What Are You Doing With The Rest Of Your Life?
Best Gurl commemorates 30 years of business in May 2017
Founder Thom Gossom Jr. “looks back” in a series of blogs
It was as though the cover of Esquire Magazine was talking directly to me.
Americans at Work: A Special Year-End Edition
What Are You Doing With the Rest of Your Life?
I took the question personally. What was I doing with the rest of my life? By May 1987, I not only had the answer, I had acted on it. This month, May 2017 marks my 30-year anniversary as a business owner/creative entrepreneur. It’s a path I carved out for myself; and what a ride!
I began the year 1987, my 35th on the earth, with the idea that I would go out on my own, work for myself. I liked the work I was doing. It was better and more sustaining than trying to make someone’s professional football team, which I had done the years right after college. I particularly enjoyed a friendship with the people I worked for. They were interested in assisting me make the transition from athlete to a career in management. They were great to me and taught me lessons I still employ today in my work. But I had an itch I needed to scratch. I was sure I wanted to start my own PR/ Communication firm using the lessons I had learned from 8½ years in management at BellSouth/AT&T. I was sure, but not sure enough to act on it or tell anybody.
What Are Your Doing With The Rest Of Your Life? pushed me out the door.
The last four years at BellSouth had been a cram session in executive management, executive support and what we called “managing up,” Managing the senior executives’ daily lives, which helped to make them successful in their careers and allowed me to be successful at my job.
As a PR manager, my job was outside the company boundaries. I worked on the President’s staff at one of the smaller BellSouth companies. My boss, a district manager, was the President’s and Vice President’s main man. He got things done. I learned from him.
Often times, I dealt with media, the press, other industries, community interests, and just managed a hodge-podge of initiatives that moved the stakeholders’ interest to the next dot. I was good at it. When I was asked what exactly I did, I liked to say, “I get things done.” But…. there was that itch. And it needed scratching.
There were lots of loose ends to tie up. As a matter of fact, they were all loose ends but somehow they quickly came together. There was the talk with my boss at the company. It took nearly three months for it to finally sink in that I was serious. Finally, I wrote the resignation letter and set the date for May.
There were hurdles to jump over. There were always hurdles within the job and outside of it. Inside the company, I would have to tell the people who had been very good to me that I wanted to leave. Outside the company, I would have to tell family and others that I was leaving my good job to speculate, to go out on my own. After I crossed those hurdles there were the rumors around town that I had been fired.
No. Sink or swim, I was leaving on my own. I only had to convince one person. Me!
What are you doing with The Rest of Your Life?
I was sure. My 92-year-old dad now says, “It worked out.”
I quickly moved to secure clients. My previous employer initially hired me. We continued that relationship for the next 13 years. I signed up two more utility clients and ran my high school friend’s campaign for Birmingham City council and hired a staff. We were rolling.
Looking back, it’s been an incredible ride. It was definitely a leap of faith. The company Thom Gossom Communication, inc. went through several versions of itself but it always sustained me, and later my loved ones; and has eventually morphed into Best Gurl, inc. I ended up dividing my time between the business and later on working fulltime as a professional actor and writer.
Working for myself has meant working much longer hours, being on the road most of my adult life, less time at home and less security than most. It has also meant adventure, learning about different businesses, meeting people, more control of my financial situation and establishing friendships, I never would have had. I’ve worked in 15 states and all across Canada. I’ve met many wonderful people along the way; stars in both industry and entertainment.
The work has allowed me to make contributions to the communities I’ve lived in, give back to my alma maters, serve as a role model to others and selfishly explore my creative side.
The framed Esquire Magazine cover now hangs on the wall over the desk in my office. Thirty years later, it continues to ask me, What Are You Doing With The Rest Of Your Life?