Entrepreneurial Gratitude for My Mentors

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Entrepreneurial gratitude is something I’m dwelling on. I’ve had many great bosses, a few terrible ones, and some mentors who have all guided me in my career and helped me become the person I am today—one who has launched into her dreams of being self-employed.

Since it’s November, I wanted to do something in the spirit of gratitude, but with a different twist.  As I reflect on the wild ride that 2019 has been so far, I have much for which to be thankful, as usual.

This year I activated my long-held dream of starting my own business as a freelance writer and digital marketing consultant. For several years, being my own boss has been a burning desire for me — using all the skills I have acquired to help other businesses but on my own terms and schedule.

The road to date

I’ll admit, I love it so far. I spent 2018 doing the background work and planning and finished it off the first part of 2019, with an official launch in early April. It has been and will continue to be a tremendous amount of work. Even more than I anticipated. I work more than I ever have (and I have long had perfectionist, workaholic tendencies), and yet I enjoy it so much because I get to call the shots.

It occurred to me not only that I am in an enviable place, but that so many folks played big roles in my life along the way that helped guide me to where I am today. I wouldn’t be where or who I am without their influence; many of them may not even realize their significant role.

So the different take I am making with this post is to acknowledge some key players in my professional journey that deserve recognition. This is my written act of gratitude for this pivotal year.

The Radio Years

First, I’d thank the management at Kicker 106 radio in Beeville, Texas. They took a chance on hiring an evening DJ fresh out of college that blindly mailed them a terrible demo tape pieced together from the campus radio station. The first radio station to offer a job to this aspiring radio star, I accepted their offer and cut my teeth in the radio industry while spinning the country tunes, taking late-night requests and dedications, and navigating life as a young adult 2200 miles from home.

Living that far away was never going to be a long-term situation, so I moved home after a little over a year. Which brings me to my next person to thank.

I will always be grateful for Leslie, who saw my potential in the radio promotion field and offered me an entry-level position. Getting my start in a tiny town is one thing, but transitioning to a large market raised the stakes considerably. I wanted to work my way up the ranks in my home market, in an industry with no job security, and I felt out of my league. I probably was.

Leslie, a seasoned radio veteran in the Portland market, took me under her wings and showed me the finer points of radio promotions, events, and contests. My massive lack of confidence from my rookie status resulted in heaps of awkwardness of my part, but she put up with it and continued to show me the ropes. She even encouraged me to pursue my dream of hosting a recreation-focused talk show and allowed me time to produce and host it when, much to my shock, my idea got approved by management.

Furthermore, Leslie gave me the freedom to start a monthly newsletter for our station email list and pursue certification as a commercial copywriter for the Radio Advertising Bureau. She generously allowed me to expand my skill set, even though the benefit to her department wasn’t always there.

At the same company, props go to Dave, the program director, who gave me a shot as part of the on-air staff as a voice-tracked overnight DJ.

After a great deal of soul-searching, I realized that my dreams of being a radio star had changed. My love for performing had been overshadowed by my love for writing and an unexpected passion for marketing. The transition that followed lead to my next pivotal influence.

Into Marketing, Copywriting, and More

Andrew, a visionary leader and company founder, was looking for someone to join his team at a tech startup courting the radio industry. My ideal experience and a mutual friend led to our meeting, and him offering me a job. His drive, work ethic, and insistence on excellence pushed me harder than I’d ever thought possible. I regularly questioned my ability to live up to his high standards, but his compassionate yet firm style drove me to find within myself that which I didn’t know was there.

I’ll even include in the list, an employer who will remain nameless. This individual falls squarely into the category of creating the most undesirable work environment imaginable. Slave driving, condescending, disrespectful, trampler of every kind of boundary for work-life balance, and unpleasable perfectionist.

If It Doesn’t Kill You…

During my tenure at that place of employment, my stomach was perpetually in knots from anxiety, and I learned well how to handle getting chewed out on a regular basis. I also became quite adept at working exceedingly long hours to keep from drowning in an unmanageable workload. I didn’t see my husband much during that time, and often our times together were tainted by my stress and nervous email-checking on my phone.

Nevertheless, I can look back and see the good that came from my employment there. Not only did I develop a much thicker skin, but the regular criticism of my work also helped me establish a more thorough and refined approach to each project. I learned valuable skills and realized I was capable of so much more than I ever dreamed. Part of that was due to the work itself, part of it was due to the demanding management.

Though I’m glad those days are behind me, I’m always one to take the good with the bad.

Kris, an all-star co-worker, also deserves a shout out. He is one of those indispensable types that makes work more bearable. Not only was he a stellar problem solver, he constantly encouraged me when I was overwhelmed and helped me to believe in myself when I was full of doubt. He also showed me a number of ways to be more organized at work; tricks for which I am very grateful, and some of which I still use.

Ready, Set, Open a Business!

I also must give props to Amanda. We worked together at a job 10 years ago, and have remained friends and on-again, off-again workout partners during that time. She preceded me in entrepreneurship by a few years and has been a tremendous source of information and encouragement over the last 22 months as I have gotten my company off the ground. Not only that, but she has passed me business referrals and gotten me involved in projects of hers that have given me a solid start on my client work.

To finish off the list, there’s Larry. Larry has been a bud for 14 years. He hired me on faith in 2009 when I was between jobs, to help manage his office and do a large volume of monotonous work to build up his client list, with which I was successful.

Fast forward to late 2017, and employment with Larry re-entered the picture. Upon learning I was between jobs once again, he offered me my old position back on a part-time basis. I was honest with him that I was leaning towards starting my own company, and he was not only OK with that, but was and still is, incredibly generous and flexible with my schedule so that my business demands can be worked around that job when necessary.

The job at Larry’s office has been the perfect transition to allow me to earn income while I make the slow, steady climb to a full-time client load with SummerTime Communications.

Parting thoughts

Even though it was my own vision, grit, and work ethic that has gotten me to where I am, I know that I have not done it on my own. It was also due to those people I mentioned above who gave me opportunities, taught, corrected, pushed, and encouraged me. Not to mention my parents, who relentlessly instilled in me during my formative years that I could do whatever I set my mind to accomplish. They said it often enough that I believed them. 🙂

The future is indeed bright. I anticipate continuing to grow my business and having the opportunity to give a hand to others down the road, as so many have done for me.

Thank you for reading! Who is someone who has helped you in your career? Have you thanked them?

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2 responses to “Entrepreneurial Gratitude for My Mentors”

  1. […] mentioned in a previous post that while I am building up my business to a full-time income, I have a part-time job that takes up […]

  2. […] realization of my long-held dream of starting my own business. For a bit of background info, check here. SummerTime Communications is my freelance writing/social media management/marketing consultant […]

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