June 12, 2017 will be the fifteenth anniversary of the day my father passed away. He was 61.
I have vivid memories of Sundays as a kid. My dad would be jovial in the morning, but by dinner time, there would be a sadness to him. I noticed it, but didn’t understand it until years later when he told me how much he didn’t like his work.
Over the years, he worked at a series of city, state, and federal government jobs. This provided him financial security, but not much else.
He spent the last five years or so of his life sharing the countdown to his retirement. That’s when he was going to enjoy the weekends, and Sunday nights through happy hour on Friday, too.
Things didn’t go as planned. He died shortly before the countdown to retirement reached zero days.
That had a big impact on me. At the time, I was running the affiliate program for ClubMom.com, and my book, “Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants” was recently published. I was steadily making progress career-wise with titles and salaries, but I was missing something.
I started noticing that my Sunday nights were getting harder. I was feeling unsatisfied with my job. Well, it was more a feeling like I was wasting my time. I was living the movie Office Space, and I even had a Red Swingline Stapler on my desk.
Each day, as I settled into my cubicle, I’d feel like I couldn’t breathe all the way. That’s not some metaphor. It was real. The idea that I was going to settle for weekends was suffocating me. Something had to change.
That’s where serendipity came into play. A year earlier, I’d met Missy Ward at an event called Affiliate Force. We were conference friends and virtual strangers. We hung out again in April 2003 at the annual Affiliate Force, and got to talking about ways the event could be better, but how the organizer was resistant to our ideas.
A few weeks later, we had a chat on the phone, and AffiliateSummit.com was registered on May 19, 2003. Both of us kept our day jobs as we struggled to get this new idea off the ground. There were lots of hurdles, including a lack of money and experience.
Over time, we left our jobs to focus on Affiliate Summit. Being my own boss got me in a good place. A place where Sunday nights were now exciting, because there were new opportunities ahead of me on Monday morning.
I was in a good place in my head, but not geographically. Then a move to Austin got me in a great place.
This was my tribe: people who spoke my language. They worked at startups and tech companies. Mentioning affiliate marketing got a knowing glance, instead of a twisted face of confusion. I got them, and they got me.
Plus… sunshine and tacos.
I don’t think I’ll ever retire. My dad probably thinks I’m crazy.