As of the end of this week, I’m unemployed!
Well, unemployed in the traditional sense, anyway.
Those of you who’ve been following along with my (now well-protracted) endeavor to Go Pro in the wine biz are probably (and not without good reason) rolling your eyes and muttering “finally… it’s about time…” It only took me a year longer than originally planned to cut the cord (hey, it was their idea to keep extending me).
Nearly 15 years (that’s 14++* years in Wine Advocate math, I think) behind me at the same company… holy crap, that was a long time of not really fitting in (the pay made up for it, as did the people and great opportunities).
It’s become a bit of a tradition at my soon-to-be-former day job to send farewell email messages, and so I decided (after consultation with a few people at the DJ that I trust deeply) to author one of my own. I’m sharing an excerpt of that letter with you below, with the only modification being removal of some contact details and the company name.
On the surface, this has nothing whatsoever to do with wine, of course. So why am I sharing it? I’m not sure, actually.
Probably because so many of you out there feel like friends and family to me, even though many of us have never met face-to-face; and so I don’t mind telling you that the note was cathartic and helped to slow down the near-constant swing of my current emotional pendulum (which happens to be oscillating with vomit-inducing speed between he extremes of pure elation at chasing my dream, and sheer terror at facing the road-much-less-traveled) – and that the lessons-learned I described in that DJ farewell note have everything to do with how I approach the wine world.
That, and it feels more original than giving you a list of sparkling wine recommendations for New Year’s Eve (here’s some quick advice – go with the real-deal and pop open some Champagne… you know, the stuff actually from Champagne… in France)…
Anyway… here ‘tis…
This will not be a long, protracted farewell message (and it would’ve fit on one screen if not for the contact details!). It’s with mixed emotions that I hand in my laptop and BB tomorrow and wrap up my career here (sad to leave such a great group of people, but happy to finally hand back the BB!). If any of you don’t yet know what a pleasure it was working with you over the years, and how much I will miss that – well… an email from me isn’t going to cut it at this point probably, but you can rest assured that I would’ve told you in person had time/opportunity allowed it!
For those who want to stay in touch (and I sincerely hope you do), I am fairly difficult to miss on-line these days (and yes, you can feel free to ping me for wine recommendations… trust me, you will not be the only ones so just go ahead and do it).
I asked a few people if I should send a farewell note, all of them said yes, but I will refrain from mentioning them by name to prevent any embarrassment should this email not turn out as well as I’d hoped. Anyway, when asked, they all agreed that a list of the most important lessons I learned in nearly 15 years here would be appropriate goodbye-email content (but then, they may just have been trying to get me to shut up…). You probably don’t need the following insights, but I’d hate to end this note on a list of contact links, so here goes:
1) “Don’t do things that suck, because life is too short for that.” This was told to me by a deadbeat friend-of-a-friend while I was on vacation in the Bahamas – this guy was the kind of deadbeat who couldn’t hold down a steady job during the economic boom in the U.S… a strange place to gain inspiration but I’ve thought often about his words, which basically amount to “follow your heart” (but that sounds waaaaay cheesier, doesn’t it?). Go for the work that you will enjoy, that will challenge you, that feels worth doing (and you will find such work here, by the way).
2) Whatever you do, go ALL IN. I remember hearing a quote from a movie that was replayed during an interview on NPR, listening to it on the car stereo on the drive into the ISP office a few years ago. I don’t recall who said it, or what the movie was about, or the exact words (lame, I know…. I really need to take a memory class…), but I can tell you that it summed up my approach to, well, to life. The quote was something along the lines of “Go all in, because when you do, you are at one with the gods.” I don’t think it was meant to be boastful, but just to say that the Universe simply cannot ignore someone that gives their all to everything that they do. Yes, that means going ALL IN on your expense report, for the time that you’re sitting down to do it (hey, some work you cannot chose – sorry!). Above all, don’t multitask, because the Universe absolutely does NOT think multitasking is cool (multitasking is The Great Lie, people!).
3) Learn, and have a blast doing it. Those who have kids, or pets, can imagine what they would think if you told them you’d decided to do things all day that weren’t fun (i.e., “you’re nuts!”). We have, in deciding how we will react to what life gives us each day, the power to choose to be happy (or not). So don’t make the wrong choice, don’t lose the fun, and don’t lose the enthusiasm to learn that goes hand-in-hand with all of that fun. Treat yourself like a kid whenever encountering something new, open to learn about (and enjoy!) that thing as if you had nothing to lose.
Those aren’t lessons I learned here per se, but (14+ years, 10+ managers, several million dollars saved and innumerable emails, amazing trips, projects, & not-so-amazing expense reports later) they impacted just about everything I did here (and everything I did outside of here, and will impact everything I do after my tenure here), and so felt worth mentioning.
I wish you luck in all that you do, confident that you’re talented enough not to at all need it! ;-)
Okay, so it was pretty long, after all. Give me a break, this was almost the entirety of my post-undergrad life here!
I’ve got no idea whatsoever what the future holds, or if this Going Pro thing is going to work financially – but I’m looking forward to giving it a whirl, and sharing the journey with you all!