When I was asked to think about who and what I was grateful for in my career through Home Depot’s The Great Giveback, my arrival to Boulder and the story around that popped into my head. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to publicly thank those people that have helped you so much, too!
When I first moved to Boulder I had no network and didn’t understand the economic ecosystem but I knew I had gumption and was ready to do whatever it takes to get that first job out of college. I had completed five internships in college, I actually liked working, and I had compiled a list of everyone I knew who knew someone in Boulder.
It was a start, right?
After a month with relatively nothing coming to fruition in Boulder, with no friends and no job I felt a little desperate (did I mention I’m impatient)?
Then, someone from that list of friends who knew friends in Boulder came to fruition. My college professor Ann, from my public relations class at college, had a friend and longtime previous colleague in Boulder. She introduced us and that’s how I met David Mandell – one of my first connections in Boulder.
Dave at the time was working at a startup he was part of, but was also involved as a mentor at TechStars a tech incubator that at the time, I knew nothing about.We met for coffee and his kindness eased my nerves.He talked about the startup “scene” in Boulder and immediately had ideas for who I should meet next.
He introduced me to two guys who had been accepted into TechStars that year (2008 class), from Ignighter. From there, they passed me onto Micah Baldwin at Lijit. I laughed to myself as I realized, my newly started blog at the time had installed the custom blog search that Lijit produced at the time. I was already a user and had no idea this company was in Boulder. Little did I know, this bit of luck and involvement would help me so much.
I remember seeing Micah run in for our informal meeting as he breezed past me. He was wearing flip-flops even though it was cold and rainy out (funny for those who know him, know this is his style). Micah and I chatted for a bit and near the end of his conversation he mentioned, “So, we might be hiring actually. Do you want to meet our COO to learn more?”
I walked over to Walter’s office that morning after my chat with Micah and a few hours later, I had a job offer and had accepted my first job in Boulder at Lijit (doing a mix of publisher services and business development).
Side note: Walter was telling Todd (CEO) about hiring me and he said, “Yeah, we met this girl her name is Gayle and I just decided to hire her.” We still joke about it that he didn’t even know my name and offered me a job.
It all started with leveraging who you know, and David’s kindness in believing in me. To this day, I’m still friends with Dave and I love how it all comes full circle.
I should mention with this conclusion, I stayed at Lijit (acquired by Federated Media) for three years and got to work with one of my favorite bosses to-date, Perry Quinn. Perry and I still see each other frequently, and after countless years/hours of working together, I learned so much from him and the crew at Lijit. I know I can ask Perry for anything and it’s nice to have that mentor available to you, as you try to navigate the rocky career waters.
I like telling this story for a few reasons:
- Career moves and discovery isn’t linear. It’s a zig-zag and you simply do the best you can with what you have. Don’t be discouraged by the ups and downs.
- It all starts with one simple connection. For me, it started with someone who didn’t even live in Boulder, but I asked my current connections for those that knew someone in Boulder and it led to my first job and working with a great boss and many friends I still have to this day.
- Don’t underestimate the power of kindness and giving back. Five years into living in Boulder and being entrenched in the startup “scene” that I knew nothing about in 2008, I’m often asked to meet for networking sessions or to connect with those just moving to Boulder. Sometimes it’s tiring, but then I always remember how much guidance and help I was offered when I first moved here and I’m down with paying it forward. Give, get, give, get. It’s part of the career journey.
- Hard work usually pays off.
- Some things don’t always go the way we want, there are no guarantees, but these people mentioned in this story must have seen something in little ol’ me so I just tried to be honest and showcase who I was and what I was willing to try.
Most of all, I’m grateful.
In this funny chain of events, the groundwork is imperative to a successful structure and growth. It’s also about people investing in your success and perhaps taking a risk on someone to give them a chance. For that reason I’m so thankful. Thanks to Ann Pechaver-Schmidt, Dave Mandell, Micah Baldwin, Perry Quinn, Walter Knapp and Todd Vernon to those early days and all your help and support. I still think about those days and thank you!
Disclosure: The Home Depot partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in their “The Great Giveback” social media contest. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to say in these posts and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words.