In December of 2007, I sat in the conference room of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s office in Washington, DC. I knew nothing about the mortgage industry, or the impending housing crisis, and I didn’t care. I was taking my first shot as a communications consultant and I just wanted a job.
Professionally, I had hit a wall. After five years at a publicly traded company, which merged with a larger company, I had bounced around from one bad job to another for about 18 months.
For the past year, I had been the director of marketing for a company in the tenant in common industry, a sector of the real estate market that had experienced hyper growth for three years before coming to a spectacular crash. Unfortunately, I came in during the crash.
Lucky me, huh?
And it wasn’t so much the crash, which came very swiftly, as it was the lies and deceit – within my own company. I’ll never forget the CEO looking me in the eyes, in August of 2007, turning on that salesman charm and saying, “Brad, I consider you to be one of the top three guys in this company.”
I genuinely believed him until I got a call one day from our PR firm, asking me why they had received an email from someone named Lisa claiming to be the company’s director of marketing. I called the CEO and he said he knew nothing about that. He said he was going to call the PR firm personally and get to the bottom of it.
That was September of 2007.
In October of 2007, I was introduced to Lisa, who was taking over for me. Apparently, the Baltimore office was being closed, so the Baltimore partner and I were out. It looked like the CEO had finally gotten to the “bottom of it.”
I guess I wasn’t one of the top three guys in the company any more.
So there I was, in that conference room, at 1919 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, determined to resurrect my career.
It was blind luck that I was even there in the first place. My old neighbor worked in their government affairs shop and answered my mass email about communications consulting. It was all about timing and the fact that The Mortgage Bankers Association had a nice chunk of funding for a public relations project called “Telling the Complete Story”.
The industry was gearing up for what would become the housing crisis.
I was in the right place at the right time with the right former neighbor.
The senior vice president of marketing came into the conference room. She was my third interviewer of the morning. She asked me one question, “On a scale of one to ten, how good of a writer are you?”
Without missing a beat, I looked her in the eyes (much like my former boss had four months prior) and said, “Ten.”
She left the room for five minutes, came back, and said, “We’ll see you on Monday at 10am.”
Unbeknownst to me, my journey to the forefront of one of the most volatile financial periods in our nation’s history was about to begin.