How it All Began -Part Four
Hello friends! How's everyone doing? Me? I'm good. Got my home all set up for Christmas waaay before Thanksgiving this year because #2020 and I can't wait for my small family gathering on Thursday to enjoy all the things!
I've also been working on several new blog ideas that I can't wait to share with you so keep an eye out for those emails alerting you to new posts.
And, now I want to dive back into my story for you. When last we left off I was graduating from Basic Training and embarking on my very long military career, although, you could have knocked me over with a feather had you told me that I'd make that decision after I got done with my training.
After Basic I shipped off to Fort Jackson South Carolina to finish my training and learn my specialty. Initially, my specialty was administration. Pretty generic and all encompassing but what it really meant was that I would help soldiers get through the piles of paperwork that is required of them to have, maintain, and change from time to time. Sort of Human Resources but for soldiers. As with any military specialty there is also a shit ton of regulations that you have to learn that govern the way that you do your job. Always boring and so I won't go into detail here however, suffice to say, my job wasn't very exciting but it was something that a super organized, OCD person such as myself was good at. But then there is the soldiering which I wasn't always good at and was the reason why three different times in 30 years I left military service, for good I would tell myself, only to have some traumatic life changing thing happen that would lead me right back to the local Recruiter to reup and continue my career.
Like September 11th, 2001. I'd been out of the Army for about two years and was working as an Executive Assistant to the President of Pulte Homes. We were building out a new retirement community that was about 30 miles from my home in Austin. September 11th, 2001 was a Monday and as I was walking into my office that morning I was sidetracked by my assistant who had a worried look on her face and was telling me that the big boss and the Human Resources officer were waiting for me in my office.
Over the weekend a large merger deal had gone through and the current President and myself were being replaced by the incoming CEO. I was being laid off, was given a performance bonus and was shown the door. Just like that. I cried all the way home feeling sorry for myself and wondering what the hell I was going to do. I walked in the door and, out of habit, turned on the television. It was 8:45AM. About 20 minutes later after several phone calls that I'd hoped would pan out as job opportunities I renewed my attention to my television and saw that the World Trade Center was on the screen and it was on fire. I turned up the volume and heard the reporter say that they had no idea what happened but that rescue efforts were underway for people in the building and then in the corner of the screen, behind the reporters head, a plane appeared and flew straight into the second tower....right in front of my eyes. It was like being gut punched. The upper portion of the building exploded into a ball of fire as debris rained down on the street below. I didn't turn my television off for two straight days after that. I called every military friend that I knew and finally, a recruiter friend. I went down to his office on September 14th and re-enlisted, for the third time since 1989, and renewed my career in the Army. I was 39 years old. That day changed my life forever.
I would end up staying through the entirety of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and would eventually retire in 2015 with just over 26 years of active federal service to my country. I had many friends that went to war and eventually lost two people that I cared for. I feel that I am lucky that I only lost two, and that I, for whatever reason, never deployed myself. I feel tremendous guilt sometimes as well, that I witnessed so many dear friends leave US soil, only to return physically broken and emotionally shattered from the experience while I sat back here, keeping the wheels turning along with many other fellow soldiers. I knew back in 2001 that I was making the right decision for my life by re-enlisting, as sure as I knew that in 2015, it was time for me to leave and start something new. I had no idea what that new thing would be, but I was excited for a change and ready to stretch my proverbial wings and see if I could fly without the safety net of the government to assist me. And Scene.
Seriously, that is what it felt like. Like one day I went to bed as a soldier and then the next, woke up without the binding, the politics, the regulations or the security of what being in the military entailed. I was a civilian and had no idea what life had in store for me going forward but I am a pretty stubborn person, and have NEVER understood the word "can't." so I knew that I would figure it out.
While serving I'd been able to garner a Bachelor's Degree in Social Psychology and I had another 30 hours or so toward marketing. I looked around and saw that my local community college had just started a new curriculum they were calling Social Media Marketing & Communication Technology and I'd always been pretty active with social media. After meeting with a counselor I enrolled using my Post 911 GI Bill, another benefit that I qualified for because I served during the war years.
And after three days of internet research on "How to start a Small Business" I went and opened a business account at my bank and then applied for my LLC. That was it. I started classes, part of it classroom time, and part of it online learning, and then I set about putting my business together. As a small business owner I discovered that there are a myriad of things that you need to be able to accomplish, let alone whatever it is that your business revolves around and that is where the idea came from to do social media marketing for small business owners like hairdressers, nail salons, pet shop owners, small local women's clothing boutiques, etc.
Business owners had to be the creative, they had to do the taxes, the payroll, manage people, manage time, AND do the actual work so having someone to do the marketing for a nominal price would be a lifesaver for many, I hoped. Turns out I was right. My first three months in business I went to see every person that I'd ever met in Austin that ran their own small business.
My hairdresser became a client. The nail salon owner that had been doing my manicures for years, became a client. As my education rolled along I became more and more confident in my abilities to branch out from just Facebook & Instagram marketing to building websites, learning how Google marketing worked and how to get my foot in the door with them, and then eventually I would tackle the veteran market by obtaining a meeting with the Commander of a local VFW Post.
I knew that many veterans were just like me. They retired and/or left military service and never imagined working for someone else again. Many veterans started small businesses and I knew that if I could get 15 or 20 into the same room and describe for them how important social media was to their marketing program as well as show them some solid numbers for Return on Investment, that I could pull three to five new clients with every seminar I did for free.
It was the right move. I ended doing two free Social Media Marketing seminars a month at VFW's throughout Austin and the surrounding areas and continued to build my client roster. From there it just sort of became a revolving roster of clients, every month adding a few new ones, and every month having a few go under and not be able to afford my services any longer. Par for the course with new businesses I'd learn.
And so my new life was underway. I worked mostly from home, had a pretty busy social life that involved many friends as well as sporadic dating, and was continuing my education at Austin Community College. And then one day in early February of 2017, everything changed.
To be continued........