What Happened After Quitting My Job of 15 Years —
A Year in Review

By Katie Lowell

What Happened After Quitting My Job of 15 Years — A Year in Review

Fifteen years at one single company. My first job out of college, and I was there for fifteen years. Fifteen years of ‘climbing the corporate ladder’, as they say. Overseeing teams, taking on new responsibilities and ultimately working for a company with the personal drive and passion to want to make an impact, a difference and/or just wanting to do something more than just the corporate routine. Ok, the last statement may come across a bit superficial — but there’s truth to wanting to do good work. And wanting to make a difference. And, if possible, do something greater than what is in my own little bubble.

Fifteen years is a long time.

Yesterday was my one year anniversary of quitting my job. And at this one year mark, it felt right to share some feelings and learnings regarding what this past year has shown me. And maybe, we (meaning you, the one reading this, and I) share some common threads and can relate. SO… after quitting my job, I started a business venture with my current business partner – our own marketing firm.

Which is the perfect segue to jump right into Lesson #1: I/we actually HATE calling ourselves a marketing firm. Why, might you ask? For all of the people that work at marketing firms that don’t do this, close your ears/skip to Lesson #2.

We have had numerous conversations with presidents and leaders of organizations that automatically assume we are going to say and present the same thing all the other agencies do. Their experience had been of which the agency does the dog-n-pony show of all the ‘great’ things they are doing for their company or maybe show them some metrics that are inconsequential. And without a doubt, it’s most likely a ton of work and looks great, but what is the impact of all of that work? One CEO shared with us that he equated marketing to writing the thank you note for the $10 bill that Grams sent you when you were a kid. You know you have to write the card — you know you have to do some form of marketing — but you really don’t want to. Talk about a hurdle to overcome and the bad rap of whoever was there before us.

We’ve had to overcome this initial sentiment and have managed to do so — any of you who know us, know that we lead with data, more importantly, meaningful data. And take a different approach to marketing than what we have seen as the normal or typical playbook. Which… in the consulting world also has it’s pros and cons. But that’s another story for another day.

Lesson #2: People — Holy crap, the people. It’s that saying, people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. And obviously many people will walk in and out of your life for a variety of reasons — sometimes out of circumstance, because of distance and for others the friendship only strengthens (because of distance) — whatever the reason, relationships are interesting like that. I am so grateful for the true friendships this experience has shown me. Not only friends but the really good people we have met. Good people have come out of the woodwork and have gone out of their way to have a conversation with us when they owe us nothing. They meet with us and take time out of their incredibly busy days. Good people that have become our friends and partners in new relationships. Good people that didn’t know us from Adam, from across the country to a completely different country that are now partners.

"I am so grateful for the
true friendships this
experience has shown me.
Not only the friends but the
really good people we have met."

Lesson #3: Personal growth. I have personally accomplished more this past year than I have in the past ten. I am not sure that’s the right number to quantify it, but to say the least, it is significant. The hustle is real. Reflecting back on the clients, the companies, the people (obviously), the work we have been able to accomplish, it’s honestly, amazing. And even though it’s still for companies, there is a personal connection to those people, in most cases, and it’s not just working for another company. It’s making an impact and building something from scratch that is ours.

I was counting in my head the other day on a flight back home from a trip, with just us and a couple of extended relationships of some very talented individuals, we have developed 8 websites in less than a year, among all the other things we were working on as part of our engagements. Now to be clear, it’s really not about the number of what we have accomplished, but it speaks volumes to the amount of hustle this takes.

And it’s not just doing the work for clients, but [insert shameless plug], I will be speaking at DreamBank later this month, Tuesday, March 24, at 9 am, to be exact. I love the idea of sharing and teaching from our experiences and conversely learning from others. For this talk I’ll be sharing our experiences and our approach to marketing and sharing some practical ways to apply the concepts of Design Thinking, Agile Marketing and Lean Startup, regardless the size of your marketing team. It’s a free event, so if you have an hour to spare, I would love to meet you. Feel free to Register Here, if you like! 

And we wrote a book, that took a back burner the past several months, but will be going through some rounds of editing and finalizing soon enough. And a couple of other big plans that are in the works and will be able to share those journeys before we know it.

A Quick Time Out: I’ll be clear, it’s not all lollipops and gumdrops in running your own business. Running a business is taxing, the administrative work and bookkeeping can be stressful and takes time. Not all clients are easy to work with. And not all the work is glamorous, but it has forced growth and learning — and at the end of the day, the positive totally outweighs the negative and when it’s tough, perspective (eventually) kicks in and I am GRATEFUL.

This personal growth journey, with the right perspective, has been more than I could have ever asked for. I have learned so much in such a short period of time. I’ve met some incredible, smart and good people that I now consider friends. Rekindled some old friendships and strengthened some existing ones. I get to drink delicious lattes on the regular. I get to take my passion and fire in my belly for marketing and how to make an impact on businesses to others, by helping clients (actually doing the work), showing and teaching. I have been blessed to create this business and future plans in driving business with a great partner.

It’s been a hell of a year. I am appreciative of what the past 15 years have afforded me with business experience, education, and lessons. And even more grateful that I took a leap and for what is to come. To borrow this quote that I found, about a year ago, I’ll close this wandering post out with this: “Close some doors, not because of pride, incapacity, or arrogance, but simply because they no longer lead somewhere”. ~Coehlo

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