My company just launched, all-new, at BrazenCareerist.com. For those of you who have been asking for the past year: “What’s your business model?” You can read about it on TechCrunch. If you want the full pitch, you can read the press release, (and you should know that all last week, when I wasn’t blogging, I was writing six thousand versions of our press release.)
Here’s some advice for everyone who is starting a company: Write your big press release first, before you do anything at all. And then work backwards. Map out the milestones you need to make the press release come true, and that tells you how to run the first stage of your startup.
To be clear: we did not do that. I mean, if we did, our press release would have had to say, “Ryan Paugh announces that he has just made it through two years of Ryan Healy and Penelope Trunk fighting tooth and nail over totally irrelevant details of building a social network that is a career management tool for the next generation workforce.”
Then Ryan Healy and I would rewrite that press release ten times because Tech Crunch announced that they are sick of people using the term “next generation” and Ryan doesn’t want to use it but I think it’s fine because it’s in a different context. (LinkedIn is for gen x. Brazen Careerist is the job site for the next generation, demographically speaking. )
Then there would be a quote from Ryan Healy that says, “If I had known that we were going to expand from being a blog network to a full-blown social network then I would have never put up with the insane amount of rewriting that Penelope made me do to have a guest post on her blog.”
I tried to write a normal launch blog post where I take a victory lap, but I think you know that I’m not the type. I do feel really, really proud of what we’ve done. Brazen Careerist is a site that lets you build your network the way it’s supposed to happen: through genuine conversation. Most of you have watched me go through total hell to get this company off the ground. A lot of you wonder why I do it. The reason is that I truly believe that becoming an active participant in a professional community really will change your life.
I was really, really lonely. I was a new mom, and I had a failing marriage, and I moved to a city where I knew no one. I started blogging, and it was a lifeline to me. Not only did it provide fun, stimulating conversation, but it reminded me that I’m great at business, and I should be doing a business. Talking within the context of a community helped me find myself again, and the process of posting ideas helped me announce to the world what I am really good at, and sometimes—actually, most of the time—those things go hand in hand. (So it’s no coincidence that the new launch of Brazen Careerist provides tools so that anyone can have this experience of defining yourself by posting your ideas.)
I convinced Ryan and Ryan to move to Madison to do a company with me. They knew from the beginning that the main goal for me with a startup was to have fun. And when they arrived in Madison, the thing that was most jarring to them was how weird and isolated I was. It’s not how I seem on my blog. I know that. I mean, most people think I am weird on my blog but not that weird in person. The thing is that I’m actually more weird in person. So a lot of what our startup has been is all of us learning to adapt to each other (the company is basically a Penn State fraternity and me. Not kidding.)
I didn’t realize I had Asperger syndrome until Ryan and Ryan kept pointing out the weirdness I have. I realized they are the same things my son goes to therapy for. People ask me a lot to write about Asperger syndrome. I am hesitant because I am still working out how to deal with it. One thing I know, though, is that friends are very very hard. People like me because I’m smart and interesting, but I am hard to be friends with. I don’t quite understand the process. A lot of times people will say, “You think your blog readers are your friends, but they’re not.”
This is probably true, but I don’t get it. The blog has gotten me through one of the toughest times in my life. Today I have a great company, solid funding, a great household arrangement, and a good-for-me boyfriend. I didn’t have this a year ago. I had a mess on my hands. And I was so so grateful to have a community on the blog to talk to. The community talks about work when I want to talk about work, and the community talks about personal stuff when that’s what I’m thinking about.
So. Okay. I am scared to do something now. I am telling you thank you because this community feels like my friend, even though I know it is evidence of mental oddness that I think this. I know I am so lucky to have a community that is so smart and insightful that the comments section is exciting to read. I know that’s rare on the Internet. So every day I feel lucky, and what I’m scared to do is ask you for more. But I’m doing that now.
I’m doing it because I think you know that the last eight years of my career has been dedicated to building the Brazen Careerist brand and the company around it. And now with this launch, we need a lot of people to try out the idea that you can control your career by building strong networks through conversation and talking about your ideas.
If everyone who subscribed to my blog signed up at brazencareerist.com, the launch would be deemed a huge success. So, I’m asking you to do that now. Go sign up. And then let me know what you think. And thank you so much for sticking with me through hard times so that on this really exciting day you are here to share it with me.