After 11 years building a successful advertising career, the agency John Ryland worked for had a “changing of the guard” and John got laid off. While John’s first concern was about taking care of his wife and kids and paying the bills, he took some time to seriously consider his next career step. “As scary as it was thinking you might not have enough money to pay the mortgage … it was ten times scarier thinking about starting all over in advertising sales.”
At the time, John had been rebuilding custom motorcycles for about two years as a serious hobby, after work and on the weekends. “I loved the idea of going with your gut instead of going back to something that wasn’t bringing me any real happiness. I decided to do the motorcycle thing full-time.”
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John: I was at an advertising agency for about 11 years. They had a big changing of the guard, and you can sort of see the writing on the wall when you don't recognize anybody, and I'd been there for a decade. When I got laid off, immediately it was, like, my kids. What am I going to do? I got three kids, and what happens when the money runs out? I started building bikes in my garage as a serious hobby for a year and a half or two years. I'd get off work and go do something that I really enjoyed. Around the end of my advertising career I started thinking, "Is this something I can do that would support me and my family?" But as scary as it was thinking that you might not have enough money to pay your mortgage, it was 10 times scarier to think of starting back in advertising, so I decided to do the motorcycle stuff full-time. Do a wheelie, man. It was probably ill-advised to start a motorcycle shop but I love the idea of just sort of going with your gut and not going back to something that wasn't bringing you any real happiness. Let's just see if it's going to fire up, and then . . . Classified Moto is basically a custom motorcycle shop and design studio. We build motorcycles, kind of modified old, mostly Japanese bikes and put modern components on them and kind of fix them up and make them look cool. We also make a lot of artwork like, screen prints and lamps out of motorcycle parts. We got a lot of mileage out of being the little brand that was in somebody's backyard, but at the same time, you can only be taken so seriously if you're in your backyard. We've only been in this new space for four months, and everything is a concern at this point. But overall, I just don't regret it. Man 1: Hey, John. How are you? John: Good. Man 1: Oh boy. John: I got a weird one for you here. Man 1: How crooked is this one? John: Well, this . . . you'd think this is a mistake. I love meeting all the different people in this business. Man 1: When do you need this? Tomorrow? John: As fast as you can do it. That'd be great. Man 1: Call me tomorrow, and remind me. John: All right. I will. Man 1: Bring money. John: All right. Thank you, buddy. Man 1: I'll see you later. John: I'm always at the local shops and junkyards and stuff like that. Man 2: Here you go. These are cool too. John: So much of what I did when I was in advertising was something on a screen, but there's something kind of cool when you can stand back and the thing casts a shadow. When I got laid off, I couldn't even do the math and figure out how I was going to survive just doing the bike thing, but when you look at all the cool things that have happened so far, then if you just keep working at it and putting yourself in the right place at the right time, really cool things could happen in the future.