22 years ago, in the Fall of 2001, I was laid off from my 17-year career at Kinko’s. I wasn’t alone – of the 350 or so corporate employees who I worked with in Ventura, only 35 would make the move to the new HQ in Dallas. The timing wasn’t great (shortly after 9/11, and shortly after our family grew from four to six kids). But Kinko’s was generous. I had a 3-month window of continued employment, and then 7-months of severance. That’s when I had these printed up:
And it did turn out that I had a fair amount of free time. During the 3-months of continued work, my team wrapped up our projects, documented things, and eventually met with our replacements and briefed them, briefly. Turns out we were old news pretty quickly, so were mostly idled after the first month.
Fun aside – one day during this period I showed up at our office and what should I find but one of these sitting behind my desk:
The coveted Herman Miller Aeron chair. This may not seem like much today, but in 2001 these were the Ferraris of chairs. A thousand-dollar chair. Infinitely adjustable, made with cutting-edge mesh rather than upholstery, and dead sexy. Seemed like an odd development, considering I and my team were in our last month.
It turned out that one of the casualties of the “dot-bomb” crash of 2001 was a tech startup Kinko’s had acquired for many millions just a few months earlier. They were all let go, and all that remained were the Aeron chairs, which were distributed to Directors who remained in Ventura. My team held Monday joke contests to see who would get to sit in it for the week.
Anyhow, during that window I determined to scratch the entrepreneurial itch I had been feeling. I had a decent runway of income. I had an idea. And I had pretty good credit. And so began Business Video Express.
My idea was to radically speed up the process of making videos for training. Rather than testing the idea in some kind of modern Minimally Viable Product approach, I went out and purchased a Class-A Diesel Motorhome, replaced the main living space with a video editing studio, bought cameras, computers, lighting, and sound equipment, built a website, and launched my business!
The vision was that in this self-contained Video Van, we could storyboard, shoot, edit, and produce training DVDs, on-site and in days, not weeks. And it worked, kinda. I discovered that I was good at the creative, ok at the technical, and utterly lacking at the marketing. But it was that endeavor that led to my work with the Real Learning Company, to my apprenticeship under Richard Hodge, and to my next 17 year career, with a quirky Swedish company called BTS. But I did lose a LOT of money on that RV.
Yesterday was my last day as an employee at BTS. Like my time with Kinko’s, this career has been a wonderful experience – I’ve been a part of creating amazing solutions, gotten to see the world, and made many dear friends. I’ve grown professionally and personally. BTS has been wonderfully supportive during some difficult times. I leave on a high note, and full of gratitude. And excitement for the next beginning.