Back in 1995 I was introduced to the internet. It was 11:30 am on a Friday. I sat at my desk and surfed all day and night and didn’t get home until 11pm. I was intoxicated by the world beyond my desk. I still remember my favorite sites. I taught myself HTML immediately, built a website for my company within days and was off and running. Over the next couple of years I moved to Atlanta, had 2 baby girls, moved back to Austin and kept on coding. In 1997 I had austinlinks.com at over 1 million visits a month and the site had won 2 Best of Austin awards. I started other websites for businesses large and small over the next couple of years. As the technology raced ahead of my skill set and the load of holding down a full time job while raising the girls on my own, the website building business took a back seat. What didn’t take a back seat was that many of the marketing people and business owners that I had built websites for kept coming back to pick my brain. Over coffee, lunch and drinks my internal light bulb would go off and I would spill out ideas as fast as they could write. My career compass also pointed towards marketing but the rat race (and probably fear) prevented me from looking at the obvious direction I was supposed to go.
This kept up for years. Free marketing advice over free meals and drinks and you know what? I LOVED LOVED LOVED it. I was happiest when my idea hat was on. There was nothing quite like the thrill of helping people with their marketing projects. Towards the end of my corporate gig I got to develop some really fun grass roots social media marketing and blogging campaigns for the DevOps team. It was so fun and very rewarding. I was working with a young, hip, smart and energetic team led by young woman who will probably be running Facebook someday. I’d hang up the phone and feel the pull.
In early 2015 my golden handcuffs were snipped and the doors flew wide open. Within 72 hours I was on a plane to Switzerland to go skiing in the Alps with old friends (whose first website I built back in 1997). Thank you Jamie and Warren. A generous severance package and no “vacation time” to worry about made this possible….oh and my pals in France too! I came back to Austin and sat through several weeks of meetings with people who honored me with invitations to join their teams. I was burned out and though grateful, I couldn’t move towards any of them. For the next several months I flew a lot. I caught up with 7 friends I hadn’t seen over 10 years, some decades longer. More importantly I caught up with my kids who I had put in the backseat while I peddled as fast as I could at work.
Highlights after Switzerland included a college visit to Northwestern, touring Chicago, Santa Barbara, the USPA Nationals in Palm Beach, a week in Fowl Cay in the Bahamas (thank you Cici & Steve), my daughter’s last Youth Polo Tournament in Houston, a wedding in Iowa and a long road trip to Fort Collins, Colorado to drop my oldest off, Villanova for a college visit and Vail for Fall. It was the best….the VERY best.
Starting in the early Spring a dear old friend started suggesting a social marketing and community building business. I kept saying no. Over the summer I started to feel the recovery. I was still giving free advice, but the pace had picked up and then I looked down at my compass. It felt right. What if I did what I was good at and started collecting a pay check for it? As I restored myself, my confidence and my creativity started to bloom. Boosted by friends who believed in me (thank you Mike and Candace), I decided to take the baby steps to building a company of my own. I had clients, I just needed to start invoicing.
So here we are. The website was written over the summer and designed and coded over the Fall. Thank you Sujin and Cristina for your help with the design and development. I am forever grateful.
Take a stroll through the website to see what I am offering. I have some amazing people working with me in the background, so no job is too big or small. To date I have been:
What can I do for you?