"Michelada, Anyone?" January 8th 2009 - Farewell Letter at Mattel
The “Harshest Recession in Sixty Years”--that was the headline of the BusinessWeek article that I read over the holidays while in Cuernavaca, a small town outside of Mexico City, as I sipped a “Michelada” (pronounced Me-che “like the Latin American fighter”-lada), a Mexican elixir. The facts of the article were alarming: a 3.7% annual rate of decline in real consumer spending, a 12% plunge in factory orders, the biggest three-month drop in jobs since 1975, and on and on. I couldn’t help but think that I must be completely crazy to leave my job to start my own business.
When I tell my family and friends that February 2nd 2009 will be my last day at my stable, cozy job with great benefits, amazing cafeteria, half days on Friday--to open my own business (a no-revenue, highly competitive dot-com startup), they just look at me and shake their heads, giving a look of pity to my lovely wife, who replies with a heroic, “This is his dream and I’m in it with him, for better or for worse.” The words “for worse” keep me awake at night, imagining my daughters working at the school cafeteria while I drive a taxi, but the words “for better” are the ones that motivate me to grow, to learn, and to try new things, with all the risks, joys, and fears that come along with change.
So like Jerry McGuire, I’m sending my philosophical letter, grabbing my fish (Friend, I’ll need your fish for my dramatic exit) and saying goodbye--although without all the bitterness. I’m not asking any of you to come with me, but if you’ve had the patience to read this far in between meetings, I would like to tell you that, as a survival strategy for the cold world that awaits me on February 2nd, I will carry with me (in my HR-permitted take-away box) what each of you has taught me throughout these wonderful twelve years. In this box, I’m packing your friendship, your laughter, your work ethics, your smarts, your support, and all of the moments that have connected us.
For all of these moments and the ones to come, I raise my Michelada with a toast to you all.
Recipe for the famous Michelada:
1. Pour 12 ounces of tomato juice or Clamato into a chilled, salt-rimmed glass.
- A few drops of hot sauce, such as Valentina, Bufalo, or Tabasco sauce.
- A few drops of Worcestershire sauce.
- A few drops of Maggi seasoning or soy sauce.
3. Squeeze a wedge of lime and stir.
4. Slowly add one 12 ounce Mexican beer (preferably a light beer like Tecate or Dos Equis).
Or an easier version:
1. Squeeze one lime into a chilled mug (depending on the juice, half a lime may be enough).
2. Add salt.
3. Add three cubes of ice.
4. Add whatever Mexican beer you want. Be careful when serving because salt makes the beer foam more.