Nine years ago this morning I received a phone call from my boss’s boss letting me know the company was “moving in a different direction.” We were two weeks into the month, and while I had already hit my monthly goal there was no option but my termination. I accepted what he said. It’s not like I had another option, but after I hung up I began to question the logic. I was set to exceed my quota. I had a really nice check coming my way, right? No, no I didn’t. I went from 100% devoted to a company to professional rock bottom in a wicked twist of a few minutes by phone.
StoryKeeping is Founded in Failure
Ultimately I decide I’m tired of relying on other people for financial stability. Less than a month later I walk into the Bexar County Courthouse to register the business name, “StoryKeeping.” I’d had this idea for years but was always too content to make it happen. It took me months to formulate what the service would actually be, how I’d be able to make a living doing it, and how things would work operationally. StoryKeeping was uncharted territory and I didn’t know of anyone else on the planet doing anything like it.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
This concept is brilliant, right? I will announce to friends and family that I’m open for business and the clients will roll in! Everyone has a story to keep. Everyone has a family member or a friend they love and want to remember forever. My client base is the world, and I will help the world document it’s stories. They’ll want CDs and the interview transcribed. I’ll deliver five CDs per client so they can pass them out to family members. I’ll charge $300 per project, and I’ll have five interviews a week. One a day is doable. After expenses I’ll make $3,000 a month doing something meaningful. Perfect.
Let the StoryKeeping Begin!
I figuratively opened my doors for business to the sound of crickets. While people responded positively to the concept very few responded as paying clients. I experience months with zero StoryKeeping clients and zero revenue. On a good month I had three clients. Five interviews a week? What was I thinking? I laugh at my Excel documents detailing the blast-off of my business. I rely on my experience from previous jobs and act as an ad agency placing radio for a few clients. I’m transferring money out of savings every month. My bank is hitting me with service fees because my balance is too low.
Dad Comes to the Fiscal Rescue
Meanwhile my father’s shop, Haby’s Automotive, is really busy. He’s got his usual waiting list of loyal customers waiting for him to work on their cars. “You can come work for me while you’re getting things going.” I go to work for Dad. He’s the best mechanic on the planet and his work standard is perfection. Despite growing up around the shop my talent for the work is lacking. I burn myself, cut up my hands, twist off bolts, and seemingly create more issues than I solve. The work is exhausting and when I return home I don’t put effort into StoryKeeping. I’m making no progress toward my dream and am a poor example of a mechanic. This frustration culminates in me blowing up at my father. I call him an asshole and storm out of the shop crying. I attain another rock bottom. I’m still sorry for that, Dad.
Nine Years Later
I wake up this morning and check out the Facebook app on my phone. The “On This Day” feature is one of my favorites as it’s a light form of StoryKeeping. I realize I was fired nine years ago this morning. I laugh again, but it’s not a laugh of self-ridicule. It’s a laugh of peace and contentment.
My Story is Your Story
The story of StoryKeeping mirrors those of most of my clientele. We live stories of redemption, and we’re all acting out different chapters today. StoryKeeping was founded in the muck of failure but that’s not where it was meant to stay. StoryKeeping, over the course of years, was steadily lugged up the side of a Texas hillside. Along the way rocks gave out, cedar branches whipped my face, and cactus thorns poked through my jeans. Have you ever been on a Texas hilltop? It’s a great place to be.
No matter what challenges you’re facing, please understand today is only a small excerpt of one chapter in your life. It will get better and it will get worse. Just keep on lugging, friends.