How StoryKeeping Was Founded in Failure

Rock Bottom

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. 


  • Mario Alberto Guel on April 13, 2018

    Congrats on 9 years of StoryKeeping

    • StoryKeeping on April 13, 2018

      Almost there. 9 years ago life was terrible! haha A few weeks from now life will start to take on a new shape. 🙂

  • Martha Humphries on April 13, 2018

    So glad to hear it’s all working so well. You are so good at what you do.

  • Gordon Dcs Hitzfelder on April 13, 2018

    You probably should buy your dad supper and some beverages, to make up for the name calling.

    • StoryKeeping on April 13, 2018

      I brought him breakfast tacos the other day. Does that count? 🙂

      • Alan Ferguson on April 13, 2018

        Only if it was Chacho’s

  • Tamra Haby Johnson on April 13, 2018

    Not sure I would call getting canned by DMX a failure on your part. Pretty sure it was failure on the part of DMX management to keep the company on a sustainable path (which has continued to play out with Muzak, Mood, and DMX acquisitions/consolidations). Viva!

    • StoryKeeping on April 13, 2018

      I wasn’t a perfect employee, but I was having my best month yet so it didn’t make sense. When I found out they’d laid off other people in my role it made a little more sense. There’s a reason for everything. Thank you for having my back. “Viva!” is totally appropriate since I registered the company on Cinco de Mayo!

    • Amanda Rogers Redding on April 13, 2018

      What she said!

  • Lindsay Askins on April 13, 2018

    So proud of you, Haby!!

    • StoryKeeping on April 13, 2018

      I’m telling the story of Ags of OAK to the current students Sunday night in Rudder. Prepare for a burning sensation in your ears. 🙂

    • Lindsay Askins on April 13, 2018

      Oh hooray!!!!!! Bring it!!

  • Pappy Walker on April 13, 2018

    Clinton! I am so glad to hear about this service. I often dispair at the family stories that die with each generation …. do you do long distance consults? Joyce (y’s mom).

    • StoryKeeping on April 13, 2018

      I’m right there with you. When a family elder dies it’s like a library burning down. I do StoryKeeping productions all over the map. If I can fly there so can my equipment. 🙂

  • Mac McClennahan on April 13, 2018

    What an inspiring tale! I had no idea-thought you just sailed thru it all. But it makes for a deeper story, a better company, and a better you. For what it’s worth, Clinton, I’m proud of you. And I know your parents and family are, too!

    • StoryKeeping on April 13, 2018

      Thank you Mac! I won’t forget when I got to see you DJing and you let me start a song. That was one of the moments that set me on the path to working in radio, which led to my familiarity and confidence in working with audio, which led to my first StoryKeeping offering. It’s all connected and it all makes a difference. And yes, it’s still not easy today, but I’m attacking bigger problems and creating higher quality content all the time. I’m testing a new camera in my office right now, actually. Thank you again for the kind words. (Y)

  • Joe Patranella on April 13, 2018

    You’re such a solid cat

  • Desirae Ysasi on April 13, 2018

    Love this!!!! I am in business for myself because I was let go from one employer because his company was going bankrupt and chose to leave another business because it was on the brink of financial despair. It’s divine intervention in the best (albeit most uncomfortable) way. Sometimes He needs to literally knock us completely off the path we’re on so we can get over to the one that is truly meant for us. Continued blessings and success for StoryKeeping. <3

    • StoryKeeping on April 13, 2018

      It all happens for a reason, for sure. I’m glad you said blessings because it absolutely takes faith at times to see it through. And I saw you just added another member to your team! You’re tearing it up. Congratulations. 🙂

  • Krista Frederick Thomson on April 13, 2018

    You have done an amazing job!! We will always be grateful for preserving my grandfathers story 😊

  • Thomas J Lopez on April 13, 2018

    Congrats on all the good work thus far. Looking forward to seeing you continue to knock it out of the park! Can’t wait to read the book one day…or see the Storytelling vid

  • Jen Griffith on April 13, 2018

    It was a sad thing for most of the DMX family. Proud of ya cowboy 🤠!

  • Dave Bloom on April 17, 2018

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story Clinton – classic case of doors closing and doors opening but obviously your passion made it happen.

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