Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Accidental Entrepreneur

For the first time in my blog I am writing about the genesis of MAVERICK. Some inquiring minds have asked me many times about how this PR firm came to be. So here it is, the full, all too real story.

I am very much an “accidental entrepreneur.” I never intended to start my own PR firm, in fact, I believe whole-heartedly in the company “lifer” mentality. There is a lot of dignity in that. I was loyal to my employer, a dutiful lieutenant and happy in the role I had for many years. But, after a terrible, unexpected family death, I discovered a profound sense of purpose that stretched beyond my current surroundings. This life inflection point was a critical juncture in my journey. (For an understanding of strategic inflection points, read Andy Grove’s book Only the Paranoid Shall Survive. Grove gives great insight into business inflection points, a topic that underscores this blog.)

Losing parents is a rite of passage that we all must endure, but my dad’s death came much too early and unexpected. That experience left me floating and dazed, and I realized that I was on complete autopilot, just going through the motions at work, at home, in life. Until one day I had my very own Jerry Maguire moment. That famous "Mission Statement" truly inspired me.

I’m a person of forward motion; with a stiff upper lip and a “never let them see you cry” attitude. So, just a few months after my father’s death, I took that despair and fueled it into something much more positive and productive - a new business venture which I baptized as MAVERICK Public Relations. I needed something to take my mind off of what just happened, something demanding enough to fill the void. It was so incredibly healing to put my mind into a single, focused mission. I required more risk in my life and what better way to challenge yourself than by putting up everything you own, hanging up a shingle and hoping someone will come? Like many entrepreneurs before me, money was the very last reason I started this company. In fact, it was pretty much a struggle just to make payroll, pay bills, eat, etc. The calling to strike it on your own does not come from finding yourself suddenly out of work or from greed; it’s exactly the opposite. Today’s entrepreneurs are moved by vision, passion and personal exploration. Not to mention the powerful aphrodisiac of control and flexibility. There is a common thread that motivates business owners, but it’s hardly money.

What's truly bizarre is that the path I am on today was never in the cards. It was eight years ago to this very day that my dad’s life ended. In a poetic kind of way, through his passing, I found my identity. I was always a MAVERICK; I just didn’t know it until that fateful day.


Tom Bailey said...

I like this entry. I have read your blog this one really hit home with me mentioning a book that I really like. The Andy Grove one. Very positive blog. Great material.

Donna said...

Nice post, Julie. I know where you're coming from. When my mother died an early death, I was just 30. Suddenly I realized that we truly are mortal (I know, you'd think I would have found that out earlier). And that's when I decided to leave my comfy job with its dental plan and regular salary. I promptly registered in journalism school and soon started my own communications business. That was 20 years ago. Best decision I ever made.

Anonymous said...

Kharma prevails again - here I was talking about you yesterday to someone asking me if I knew of any great PR people - of course your name came up (and not for any pro bono charity work :-)!!! I needed to go online to forward your website information and puff found you had a blog with a wonderful entry on a significant anniversary date!!! The Venice trip is a must for 2007 -- tr