While I mainly write about the intersection of marketing and technology, I also enjoy sharing personal essays and a behind the scenes look into my work.
I call these Wil's Sunday. Enjoy this week's article below.
I like getting up early in the morning. Weekday. Weekend. Seeing the day come to life is a great gift.
My family was big on early starts, whether road travel or getting to the airport or heading into the office.
Before September 11, 2001, we'd drop my dad off at the airport a few hours early. "Just in case", after we'd ask "why so early?" for the umpteenth time. How little did we know that'd become the norm.
Guess we were early to that, too.
I was working at a boutique investment bank. We focused on fusing different cultures, technologies and businesses together.
- Buy side
- Sell side
- Fund raising
Software firms were our main focus. I became a spreadsheet junky.
Coming off a five-ish year stint at an optronics company as a systems/network administrator in Silicon Valley and undergrad studies in telecommunications in the East Bay, this gig seemed to fuse my own interests, skills and experience.
Plus, you know. San Francisco!
Big buildings. Street cars. Hills. The ocean. The bay.
Initially taking BART to and from San Francisco each day stunted my city life. When I finally moved into the city, it was game time.
Waking up early in the morning and walking around San Francisco is magical:
- The sun bouncing off tall buildings
- The buzz of bagel spots receiving their daily orders
- The zombie-like office workers heading into their 9-hour shifts
- The shoeshine guy setting up his rig
- The dings from the trolleys and buses
I was in my one-bedroom apartment getting ready for the delay. Having a small, enclosed outdoor patio was a big plus. Opening those doors in the morning was an extra perk to starting the day.
I had CNBC on the television as background noise, listening to Squawk Box. Joe, Maria, David. All talking about the big news of the day.
Depending on the weather, I'd walk into work. Crossing Polk Street, then a big climb up Sacramento or Clay Streets gave a picturesque view of the Bay.
The Golden Gate Bridge on the left. Bay Bridge on the right. Alcatraz out in the distance. A very SF view.
Walking meant that I had to plan my morning around a 15-minute commute, including picking up coffee and breakfast. If I was aiming for a 6:30 arrival that morning, I'd leave a bit after 6:00.
I was getting all my things together when the tone of Squawk Box shifted.
I've always been a curious kid. Taking gadgets and games apart before playing with them. Then putting them back together when my mom glared at me, arms folded.
While I knew the office would likely be closed, I headed in anyway. I thought what was happening back east was a different world. Outside of a few trips back to Ohio, I really hadn't traveled east past Utah.
As I took my normal route, popping out on Market Street near Fourth Street, the eery silence finally hit me:
- The sun still bouncing off tall buildings
- The bagel spots receiving their daily orders were much quieter
- There were no zombie-like office workers heading into their 9-hour shifts
- The shoeshine guy wasn't setting up his rig
- The dings from the trolleys and buses were muted
I worked in a high-rise building at Market Street and Second Street. When I arrived, I waved my pass and talked to the front desk. They noted the building would be operating at less-than-full strength today.
I called my boss to let him know the office was closed. When he asked how I knew, I let him know I was in the lobby.
He kindly thanked me and suggested that it would be a slow day today. I should plan on working remotely the rest of the week.
As I turned around to make the 15-minute walk home, it all set in.
Things would be different.