It was a Monday morning – 8:30 to be exact – when the phone rang. I was the national sales manager for a publishing company, working out of my home office.
As a high school senior, I was the only member of my class to have what was essentially a full-time job. For the next 20 years, from flipping burgers to the C-Suite, I was never unemployed, even during the recessions of 1969, 1974, 1981 and 1983. But that all changed when, in 1988, I lost my VP job as my employer downsized itself, eventually to nothing. So, the irony wasn’t lost on me when I attended my 20-year high school reunion unemployed.
Back to that phone call. It was May 22, 1989, and my boss on the other end explained that the company had a new plan, but I wasn’t part of it. So, if you’re scoring at home, that was me getting fired, sacked, canned, downsized, (your unemployment idiom here) twice – in 1988 and 1989.
After hanging up the phone at 8:35, for about three seconds my first thought was to dust off my resume and hit the bricks. Two teenagers and two mortgages are strong motivators. But then, thinking out loud, said: “I don’t need any help screwing up my life, I can do that by myself.” So, I addressed the keyboard and gave birth to my new business, “Jim Blasingame and Associates, Business Consultants.” My “Associates” at that moment were a Macintosh Plus and a laser printer.
Thirty years later, a period that included a second entrepreneurial reinvention, I think I can declare myself a successful business owner. A professor friend of mine describes me this way: “My friend Jim is a small business owner; he lives by his wits.” No doubt you know how accurate that is.
What’s the big takeaway as I celebrate my business’s 30th anniversary?