245 days. That’s how long it’s been since I got fired from my job and decided to go off on my own to start DB + Partners.
If no one has ever pushed you to professionally go fuck yourself, awesome. Because the event has the potential to destroy you on a number of levels – and I’d venture to say financially is the least of them. For so many people, their career is their public offering to the world; a manifestation of what they know, and what they believe they can produce. When that’s taken from you, it’s easy to fall into a place of despair, wondering with real sincerity about who you are and what you have to offer.
I’d never been fired before, but I’d been on the ropes in a job in which I wasn’t hitting the mark. I was 26. I had busted my ass to get an MBA just a year before. And I was being told I was on my way out. Thankfully, I bounced back, but I’ll never forget the psychological damage it did.
On April 18, I actually did get fired.
At the time, I was hamstrung by what my job title did or didn’t say about me. I was incredibly insecure about it. In retrospect, even if I’d been granted the title I wanted, it would’ve only served as a crutch for my ego. If I was a VP of something, I could’ve more easily rationalized being out of my home for 13 hours a day in the name of ‘moving ahead.’ Or being able to name drop an impressive title at the happy hours I was too overworked to attend. Just so that I could be validated by yet-to-be-known-people who probably wouldn’t have cared anyway.
You know what I’ve learned in the 245 days since? Fuck a job title. Fuck a ‘bump’ in salary. Fuck a 401K plan.
I think back now and wonder if losing my job was God’s way of reminding me that it was pretty pathetic for a new title to be my grandest ambition. To put it another way, there’s no way on God’s green earth that you could’ve asked 8-year-old David Berry where he’d hope to be when he was 31, and he’d have said “having a really good job title!”
In a group text today, my friend Tom was coaching me up on what to do with my business in 2017. “I’d go with the natural talents you’ve been given. Lord knows, not one of us has. You’d be the one.”
Tom is easily the most financially successful guy in our group. But even he has a longing for finding out what an exploration of his talent and passion might uncover.
I actually feel better for going the route of doing this on my own, even though I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. And Tom’s comment indicated an appreciation for that challenge, even with its uncertainties.
That, in summary, is what being an entrepreneur is all about. It requires equal parts blind confidence, and equal parts self-loathing and deep, personal doubt. But starting on April 19, I can say with certainty that I didn’t wake up a single day wishing I was doing anything else but this.