Career Coaching Backstory #7: Renavigating During the Chaos of 2009

Career Coaching Backstory #6: The Big 2008 Crash
November 9, 2015
Career Coaching Backstory #8: 2010 – A New Professional Chapter
November 11, 2015

2009 proved to be an interesting year. Interesting is such a broad adjective. Something people use when they don’t exactly know what else to say. Or how else to describe a situation or a work of art. It’s a safe word to share and it means absolutely nothing.


On one hand, I began the year with some savings and a finite severance package. On the other hand I was also out of a job and in a new house with new mortgage payments. No one was hiring. Shady organizations prayed on people’s fear. And the new Democratic presidential administration, inducted just two months prior and inheriting this mess, along with the debt of the previous Republican eight years, was simultaneously energetic and hopefully all the while inexperienced and naive.


Who was going to get us out of this mess? Surely not the politicians and definitely not the corporations. We were all on our own. And, those of us lucky enough to have good family, friends and neighbors, we also had each other. Suddenly at home dinner invitations spiked, generosity prevailed and it was the spirit and kindness of good people that gave others hope.


After a brutal and cruel winter, spring arrived and along with it a call from a fellow Simon MBA who started her own healthcare consulting business. She needed a video to articulate her research findings, saw my music video for “Cleveland Rising” and offered me the job. Suddenly, I was a video producer! I immediately reached out to key technical people and quickly we got to work.


Also, a friend I’d known since grade school, and whom I’ve helped with his Resume previously, referred my my first paying Career Coaching client. This man was a consultant, husband and father. And, after just three months of our work together, in 2009, in the midst of that crappy economy, he accepted an offer for a new job, one with more pay and less travel time. Then a close friend, an engineer, whom I took on probono, gave me his Resume and shortly after, recruiters started calling him with multiple opportunities.


Something about the work I was doing with people quickly led them to desired results. So I kept going.


At first I had two separate businesses, Creative Cadence for the creative/content work, and MBAHobo for the Career Coaching. I felt the latter was a clever title for the times. That summer I attended a party where almost everyone had not only a college but also a graduate degree. And half the people at this party were unemployed. But I quickly realized, in the world of words and the energy they bring, that naming a firm that signals unemployed educated person will ensure a life of poverty. So soon after its launch, I killed it and absorbed the Career Coaching into Creative Cadence. The content firm I had started back in 2007 now became my only agency. Its branding? Where Commerce and Culture Converge.


That year a former coworker contacted me and made an introduction with a woman named Kim. Kim taught full time at the CSU Business School and was looking for guest speakers to come into the classroom and to speak with the students on business, marketing and careers. So I volunteered. And for multiple semesters in a row, would volunteer a full day and speak to 2 – 3 large classes on the truth of what to expect during the job hunt process and then what will be expected of them once they accept those offers. My tone with each group was of directness and honesty. No sugar coating. Corporate America is hard work.


Oh, and that script. In Spring of 2009 received a call from the Cleveland Film Commissioner. He read my Cleveland Screenplay. And sent me to Cinestory, a hard-core industry-intensive screenwriting seminar in the mountains, just outside Los Angeles. An alumni retreat, full of film major students and film producer mentors, I showed up as the underdog. My script? Fully dismantled. And yet, I still go up there, pitched new ideas, networked like crazy and made some key connections that still influence my writing today.


By the time fall of 2009 arrived, I was personally recruited to take over another instructor’s Art of Story class at Tri-C, Creative Cadence began to earn a good reputation with clients and two different online publications, one local and one focused on film, opened their contributor doors to me. And the Coaching, Writing, Teaching trifecta emerged.


Photo: Steve Zak

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