In July I separated from SocialSphere after about eight months there. I don’t normally like to make my tenures at companies so short — in fact, I’ve averaged about 4 years per gig if you set aside acquisitions, transfers and the like.
My undergraduate degree in communications, obviously my first four-year stint (okay, more like 4.5 if you count a couple summer terms) is where I found my love of public relations and refined my editorial skills (which I first picked up in high school as an occasional contributor to our high school paper and to the newsletter for my Civil Air Patrol Squadron, for which I was awarded 1989 Michigan Wing Newsletter Editor of the Year). My love for PR and editing skills came in good part thanks to Ned S. Hubbell and PRSSA, where I edited the MSU chapter’s newsletter called the Forecaster (I won a couple awards for that too). Unfortunately, PR didn’t pay so well in the early 90s, so I had to make my money a different way. I chose to go back to school. I studied communications, but got an assistantship from the MSU Computer Lab to pay my way. Still a lousy salary, but they also paid for school. This led to my slow but inevitable temporary departure from communications and marketing.
My first five years of my professional career, from about 1992 to 1997, gave me my really deep understanding of technology, and exposed me to public speaking, training and the joys of editing and the web. These first five years took me from my graduate program in communications to a temp job, a part-time job, and finally a full-time job at the Computer Lab. I went from running the Graphics Lab (where I learned to be a Photoshop guru) to the last editor of ACRONYMS (the Computer Lab’s newsletter, where I learned PageMaker), to running the school’s non-academic computer training program (where I taught, in addition to PageMaker and Photoshop, Excel, Unix, Windows, Networking and several other popular classes), to helping launch the schools first virtual university project (where I was responsible for setting up the computers that served web pages and streamed video and audio to Extension Schools across Michigan).
My next three years (1997-2000) brought me to Boston, where I transitioned from technology back to communications at Advis, later bought by Primix, later bought by Burntsand. I went from a Java trainer (my first, very short-lived gig at Advis) to network administrator (running Windows Server and NeXT machines) to pre-sales consultant (where I got to do live demo installations of web applications for PeopleSoft and SAP) to marketing communications manager (where I was re-acquainted with PR in a big way, especially when my company made Barron’s famous Burn List that essentially kicked off the dot com crash).
When the opportunity to jump ship and work at the PR agency I had hired for Primix came around, I jumped at it. I cut my teeth in PR from 2000 to 2003 as an account manager and account director at Miller/Shandwick Technologies (later merged with a couple other IPG agencies to form Weber Shandwick Worldwide). And when the opportunity came to work for my old boss at Miller/Shandwick came, I also jumped on board his growing small PR agency called Topaz Partners.
My five-year tenure at Topaz Partners from 2003 to 2008 marked my rapid introduction to Web 2.0 and social media. I launched our blog on July 7th, 2004, and it was downhill from there (you can see every old blog post of mine here). I loved it there, but it seemed like it was time to move on.
SocialSphere gave me an opportunity to grow into some new markets, including some more consumer- and government-focused areas. I got to work with some great people, and cut my teeth on some new technologies. I helped the company solidify its client services, including the development of some pretty mean spreadsheets that drove our (whenever possible and always morphing) daily War Room discussions. It was what you would call a learning organization, rapidly trying new ideas at it worked to improve itself. It was an enjoyable 8 months, but it was again time to move on.
Why? Well, for a long time now I’ve been wanting to strike out on my own. I have a wonderful combination of technology, communications and marketing skills and a great network thanks to all the social media involvement I’ve had. I’m not quite ready to share what’s next yet, but stay tuned over the next few weeks for more news as I set the stage for what I hope will be a successful business.