I went for a run late this morning and did a lot of thinking about a lot of nothing, which is usually the case when I’m running. Somewhere out there I thought, “Hey. Didn’t you start your first job out of college during the summer TWENTY YEARS AGO?!”
When I got home from that run, I took a shower and rummaged through the filing cabinet to find my offer letter. My first job was as a Multimedia Editor for VidBook.com (formerly LearnFree.com). Our tag was “Casual multimedia learning.” We were a website that published fun and casual educational content on topics like home improvement, travel, gardening, and fitness. These topics were organized into “channels,” and within those channels we had “vidbooks.” A vidbook was a microsite on a specific topic. The content was procured from licensed VHS tapes that we’d pay to have transcribed. Our editors would cull through the videos and transcriptions and edit the content down to digestible content for publishing on the web. Our editors would select still images and segments of video that were pertinent and corresponded to the copy we would publish.
Most of our revenue was from Gene’s (our president) bank account. He was a successful attorney and entrepreneur and had set aside some money to get this dot-com startup going and he paid the ~12 of us like clockwork every two weeks. He even bought us beer on Fridays. We’d close shop early and hang out together for a couple hours on Friday afternoons and drink beer, talk about work, plans, and all kinds of other things.
We tried to get revenue by selling ads on our website properties. Unfortunately it just never really worked out. We couldn’t get in the black. At the tail end of the dot-com bubble burst, we shuttered our doors too. I remember coming back from a late lunch and Julie, our office manager handed me a box when I walked in the front door.
“Pack your stuff. We’re closing.”
“Man! I loved this job. This really sucks.”
“I know. Hurry up, we’re all going to Baby A’s for margaritas”
So I went into Gene’s office, shook his hand, told him I was sorry that it didn’t work out, and thanked him for the opportunity.
Gene and I had lunch a few years ago. We agreed (again) that Vidbook.com was ahead of the times. There weren’t many publishers in 2000-2001 that were pushing a lot of new content and streaming videos. And advertisers weren’t really into what we were doing back then.
We had a lot of fun and I learned a lot at that job. When I accepted that job, I really thought I was going to be there for the long haul. I enjoyed what I did and I liked everyone that I worked with.
And a funny thing that I’ll never forget: since that was my first real professional job, I showed up for my first day dressed as a professional. I didn’t suit up, but I wore nice, pressed khakis, a button-down shirt and dress shoes. Everyone laughed at me when I walked in the door. My boss told me that there was no need to dress up to come to work there. I asked, “what should I wear?”
“Wear whatever you want. Just don’t come in stinky. We all have to work in this office together.”
The next day I walked in wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. My boss said, “That’s more like it!”