Friday, September 19, 2014

September brings a lot of changes. One of those changes is that last Wednesday was my last day at Disney. Yes, you read that right. I'm leaving a company, job, coworkers and boss that I adore. Unlike my last stint with Disney, where I tried my darnedest to get hired full-time at the end of my 18-month contract, this time it's of my own doing after only seven months. When I took the job, I had no intention to leave before my 18-month contract ended. Like I'd mentioned in a previous post, I was over the moon about being back.

There are so many highlights from that job that it will be hard to include all of them, like hearing my words spoken by well-known actors during recording sessions for our apps. So cool to hear the guy who trained Harrison Ford to use a whip for Indiana Jones, reciting my words with verve, intent and character in the recording studio. Or, see Mandy Moore voice a great "yee-haw!" for our Sheriff Callie app, because we decided it needed to be there. And, for our Doc McStuffins app, to watch the wonderful Loretta Divine voice Hallie, again, with some lines that I'd written, and the hilarious Robbie Rist bring the lines that I'd written for Stuffy alive. It was my history of movies and television, and this time I wasn't just a passive viewer or window-dressing wordsmith in a marketing-driven environment, but a part of creating the product. And the perks of working for such a great company, like summer carnivals, Star Wars Day and Earth Day festivals right on campus cannot go unmentioned. Also, my coworkers were stunningly talented artists, designers, animators, sound designers, composers, producers. C'mon... it's Disney. Most important of all, a group of great people who had an awesome sense of humor.
Me and stormtroopers, Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you.

Thankfully, my boss at Disney was not only understanding, but excited for me. She'd told me from day one that if I found something full-time, to pursue it. Still, it was hard to tell her. She was an awesome boss and I learned a lot from her. Smart as hell, too. I also really liked the other two editors that were in our department. Great guys, one who was named after Superman. No, not Clark Kent, but his Krypton name. His father is a renowned comic book artist and he's got an incredible ear for storytelling. The other editor writes graphic novels and is also from Kansas. How cool is that?

My impending departure had me sad for the last week and a half, but I had the distraction of making sure people have the files they need, that my tasks are completed and that my exit leaves no unfinished seams for my coworkers to have to sew up. I was dreading the "last week," as I always do when it comes to hearing the hiss of the air brakes being released on the wheels of change and feeling that first forward movement. When going through change, I tend to hold my emotions close to the vest, and it can appear that I'm pulling away, when really I'm just taking everything and everyone in. And of course, processing my choice. I fear that I can appear cold or detached, when that is exactly the opposite of what is happening.

I made the decision to leave my coveted Disney job to take a full-time job at a promising "disruptor" start-up that strives to be the "Uber" of mortgage lending. A long-time friend had been gently, and after a month or so, not so gently recruiting me to join them. Upon her urging, I met with the founders and heads of departments, and was extremely impressed with their product and their outlook on why this industry is rife for disruption. The professional landscape has changed, with more people being self-employed, contractors, business owners and so on, which has changed what makes up a viable borrower. However, because of the banks self-imposed lending crisis, those professionals, who don't fit the government-backed banks' strict and outdated qualification parameters, are left out of the dream of being a homeowner. Oh, I am SO all over that.

The company appeals to my rebel side being a disruptor, my entrepreneurial side to be a part of building a business, and I count myself and my friends among those very people that they are targeting. It fills a cavernous hole left by the housing crisis, providing loans to high-quality borrowers who don't fit into the traditional income mold. And, has serious backing by the likes of Spark Capitol, who backed a few small start-ups that also had promise, including a couple you may have heard of called Twitter and Tumbler.

I'm about to finish my first week of the new job, and it's been great. I really enjoy the work, they have a great industrial space in Pasadena, a fun and positive startup vibe, and the people are smart and work well together. And, the feeling that we're onto something great charges the air. People are excited. Plus, I'm really enjoying working for someone who is not only a friend, but a professional whom I respect, and who always gets the best work out of me.

For lack of a better way to put it, this felt like a very empowered, adult decision. Not boring adult, but well, just adult. I'm a full-time employee, make a lot more money and I received equity in the company. I can't even begin to say how good that feels. I'm still catching up from my almost year of being out of regular full-time work a couple years ago after my first 18-month contract with Disney ended, and I'm impatient to get ahead again.

However, there's one very treacherous discovery I've made. The Pasadena Antique Mall is right next door. I'm doomed.