I had been wanting out.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The company had welcomed me as a writer with lots of radio experience back in 2004. I began with them as a part-time copywriter. Then, occasionally, a little of production work, (making radio commercials) and eventually, a full-time offer at less than 25% of what I was earning in radio when that job went away.
But I was glad to be a part of this team. Every day, I came to this collection of people who I grew to know and become very good friends with. Over time, I went from copywriter, to lead copywriter, to Associate Creative Director to the full-blown title of CD. In that almost 10-year span, I went from being married, to going through a painful divorce, buying a home of my own, meeting an incredible person who is now the cornerstone of my life and seeing a company that was, at one time, up to 40+ employees down to just a little more than a dozen.
I counted how many co-workers I had at this company–from the time I started there to the time I left, I actually worked with 100 different people in just less than a decade.
That really was the tricky part. I was this close to leaving at the beginning of summer 2014 when I was offered a raise to stay. It still wasn’t what I had hoped to earn, but it was a sizeable bump from what I had been making. I decided to make the most of it, summer was on hand, and I would just ride this out as long as I could.
But all around me, there were signs. We had been losing clients left and right. Rumored new clients turned out to be wishful thinking and because of the tough economic times, the owner became more and more insistent that his way was the only way to go. What did that mean for me? Ideas, concepts, any new direction I might come up with had to go through his filter and often didn’t survive. The end of summer rolled around and I went on an extended Labor Day weekend.
Upon my return, I discovered commercials that I had written for a client had been gutted for the umpteenth time. After being away, having time to think and ponder, I decided the time was upon me. Sure, I was 3 months away from my 10th anniversary with the company, when I would have received a 6th week of paid vacation and a $1,000 thank you for sticking around, but I was done.
I walked into my supervisor’s office and informed him I was at the end. I was giving notice that at the end of the month, almost 4 weeks away, I was gone. They could find a replacement, I could help train them, etc. I would make my departure as easy as possible.
When September 30th rolled around, my final day, no one had been hired. A V.P. asked if I would consider helping with a couple of clients as a part-timer and since I had zero lined up, I agreed. I worked for a few weeks on a couple of projects, but eventually decided it would be best to part ways.
October 1st, my first day of being out on my own, did NOT involve sleeping in. In fact, without even announcing to the outside world what I was up to, Fred Herring from the Bothell Rotary Club called me up and asked if I would come and be a guest speaker at an upcoming breakfast. I said, “Sure, when’s the date?” and he replied, “October 1st.” “Funny, I have that date open! Deal!”
To explain my thinking, here’s where I was headed. Over the years, I’ve met a LOT of people. I’ve worked with, in both radio and advertising, a ton of clients in the Puget Sound Area and beyond. In my mind, it only made sense that I just put myself out there, let people know what I’m up to, do a few pro bono projects to demonstrate the kinds of things I enjoy doing and, Voila! Things would just fall together.
And they did!
Every morning for the past year, I’ve gotten up to do what I want to do. A 4am rise to accommodate my Radio Online writing, then off to a project for one of my clients. I can’t remember any time in my life when I’ve had this kind of flexibility. A lot of the radio career was a blur–getting up at 2:17AM, going through the day, grabbing a nap, awake again until 10, back to bed, repeat. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything, but just shy of 30 years of radio really does take a toll.
So, where does that leave me? Right now, Tim Hunter Creative Services keeps me busy with lots of writing gigs, Radio Online Morning Show Prep, video projects, social media and marketing consultation…and then, the rest of the hours of my work week are spent with Create Impulse, where we’ve got a handful of clients we enjoy working with, and several bigger ones on the horizon.
I’ve also found time with my fairly loose schedule to be able to catch up with people via lunches or coffees (it’s that networking thing), I’ve re-launched my podcast that I began in 2007 but set aside when I fell in love. When my father’s health went south quickly, I had the flexibility to just dash down to Southern California to be there for as long as was needed and then returned two weeks later to help tie up the loose ends.
I do get up every day and say a little prayer of thanks. I really believe everyone should live that way, getting up to something they anticipate and that excites them, rather than that they dread. We just don’t know how many of these gifts we’re going to get, so why not make the most of them?
I appreciate all the support of those who know me and who I’ve worked with and wish nothing but the best for you in the future. Here I am at the one year mark of “the Great Experiment’ and you know, I think this crazy idea just might work.