Finish Well

It’s Thankful Thursday #2!

Self-employment is not by-yourself-employment. I did not get here on my own. There are a lot of people I have to thank for helping me Learn and grow, for providing incredible opportunities that I could not carve out for myself, and for otherwise paving the way for me to be writing to you now, from my home office in the middle of the day for a blog about self employment. I did not envision myself doing anything like this just a few years ago. I’m having a lot of fun, it’s been a fun ride, and I just want to take a few minutes to Publicly thank a group of people who have been integral to my development as a professional and incredibly accommodating to me as I transitioned to full-time self employment – my old co-workers

Don’t mistake my championing of self-employment as a knock against traditional employment. For many people; most people, a 9-to-5 is a wonderful, fulfilling, secure way to use your gifts and provide for your family. Self-employment was not the right direction for me for a long time. For over a decade I worked a “traditional job.” And it’s there where I met a lot of amazing people who have had a major impact on my life.

The first individual I want to thank specifically is sadly no longer with us. Lisa Weidman was an amazing woman. She is the person who took a chance on me and hired me – before there was even a clear position for me. She was tasked with rebuilding the marketing department from the ground up, and she put together a great team.

If you’ve ever read Good to Great by Jim Collins, he talks about “getting the right people on the bus.” Starting with who then figuring out what those people are going to do. If you get the right team together, with shared values, a shared vision, a great mix of skill sets, and then you lead them well, you can do anything. And that’s what we did. We did anything and everything. Lisa rebuilt the marketing department from the ground up and the first 3 years – it’s always been crazy, it never stopped being crazy – but those first 3 years in particular were BONKERS. 

But they were fun.

But unfortunately we only had the privilege of working under Lisa for a little more than a year before she got sick and passed away very suddenly.

But in that blink she poured so much wisdom into my life, she inspired a lot of personal growth, she modeled truly great leadership as a counselor – that was actually her background – and she leveraged it expertly in the way she handled conflict and change and a lot of complicated stuff. And there’s something she would talk about every now and then that really stuck with me, all the way to my last days at the university, the importance of finishing well.

Carrie Givens, Courtney Wright, Jennifer Dietrick, Jodi Todd, Paul Neal, Laura Penley, Jendi Korpi, Abbie, and the other Abbie, Becky Vasso for telling me about the job in the first place, Marissa Rumpf, Ian Gibson, Saya Lee Hurley, Lydia Garisson, Madison Warfel, John Mulvaney, and all of our grad assistants and student workers. It was truly delightful working with you all. You are rock stars. You worked your butts off and got some amazing things done. And we rarely had time to celebrate the amazing thing we accomplished together, So I want to celebrate right now I want to thank you for being awesome people. you’re truly good friends and individually and collectively has made a huge impact on my life taught me so much I could keep gushing.

I didn’t even get to everybody outside the marketing department. And I’m not going to because there’s just a lot of amazing people at Cairn University. I made a lot of friends. Even the students, the professors… That’s right! I was student there! I got my MBA while I was working. So I learned a lot, and then I learned a lot. And I met my business partner in that program – so that blew open a ton of doors.

I said I wasn’t going to name people outside the marketing department, but I have to mention Blair Benjamin – you don’t know how integral you were to my business growth. Those side projects you sent my way really gave me the practice I needed and helped me build momentum for my freelance career. And I’m going to wrap this up before the band starts playing me off the stage.

There’s so much of my life in this place it was very hard to leave. I mean, there were some days that I wanted to run screaming out the door and never come back, but that’s life. I did not leave with anything but gratitude. especially for John Mulvaney and Saya and everybody else who was working while I started to not work. The shutdown happen right as I was reducing my hours so I could start focusing on my side business. You are incredibly accommodating. You could have just told me to pound sand, but you worked it out, you allowed me to stay on as part of the team, and built a very generous off-ramp that made my transition into full time self employment a lot smoother for me and my family.

I know not everybody has a positive experience with their employer. I’ve heard lots of stories about bad bosses and toxic co-workers. Most of the stories I told myself. I kid!

Cairn was not a perfect place. No organization is. I count myself very fortunate to have had the experience I did.

If you are in a toxic work enivronment, or you think it’s just time to look for greener pastures. I have thoughts on how to weigh your options, on whether you should try to make the most of your situation, be an intrapreneur, work to improve your organization, or plot a smart exit strategy and start planning to move to another business or build your own thing.

There’s a lot of talk about quiet quitting and acting your wage, gaining TikTok stardom by posting their rage quit sessions online. I believe there are problems and the underlying issues that have lead to the responses we’re seeing today need to be addressed. But there’s a thoughtful way to do it, and then there’s a petty way to do it. And a whole spectrum in between. 

I’m a fan of thoughtfulness, and I want to leave you with the wisdom that was left with me – Finish well. 

Whatever you choose to do. Wherever you’re working, whatever you’re working on – finish well, in a way that you can be proud of, in a way that serves your team well, in a way that showcases the best of you, and inspires trust and confidence and respect from everyone who’s watching and anyone who might work with you or under you in the future.

 I’m not a professional career coach, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express, and I love having conversations. So if you want to have a conversation I would love it.

And I will encourage you to make today your own Thankful Thursday and find someone to say thank to.

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