14 March 2012

Decision of a Lifetime

Hi Blog Readers!

Sorry for the neglect some of you may have been feeling the last month (okay, maybe just MattyQ and Jared). Life has been a bit hectic here (understatement of the year) and I just haven’t had time to blog. But I miss you my dear readers, and thus I am going to regale you with a tale an epic tale about two amazing choices and a pivotal decision that will determine the trajectory for the rest of my life.

I’m warning you now: this will not be like my other blog posts. It will be long. There won’t be lots of pictures. In fact, I’ve broken it up into mini little chapters for you. I’m not even sorry that it’s so long, because frankly this is 7-months condensed into one blog, and I’m tired of telling this story to everyone, so I’m just going to post it here.

All that being said, I feel I should let you know that as I am writing this (March 8), I have not yet made a decision. The future is still undetermined. I want you to experience my inner turmoil as I am experiencing it.

The Back Story:
Last July I really started thinking about moving out of Seattle. By September, the desire to move away had grown stronger. I was looking at my life and realized that I had been in Seattle for 9 years. September 2012 would mark my 10-year anniversary in the Emerald City. The weight of that revelation was….overwhelming. I came out to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, and then I just sort of stuck around. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but this 10-year anniversary thing got me thinking: did I see myself spending another 10 years of my life here?

In September 2011, the answer to the above question was a resounding ‘No’.

I started thinking about where I would like to move. Colorado kept coming up over and over, and Boulder specifically, as you can see in this post from September 21, 2011. I don’t know why, but I feel drawn to the place. My dad was born in Denver, I grew up visiting the mile high city, and my parents even met and fell in love in Steamboat. I guess CO has ‘good vibes’ for me. And who can argue with 300+ days of sunshine each year?

By late-October, I had decided I DEFINITELY wanted to move to Boulder. I put plans in place to visit Denver/Boulder/FoCo with my bff Allison the weekend before Thanksgiving.

We had a blast from the second we got off the airplane. The entire weekend was completely serendipitous (I’ll write a post about it someday, I promise). We arrived with no plans and had 4-days of AWESOME. I took it as a sign, I needed to move.

Well, just up-and-moving when you are a fiscally responsible adult isn’t something that this risk-averse blogger is comfortable with. So I set about finding a job. And not just any job, but a smart career move that would align with both my career goals and personal beliefs while offering a challenge.

I began searching in earnest. I set myself up on Indeed/Monster/Jobs.com. My friend created a web crawler to search for jobs for me. I scoured Craigslist. I reached out to my network for help. I emailed countless resumes and cover letters.

But before I knew it Christmas had arrived  - not an ideal time to secure new employment. So I took time off, visited beautiful Whistler & Vancouver Island (another trip I need to blog about), and generally enjoyed the holiday. I came back refreshed and started anew, sending out another bunch of resumes to Boulder. In all I applied/contacted more than 20 different places.

What’d I hear back you ask?


That’s right, for 90% of my applications I heard NOTHING back. I started feeling defeated and pathetic. Admittedly, I was in a weird position:  living in Seattle while trying to find work in Boulder made me undesirable, however, if I moved to Boulder without a job I’d ALSO be undesirable! It was ‘six of one half-dozen of the other’. What’s a girl to do?

The Boulder Lead
Fortunately, right before ‘Christmas Break’ I had secured ONE informational interview with a Digital Marketing / Public Relations firm in Boulder.

In early January, I had a great Skype interview with the President of the company. He was looking for a mid-level person with good interpersonal skills, a strong writing background and a solid understanding of SEO with a go-getter attitude – ‘That’s ME!’, I thought.

Throughout the month I spoke with multiple other members of the Boulder team and the conversations were promising and motivating for me. It was clear to all of us that I could be a really great potential fit within the organization.

However, their valid concern that I did not yet live in Boulder prevented them from offering me a position, and my valid concern about moving prior to having employment kept me in Seattle. It was the middle of February and we were at an impasse.

The Unexpected Twist
My first job out of college I worked as a Sales Assistant/Coordinator at the local Sports Television Affiliate in Seattle. I developed a very close, successful working relationship with one Account Executive in-particular. We’ll call him Dan…because that’s his name. Dan and I were a rocking team. He is a shark who can sell snow to an Eskimo. He is passionate, hard working, and always sticks up for his client’s best interests. While he was selling, I took care of the details and made sure he had enough time to keep his eye on the big picture. In the year and a half we worked together, he closed more business than he ever had, previously or since.

After I left the TV station, Dan and I stayed in touch, having occasional lunches and catching up. About 6-months ago we were at lunch and he mentioned his desire to find new challenges. I encouraged him to do so and even helped him get set up with some networking/job sites. He and I continued to get together frequently for lunch to discuss our job-hunting activities.

At our last lunch in early February, Dan could hardly contain his excitement. He had just had a very promising interview with a Seattle Sports Team (SST – what we’ll call it for now) that was willing to revamp its sales structure to bring Dan onboard. Even better, he wanted me to come with him!

Yes, you read that correctly. I had done NOTHING but do a good job working with this guy 4r+ years ago, and now, here I was, looking at a possible career move I hadn’t expected but was definitely excited about. While I was stoked on SST, I did tell Dan about Boulder and let him know  that I had a lead there  but it had stagnated, and of COURSE I’d be happy to meet with SST myself should the opportunity present itself.

Dan continued his conversations with SST into February. He kept checking in with me to make sure that a) I was still interested, and b) I was on board to get moving quickly. Each time we spoke my answer was a resounding “YES!”

The Convergence Zone
On Tuesday, February 21, I made a final call to Boulder to see if we could bridge our impasse. We discussed my continued desire to move and their continued desire to have me. We also discussed our hesitations about moving forward.

What came out of the conversation was the decision that we wanted to meet as a ‘next step.’ We agreed that I would look up flights and make suggestions for timing. On Wednesday, Feb 22, I emailed trip options for an upcoming weekend: March 11-13.

On Thursday afternoon, Feb 23, Dan called. He had just received an offer from SST and it included a contingency for me to join him!!! I could not believe it!

Now All I had to do was go in and wow the SST Executive Team – no small task. On Thursday afternoon at 4:30 we confirmed an interview for the next morning, Friday, at 8:30am. I had some prep work to do!

Friday at 8:30 sharp I found myself in the executive board room with two members of the executive team discussing my experiences working with Dan and some of the work/presentations we’d done together. I talked about my career goals and aspirations and they shared their team philosophy and hopes for the future. The conversation was fantastic and leaving that room I was super jazzed about the unexpected opportunity with SST! It looked like I might be staying in Seattle after all!

When I arrived home I was gabbing about the interview with my Madre, who has been very supportive and helpful throughout this whole ordeal, when an email came in…

It was from Boulder. They confirmed that the dates I suggested were great, ideal even, and asked me to go ahead and book the flights for March 11-13.

But then, at almost the same moment, I received an email from SST telling me how excited they were to have me join their team and that I could expect to receive an offer early the following week. Anticipated start dated? March 15.

Enter: excitement, turmoil, glee, nausea, elation, angst

Actually, words can’t really begin to describe what I was feeling.  Here I was, presented with two AMAZING opportunities, which just happened to overlap in a terribly inconvenient way. If I accepted the SST job I definitely couldn’t go to Boulder to visit and it meant giving up on my dream that had been in the works for months.

On the flip side, I didn’t have any guarantees going for Boulder, but pushing back on SST given their aggressive start date didn’t seem like an option either. I couldn’t go, but I couldn’t stay.  It was a Friday and I was in decision paralysis.

What Could Have Been
Thus began the longest week of my life. All weekend I agonized over what I wanted to do: follow my 7-month dream and visit to possible-but-not-guaranteed job in Boulder, or take the SST job and stay in Seattle, always wondering ‘what could have been?’

On Monday Feb 27, I talked to the CEO of SST, who laid out my job offer and reiterated her excitement over me joining the team. Tuesday morning I received the offer in writing. I was super excited, but I wasn’t even able to look at the offer until Wednesday night because things were so hectic at work (we had 3 new team members join us that week and I was in charge of leading/assisting with trainings for everyone all week).

Imagine my dilemma: I’m stuck at work with no time to even go to the bathroom , trying to lead trainings while not appearing distracted by the massive decision in front of me. This wasn’t a small decision; this is my future, my WHOLE LIFE! It’s not just deciding what colour I want to paint the bathroom!

To add to my ever-mounting stress, I had a number of evening commitments which prevented me from having some quiet time to just…digest.

The Decision-ish
By the end of the day Wednesday I did NOT have an answer for SST as had been requested. I had called Boulder to try and move my trip to a week sooner, but to no avail. I reached a point and just decided I could NOT make this decision in two days.

So what did I do?

I booked my Boulder flights for March 11-13, got a rental car, and confirmed a couch to crash on. Then I had an honest conversation with SST. I told them I needed more time, and explained the Boulder backstory. To my great relief, SST was not only understanding, but they were supportive of my desire to ‘close the book’ with Boulder. They want me on board, but only if I can commit 100%. We had a great conversation, complete with sports analogies, and I told them I’d give them an answer on the 14th.

So that’s where I stand TODAY as I’m writing this. I have one week until I need to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

What did I pick? Check back to find out!


Jere said...

I already knew ALL of this, I want an answer NOW, or maybe tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

ok - that works better :)

good cliff hanger! i'm excited to hear how boulder went and what the final decision is. has it officially been made? augh! so exciting!

Katie said...

Wow, Kristina! Good luck with everything. Sounds like no matter what happens, you have some exciting changes coming your way.

Kristen said...

There is surely no wrong answer. Whatever you do, you'll make the best of it, and enjoy it, love it, savor it, and learn from it. What a crazy time in life, huh? Good luck Kristina!

Anthony said...

Great story KC. And a HUGE CONGRATS. My only question is when you didn't have time to use the bathroom. Where did you do your business? Just asking.

Allison Lee said...

Excellent writing Kristina. I like seeing it all in one blog because I've been missing you the past couple weeks as you mulled this HUGE decision over!!! I'm so happy for you whatever you decide though I'll miss you SO MUCH if you LEAVE ME!!! waaa separation anxiety!!!!