Where it all started.
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In late february 2009 I was called into a conference room under vague terms. Our whole agency (or what was left of it) was present. Pulling the band-aid quick, the founders quickly revealed that the agency of 12 years would cease to exist as of Friday. No severance, no off ramp, no notice. Take your chairs & go (literally, they let us keep the furniture). Friday will be your last check.

“Rent is high & profits are down….” Mix that with some health issues from one of the founders, and it was clear the will to fight the uphill battle to keep the agency going had been fading for months. Looking back the writing was on the wall; as an agency we were in a grow or die phase, and shrinking fast.

So there I was, peak of the recession – 24 years old, with two thousand bucks in the bank, 15k in credit card debt. My most valuable asset was a classic crappy 1993 convertible (which I owed 3k on, preventing me from scrapping it all together) with a blown engine that my friends and I would push across the street once a week so that it didn’t get parking tickets.

It may have taken my colleagues a few weeks to wrap their heads around the idea that it was just about the worst time in our lifetimes to apply for an agency (or any) job. But I’d been actively searching for a new gig for 6 months prior to Erickson Barnett shutting down with no luck so I didn’t have any misgivings that I’d be quick to land a new job.

Within a day or two, I’d gotten over my pride and walked into the Virginia Unemployment Office and filed for benefits.

The worst meeting of my life


In late february 2009, I was pulled into our agency conference room under vague terms. Our whole agency was present. Announcing the good news, the agency founders relayed we’d all be able to take the rest of the week off. They were moving on to the next phase of their lives, and were willing to help us make the next step in our own.

Need help looking for a new gig? Can we help with any contacts or recommendations? Feel free to use the office space for the time being as a often as you need! Oh yeah, and you are welcome to take your computers, monitors office furniture that might be helpful in your next phase of life. Even better, they were leaving behind a slew of customers. Great ones who had just become agency-less and were going to need help, and fast.

So there I was, on the back side of the recession – 24 years old with just enough experience to be dangerous. Armed with my most valuable asset – a great support system, both personal and professional who I knew I could depend on if I needed to.

While my coworkers scrambled to get their resumes up-to-date. I’d been searching the job market for months so there wasn’t much sense in looking too hard for one now.

Within a week or two I’d overcome my fear and walked into county office and filed my application for a Limited Liability Corporation – LooseGrip Communications.

The best meeting of my life.

NeilCallanan Truths, Uncategorized

6 Replies

  1. I see what you did there…Perspective is everything. Best post you have written yet.

    I admire (and am secretly jealous) of your gumption. Congratulations on 5 years and best of luck on many more (unless your goal is early retirement, then best of luck to that too)!

    1. Thanks! I’m not against early retirement. I mean I’d need a lot of free time as a Bull Gator right.?

  2. You left out the part that, while young in your career, you had already learned quickly that building relationships is a key to success. You took those relationships, added a heaping tablespoon of confidence to a cup of confidence, and set out on your way. Your clients were looking for a solution and you brought one to the table. And you didn’t stop there. You surveyed the market, identified opportunities for growth and stayed one step ahead of your clients and the competition. Because of that, your “old” clients have remained loyal and you’ve landed new ones.

    Nice post…keep up the great work!

  3. Great post 🙂 so glad too that LooseGrip came to be. Big decisions for a 24 year old but there’s no looking back now huh?

  4. April 1994 – fired as CFO of a substantial trade show producer. I had a new house, a 3 year old and a pregnant, stay at home wife. Was hired back within a week for different job but the writing was on the wall. I negotiated a purchase of a crappy part of the business and left within 2 months with a small revenue stream and a dozen employees. When you jump, you need to make it work. Built a substantial business, sold it in 2001. Bought and build another successful business. Opportunities abound for those willing to work.

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