In November of 2017, I found myself departing a business development job that most people would leap at. I had put in several faithful years, but it had become clear to both myself and ownership of that firm that it was time to make a separation. So with a handshake and warm words of encouragement on both sides, I came home to a stunned wife and a flurry of calls from past clients wanting to know what happened and what was going on.
I did all the normal things that afternoon… polishing a resume, updating my LinkedIn profile, and made calls to friends and family to let them know I was on the hunt for my next adventure. The things that any reasonable human being with a family and mortgage would do. The actions every business coach would applaud.
With the intention of taking some time to regroup and plan my next steps over the holidays, I sat down with my financial advisor to make a plan during my transition. Surprisingly their suggestion was clean and concise: “Do not go to work for another employer”. Even more surprising was my ultra-financially-conservative wife’s encouragement of the same. The suggestion was that I pick up the phone and call a few trusted business partners and simply ask them how their business development was going. I was given the paperwork for a yet-to-be-named incorporation, an updated life insurance policy (surely at the request of my wife), and a smile from my advisor as he said: “I’ll see you in 2 weeks with more work than you can take on”.
The next morning, 24 hours after departing gainful employment, I picked up the phone and asked a friend and business owner if I could buy him a cup of coffee and learn about their business development process. He promptly scheduled a meeting with me and asked me to call one of his business colleagues as well. What followed can only be explained as inspiring, as over the course of that morning I scheduled 8 meetings with businesses all eager to simply talk through their experiences. The response was humbling.
Four business days after I made my first phone call, I was asked to take on my first client. I came home from that meeting incredibly thankful, but also with the realization that I needed to stay true to some simple philosophies that garnered the relationships that found me successfully out on my own. It had been a whirlwind of a week, and after kids were in bed and my wife was asleep, I sat on the floor of my living room, laptop at the ready, and started developing my career experiences, both successes and failures, into a story that was able to be shared. All the while my 12-year-old yellow lab, Mason, laid ever faithfully by my side keeping me company into the early morning hours.
This process continued for the next few days… phone calls, emails, analyzing my thoughts, writing my philosophies and refining my plan. All the while with that old yellow dog nearby, eager for breaks to go for a walk or throw a ball.
So when the name for the business was finally a requirement, I joked that my yellow lab Mason was as much a part of the development of my firm as myself and should have a voice to what it was called. With the stroke of a pen, I wrote “Yellow Lab Partners” on the articles of incorporation, and dropped them in the mail as I left to meet with my first client.