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The Day I Quit My Job

I was driving to Indianapolis this morning when I got a great message from a friend, Sam, on Linkedin. When I pulled into Starbucks (my office on the north side of Indy) I opened his message and read: “I have a question for you. What was your moment where it pushed you over the line between working for another company and starting your own firm?”

Oh boy, I thought…I remember this day very clearly.

Now, as you read this I need you to promise me one thing: YOU WILL NOT JUDGE! Lol

Here we go… it was the fall of 2011 and Notre Dame was playing Pittsburgh. I was in Lafayette, Indiana that morning on a sales call. The game had a noon kickoff and I knew there was no way I’d be home in time to watch the beginning of the game. If you know me, you know this is absolutely unacceptable. There aren’t a lot of things I ask for every year, but twelve Saturdays in the fall are extremely important for me! If you haven’t started judging me yet, I must admit that I have skipped weddings for ND games.

Okay, enough about Notre Dame. Let’s back up about four months. I was working a job in Indianapolis with a company that sells home improvements and my job was to sell roofs. Yep, roofs. On houses.

I didn’t know a lot about roofs, but that didn’t stop me from jumping in head first and learning. My first sales call was in Bloomington, IN and I closed the deal! How hard could selling roofs really be? I learned everything I could about roofing, home structure, foundations, attics, etc. and I honed my conversation skills. I figured if I didn’t know a lot about roofs yet I could still make friends with these homeowners and earn their trust so I could get a real roof consultant in there to help them with their homes. It worked extremely well! I met some amazing people (we can save those stories for another time…like the time a guy handed me $10,000 cash from under his end table next to his couch) and I sold a lot of roofs. I was crushing it and blowing past my goals!

So, I sat down with my manager and we had a discussion. We set our sales goals and he asked what kind of sales rewards would motivate me further. Some of the guys at the company were getting weeks off, flying to Vegas, having the company pay for all their expenses, etc. But I didn’t want any of that. I wanted one thing – twelve Saturdays off work in the fall. I told my manager I’d earn those days off, blow past my goals, and I’d even work Sundays to make up for the Saturdays off. He agreed. We shook hands and I went to work!

Fast forward again to the Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh game. I had a lot of anxiety that morning. I didn’t sleep much the night before (but I don’t sleep much the night before Irish games anyway). This time I was having anxiety over the fact that I had no idea how I’d get to a TV in time for kickoff! Maybe the homeowner would be a big ND fan and we could bond and watch the game together? It was probable but being in West Lafayette the likelihood of them being a Notre Dame hater was much greater.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking (besides, “wow this guy is crazy”) – didn’t you make a deal with your manager that you would have your game day Saturdays off work?

You’re right…I did make that deal. But when push came to shove, I was absolutely betrayed by my manager. I worked my ass off to earn that sales reward. I blew my goals out of the water! I was crushing it and on my way to a six-figure paycheck six months after college graduation, but I just couldn’t get past the lie he told me. I was ready to go.

Every night, weekend, and spare moment of my time I had been writing a business plan and executing as best as I could in that business. The timing was right and I called my parents. They said “Andrew, what do you have to lose? If you start a business and fail, you’re just going to be an unemployed recent graduate looking for a job again…just like everyone else.” My parents supported me and totally had my back.

I quit my job.

Here’s the thing. I did not just quit my job on a whim, and it wasn’t as emotional of a decision as I just made it sound. I had a business plan that was in the works for over a year. I had met with close to 100 business owners, decision makers, leaders, etc. throughout college (thank you Stan Osweiler and the University of Indianapolis Entrepreneurship program). I was working hard to get this company started. It wasn’t a matter of “if” it was a matter of “when”.

The perfect storm of opportunity, a lie from my boss, and Notre Dame football all pushed me over the edge and into entrepreneurship.

The reason I wanted to write this blog has a lot more to do with treating people the right way as opposed to telling you my story about entrepreneurship. This experience has been reflected into my current business operations and company values. When we sat down and established our values at Cyclone Social: Compassion, Competence, and Consistency above self-interest, I reflected back on this experience and thought to myself that I don’t want to be that guy who makes false promises and doesn’t deliver on my word.

My word is EVERYTHING. I took this a step further in my company and eliminated the contract entirely in exchange for a handshake (read more about that here). I force myself and my team to live up to our word every day.

When I manage people, I do so with compassion – above self-interest. Does this mean I’m not a jerk sometimes? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But do I truly care? Do I truly want the best for them? Do I know their goals? Do I want to make them happy? Absolutely. I want my team to always have my back because they know I have their back…no matter what.

Please don’t read this message and say to yourself “dang, my manager is a jerk. Andrew said I should quit!” That’s not the point, either. The point is to follow your passion! My mom has always said, “The day I wake up and truly don’t want to go to work is the day I quit my job.”

Life is short. Don’t waste it being unhappy! Chase your dreams! Go for it! Sometimes your jerk of a boss can help push you over the edge, sometimes your parents' support can encourage you, and sometimes Notre Dame football makes your decision a little easier…

From an employer standpoint, one quick note: Don’t be a jerk. It makes it SO much easier for your employees to leave.

Oh, and one last note….Notre Dame totally won that game. Go Irish!

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