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Year End Review For 2014

To understand my quest you need to know the story behind it. And if you don't know what exactly my quest is about let me refresh your memory.

"to use all my skills, knowledge, and experiences to add value to what I do in life and obtain personal freedom. I want to continue learning and creating products that will make people's lives better."

Now that we're on the same page let's move on to what exactly happened in 2014 that led to this quest.

I started the year working full-time at Vivint as an Instructional Designer/Content Manager making $40,000 a year. I developed and built a training curriculum library used by 1000+ of Vivint’s Customer Service employees. Increased the volume of content and training taken by employees by 92%. I also expanded company culture, training, and communications within departments by creating and maintaining a blog, newsletter, and weekly video series. In fact 2 months into being hired at Vivint I was awarded Employee of the Month. 

I started planning for the future and looking into Master's programs and/or certifications to improve my skills in instructional design and training. I already had a background in education from BYU and I was good at my job so I wanted to learn more and be the best.

Then a new chapter was opened and it came in the form of a Facebook message:

Vox Marketing Group

On March 24th I started my new career as a Marketing Manager making $55,000. My first month there was spent working on developing brand consistency through social media channels, messaging, and creating new designs for company swag, the new offices, and marketing materials. I also started creating events to show appreciation for the employees at the company and people started getting amped about working at Vox, not just for the paycheck, but for the love they were receiving. Co-workers were telling me that I was the best thing to happen to the company. I was feeling really good and I was happy there, but a few months later I felt like I needed to look for something else and was about to quit, but luckily for me I was let go on the same day I was going to quit. Vox wanted to move in a different direction and I was more than happy to take my leave along with my severance. Not going to go into detail as to why I wanted to quit in this post, but I will in the future.

In my short time there I helped build the brand by adding a tagline, a mascot, new product designs, and solidifying the look and feel of Vox Marketing Group. Built out their video production set up and studio. I hired a graphic designer to ease the load for Cornel, who was responsible for designing for 14 sales guys, daily. I also developed processes to make sure product was photographed, cataloged, and organized correctly for four major web stores. These web stores belonged to Vivint, Vivint Solar, Protection One, and Solar City. I played a role in designing and maintaining the look and feel of those sites. I garnered hundreds of new followers through our social networks, obtained new clients, and had Vox appear in Utah's Top Workplaces for 2014. I designed a new website and wrote all the content for it doing a ton of SEO preparations to not lose any of the juice the old site had, but sadly to this day the website remains the same. The biggest missed opportunity for Vox was not pursuing the sponsorship agreement with Startup Grind I had set up, which would have put their foot in the door with Google as a client.

Intelligent Demo Automation

Intelligent Demo Automation

DemoChimp

I interviewed at a startup known as DemoChimp after hearing great things about their company culture and also being familiar with some of the employees there, most of which were from Vivint. I was extended an offer to become part of the marketing team, starting at $48,000 with a potential of a $5,000 bonus for meeting goals. I was told to give myself any title I wanted so I dubbed myself Marketing Director considering everyone else on the marketing team had less than a year of experience and I was rolling with a solid 7.

I went straight to work and cleaned up all their social media accounts and started making plans on the direction we should take. I also started training one of the members of our team and she produced great results.

I was then told to put everything on hold because my main project was going to be redesigning their product demo (WATCH OLD DEMO). This product demo would consist of 17 videos each ranging from 1min-2min in length. I was given a week to complete this project even though I had no graphic designer, script, or voiceover. This is how this project played out.

  • I was told we would get a graphic designer to help with the project, but that never happened, so I put in the extra hours to build graphics from scratch.
  • I got finalized scripts 2 weeks passed the deadline from the CSMO and CEO, in the end these scripts still needed revisions. They weren't script writers after all.
  • It took 1 month to get one video approved because it had to be reviewed and revised over and over again by both the CSMO and CEO.
  • The bottle neck continued throughout the entire process because the CEO wanted to take part in the entire process even though he was rarely available and he would say he trusted the CSMO's approval, but would then change anything that he approved.
  • In the end I completed the demo video with all those bottle necks faster than the content team creates their demos, demos that consist of less videos with a shorter runtime.

When I finished the demo (WATCH NEW DEMO) I began to build a marketing plan and strategy guide to obtain leads. The CEO had decided to take over marketing duties for the company even though he had a lot on his plate. Our marketing team presented a preliminary plan asking for more autonomy and asked him to put his trust in us that we could accomplish the same if not more than any outside agency he had hired. I scheduled the day to present the full marketing plan and the day before I was to present he let me go stating that my work was inadequate.

After I was let go, DemoChimp's clients asked for their videos to be created in the same style I created the new demo video. Yet, no one at the company knew how to do that and struggled to figure it out for awhile. A month later the company hired a CMO and then a ton of employees were let go from the company. Ironically, some of the suggestions the new CMO implemented were the same ones I had suggested. Employee morale is low and some are searching for new jobs before they get laid off.

It was tough being let go from two different places, but at the same time I was happy to be a free agent and pursue a new career.

9 Week Certification Course

9 Week Certification Course

Market Campus

While at DemoChimp I started taking night classes at Market Campus, which is a digital marketing bootcamp. I wanted to obtain a certification of my knowledge in digital marketing and learn more. While going through the program it validated a lot of what I knew and a lot of what I had previously been doing. It made me realize that I was good at marketing and I knew what I was talking about. In class I learned a few new tips and tricks, but the majority of what was being taught I already known and had experience doing it. I finished the program and got my Certification of Completion in Digital Marketing and sought to play a role in the growth of Market Campus, but was told by the co-founder that he wanted people with years of marketing experience. I guess he figured that because I was taking the program I didn't have much experience.

Continual Learning

My quest for learning didn't stop there I got a certification from YouTube Academy in sound, lighting, cinematography, and production management. I got a certification from Hubspot Academy in Inbound Marketing. And in the last quarter of this year I read a total of 6 books.

All these books have a centralized theme of starting your own business and more importantly doing what you love by using your passions and skills. Also that years of experience is sometimes overrated considering that once you know the basics of something you'll just have to get creative to solve problems that arise.

How Will I Pay The Bills?

It's been over a month and I'm still unemployed. I've applied to over 15 places and I've only had 4 interviews. I've received emails telling me they've gone with other candidates and I've heard nothing from other places. I've had follow ups with some places, but their not even sure if they're hiring or not and one place extended an offer, but the pay was so low it was laughable. $500 for 20hrs a week for 3 months.

So the question remains how will I pay the bills? 

Should I continue looking for a job or just use what I've learned and start my own business? At some of the companies I interviewed at I was surprised to hear how they started their business, or how they got to their position, and it's shocking to know that a majority of them were under qualified. Some to the point that if they applied at their own company or at another company they wouldn't be considered for the position they have now.

In Summary

2014 brought with it a lot of learning experiences. I left out a few events or moments that took place this year, but this year I went from having the best job ever to taking an awesome opportunity that went nowhere to then being hired at a startup that also went nowhere. I obtained a handful of credentials, read a ton of books, and learned from people who have their own businesses. 2015 is going to begin with very little money and a whole lot of hustle. It's the best way to begin a quest!

What was 2014 like for you?