Exactly one year ago today, I was in professional limbo. I had just taken the leap from a company at which I spent the better part of my adult life, learning and maturing into the person I would become. I felt as though I owed a lot to this business that had been such a large part of my life. Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was Stockholm Syndrome. Whatever it was, I felt as though I needed to be gracious about my exit.
Before I officially shared the news with the company’s CEO, news had trickled out I would be leaving. Once a Friday afternoon meeting for the two of us was scheduled, I knew that was it. So I spent that whole morning crafting a hand written thank you note recalling how far I had come in the past five years, showing my gratitude.
This was a man who I respected for how well he could bring in clients and grow businesses. He took me in as a young, pliable potential executive still reeling in the wake of the financial crisis and shaped my experience in marketing and advertising. Here I was, a bird deciding to leave the nest, still afraid to fly. I offered my sincerest thanks for the past 5 years.
He took the note, threw it back in my face, told me to get my things and not return. It was over. I would not speak to him or anyone from the company again (and still haven’t).
In hindsight, that was my last lesson. Business is cold. You’re only as valuable as what you can do tomorrow. Progress moves forward. Sharks don’t have necks. Other clichés about the robotic nature of corporate relations. Et cetera.
Or perhaps this was the not-so-subtle sign of how I needed to start shaping my own business. A way to illuminate all the “what not to do” lessons I’d learn working so closely with this executive team. Because as low as I felt in that moment, and as scared as I’d feel over the course of the next few weeks, I wouldn’t want to leave any co-worker, client or casual acquaintance with that impression of myself. In order to do that, I’d have to forget a lot of what I learned there and go with my instinct, which was stronger than I gave myself credit for.
Or maybe he was just being a jerk. I don’t know.
A year later, I share the original contents of my thank you note with you. I’ve transcribed my own awful handwriting as best I could below. While my thoughts on the encounter and my experience working there have changed as a result of what happened in the end, I still believe someone should have the chance to read this token of appreciation.
In leaving, I want to offer my most sincere gratitude for this opportunity. You took an autistic, down on his luck, 20 something advertising enthusiast and molded him into a business building professional and true adult.
- Since I started at the end of 2010, I’ve:
- Worked on hundreds of clients of all sizes
- Learned more about business than any MBA could ever teach
- Traveled all over this great nation as your representative
- Bought my first home
- Met & married my wife
I didn’t think any of that was possible for me before I started. It’s true that I could not be the man I am today without you. For that I am eternally grateful.
I wish luck to the firm, to the staff, and to you. May you continue to turn around sinking ships and build things of which you can be proud. Including people like me.
Sincerest thank you and best wishes,