I was 23 years old and fresh out of college. With a business degree (marketing focus) and a minor in journalism (advertising focus) under my belt, I had big hopes and even bigger dreams.
That was before the period I call my “Six months of 20 rejections.”
That’s right, within half a year of graduating, I received approximately 20 rejections from agencies, corporations and non-profits. I had been told “no thank you” so many times that I almost lost my spirit.
But anyone who has spent time with me knows I’m a fairly optimistic person.
And luckily, I had enough youth-inspired tenacity left after those 20 rejections to make a big decision. “Go big or go home” seemed an appropriate mantra, especially considering “home” was exactly where I was going.
At least for a few months.
On a humble street in Stead — in a 1,150-square-foot home, the same one my three siblings and I were raised in by our immigrant parents — I got started. I emptied a 99-square-foot bedroom of its contents, set up a few folding tables, got a chair, bought a computer at a Fry’s in the Bay Area (it was cheaper there) and got to work.
My parents gave me a credit card with a $7,000 limit for my start-up supplies, and they graciously allowed me to start my business in that small bedroom.
And 25 years later, I can look back and think how grateful I am that I was young and maybe even a little stupid then. It was a risky bet — that someone with little business expertise or real-world experience could make a go of it in the competitive advertising world. But it paid off. And in fact, it paid off relatively quickly.
It only took a few months before the loan was paid back, and within four months, I had moved to my first brick-and-mortar office. It was a small spot on Hubbard, but it perfectly housed the growing agency I named “Envision.”
I’ve always liked the word “vision,” which was the inspiration for the name. It was this crazy vision, combined with amazing partners and employees along the way, that got us here. Twenty-five years later, I’ve had the pleasure of working with hundreds of clients and dozens of employees. We’ve gone through ebbs (2008) and flows (pretty much any year other than 2008), yet we’re still here.
I recently returned to that street in Stead where it all started. I was astounded by how much the area has changed — businesses have come and gone, homes are in various stages of disrepair, trees are so much taller.
Or perhaps I was just shorter? Yes, people, I was once shorter than I am now.
But in all seriousness, those modest beginnings set an amazing stage.
I’m so grateful for the 20 rejections. Because without them, I wouldn’t be here 25 years later, talking about that day in 1993 when I founded my own agency. We wouldn’t be here, doing creative and inspiring work on behalf of so many exceptional clients. We wouldn’t be able to give back to the community in such meaningful ways. And I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the blessings of agency ownership, of partnering with a team, of leading a successful business.
All because of 20 rejections and a vision.
Oh, and maybe a tad of a competitive streak honed playing high school tennis at McQueen. Because I definitely wanted to prove those 20 “rejectors” wrong.
This year is the 25th anniversary for the company. And while it has sported a few different names and been housed in a few different locales — bedrooms in childhood homes, tiny offices, larger offices, the limitless “cloud” of virtualness — it has always had a singular focus: exceptional, creative, strategic work.
We’re blessed to be able to celebrate this silver anniversary. We’re grateful for the friends, relatives and family members who have been our supporters and advocates. We’re thankful for the professional partnerships along the way. We’re fortunate to explore the boundaries of creativity with an exceptional team (shout-out to Paige Galeoto, who has been by my side for 14 years as a creative director and friend) and for the rewarding client relationships we have forged throughout the country.
And we’re proud to call northern Nevada home.
I hope you’ll join us as we celebrate this milestone year. On the 25th of each month (in honor of our 25th anniversary) we’ll be highlighting one of the many people, places or things that contributed to this company’s longevity — and trust me when I say, we couldn’t have gotten to this point in our agency’s history without the assistance of so many colleagues, friends and partners along the way. We’ll also be furthering our Good Deeds initiative with #25Years25Deeds, completing 25 good deeds throughout the year to give back to this community that has allowed us to experience such tremendous personal and professional success.
Looking back at that 23-year-old — maybe a bit ego-driven, perhaps slightly less jaded, obviously less savvy — I have to think: I must have totally bombed those interviews.
And I’m glad I did.
Here’s to 25 (or more!) more.
And my recent visit to Stead proved one thing: You can go home again. If only to stand in front of a memory, recalling its importance, and being absolutely astounded at the size of the trees.