Aug 17

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.