He who parties last, parties best

It was 15 years ago today that I held what was supposed to be a backyard pool party for my Steveanded fellow employees at Brouillard Communications. I’d selected the date a few weeks earlier and invited my inner circle (I was at war with the CEO and, naturally, asked only those folks who shared my progressive, statesmanlike POV on things).

In the days leading up to the pool party, things further deteriorated between the CEO and me. I felt compelled to call a showdown session on that Friday and came loaded for bear. I was armed with multiple memos detailing how he’d undermined me, uninvited me from meetings and second-guessed my decisions. Imagine my surprise when, upon entering his private conference room (a sanctum sanctorum, if you will), I was greeted by the CEO, the CFO and the head of human resources for J. Walter Thompson (the parent company). Rather than discussing my ultimatum, they laid out the terms and conditions of my severance package, demanded I sign the paperwork and immediately leave the premises. I refused to sign but did bolt forthwith, tail tucked firmly between my legs.

Now, fast forward to my pool party the next day. Is it a party if no one shows? No one did. Except for good, old Edward Aloysius Moed (who had quit two weeks beforehand and set-up Moed Communications in his squalid, one bedroom east side apartment). Ed and I split a case of beer, tossed a baseball around and discussed next steps. He was planning one of his frequent Caribbean pilgrimages and would be gone for 10 days. That was fine. I needed the time to reflect, recover and plot next steps. I figured I could always find another job, so why not take the plunge and start a business with Sir Edward (note: Ed was knighted after opening Peppercom’s London office in 2001). The only things standing in the way were two mortgages, two car payments, raising two kids and a wife who didn’t earn a paycheck.

I decided to give it a shot. I called Ed, told him I’d show up at his apartment the Tuesday after Labor Day and see what would happen. We both agreed to give it six months. I raised $12,500 in seed money to pay for a computer and other start-up necessities, Ed created an office infrastructure, and we both started smiling and dialing. The rest, as they say, is history.

It’s nice to reflect back on Peppercom’s beginnings. I’d actually forgotten about the party that wasn’t. And, the people who decided it wasn’t politically expedient to attend. They’ve moved on to other things. The agency in question went belly up a few years back. And, we’re in the midst of planning a 15th anniversary shindig to celebrate. I guess he who parties last, parties best.

25 thoughts on “He who parties last, parties best

  1. Wow, congratulations Steve and Ed.
    Amazing story. It’s always great to see good people thrive and succeed. You should be very proud of yourselves.

  2. The case of the missing luggage remains unsolved, Peter. Poor Norman Goluskin probably still has nightmares over it.

  3. Thanks Peter. It’s been a long, strange trip since the aborted overhead transparency pitch to Elaine Bolle at Western Union.

  4. Many congratulations to two surprisingly savvy entrepreneurs. May your magical mystery tour keep bringing joy everywhere.

  5. Thanks Syd. We may continue our successful ways or, a la the Fab Four, call it quits while we’re still on top. Ed’s been threatening to release a solo album for some time now. And, BTW, Ted is the walrus.

  6. Thanks so much, Julie. And happy birthday. Actually, the ill-fated party occurred on August 18th. What was to become Peppercom opened its doors (the battered one permitting access to Ed’s squalid, one-bedroom apartment) on September 1, 1995.

  7. Steve – Talk about turning lemons into lemonade…I love a story with a happy ending… And the best part is I had no idea that the anniversary of Peppercom fell on my birthday — Aug. 17th!

  8. Thanks Frank. You were one of the key people who helped make it so bizarre. I’ll never forget the CEOs response to your telling him you were getting married.

  9. Thanks bookandbloggeek. Yes, my MIL not only loaned us the money, but refused to be paid back. As for me, I’m rapidly recuperating from my Russian aches and pains and plan to be back on a mountain soon.

  10. Congratulations Steve! I remember a post some time ago about your dear departed MIL and the seed money. What a smart woman. Here’s to the next 15 years. (Oh and I hope you are feeling better soon)! Your picture may look great, but I’m told there is a bit of wear and tear under those clothes.

  11. I was hired by Hagan as well!
    As for the party, I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone. I bet I can still party best, too.
    To smiling, dialing…and Peppercom’s continued success.

  12. I appreciate your honesty, Greg. I guess the wear and tear of the last 15 years have really exacted a toll on poor Ed. That said, he was really something special to look at way back when.

  13. I suppose he’s not “Measuring Up” to what he once was…looks a little scruffy to me. Must have have been the partying from the Giants win over the Jets last night.

  14. Thanks Stacy. That means a lot. Reading Allison Hagen’s name again certainly brought back some memories. She remains one of our best placement people ever.

  15. And about 3 years after the pool party that wasn’t, on a snowy January day, I came in for an interview with Allison Hagan after 6 lousy months on the job at a large PR agency. I have to say it remains one of the best decisions I ever made to trek in through the 12″ of snow (that, and coming back for a second stint a few years later!). I still pull from my experiences at Peppercom on a daily basis.
    I can appreciate the risk you took even more now that I have a mortgage and two kids. It’s definitely paid off. So, party on, Steve and Ed!