Cold Dead Hands
He was renowned. He’d established some of the startup-to-success stories that made our town so hot. This was another one of his inventions. He was really an inventor of sorts. Not a great person, perhaps, with a penchant for Dancing with the Stars, but he had his moments. This is not about one of those moments.
I was fired after trying to revive his company’s consumer product offering. He was convinced that normal people would plunk down $500 to enroll in a membership that allowed them to take doctor’s visits from home. That is a great idea. But too expensive for most working families. The initial visit was going to cost you $550 actually, because your first members-only visit was an additional $50. We tried everything. It was too much money.
When I was hired, it was a bit of a last-ditch effort. I was the Director of Marketing, and social media was the big thing, and of course, I could figure out how to make social media take care of their B2C offer. Right?
Let’s just say, we built new landing pages. Established a blog and began soliciting success stories from good people who got a PA-visit in their home. I even used my daughter and her accident as an example for one of the articles.
We drove more traffic to the landing pages. We lifted the reach from 50 views a day to 5,000 views a day. The subscriptions for the consumer offer peaked at about 2 memberships a week. That was not going to sustain their company. More importantly, it was not going to sustain my job, as the savior of all things digital.
Here’s the problem. The entrepreneur was rich. Really rich. He couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t want a stay-at-home doctor-like experience. He was furious. We were obviously failing.
The commercial side of the business was doing okay. Not great. But we were about to open in two new cities. I used newspaper placements, blog posts, and even a quick TV mention, to get Boston ready for the new consumer offering. But it never happened. The company began to implode right before Independence Day. I had been in my role, driving engagements but little sales on the B2C side. The entrepreneur gave some impassioned speeches at the all-hands meetings, and fired me on a Friday afternoon. “Today will be your last day.” Well, except he wasn’t there. He took the day off. No need to face your failures or the people you’ve pinned the failure on.
The problem was the executive assistant they also fired along with me. She was the entrepreneur’s personal admin. She knew everything. She’s the one who told us that Dancing with the Stars was the entrepreneur’s favorite show and highest ambition. I guess he fancied himself as a dancer. I’m certain his new wife was a slim package with strong calves as well.
That winter, after I had been on the job for a month, we experienced a massive freeze and snow thing. Most of the city was shut down. We had a meeting scheduled for 9 am, but the snow prevented that timeframe. We rescheduled for 11 am. Everyone was required to come into the office, regardless of the news stations saying “Stay home.”
In this meeting, a pr firm was pitching ideas for building our brand in Boston and Corpus Christi, the next two cities planned for expansion. In an immediate aside, as we connected on LinkedIn, the young PR executive shared her dismay at the pricing of the consumer offering. We both shared a joke or two about the rich boss having a blind side.
In the firing process, they threatened the assistant with legal action. Turns out they can read all of your text messages and emails. And we’d been sharing some tasty “dumbass” comments about the big man. He was not happy. She was let go with a threat. She threw one right back at them, with a potential sexual infraction. She just wanted to collect unemployment while seeking a new job. They threatened to fight her. They dropped the suit, she quit posting on LinkedIn and we all went about our next round of to-dos.
I was rolling around LinkedIn yesterday when his profile popped up. No reason, we’re not connected. The harsh part was the little ring around his photo, a frame they call it, saying “Open To Work.”
The mondo-mojo entrepreneur with AMGs in different colors for different days of the week, was out of work. I smiled. Considered putting a snarky comment in his LinkedIn inbox.
I wrote a short story.
Read more Short-Short Stories from John.