My Three Year Vacation – Learning to Code
I was really tired of selling phones.
For five years, I wore the Death Star (AT&T logo) on my shirt. I was hired as a manager in Weirton, West Virginia. I became bored with that position and moved to St. Clairsville, Ohio. Impossible to please, I shifted my position as manager to a sales rep (more money in selling) and then back to a manager (fewer customers yelling). I worked in Wheeling, West Virginia, Steubenville, Ohio, and Triadelphia, West Virginia.
It was obvious I needed to move on.
My wife had also recently changed career paths. She was a top salesperson for WTOV 9 and went to work for Comcast Spotlight in Pittsburgh. There was an opening in Pittsburgh and I joined her in the Greentree office.
She was a rockstar at selling cable advertisements (invited to their summit for the top 80 in the country). I, on the other hand, struggled. When I was hired, I did not have an active list and needed to cold-call my way to the bank. I was making over 200 calls a week and rejection sucked.
Back to the Ohio Valley
Pittsburgh was tough. I couldn’t relate to the businesses. I had no clue where Mt. Lebanon or South Hills was. I traveled around every week, but there was an obvious disconnect. I started looking for new jobs.
I didn’t think I was bad at sales, it just wasn’t the right position. I found a position open at WTRF in Wheeling, West Virginia and applied. The sales manager Joe soon contacted me.
Joe was a good guy. He sold me on the idea of coming to his team. We met at Damon’s Grill and Sports Bar in Steubenville and I had several cups of coffee. He brought me an offer and I was ready to put in my notice at Comcast.
When I told my supervisor, she understood. I packed up. The regional manager wanted to talk. In a crazy turn of events, they wanted to keep me and would up my guarantee. Better yet, they would move me to Wheeling office. The promise of a list was in my future.
Then I was asked to talk to the regional manager. In a crazy turn of events, they wanted to keep me and would up my guarantee. Better yet, they would move me to Wheeling office. The promise of a list was in my future.
As tough as it was, I had to call Joe back and let him know I couldn’t come. He was super accepting and wished me the best. I connected with him on LinkedIn. I went to Wheeling and started to make some movements within a few weeks.
Thank God for LinkedIn (Part 1)
As mentioned, I connected with Joe on LinkedIn. It wasn’t a month later when I saw a message on his feed saying he started his own business. I told my wife and she urged me to send Joe a message (asking about his old job). The job was an open and long story short, my wife seized the opportunity.
I’m pretty thrifty and also good with money. Before I quit AT&T to go to Comcast, we did the math and downsized our spending habits. With this new opportunity, I did some additional math. My daughter Lainee was four years old and my mother-in-law was watching every day. We realized I could stay at home and we would save (make) more money than me working. I put in my notice.
Thank God for LinkedIn (Part 2)
The first few months were nice. I learned to cook, cleaned everything imaginable, and played a little Madden each day. But anyone that knows me understands I can’t sit. I was bored and needed a hobby.
I had been blogging on and off. It was becoming more and more apparent that my skills were becoming dated. I would see websites that I had no clue how to build and I was intrigued. My knowledge of code was lacking.
I was watching a YouTube video and they had a paid sponsor called Lynda.com. They talked about all of these online courses and teaching yourself how to code. I signed up for my free month. (Lynda.com is now LinkedIn Learning)
Between ‘being the bus’ for my kids, I would take courses and work on passion projects. A few websites later, I knew what I was doing again. I actually learned more that year than I did my 2-years in a technical college – I could code a website from scratch and make it look good!
Too Much Walking
I ended up making several websites with pure HTML code (CSS/PHP also included). We are talking blank notepad to full-fledged database-CMS websites. At the time, these websites were 10k+ price tags. Most of the sites I did was for fun.
I managed to get a few freelance projects from word of mouth, but I still spent most of my time being a stay at home dad. Of course, I developed a fascination for the Disney Theme Parks and was trying to cut weight. I found myself walking miles while watching YouTube videos from Martin.
I ended up losing around 15 pounds and learning everything there was to know about Disney. My wife would come home from working ten hours and be rather annoyed by my cake life.
She said I needed to get a job.
Get out there and code websites for someone and make some money.
I applied for a few jobs but it was going to be tough to find a job that would let me work around their schedule. I went on a few interviews and most of the time I disqualified myself before it was over. Finally, I applied for an advertising agency in Steubenville called Em-Media.
Em-Media had a client list pages long. They worked with big names in the Ohio Valley and I figured I would be under-qualified for their Inbound Marketing Specialist. I had an interview with a guy named Mason and brought along some of my work (design printouts and backend-code).
Turns out, they interviewed a guy before me that was better for this role. Mason told me to hold on and walked into the next room. In came the owner, Jim Emmerling, and he offered me a job. The fact that I could hand-code websites was a huge plus.
They said they could use my skills on staff and that the person making websites now was more of a content person. With some advice from my CFO brother-in-law, I said I would work as a freelancer for them. I was back at work and would write website code for actual money – consistently.
The Best Three Years
This opportunity doesn’t come to many. I could have played a lot more Madden during those three years. Instead of watching training videos, I could have watched The Office again. Thankfully, that’s not how I am built.
My wife is the first person I give credit to for my ability to do what I love. Her hard work and drive gave us the opportunity for me to make some passion websites and learn my craft (again). Advancement in technology allowed me to stream courses on PHP, Digital Marketing, CSS, SQL, Bootstrap, and so many more beneficial tools. I became a master and only paid the monthly membership.
Lauren and I both feel that if you put good out in the world you will get it back. In this case, we got a good case of the ‘good‘ thrown at us.