In September 2016, I had been asked to photograph a fairly large event for the…
Four years ago I was at the height of my position at a local company. I was the Project and Design Manager that helped clients with custom solutions to their projects and along with a team, we designed and manufactured products to suit what they wanted. I really enjoyed this position because I got to work on new projects all the time and I built the team that I got to work with. It was an exciting time as the work that I did can be seen today in Edmonton as well as across Canada. I had lots of responsibility and I was highly respected within the company.
One day, I was told that my position would be changing and that management wanted me to take on a new Sales Manager position. Since I had done sales for many years of my life, I knew I could do the job so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that I was just told one day that my job was changing and I was really enjoying my current role. Knowing the owners and what they do to people who argue and rock the boat, I kept quiet and accepted it. Nevertheless, since the position was a new one for the company, I wanted to sit down with the Owner and Operations Manager to discuss exactly what the expectations of me would be for this role so that I would know what I had to live up to.
I bring this all up because it was just over 4 years ago to this day that my world changed. November 16, 2011. On this day, I was pulled into the Owner’s office and we sat down and the pretense was that we were going to discuss the new Sales Manager position and map out what the expectations were. Little did I know, that’s not what was about to go down in this meeting.
In this meeting, the Owner proceeded to rip into me with 3 pages of notes of things that he felt I was doing wrong in general with my employment thus far with the company. He berated me and ripped right into me. His face was just filled with anger. Never in my life had I EVER been spoken to like that by ANYONE. It’s not what one human being should do to another.
He was saying things like how I was just overhead, I wasn’t making the company money, I promised training to my new employee when I shouldn’t have, how he didn’t want me to be like the GM who quit. I was confused here while sitting there listening to what he was yelling at me since I was the Project Manager for the company, I worked on and completed new projects that were worth millions of dollars. And the training?! You mean that when a new person starts in a company and who I am directly responsible for, I shouldn’t get them trained up as fast as possible so that he can start being an asset to the team and the company?
As the Owner is berating me and treating me like garbage, he stops and tells me to pull out some paper so that I can write some of this stuff down. So I did. What you’re looking at here are the actual notes that were written down that day. I blurred it out because what’s more important than what was written down was the fact that after all these years, I still have this piece of paper. I have it because I never want to forget where I came from and what that day did to me and what it meant to me.
After the Owner was done saying what he had to say, we all got up and he looked at me and said, “Well, we’re all men here. Let’s shake on it and move on from here.”
None of the things he was saying about me were valid. I think he was doing this to make him feel better for whatever inadequacies he was feeling. Just to let you know that I’m not just making this up, the company had a revolving door of a company that had extremely high turnover. The GM quit after 1o years of working with the Owners and the Operations Manager that sat in with me during that meeting…he ended up quitting a couple months later because of how poorly he was being treated by the Owners.
After the meeting was done, I had to walk out of that office and put a smile on my face as I had employees that I still had to be responsible for and I couldn’t let them know what had just occurred. I consider that day and that moment to be the worst day of my life.
Here’s why: I worked for this company for over 3 years. I built up a great reputation with my co-workers and clients. I really enjoyed what I was doing and knowing the Owners, after that meeting, you don’t EVER get your reputation back with them. You’re at the bottom now and I knew immediately at the end of the meeting that this was a place I could no longer work for. Imagine how frustrating and upsetting that was for me to know that all the work that I put into the company over the previous 3 years was down the drain. That was an investment of MY TIME! GONE! I knew that I would have to look for another job and start over again. This was so upsetting. And on top of all that, to be ripped into and spoken to like I was on that day?! I just felt horrible.
That evening when I went home, I told my wife exactly what had happened and as I was telling her the story, she started crying. And she said to me, “Why would anyone treat anyone like that?!”
What did the experience to do me? Over the next 3 months, I applied to various jobs and every single day before getting into the car to drive to work, I would have anxiety and would have a knot building in my stomach because I didn’t want to handle the Owners. I had to pretend like nothing happened while every moment I wanted to march into the Owner’s office and SCREAM at him to let him know the damage he had done to me. But I couldn’t. I had to protect my employment and keep that smile on my face until I found another job so that I could leave. Those 3 months while I was applying for a new job were very dark days for me. There was disparity, anger, frustration, hopelessness, I felt helpless, and I was having issues sleeping at night.
And the end of those 3 long months, I finally got a new job and I quit that place.
Shortly after starting my new job, Vivid Ribbon was born. I knew that I didn’t want to put my future into someone’s hand anymore so Allison, my wife and business partner, decided that creating our business was the solution.
Fast forward to today, we are so blessed to have Vivid Ribbon in our lives because we feel that our lives are enriched by what we do and who is also in our life today.
Just think, had the Owner at my previous job not ripped into me on November 16, 2011, none of the events that followed after that would have happened. It would not have prompted us to create Vivid Ribbon. We would have continued to sit on the couch, watch TV, eat, sleep, go to work, and repeat. Today I am so happy to be working in Vivid Ribbon full-time, doing what I love, getting paid what I’m worth, and making a difference in other people’s lives. I’ve met Saniya Ghalehdar and her team at Creative Edmonton, who to this day, their core values have inspired me to do more for the community. I’ve met Kelsey Watt, who wants to lead by example in her industry in finance and helping out her clients become successful and financially secure and beating out the shady financial advisers out there. These people make my life better.
I am so happy to be a partner and shoot for YEG Fitness. I work with a great team of people to produce an amazing magazine that will be going to print in January! That’s crazy. Through the magazine, I’ve made so many friends. Who would have thought that today, I’d be friends with a ballet dancer? Ballet was never my thing. I met Sarah Tabler last year while doing a feature on ballet and she is so inspiring to me because of how much she gives and how much heart she has. I met Farha Shariff, YEG Cycle owner, who has such a beautiful soul and just wants to give to the world!
Without Vivid Ribbon, I would not have thought of creating Urban YEG on Instagram (@UrbanYEG). Today, we have over 8000 followers since March of this year. I get messages all the time on how much people appreciate being a part of the Urban YEG community and what a positive impact it has on their life! I’ve met so many great people through Urban YEG that I wouldn’t trade anything for as they enrich my life. We were recently interviewed by CBC and now, with the work the group has done, the City of Edmonton wants to interview us to help with a mental health initiative they are working on. That’s insane – who would have thought all of this would spawn from that one very bad day.
To anyone who is reading this and going through a tough time: I look back at what I considered to be the worst day of my life and then the following 3 months of disparity, anger, frustration, hopelessness, feeling helpless and losing sleep. I remember, clearly, that since it was such a dark time for me, it was hard for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t know when I would be able to leave that Hell of a toxic atmosphere at the previous job. I didn’t know how much longer I would be able to last. I texted my wife at least a few times a week to say that I’VE HAD IT with this place and she reminded all the time to just hang on.
What I learned from that experience is that while you are going through whatever tough time you are going through, I empathize with you that it is really hard to see a way out of the situation. It’s hard to see past the disparity, the anger, the frustration or the helplessness. But hang on and you will get through this. And while whatever situation you’re going through right now sucks and is not ideal, you will come out of it a stronger person and you never know what positive events will follow as a result of the situation that you’re going through right now. I am a real example of what can happen if you stay strong and just keep pushing forward. Find people who you trust to talk through it with you and help you along the way.
Yes, it really sucked to have 3 years of hard work taken away from me. Yes, it was so upsetting to make $65,000 a year and have to take a $17,000 paycut to take on the new job and start over again and be the “new guy” at new job and have it hurt my finances. But when I look back at what I have today as a result of all that happening 4 years ago, YES, I am happy that it happened. I am a stronger person now and I have my “Why’s” as to why I’m doing what I’m doing today, and our lives are truly enriched by what has come into our lives AFTER that incident and tough time. This is also one of the reasons why I care so much about other people and like to show them that they are good enough and that they matter. And no, I will never forget what happened and I will keep that piece of paper that had the notes written on it.
Sometimes, things do happen for a reason. Tough times don’t last, tough people do.