The end, before the start (up)

You probably know one of me, I was one of those people you hate.

I moaned all the fucking time regularly about working 14 hour days, and how I ‘could keep working for a week straight and not finish my To Do list’. I was the master of the humble-brag; with the insinuation always being how deeply successful I must be.

I never turned off my BlackBerry, there was no one in the world that could respond to client requirements nearly as efficiently as me, no siree.

I started to use those  bullshit bingo buzz phrases as if they meant something, I could ‘push back’, ‘elevate a conversation’, ‘braindump’ and do some ‘ideation that really resonated’ with the client, without breaking a sweat.

I lost patience with those I considered lazy, or inefficient, or anyone who performed any task in any other way than the exact way I would have done it.

I was a work wanker.

And I felt okay, because I was a ‘success’.

It goes against everything I really believe; I’m a left leaning, open-doors, inclusive, europhile – I believe the pursuit of personal wealth to be ugly, money to be meaningless – but cold hard cash provided the perfect binary qualification for ‘success’. And that’s what I really wanted, to be a success.

Then one July day 2013 it ended.

A meeting was arranged at 14:00 GMT (09:00 EST) for the entire company to gather in their respective boardrooms, for ‘an announcement’.

The announcement was that we were all fired* whilst the company underwent a restructure.

I felt robbed, robbed of the hours, of the nights I worked until I could no longer focus on my Excel document because my left eye was looking in an entirely different direction, robbed of the friendships that felt close to familial relationships that we had built across our team, robbed of the care I’d put into every last detail of every client project, and worst, robbed of myself.

My identity had become so intertwined with my job that I didn’t know what to do. I was the friend that was late, and stressed and tired, and would buy the bloody champagne because I bloody could. And then, nothing.

Amongst my first thoughts were that there was no way in hell I would ebay my Chloe handbag or Valentino wallet…and then I thought of my rent….and bills…and food….and oh shit, I  had £5.5k in the bank (I am a shit saver) and no idea where my next paycheque was coming from, or who was paying it.

I thought the best thing to do would be to get a new job, I was good at jobs.

But I had a meeting with a couple of my colleagues, and we decided to do something together, something that was ours. Something that we could pour our hearts and time and care into, and wouldn’t crumble beneath us.

We knew we wanted to do good business, with good clients, good strategy, good process, good ethics, good technology. We had no money, no clients, and we only had the smallest nugget of an idea – but there had never been a better time.

*of course this violates about one hundred employment laws, but by the time we’d launched a tribunal the company was in Administration.


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