A Brief History of My Career
[Reading time: 5 minutes]
I was fortunate enough to start my career at Apple, back then the company was called “Apple Computer”, no iPhone, not even an iPod, just candy coloured iMacs and iBooks. I spent three years there in progressive sales roles. The work was very regular, but the products and the company were magical. I left Apple wanting something other than a sales career, briefly entertaining a career as a personal trainer. One night during my “what’s next” journey, I was at dinner with a friend from University talking about our futures when he took a phone call from a client who called to give him the go ahead on his proposal. He asked “which projects are approved” and the client answered “all of them”. I watched with great entertainment as I saw my friends eyes almost pop out of his head. He had pitched a number of ideas, hoping to get one or two and instead, the client loved all of them. The first thing he said when the call ended was “Hey Vince, do you want a job”. That job was with OneMethod, a start up digital and design agency. It was anything but a job. It was my real world MBA.
Working at OneMethod honed my writing abilities, both creative and technical. I learned how to build marketing programs, manage projects, build websites, create killer pitch presentations and most of all how to execute, over and over and over. I decided to venture out on my own after about 6 years, still working with OneMethod in a meaningful way but also working with a few other agencies as well as my own clients. My approach was to offer my unique blend of content development, technical understanding and love for user-centered design to the open market. It worked for a while – I wrote some great sales and training presentations and launched a career advisor portal for the financial services industry among other things.
Speaking with a friend one day about the ups and downs of managing cash flow as a small consulting business, he gave me this piercing insight along with a full deep belly laugh “you gotta baby on the way and mad bills to pay”. He was absolutely right. My current life situation, called for a steady pay-cheque. On about my fourth coffee meeting in pursuit of full-time work, I met one of the smartest, hard working human beings I’ve ever known. She offered me a one-month contract with her new start up agency Gravity Partners. One month, turned into three and then one day she called me into her office, sitting with her business partner, and she said “We really like you Vince”. Those were simple words, but the meaning behind them, was one of the most powerful affirmations I’ve ever had in my life. These people didn’t know me from Adam. They were completely entrenched in the chaos of starting a company in full bootstrap mode and they decided to invest in me and sign me up for a full-time gig. Because I had worked at OneMethod with friends and my consulting was all with existing contacts, I never had such a powerful moment of truth – I realized I had really demonstrated my value to these perfect strangers. I learned a lot about strategy, social media, and network effects at Gravity working along side some really smart people.
One day at lunch with a Creative Director friend, I mused about how I find it hard to achieve the level of usefulness that would satisfy me. I thought the obstacle was the fervent competition over ideas in the agency world. His response changed my life. “Why don’t you go somewhere where you’d be more valuable? The agency world is filled with people like you. Go somewhere where your talents are more unique.” It was one of those times where the answer to your perplexing question is so obvious, but only after you know the answer. So that is exactly what I did. A few months later I got a text from a friend about someone looking for a creative who can work on the client side and be a bridge between the clients business requirements and the creatives’ doing the work at the agency. In addition there was a small creative department that needed to be managed in-house. He thought I was a good fit and offered to recommend me to the business owner. That opportunity materialized and for the last six years I’ve been the Marketing Director at a real estate development company.
It’s been a whirlwind of an experience. I love the “client side”! The ability to build on your work each year is absolutely satisfying for me. It’s a stark contrast from the agency world where you jump from project to project and client to client. I’ve proved to myself that in addition to adding value as a doer, I can also lead the orchestration of the entire program and achieve world-class results.