Have you had a crucible moment?

tug-of-war-125x125Don Spetner writes a consistently wise and insightful column for PR Week. In his most recent piece, Spetner shared his crucible career moment.

It occurred when he was being raked over the coals by a bullying, belligerent and bullheaded client. It got so bad that Spetner was seriously contemplating changing careers.

I’ll let you read the full story to find out how Spetner dealt with his crucible moment. But his words inspired me to write about mine.

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away I was an aspiring account executive for a number of PR firms. While I took to PR like a fish to water, I must admit there were aspects to the job I didn’t much care for (i.e. A.P. reporters who hung up on me in mid-sentence, clients who yelled and screamed at me in front of my boss or the shark-infested political waters of the large agency world).

As my disenchantment grew, my father-in-law happened to mention he was selling his restaurant, a legendary Manhattan steak house called Frankie & Johnnie’s. My wife, who also happened to be in PR (and truly loathed it) suggested we buy it. I was young and naïve, so I said, “Sure!”

Happily, my father-in-law flat out rejected our inquiries, saying, “I wouldn’t wish that lifestyle on anyone, much less family members.”

Duly chastened, we both went back to our day jobs. I figured I better concentrate on what I did best. And, sure enough, within a few months I began a true love affair with PR that continues to this day. As for my wife, she turned to personal training.

But, what if my father-in-law had yes that day? That’s easy. It would have been an unmitigated disaster. Neither my wife nor I knew beans about running a business, much less a famous steakhouse.

What about you? Have you had a crucible moment like Don and me? If so, please share. I’ll bet it’s as juicy as an F&J’s rib-eye.

3 thoughts on “Have you had a crucible moment?

  1. In my mid-20s, I was working for a currency trading firm owned by, dare I say, two “bad guys” from Chicago. I was working in their New York sales office, and one morning my boss physically attacked me over an overnight trade dispute caused by faulty technology. I ran out of the office and didn’t come back for over a week. His boss, one of the “bad guys”, flew into New York to have lunch with me, begging me to stay aboard by promising various incentives (higher title, more money, etc…). I begrudgingly accepted his offer and went back to work, though when I asked to clarify my new title and salary, he didn’t seem to recall promising me anything! Now I knew this guy’s true colors…

    I hung around for a few more weeks, barely lifting a finger. Then I got an interesting phone call… The firm’s controller in Chicago had quit. I suspected something was seriously wrong. So I quit the next day. Chastened by the experience, I wrote an article for a trade publication about how a lot of these brokerages were closing, which later led to an associate editor job, and later a PR job!

    My old firm would close a few months after I left following a mass exodus to another firm by the entire New York office. And what happened to those two “bad guys”? Well, they’re both in federal prison. Turns out they were looting the company and living a lavish lifestyle financed by customers’ trading funds. The guy who attacked me? We eventually made amends and remain friends.