The Biggest Mistake Of My F*cking Career
Back when I worked for doomed startups, thoroughly believing that “having a job” meant devoting every waking hour to a company that could and would replace me within 48 if necessary, I clung to every word every higher-up ever said to me. I fed off their praise and approval, and lost sleep and/or weight if I somehow displeased them. I thought working as an adult meant giving everything — every moment, every ounce of effort, every bit of sanity, to whoever was doing me the favor of giving me money. I was working myself into the ground for nothing and I was doing it for about ten years. One such salary found me at a small New York startup hoping to change the online shopping industry despite not being able to turn ideas into physical realities. I ran their marketing copy, social media, and blog.
There was an era in startup culture that was very reactive. “Oh, they’re doing X, we must do X, right now! Why aren’t we doing X? Who failed here, who didn’t see the future?!” That sort of thing, you remember.
The company’s top tier was a handful of professionals who all had thriving careers in other industries that gave them up to come and do… whatever it was we were trying to do. Social media-based marketing was new to them because it was new in general. But I think it freaked them out. We’re talking about people who used to confidently spend thousands of dollars on ads in magazines that had little to no performance metrics available suddenly freaking the fuck out about a tweet with no likes. It was my responsibility to make us internet famous, and it wasn’t going well. Of course, this was my fault and problem, rather than the fact that our product was difficult to explain, and they would never just let me say “Pinterest For Shopping.” Whatever.
I don’t like reactive behaviors in humans and less so in companies. The world can tell when you’re only doing something because someone else did it, and it’s pretty basic behavior. But remember, I was a startup girl, both consumed by dedication culture and terrified of losing my health insurance. If the C-Suite wanted to be reactive, that’s what I had to be.
Around this time, a new toy called Snapchat was invented. I observed Snapchat, I learned who users engaged with on the platform and how. This…