Please allow me a little self-indulgence. I’m feeling a little sentimental today…
I’ve been blessed with unusual success in my life. Some of it has to do with luck. Some of it is because my parents (and let’s face it, my brothers too) knew when to crack the whip, and when to let me screw up. Some of it is because I’ve had outstanding mentors to guide me.
But most of it is because I’ve worked my butt off to create things, and ensure their longevity. I don’t believe good things come to those who wait. Good things come to those who work, and that means sacrifice, long nights, and occasionally tears.
If you’re sitting on your ass waiting for success to find you, you’re being lazy. You go out and you find success.
In some ways, I’ve made this success look easy — almost like I fell ass-backwards into it. But that’s not even close to true.
One of the most interesting, exciting and worthwhile things I’ve ever done in my life was to have lunch with Wanye Gretz in 2007. I’ve known Wanye since we were about seven years old. We’ve gone to school together our whole lives and generally stayed in touch and good standing with one another. Our meeting in 2007 wasn’t about anything in particular, except the directions our lives were taking.
We’d have more conversations over the next few months, many of which centered around Oilers hockey and the way they were covered in this town. Ultimately, our dissatisfaction with the conversation taking place gave rise to OilersNation.com, and its sister sites, now all part of the Nation Network.
Wanye, myself, the writers at the Nation and our financial backers all worked hard to develop a product that gave fans a relevant and irreverent forum to discuss our beloved teams and all things hockey.
OilersNation.com launched in Novermber of 2007, while I, Wanye and some other colleagues worked out of the offices of a mechanic on another business project. The afternoon we launched, Wanye and I giggled stupidly at the ridiculous images we posted, the silly content that was there, and the fact that we’d actually manage to create something on teh internetz.
It was the beginning of a new career path for me, one that’s led me to work at one of the best creative advertising agencies in Western Canada, Calder Bateman.
And even though OilersNation set me on this path — working in advertising and PR through the online world — I also know that I’ve done all I can for OilersNation, and it’s time for me to move on and continue to grow and excel in my field. It was a tough decision.
I’ll stay on with the company as an advisor and social media strategist. I’ll always be a founder, and I could never fully walk away from my creation. But I’m no longer involved in the day-to-day aspects of managing the site — unless some commenter gets out of control and I have to wield the ban-hammer.
OilersNation helped me get where I am today. It showed me I could be an entrepreneur, it allowed me to use my skills as a writer, an editor and a journalist, and it has enabled me to build a tremendous network of friends and colleagues within and outside of Edmonton.
To Wanye: thanks for having the patience to guide me when it was needed, and the mentorship know-how to let me fall down and get up on my own.
To Tim Hanas, president of Ignition Media: you gave me my start in the agency world, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if you hadn’t taken that chance. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
To Willis, Brownlee, Gregor, Lowetide, Amber, and all the writers at the other Nation sites: thank you for ensuring my life these past 3.5 years was never dull — and full of hilarious commentary and interesting, outstanding content. And thanks especially to Brownlee and Gregor, for giving me and all Nationeers glimpses into your lives.
To the members of the OilersNation community: you’re the reason this site has been such a success. Your comments, your Photoshop jobs, and even your FISTS have always put a smile on my face. Don’t ever stop.
To my close friends and family, and to all of the wonderful people I’ve met online and offline: I’m still here, I’m still working to build the Unknown Studio, to support my fellow members of the League of Extraordinary Media, and to really put Edmonton on the map as a place where people of all ages can achieve success and build something meaningful that enriches their community.
I called this the end of an era on Twitter this morning. But I like to look at it as the beginning of a new one.
To be continued. Constantly.