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This month is ten years since I quit my job at Pfizer.

Technically, I didn’t quit. My position was eliminated as part of a broader HR restructuring. My husband’s job was eliminated, too. I signed a release and waiver, and I was given a severance package that provided some coverage while I transitioned to a new role. That new role was a full-time blogger and speaker at Punk Rock HR LLC, which seemed full of endless possibility back in 2007.

My entrepreneurial journey seemed strong.

In the early days of unemployment, we slept late and went to the gym. My husband cooked elaborate meals, and we saw a lot of movies. We enjoyed one another’s company because we knew it would be temporary. We spent a lot of our free time volunteering at the local animal rescue. I looked for rescue dogs, something we’d talked about since I moved in with my husband. And I blogged a lot.

Then a whole bunch of stupid things happened.

First, we moved from Michigan to North Carolina for my husband’s new job but couldn’t sell our home in Kalamazoo. When we finally sold it, we took a big financial hit. Then my father-in-law passed away. My mom had chronic health problems. Then my husband lost his job in North Carolina. Twice. The late aughts and early teens were full of ridiculously boring obstacles and hurdles. We never had children of our own, we stopped fostering kittens and being involved in the animal rescue community, and we never adopted a dog.

I can’t say how my husband felt during the past ten years, but I suffered from intermittent low-level depression and anxiety. Yes, I enjoyed my career as a blogger and speaker. But even I took a job at a marketing agency for a little while just to relieve the financial pressure and to get out of the house so my husband could have time for himself to find a new job.

Thankfully, this story isn’t too depressing.

There’s nothing but good news to report in 2017. My husband works for an excellent company, and we emerged from the recession relatively unscathed. Our cats are happy, and we adopted our black cat, Roxy, back in late 2014. But, while our story has a relatively happy ending, I can see how career and economic upheaval during the early and pivotal years of a relationship can lead to tough conversations in the later years of marriage.

Right now, we’re in the middle of asking ourselves a lot of questions. Who are we as individuals and as a Ruettimann-team? What do we want from our careers? How do we view retirement? How do we continue to be interesting people with a purpose as we get older? How much time do we want to spend together and apart? Who takes care of us when we get older? Is it possible to be financially secure and start a new company like GlitchPath?

I’m not ready for the next financial or emotional recession.

Everybody changes, but I am an entirely different person than the woman who left her job at Pfizer. From my appearance to my outlook on life, it’s all a switcheroo. I’m a successful writer and speaker by some accounts, but I’m also a nascent entrepreneur who never thought she’d be worried about indemnifying her husband’s retirement plans against risk.

And I’m also a middle-aged woman who knows that the economy could flip in a heartbeat. I refuse to go back to a place of emotional and marital disarray and confusion. How do I keep it all together — my company, my marriage, and my sanity?

I’m not sure. I’ll keep writing about all of this if you continue reading. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over ten years, it’s that my entrepreneurial journey cannot exist separately from the journey and evolution of my marriage. I have a husband and a mortgage. I don’t have the luxury of being a young CEO who can burn the candle at both ends and bet on future earnings. It’s just us.

The good news is that I feel informed and prepped for all the things that might go wrong. I’ve spent the past ten years finding moments of success in a landscape of failure. No matter what happens with my career or my life, I know that I’ll endure.

It would just be great to get a goddamn dog.

9 Responses to My Entrepreneurial Journey
  1. GreggB (Some Random Guy)

    FWIW Laurie, the Barks Bunch and I thank for your volunteer work in animal rescue.

  2. Ken Klaus

    Thanks for 10 wonderfully funny and insightful years. It’s been a joy to be on this journey with you, your husband, and your cats. I’m in for another 10 or for as long as you still love doing this.

  3. toddx (@toddx)

    Cheers, Laurie. And here’s to the next 10 years and to getting that dog!

  4. Shane

    Thanks for your continued openness in your writing!

  5. Robyn McIntyre

    I continue to admire you, Laurie, and hope for the best for you and your husband and kitties.

  6. Karen

    I’m “a few” years older than you are, and have survived a lot of recessions, ’73 (and the gas shortages), the gas lines in the late 70s, ’82, ’91, ’01, ’08, plus 3 lay offs for my husband and one for me. Plus 20 years in the staffing industry. I finally gave in and went to work in HR for a state supported university. I figured it could never be relocated to Texas… or overseas. Having always hated bureaucracy, I now find it oddly comforting. Anyway, I Just want to thank you for all of your writing over the last 10 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long. Now I sound like a stalker. =) I wish you all the best, and that your company will be wildly successful.

  7. […] a project manager. Everything I do — from making coffee to launching a company to fixing my ma... laurieruettimann.com/take-survey-project-management
  8. Rob @ Pounse

    Hey Laurie, I’m very excited for you and your business… you’re funny! I like funny. And I like smart too. I just quit my 9 to 5 job to start my next startup – and boy oh boy am I having a blast. If we build our businesses with a strong foundation of good people, a diverse client base, and a simple path to success – we can survive any recession. If we don’t survive, we can all go in on buying an oil drum and huddle around it when winter comes, and drink whiskey, and get you that dog.

  9. Paul Jones III

    Well of COURSE you will endure, and you will thrive. Take it one day at a time, and do what your soul tells you. Feed that.