In 2009 I was just some punk kid who couldn’t keep a full-time job. Nobody took me seriously (not my parents, not my roommates, not my girlfriend, and definitely not me).
And why would they? I was a joke.
I got written up for being “overly direct” (whatever the hell that means) after going over my boss’s head to solve a problem. I resigned from that job with two middle fingers and a memo about how good ideas rarely come from indirect people. On my second-to-last day, my appendix decided it would be a great time to mutiny and I promptly set out to almost die before ousting that jerk from my body with the help of a very worried-looking doctor. I started my next (and final non-entrepreneurial) job in sweatpants cuz tight pants and medical sutures don’t play nice, y’all. After being asked when I’d be able to wear real pants again, I saw the writing on the wall. I was fired two days later.
I was a kid with a lot of grand ideas about how the world should work and exactly zero experience in practicing what I preached. And I was out on my ass.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there aren’t many places in Fort Collins where you can go to test your ideas for social proof.
Sure, there are coffee shops – but just try to get some random stranger to unplug their earbuds for more than 2 minutes to listen to your great idea. They’d pay more attention to you if you poured your latte in your lap. There’s an improv group. There’s Toastmasters. There are meetup groups. But nothing really to just stand on a soapbox and preach -uninterrupted- for 5 minutes, and see if you’re full of crap or full of win.
I mention this because I had zero idea what I was going to do. All I knew is I had an idea about where the world was going, and I wanted to see if other people shared that vision. So I got up on stage for 5 minutes…
… and received thunderous applause. And more laughs than I’d ever gotten before. And was taken seriously.
Suddenly I wasn’t some ass-clown ex-programmer hack who couldn’t hold down a full-time job. I was Nick Armstrong. And people liked me.
And as fragile as that makes me and my ego sound – for a kid just two years out of college who hated his career choice, Ignite was the best thing that could have ever happened. One month later, I was pairing up with my buddy Kevin to create LaidOffCamp Fort Collins to help down-and-out job seekers realize they really weren’t as pathetic as their tower of rejection letters seemed to indicate. It led to me writing my first book. It led to me taking one of the biggest adventures of my life after having my heart broken, finding new love, making a family, and curating a community that I want my kid to play an active role in someday.
In short: Ignite Fort Collins didn’t give me my life back. It gave me a better, fuller, richer life. And all it took me was 20 slides and 5 minutes and the risk of embarrassing myself in front of a few strangers.
So when I say you should pitch a spark, I really mean it. There is no better platform to engage with the Fort Collins community than Ignite Fort Collins. Are you ready to find out which you’re full of – crap or win?