If I could summarize the last years of my job before starting my company, I would quote Peter Gibbons from the movie Office Space, “I don’t like my job, and I don’t think I’m gonna go anymore.” The reality, however, was that I didn’t quit because the money was good. The issue wasn’t so much about the job as it was me. The problem was that it wasn’t the right job for me. As a result, I lagged, made errors, and the quality of my work suffered. It got so bad that at one point, management placed me into a closet turned office. There I sat, four years into my career, in a closet with no window and a door. I had a title but loathed to be doing something else. “How did I get here?” I asked myself.
My career started strong but, over a few years, appeared to have withered. Then it happened, after a few disappointing incidents, I was rightfully terminated. The owner called me into his office and said, “Carlos, I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you. I have to let you go.” He then elaborated, “I don’t think this career is for you. Have you considered other options?” Many would probably have felt defeated and depressed. Surprisingly enough, I was somewhat glad. Someone finally kicked me in the behind to do what I knew deep down inside I wanted to do and start my own business. This event was my sign, my blessing in disguise, the catalyst that would change my life. Apparently God had greater things for me.
In 2005, with my wife’s blessing, I founded Pumped, Inc., a brand development and digital marketing consultancy on a “wing and a prayer,” as they say. Pumped started with the idea to help small businesses and entrepreneurs build and grow their brands. Over the past seventeen years, our team of talented professionals has worked with over 100+ startups, entrepreneurs, and businesses across 45 industries. Starting from my home office, I eventually grew the consultancy into a six-figure company.
Then, in 2008, desiring to give back, I started Pumped For Change, Inc., a 501c(3) non-profit focused on raising funds and awareness for charities, causes, and organizations. That company has gone on to produce some outstanding work and assistance for various organizations.
I want to say it was all smooth sailing from the start, but it was anything but that. When I first started, I barely knew what a Balance Sheet was, let alone a P&L statement. Employee motivation, emotional intelligence, cashflow, servant-leadership? What’s that? I didn’t get the memo!
There’s a saying I came to value over time which is, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That phrase nicely encompasses my first decade in business. It seemed that everything I learned I did as I went along. Many times I paid with my time. At other times it was financially draining. There were quite a few occasions where I came close to calling it quits, praying for new business. At other times, I rejoiced at our success.
On top of all this, I was trying to be the best husband and father I could be but felt I lacked in that area. Many nights I went to bed disappointed I was not doing my best. I was both present and absent at the same time. Lost in my work, I would come home from a long day and then spend more hours at home behind a computer. Frustrated by my guilt and insecurity, I became short-tempered, impatient, and distant. The strain on my professional and personal life was becoming too much to shoulder on my own.