Entrepreneurship

My entrepreneurial beginnings

Office-view-advertising-Toronto

I may have peaked too soon in my ‘best ever office view’.

There I was, fresh out of my undergrad, eager to get into my working life, and was given an 18th floor office that had an expansive view overlooking the CN Tower and Lake Ontario. I was excited to wear the work outfits, get a morning Starbucks and have a chat with some of the best colleagues I’ve ever had. The work was good, too. I loved the dedication to quality, the interplay of creative and account teams, the finesse of client management, the craziness of a pitch. The free lunches at the recording studio and open bar of the Summer party didn’t hurt either. It was invigorating, it was consuming, it was fun, it was exhausting. And that view reminded me of how great it all was, every single day.

View of CN Tower and water from office window at McCann

But then you fast forward a bit. I was living at my parents house which gave me the wonderful benefits of saving a little and a hot meal when I got home at the end of a long day. It also meant that I was taking the train into the city everyday. Train in, train out, racing to make it, feeling inner panic when there are delays and throwing daggers from your eyes when the person across from you opens a back of chips. Sociologists and psychologists could have a field-day with train behaviour. What a cage of mice is to a biologist, a commuter-filled train car is to a sociologist.

The ‘routine-ists’ particularly intrigued me. They stood at the same platform, to board the same train, to sit in the same seat, just like they have every day for the last decade or more. They drink their same thermos of coffee and talk to the same people. Every. day. For. ever.

For me, it’s the effect of repetition that scared me. That numbing effect of doing the same thing, every day, that turned indistinguishable weeks into months, into years. Then, to be told that you have to show up there every day, at that same time, barring national holidays and your coveted two weeks’ holiday a year. It filled me with an instinctual desire to turn and run.

View of Lake Ontario and high-rises in office at McCann

My need for something new – to be able to tell one year from the next – was met by moving to Oxford, UK. Just cross the Atlantic, you know?! My husband was starting his PhD and we were just so excited to have Europe at our doorstep and a new experience to figure out together.

I began working at Oxford University Press on their International Education team. For five years, I worked on a variety of amazing projects and had regular international travel that resulted in more passport stamps than I could have ever anticipated (pre-COVID, that is!).

And yet throughout this whole time there was still something niggling at me to start something new, something of my own. I had started a blog when I was back in Toronto, and if you were a reader from the The Rossetto Blog days, I am grateful and impressed! I worked on a business plan for a sustainable cosmetic line for years and have a 25 page document I am really quite proud of! Even if I hadn’t taken that leap (and am I ever thankful I didn’t launch a cosmetic line in the year of the masks!), it was that perpetual dreaming and planning that I loved. Idealism and pragmatism meet in entrepreneurship like no other, and I’ve always known I’ve wanted to be in on it in some way or another.

So as COVID carried on and my need for adventure, change and evolution was at an all-time high, I dusted off a business plan for my own marketing consultancy. The variety, the challenge, the unlimited possibility of it all has always appealed. I wanted to diversify again in industry, feeling claustrophobic from any niche that would box me in.

And then, timing was right. A past colleague and mentor of mine from Oxford University Press had left for a new organisation a few months prior. She needed a new marketing lead for her team, and she was wonderful enough to get in touch. A thing to note, is that she is a woman who backs other women. She cheers them on and gives of her own time, energy and effort to help them. I told her about the dreams of my marketing consultancy and what I felt like I needed to do to get there (remember, I’m the one who writes 30 page business plans…), and she said –

“I hear you. I think that’s amazing. Start your company now, and I’ll be your first client.”

I barely slept that night. Of all my dreaming, of my talking, here was an opportunity snatched from the proverbial ‘some day’ and put right within my grasp. After a little humming and hahhing, and truthfully, not very much of it, I went for it.

I haven’t regretted it for a second. It was the right move at the right time, and it has filled me with so much excitement, drive and passion for my career. It’s the rush when you get a new client, the risk of having something to lose, the knowledge that my ‘cap’ is only limited by my own drive and effort. I am frequently overwhelmed and occasionally anxious but always, always sure that this is what I want to be doing. I want to be a little afraid, I want to be pushing for what I want, I want to be doing exactly what I am doing. And that assurance has made me feel so wonderfully alive.

So, I’ve traded that 18th floor CN Tower and lake view for my kitchen table and living room. The sight-lines aren’t as great and I assure you you don’t want to be my husband when he has left his breakfast dishes on the counter.. but I am right where I want to be.

Thanks for following along! Entrepreneurship is my favourite thing, and if you’re thinking about it, a veteran of it, or have any questions at all, leave a comment or send me a message! I’d love to chat.

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Hi, I'm Emily!  My entire career goal has been to build brands that I'm proud of, who have a strong story to tell and are making an impact on the world. 

Taking learnings from the big player clients like Google and TD Bank, I'm most passionate about building the brands of tomorrow, and I know what that takes for startups.  I would love to learn more about your company and discuss the possibilities! 

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