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An Origin Story

by Tim Walsh

The author in younger days.

The author in much younger days.

Origin Story. noun. a backstory, or established background narrative,

that informs the identity and motivations of heroes and villains in a comic book or similar fictional work:

The superhero's origin story begins with a tragic accident that left him scarred,

but also resulted in his supernatural powers.

A trusted advisor recently mentioned the term “origin story”. The phrase caught my attention. Might it sound a little pretentious? Maybe. Where did it come from? Comic books? I’m not a comics guy, but hey, that’s cool.

The more I thought about the term, the more it resonated with me. It’s sort of a personal bio. You know, the generic ones you typically see on web sites like this one. Ha!

How did I get here and why do I do what I do?

I started my career way back in 1994 with no real idea of what I wanted to do. Maybe that’s why I worked for no fewer than seven – 7! – different companies by the time I turned 30.

The economy crashed in 2000 and 2001 due to the double whammy of the dotcom bust and the tragedy of 9/11. I quit my client services job at a marketing software company in February 2002 for no good reason other than I was 20-something and didn’t particularly like it.

After about nine months of trying to figure out what to do with my life, I landed in my first sales job at a lead gen agency. I was tasked with setting sales appointments for technology and consulting clients. This was hard core cold-calling in a high-turnover environment. Turned out I was pretty good at it. Not a forever job, but it was something in a still-crummy economy.

After just nine months in this entry-level sales job, a recruiter saw an old resume I’d forgotten was still posted on Monster. (Remember Monster? It's still around.) He recruited me for a marketing job, which was great because there still weren’t many of those jobs around. He helped me secure an interview, which I thought went well. But, I didn’t get that marketing job.

In the midst of the interview process, the recruiter asked me if I had ever considered becoming a recruiter. I had the ideal background, he said. But no, I’d never considered it. Funny thing is, if I’d been offered that marketing position, would I have ever considered a career in recruiting? Nope. But life works like that sometimes. Sure, you may have a grand plan and execute it successfully. Other times, you just fall into something. And it works.

There’s more to the story since then, but that is my Origin Story.

Today, while life has changed in many meaningful ways in the past 15 or so years, I am still doing the same thing I was doing then and still loving it. The highs are high and the lows may be low, but overall, it's a great gig.

I hope you are finding joy and meaning in your career, too. If you're not, tap into your own supernatural powers and let them guide you. I hope to hear your origin story someday.


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