It all started with an email and a voice chat via Skype. I was running my small but thriving all-women's blog network, AboutWeblogs.com (one of the first at the time), back in 2005. The network was 30-blogs strong, with 20+ amazing women.
It was a challenge, single-handedly managing all of it, on top of my other commitments - including new motherhood. It was a wonderful challenge, nonetheless.
However, when Jeremy Wright and company approached me with an offer to become the fourth partner at the then-dozen-blogs-strong and very young b5media, my women bloggers and I were all thrilled with the prospect of teaming up. When the deal was done, we even called it a "marriage" of sorts. We were giddy with excitement.
Thus began the b5 roller coaster of my life - from getting our first $2 Million Dollar round in funding and becoming a Canadian company, to growing our staff to dozens and blog numbers up to 300+ strong... to all sorts of things that happened in-between - like merger and acquisition offers and corporate changes to blogging conferences and press/media coverage.
For a moment, it all seemed too good, too fast. We even ended up raising another few million dollars during a second round of funding some time in September 2008.
But, times are tough, I was told.
Even with the fresh injection of funding, the economic times aren't cooperating.
So, it all ended with another Skype chat. Well, sort of. On the 14th of January 2009, I used Skype to pay for the call to the b5 conference line - where the company COO and CEO broke the news to me.
Times are tough.
And that's how it ends.
I know I've done all I can to bring b5media to where it is right now. I know it will bring itself to where it should be one day. It doesn't need me to take it there.
The thing about working online though is that you don't get the chance to look people in the eye. To offer warm hugs to people you've learned to care for over the years. Or, to wave awkward farewells as the doors close one last time.
There are no tearful goodbyes in a virtual office.
But, I've already lost something... someone... very important - just 8 short months ago - without getting the chance to say goodbye. When my dad passed away suddenly on the 13th of May 2008, I never had the opportunity to give him one last hug, one last kiss... just to let him know how much he meant to me.
That's why I'm writing this right now, right here... to say goodbye to people that I wanted to say goodbye to. I hope you know who you are without me naming each and everyone of you. You're the ones I chatted with, cried with, laughed with, brainstormed with - even just with LOLs and dancing ninjas. You're the ones who saw me past the titles and the brand. To you, I say thanks. My life has been forever changed, just because you've been part of it. I hope you will continue to be part of it, one way or another.
So, here's the million dollar question of the moment: Where do I go from here?
Right now, I'm just weighing my options. I've got a couple of projects brewing. And, I intend to continue working on some of my blogs as personal projects. But, in terms of everything else - I'd like to take a bit of breathing and thinking space. So, even though things might be a bit tight in some areas during this time, I know that between my family and friends, we'll work something out.
A good friend already reminded me that I have had a lot of experience starting and building businesses over the years... and that I have had a good track record in my work life in various areas. So, when it comes to experience, knowledge, talent, and passion - I definitely have a good inventory, wherever I go... and whatever I end up doing.
Sure, it has been tough times, in more ways than one. After all, I score very highly on the stress test at this stage of my life - what with everything that has happened over the last 12 months alone.
But, in the words of the great Gregory Peck, "Tough times don't last, but tough people do, remember?"
Who knows what the next Skype chat will bring?
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.