7:59am, San Antonio
I rush to The Arsenal, H-E-B's headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, trying to stay dry. Orientation starts in a mere one minute and I don't want to be late. I pass through security and open the door I find 40 people standing in a circle around the outside perimeter of the medium-sized room. Some of them have badges, some don't. I see few people in line, to get badges, I assume. As I stand in line to check in, I gaze around the room. Then it hits me: I'm an H-E-B employee now, an accomplishment that I had only dreamed about 7 years earlier. How is this possible?
My freelance business was a disaster. After spending many hours and hundreds of dollars on hosting and related startup costs, I didn't have a lot to show. I was advertising on craigslist and using Google AdWords, but received only a few leads. In general, things didn't pan in my favor.
I had just joined the team at Saccone's Pizza, a local pizzeria that served pizza "with a Jersey attitude." The pizza was good, and I was making (some) money: $7.50/hr., to be exact. While working part-time, I was still struggling to launch Malone Web Solutions, my business.
It's around 10am and I'm in my bedroom, reading on my computer when I get a call from Larry Hines, a neighbor. "I'm at Starbucks," he says. "I'm with a friend who might have work for you." I was all in. Fifteen minutes later I find myself at the coffee shop talking to Tom, a local small-business owner. After a brief conversation -- in which I show him some of my web development work -- we agree to meet at his office.
I had never worked in an office environment, but was excited and nervous about the opportunity. After pulling into the parking lot, I was surprised at how small the business was. I was expecting hundreds of people, but in reality Tom only had about 25 employees. The first person I meet is Rebecca, a designer who Tom says I will be working with.
(To be continued.)