Commentary: My Own 10-Year Challenge

2009 Volvo S60 1
Photo by Randy Stern

Did you have fun doing the 10-year challenge on social media?

I did. I stretched the rules a bit. This was really taking off when I was doing the La Crosse Day Trip Challenge. Since I was in a mocking mood, I decide to throw people off by putting up the first vehicle I officially reviewed – the 2011 Lexus IS 250C – with #VOTY18 – the 2018 Lexus LC 500h. It was an eight-year difference, but it illustrated a point. A point that has since been repeated since many times over.

It seems interesting that the 10-year challenge had been introduced at an opportune time of the year. Does it give us a chance to look back at ourselves as we progressed in and, maybe, around 10 years of our lives?

In my case, I felt compelled to look back at a bit on how I progressed from working a blog based on a poetry chapbook to what you are reading now. It also prompted me to look back on the industry this site is focused on, the subject matter that goes along with it, the issues and events that have shaped this journey over these past ten years.

The year 2009 was seen as the reboot from the Global Economic Crisis. However, it would be the year where the ripple effects from that economic downturn would hit at key areas. Personally, I was caught in the riptide of the economic downturn.

Before Barack Obama took the oath of office as President of the United States, banks and the automotive industry were already taking on loans from the Troubled Asset Relief Program set up by President George W. Bush. Both General Motors and Chrysler LLC approached the Bush Administration in 2008 to see whether the program can be extended to this vital industry. After some considerable debate, GM and Chrysler were loaned the funds needed to get out of their ruts. Ford Motor Company declined to participate in the TARP program as they were about to reinvent themselves through the OneFord program.

With Obama in the White House, economy recovery was slow to come. Yet, there was more than enough damage to many sectors where you had companies looking at shedding assets and/or considering bankruptcy. GM went into bankruptcy to determine which assets will survive or not. Chrysler immediately followed GM into bankruptcy to find a new owner – or partner. Their days of being under a private equity portfolio was essentially done.

Where I come into this mess was that I bore witness to it. Sadly, I would love to discuss my employment at the time with some explanation. The best way to put it is that it depended on the actions of my employer's clients for success or survival. My role in the automotive media was pretty inactive – only to blog about the cars I drove and the trips I took that year.

My baseball blogging was going strong. I still had my blog on MLB Advanced Media's server and focused my travel on the sport. Wherever I went, I took in a ballgame or some sort of sporting event. Automobiles were a mere second to my public face – or the face I was truly allowed to show at work.

However, my coworkers knew about my interest and knowledge of the automotive industry. Little did I know that interest and knowledge would leverage into something greater in less than two years. While I was still at my place of employment, I concentrated on the task at hand and enjoyed what I can outside the workplace.

Because the wounds of the Global Economic Crisis were still raw, my company gave way to a round of layoffs. I was one of them. I was sent packing first. Because I commuted by bus, I was sent home in a taxicab angry as hell.

That day in August of 2009 was not the end. It was actually a beginning.

While I was employed, I attended graduate school. The program at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota was in Arts and Cultural Management. Though I did earn my Master's Degree in 2011, I actually regretted doing that program. Of course, once you started something, it is always best to finish. Still, I felt it was the biggest bunch of crap I ever endeavored on my life.

I never got a job in an arts organization. Instead, I became an automotive journalist and a part of a consulting team. Only a small kernel of my learning from Saint Mary's is being used today.

It was a year that resembled Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde – a split personality that prompted a cause for personal change. It took some years, but I am certainly on my way. What I learned from 2009 was that my passion cannot be quelled in a mundane world, but I have to be the catalyst to make those changes towards that path in fulfilling my passion into a career and vocation.

I suppose that is my 10-year challenge…and it continues 10 years later. Just like life, it is always in constant evolution. While it was looking back, one must bless the past and move forward into the future.

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