Why Getting Fired From My First Startup Turned Out To Be Thing That Ever Happened To Me

Jon Westenberg teaches me life lessons and shares inspirational stories that end up in my inbox and are never left unread. His writing style is succinct and exuberant and his article, How To Publish 6 Blog Posts Every Week, he motivated me to create a schedule for my writing which brings me to this article. I had no intention on publishing this yet but he helped me realize the importance of consistent, targeted, and (did I say?) consistent posting.

I also find great solace in Jeff Goins writing as I’ve stated in a previous article I wrote, Instant Gratification For Your Struggling Media Presence.

Original Image from iSymbolize Media

Lastly, props to Tiffany Sun for having the guts to publish, How love f*cked my career. Powerful stuff, Tiffany. PLEASE read their stories but please take a few more minutes to read my story.

It’s about time I become vulnerable and share a time in my life where I thought I’d never recover.

Image Credit — Harvard Business Review

The Background Story (Flashback to December 2015 when I originally wrote this all below):

…..I was approximately 5 months into working at a startup in Downtown Washington, DC when I had a feeling, it wasn’t a good one either. It was right before the holidays and rumors were that someone in sales was being let go. It has happened before and I knew it again, it was me.

It was a time where the startup I’m working for actually wants to (and does) fire me. I wrote down “The Story,” “The Aftermath,” “The Rationale,” and “The Turnaround” immediately after it happened (3–4 months ago) knowing that I’d want to publish once I felt a certain threshold of success.

Here it is:

Hello and a Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

Original iSymbolize Media Graphic

The Story:

I received an odd email from Shawn (my boss) Monday after work regarding time that needed to be put aside for us to chat. The coming Wednesday was “Work from Home Wednesday” and I was told to come into the office the next day (Tuesday).

Though my initial reaction was very negative, I ended up finding ways to tell myself it isn’t as bad as it seems because, let’s get real, it isn’t that bad. Working from home is a privilege so the fact that I wasn’t able to one day isn’t going to ruin anything. It was Wednesday afternoon, roughly 4 PM EST and I was working hard, knocking out admin. work relieved to get through the day unscathed.

Image Credit — http://troli.me

I was suddenly sent a Slack message to meet in Tesla (our meeting rooms were named after innovators) as soon as possible and I immediately responded, “Great!” I said this because I don’t get much face time with my direct manager and gratitude is better than attitude. This conversation is the same one I expected and 10 minutes in, fingers are being pointed, circle walking begins, anxiety reaches it’s peak, and the walls began to rumble due to the tone of his voice.

Image Credit — Kelly Bayles ‘Job Humor’ Pinterest Board

I tried to interject, but I failed to get through every time because he wasn’t having anyone rain on his management parade. With finesse and laser focus, I managed to get a few words out.

I muttered, “I do respect you Shawn, I simply do not enjoy being micro-managed and belittled on a regular basis.”

You can now imagine a squeezed doll face with eyes popping out due to stress and ambiguity.

Image Credit — COMARU Stress-Relief Doll

After the brief lapse in conversation, Shawn goes on to say, “I am very understanding, especially with you, Robert.” I’m multi-tasking as I begin to rationalize in my head.


“Though he doesn’t seem like he appreciates my work and always accuses me of being armed with excuses, we get along and after we get through this we will be even stronger.”

I actually liked my boss a lot. We got along, I let him manage me into the ground (lol), and we played Ping Pong regularly. I subconsciously tell myself that he is understanding and as always, it was Robert from the Content Division who was acting out with his progressive, millennial attitude.

But wait…

There is a sudden but temperamental battle cry coming out with additional words about my lack of accountability and unwillingness to succeed and I finally just lost it.

I squeezed my eyes closed and said to myself, “f*** this, I’m living my dream.” I planned on working from my home ‘headquarters’ and starting my dream idea from scratch….

Image Credit — BBC News Blog ThinkStock

Literally. This had been on my mind for so long and I was one task away from execution: quitting my full-time job to pursue my startup idea full-time: iSymbolize Media.

With a renewed feeling of passion and dignity, I stated with a boisterous undertone, “I am leaving and going to think about my options as they relate to future career opportunities.

Image Credit — memegenerator.net

I thought I’d blow up too! I can’t believe I suddenly bloomed into a mature and thoughtful employee and I couldn’t be happier I left with my head high.

I felt like my final statement was going to be some ingratiating salute to management with fierce sarcasm and poise.

Not the case whatsoever. I was respectful and actually left in a manner that I did not regret.


I thought about how fast my mind was running with lips quivering as I think through the short duration of 7 seconds in between my resignation and his response.

How am I going to pay rent?

How am I going to pay bills?

How can I live without this job?

Well, there are many ways. First off, keep a positive attitude because fighting through the tough times makes the good times that much fucking better. As Frank Sinatra once said, “The Best Revenge Is Massive Success”

Original iSymbolize Media Graphic

You hear that, Shawn?

Well I sure do. The bells are ringing, life is exciting, and I wake up everyday knowing I made the best decision of my life.

TURNAROUND (Written back in Dec. ‘15 as well)

My name is Robert Straus and I am the Founder of iSymbolize Media. We are a lean startup focused on building relationships, forging partnerships, and staying on the up-and-up with regards to new marketing technologies (Periscope, Blab, SocialQuant, etc. etc.).. Our business model guarantees success by forging mutually beneficial relationships for ourselves and of course, you!

Disclaimer: Much of that has since changed #leanstartup

I actually wrote the statement below after originally writing this article. Who was I trying to kid? I was distraught but more motivated than ever.

Win or lose, I am happy both ways. Of course winning would be great but things take time and I have never been so happy in my life. Living, breathing, and working a brand that was developed by myself is extremely empowering! My plate may be filled to the top but who cares, it’s Christmas!

Cinderella Story? We will find out soon enough.

I’ve only officially had this business running for about 72 hours so the phrase, “time will tell” is certainly appropriate. No matter the outcome, I am glad to get out of the strong hold of an abrasive manager who thought we had no intelligence or innovation. If he did, he wouldn’t tell us a single thing because he loves keeping his employees in the dark. Again, I feel horrible saying this but BOY DOES IT FEEL GOOD!……

Flashbacks are over!

Now What? Now back to Present: March 2016

I suppose I ended up getting a little feisty at the very end. When I re-read “BOY DOES IT FEEL GOOD” I was certain I was aggressively motivated (the best kind of motivation).

In all honesty, I don’t have some crazy success story for you. I have a brand with actual paying customers and I have what I would say is a moderately impressive digital media presence which is all I wanted. I knew that if you lead them ‘with the product’ you will succeed. This is opposed to leading your customer ‘to the product’ which is typically in the form of spamming. My primary goal was to see if I could start a brand from scratch and I’d say I successfully slaughtered this goal.

I have achieved over 1,000 followers on Pinterest, 1,500 followers on Twitter (as of 15 minutes ago ironically enough), and I am gaining traction in every other social media outlet including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. I celebrate the small wins and have achieved a rich social media pipeline with these followers.

Original iSymbolize Media Graphic

I have real, paying customers who enjoy my product and enjoy my personality. These are customers who saw the website that I built: www.isymbolizemedia.co.

Last Disclaimer: I ask that you please bear with me. Official and final website launch is March 15th at 9 AM for my Google AdWords Cherry Popping March Madness Campaign.

I really appreciate you reading this and would truly appreciate you recommending this article. There will be 5–7 posts on Medium as well as 5–7 posts on my company blog per week moving forward, starting March, 15.

Keep inspiring, everyone. Have a great weekend.

Happy Reading!

Robert Straus

Founder, iSymbolize Media

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