After graduating college in 4 years from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a marketing degree, I was ready to take a leap of faith. I had just watched Steve Harvey’s video jump and knew it was time.
So I packed up what I could fit in my car, and with $300 to my name and $30,000 in student loan debt, I drove 23 hours from Darlington, Wisconsin to my new home in Santa Rosa, California. I had landed a job with a winery equipment company and was ready to take the world by storm.
I came in to work and was excited to get rolling. I was going to be starting an in-house marketing department. What I wasn’t aware of is that I would not be provided with any resources, and no formal training. It was an absolute train wreck. I had just moved across the country to take a job for a boss who didn’t want me there.
After the first month I was called in to her office and we had a discussion about why there wasn’t an increase in business. I shared my thoughts and was then called an “overpaid intern”. Mind you, I was making $40,000/year to run a marketing department in wine country (one of the highest cost-of-living areas in the U.S.). After 3 months I was relieved of my duties… Do I go home, or do I stick it out?
Between my first and second jobs I had about a month of down-time. I decided to fill that space with attempting to bootstrap 2 different startups. One was a clothing brand – RevoPro – that never caught on. The other is a motivational brand called – Zenvironment – the goal is to “help people find their zen in any environment.”
My first product was a vacuum sealed water bottle that included with it a chalk-ink marker to write notes and motivational messages on your bottle to push you through your day. It was good in theory, but because of the minimal inventory I was able to afford the break-even point was unrealistic. It wasn’t long until that was put on the back burner because of my desperate need for money.
I decided to stick it out and give it another shot. This time I was going to be selling fundraising to schools.
Alright, fresh start. I was comfortable in the school setting because my dad was actually my high school principal (I only had a few run-ins with him ;)) and my mom was a 1-on-1 teacher’s assistant for 16 years.
This was a remote sales position in a very affluent area. For me, that meant unwelcoming secretaries and families that would donate thousands regularly to keep their children from having to fundraise.
I was deflated. It wasn’t long after starting that things got very dark for me. I had no friends (besides my wonderful girlfriend that I met after moving here) and I was a 23-hour drive or $350 plane ticket away from my family.
I fell into a deep depression and was having panic attacks on a daily basis. I wasn’t making enough to pay the rent and I was miserable. Again, it was time to find a new gig.
Since moving to California seven months earlier, I had failed miserably at two careers and two poor attempts at starting a company. I couldn’t stand the idea of another 9-5 so I started brainstorming. What options did I have?
- Move home, cut my losses, leave my girlfriend, and get a job where my dad works.
- Stay in California, keep fighting, find a gig to pay the bills and develop useful skills, and try to connect with people I wanted to be like some day.
I didn’t come all this way just to head back home with my tail between my legs less than a year later.
As I had mentioned before, my parents were both educators. They suggested I look for a substitute teaching position. Back in Wisconsin, my mom started substitute teaching a bit after she decided to quit her job. She was able to start working the same week she applied.
I figured that would be a great gig. I’ll have the opportunity to work on my public speaking skills a bit every day, pay my bills and carry on with my life.
Well, California’s teaching laws are incredibly strict. Rather than being able to start subbing that same week, I ended up having to wait 5 weeks to complete all of the training courses and wait for my paperwork to go through before I was able to accept my first assignment.
During all of this, I was reaching out to marketing influencers that I was interested in. Two names that caught my eye were Leonard Kim and Ryan Foland. After reading Leonard’s back story, I knew he was a great person for me to connect with, but how would I get in contact with him?
I’m a 23-year-old recent college grad just trying to find my way in this crazy world! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you out either personally or professionally in the upcoming year. Have a great New Year! 🍻🍾🎉
Who would have thought this 50-word email would lead me to not only now consider Leonard a friend, but to also be part of his and Ryan’s team at InfluenceTree.
Since joining them, I have:
- Started a blog that accumulated nearly 2,000 views in the first month.
- Grown my organic Twitter following by more than 200%
- Grown my Instagram following by more than 100%
- Refined my personal brand
- Attended the InfluenceTree launch party at UC-Irvine as InfluenceTree’s sales specialist
- Created hundreds of pieces of content
The Rest Is Still Loading….