The following will be a two part brief history of my five year professional journey in the digital marketing industry.
Timeline: Early Spring 2011 to Early Spring 2012
“What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!” Ha. That right there pretty much sums up the last five years of my professional life.
It all began in early January, 2011 when I was hired as a project manager at a up and coming marketing agency in Newport Beach, CA. It was small, heck it was only three of us at that time but we were already doing pretty big things, I will admit that I was way over my head when I took my first assignment and wrote my very first project spec, as you can imagine it was horrible. I still chuckle every time I remember that moment, I was twenty-four years young back then but I was already working with big name accounts:
- Fisker Automotive
- GE Health – Clarient
- Salvation Army
- ESDI, Corp.
- Art Institute of Chicago
Just to name a few. Everything seemed going great, I got along with the gods (bosses) and my peers, then eight months later I screwed it up. My personal life became a distraction and I resigned from my position. It hurt, and I’ll admit that I cried. But looking back it was the right move both for the young company and myself. The right move that opened a lot of doors, having the big name brands on both my resume and portfolio made me get noticed a lot more. When I was ready to go back (after a marriage separation) my interviews were short and at times I would receive multiple offers. Now let me just say that I was no Don Draper from ‘Mad Men’ but as I said earlier I had already done big things in those short eight months. My next stop was at another small marketing agency in Tustin, CA. It was close to home since I literately grew up in Tustin, and the list of brand name clients got bigger:
- McKenna Dealerships (Audi, BMW, Volkswagen Cerritos and Huntington Beach)
- Sterling BMW
- Fletcher Jones Motor Cars
- THiNQ Energy Drink
I have to say that I felt pretty great managing those accounts. I remember that at times, I would sit at my desk and smile. Yes, I would smile because I was not suppose to be there. I had a pretty rough up bringing, after my ninth birthday a lot changed in my life. Pretty tough, and I won’t get into details. But I was pretty much setup for failure. I went to seven different high schools in six school districts, but I managed to graduate from high school with my class in 2004; thanks to the full support of my aunt Alejandra Rodriguez and uncle Gamaliel Rodriguez. I was the teenage kid that was labeled as the “fuck up” and I’ll be honest till this day I really don’t know how I dug myself out of my negative environment.
Okay, let’s get back to the subject. I was happy working at my second gig, everything was fine. But, yes there is always a ‘BUT’. An opportunity arose. This opportunity came through the wonderful world of craigslist, ha. Yes although I was already employed I always kept an eye on new openings to see who of the competition was hiring. I came across this ad that was really nicely put together and that made me reply with my resume after just reading a few sentences; it was pretty ‘incredible’.
To my surprise I received a reply within days and I scheduled an in person interview with the president and operating officer of the agency. I still remember the first time I walked in the office, it was a work atmosphere that I had only seen in documentary series about Silicon Valley startups or established companies. Loud electronic music, bright painted wall colors, local artist artwork showcasing on the walls, doggy friendly, Jesus shoes friendly (sandals), video game consoles, snacks and latest tech gadgets. I was sold; I remember telling myself I have to work here.
The interview process was pretty standard, who are you and what makes you awesome? And I nailed it! I was offered the position right on the spot, though I had a problem I was still employed elsewhere. On the following work day I turned in my two week notice in Tustin, CA and I began a new journey in Irvine, CA. My first day what at the time seemed like my dream job, we had vodka shots due to closing a pretty big client account. All of this was pretty new to me. And I loved it. I remember one day after a meeting all of us (15 employees) were asked to look under our chairs and we found a one-hundred dollar bill under them. We got it for “team building” and the surprises just kept coming. I felt pretty awesome going into my third month, and then I witnessed the flip side of the coin.
For the first time in my professional life I experience racism and discrimination. During that time late fall of 2011. The agency was going through a leadership shift in the marketing department, the director was stepping down and leaving the position open to our lead; which I often clashed with. The agency employed only two Hispanics and I was one of them, the other one happened to be in a different department. Don’t get me wrong I respected my lead but I was not a “culture fit” in his eyes for that (his) department, I listened to electronic music, he preferred heavy metal. He was a big video game fan I was not; don’t get me wrong I love video games and I still play them but my life doesn’t revolve around them.
My work environment became pretty hostile. I was responsible for seventeen client accounts and magically my website optimization efforts would revert as if I had never made any changes. And the weird part was that during the reviews at the end of the week I would get asked about the performance on those client accounts. To cut this short, I was let go in mid February, 2012 due to “work performance”, I didn’t even make it to my ninety day review. During my time there, I met some amazing (Bucho) and creative people! Peers that to this day I admire that have done great things at the agency or went rouge and began their own startups.
I was left with a very bitter taste, I was angry, upset and I couldn’t do anything about it; I had to suck it up. But I grew with the experience, and became aware that sometimes a mirage is just that. I found out about a year later in (Spring 2013) that the department lead was also let go due to “work performance” issues. Ha. Define irony?
Stay tune to read part two and more about my journey in the marketing agency world…
Update: You can now read part two