and promised myself that the approach would be lighthearted, fun and nothing commitment-centric. Most of the men I met seemed like nice enough guys, but I tried to keep it all light.


But relationships didn’t really matter in 2013. They weren’t the priority. And Melanie kept me on track with that when things did get emotional. Even when some hard feelings, tearful nights and sad goodbyes manifested, I had to put it all behind me. Why didn’t the men matter as much as they once did? Because in the summer of 2013 I decided that it was time to leave Cleveland and move to a new city. The time had come. I fought for this. And no man or company or anything or anyone was going to get in my way. Not this time.


I had several requirements for my future city:


  • Warm climate
  • No state taxes
  • Robust economy
  • Thriving creative scene
  • Ocean view


After exploring various cities, I narrowed in to  Austin, Texas. Four out of five on my list. Allegedly the coolest city in America. And, so, while I continued life as usual, I also knew that my time in Cleveland was finite.


One of the biggest gifts of the previous four years was the dedication to developing a business that was totally independent of geography. Sure, the technology provided a certain freedom – have laptop, smart phone, internet? You’re all set. Even deeper, psychologically and subconsciously, a part of me wanted to ensure that I’d never have to depend on anyone or anything for my income. Not only was the Creative Cadence biz model lean – no partner, no employees and only hire subcontractors on a project-by-project basis – it was (and still is) a very green operation. Besides the technology tools mentioned, I get to run it with minimal supplies: journals, Sharpies, printer and file folders. That’s it. No office space to rent, no equipment to maintain, no inventory to ship.


If, when Chatroom to Bedroom: Chicago first launched I took advance orders, printed copies and distributed on my own, by 2013 both of my first two books resided in Amazon. And they took care of all that. Sure, margins weren’t as good, but it as never my desire to be a vertically integrated corporation. I just wanted to specialize in what I wanted to do: Coach, Teach and Write. Exchange ideas. Facilitate thoughts. Challenge expectations.


That summer my grad school, Simon Business, had an alumni event at the Ritz in Downtown Cleveland. It was great seeing all the local talent sharing the Rochester roots. Even my dean, Mark Zupan, came in. He asked me how life was. I replied to him, “Well, by end of December, beginning of January, my apartment lease, car lease and semester contract all expire.”


“Oh,” he replied. “So you’re Cortés. And you’re sinking your ships.”


And Cortes I was. In the chaotic month of December, I sold or donated all my furniture, wrapped up teaching two of my classes plus the four I took over when Kim went on another maternity leave, said my emotional goodbyes to the tremendous friends I made in Cleveland, moved out of my building and ended all my ties with the city that, for a decade was home.


But not before a few funny things happened. Earlier in the semester, I’d lost my CSU office keys and when the department admin returned me the found pair, she attached them to a key chain in the shape of a little house. And, because of the nasty blizzard, I ended up crashing with my friends Daniel and Hannah for a few days. They (along with two other sets of contacts) also generously agreed to let me leave some of my remaining stuff/personal items in their basement and together we celebrated New Year’s Eve, welcoming in 2014 in the 216.


On January 2, the temperature was so cold that it would not snow. So I packed up my VW, hit 90 and with Cleveland in my rear view mirror, headed west, committed to never look back. I sunk my ships. I fought my way to total freedom.


Time had finally come to explore new lands.


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