I’m absolutely THRILLED to share that I’ve been offered & accepted a new job as a Development Manager at a TV & film production company in New York City to develop, produce, and write. I’m over-the-moon excited about this new adventure and dream job. I’m literally pinching myself to make sure this is really happening! A year ago I never would have believed this was even a possibility. It’s been a huge lesson for me that if we live our passions and share them, our lives can change in ways we can barely imagine.
Yesterday, my life and career went full-circle. The company where I work now is a service and product provider for the Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College. I worked at the Annie from 2003-2004. What’s more, our products and services are mainly used by the person who now has my former job. I spoke to her yesterday. She sits in the same office where I used to sit, and many of the same people are still at the theater. And to further bring it all around, I found my name and contact info at the Annie in my current company’s opportunities pipeline. (Apparently, I even got a cold email from my current CEO as he was prospecting for the business at the Annie and he sent me his first book on email marketing!)
This reminded me how often our circles cross and overlap, how timing really is everything. Every once in a while, an opportunity comes around a second time, perhaps in a different form, and it clicks in a way that it couldn’t the first time. A missed opportunity today always has the possibility to find its way back to us. I wonder what other opportunities will find me again.
Let me be clear about my philosophy on leadership. I’ve had two kinds of bosses: amazing ones who fight for their people and truly awful ones who fight against their people. Those of you who have worked with me and for me know this: I fight for my people. I block and tackle for them. I listen (rather than just waiting for my turn to talk). I can’t always get them what they want, but I will always get them what they need and won’t rest until that happens. Everyone gets a seat at the table and gets to have their say without sugar-coating. Everyone gets clarity and transparency. The hinges are off the door, or better yet there’s never a door at all. I am there to serve, support, and encourage, not to criticize or dictate. This is what it takes to have a team. Until you do that, you may be someone’s boss but you’ll never be someone’s leader. And there’s a world of difference between those two roles. Let’s always be mindful of that distinction and push ourselves to be the latter. Not surprisingly, if you take care of your team, the team will take care of customers, and customers will take care of investors. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
I started my new full-time job this week, and I have to say that after just a few days it has exceeded all of my expectations. I recognize that I am still in the early days of this role with this company, and I think it’s worth detailing exactly what I love about it and why:
1.) I love artists. I mean, I really love them. All shapes, sizes, and genres. All of my colleagues are artists in some way. Musicians, writers, actors, dancers, directors, designers, producers, singers, visual artists, bakers, and improvisers. They literally bleed creativity. And then, we add to that the fact that we are an organization whose clients are all performing arts and cultural organizations. I am surrounded by art, and everything I’m doing and learning is helping to further art in all its forms. How cool is that?
2.) Artists are an accepting, helpful, and collaborative breed of folks. The doors are open, the hinges are off, and everyone is encouraged to grab a glass to toast to creativity. This is by far the most welcome I have ever felt at any job in my career. It’s also the most diverse and the organization of my training schedule is just stellar.
3.) We have lots and lots and lots of interesting, thorny problems to solve. There will never be a dull day at this place. Never. We work inside of Salesforce and the platform is POWERFUL. I mean, I’ll be learning something new about it every single day. It’s mammoth and nearly every organization in every sector is using Salesforce is some way. Getting that experience of working in Salesforce, customized for nonprofits, is a skill I will be able to utilize over the course of my entire career.
4.) I use every part of my brain and every part of my experience every day. My job combines all of my experience as an artist, and in business, technology, and product. In many ways, everything I’ve done up to this point has helped me to land right where I am.
5.) New York City is my muse. My office is near Carnegie Hall and I also have the flexibility to regularly work from my home. I love that I can walk to work and that when I step out of my office, I am smack dab in the middle of Manhattan.
I am under no illusions that I will never have a tough day. I’m sure I will. And even on the tough days, what I will most appreciate about this company and our incredible product is that there is a higher purpose and everyone here is on-board with that higher purpose. That’s the crux of it all: everyone here is driven to make the world a better place through the combination of technology and business to support and foster the arts. I couldn’t think of a better place to be right now.
“Pause, breathe, repair your universe, proceed.” ~Anonymous
Yesterday I had a moment when I felt overwhelmed. My new job has a lot of systems, passwords, procedures, opportunities, possibilities, and many people in many places. This is the vertical learning curve I was looking for.
On my way home, I went through my mental checklist of what I’d done in a day, what I’d do the next day, and how I’d get through the rest of it to fully get up-to-speed. (Pause.) It’s going to take some time and a lot of effort, and that’s all okay. (Breathe.) When I got home, I went into my Trello board and organized what I would do when, brought some sanity to my inbox, reconfigured the wiring in my apartment for my home workstation, and lassoed by calendar. (Repair my universe.) And today is a brand new day. I’ll proceed.
“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” ~Jim Carrey
Today I’m beginning a new full-time job. Success is never guaranteed to any of us though I fully believe that our odds of success increase dramatically when we do something we love. In that case, even if we fail, at least we have spent our time on something of value.
That’s how I feel about my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. It’s also how I feel about my work as a journalist, product leader, and theater manager. My new job utilizes all of my experience in the arts and business, and I feel fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity.
I’m sure there will be many learnings in the coming months. Today, I’m enjoying the thrill of the new and the unknown, the excitement that comes from putting my whole heart into something that makes the world a better place.
My unfailing honesty and integrity has cost me a lot of potential paychecks over the years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our world and our companies needs more authenticity, less BS. I’m doing my part during this interview process, not only for my benefit but for the benefit of these companies and organizations whose time and talent I respect and admire. The fit has to be mutual between a company and a candidate, and the only way to get there is through trust. We build that trust by being upfront and truthful from the very beginning of the interview process. Let’s drop the gloss, and get down to business with grace and dignity. The world needs all of us to be in the right roles and at the right companies that help us to live our best lives. Anything else is a waste of time.
My dear friend, Kelly, sent me an article about Alexandra Kenin, the Founder of Urban Hiker SF and Editor / Writer at WordSmithie. Urban Hiker SF is her side hustle and Wordsmithie is her full-time job. (She’s also a Penn alum, which of course I love!) The article is another example that we can piece together a meaningful life and career that encompasses all of our passions. It doesn’t have to be one-dimensional, and we don’t have to compromise our financial wellbeing to pursue our dreams. It’s just a matter of finding the right pieces that all hang together like one well-tuned masterpiece, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
A recruiter and career coach suggested that I put together a snapshot of who I am and what I’m looking for in my job search. It was a great exercise that helped me focus and communicate my search. Know someone I should talk to? Connect to me on LinkedIn.
“I use business and storytelling skills to build a better world. After completing my undergradate studies at Penn, I managed Broadway shows and national theater tours. Then after getting my MBA at Darden, I spent 10 years in a variety of product and program leadership roles at for-profit companies, nonprofits, and startups while also building my writing portfolio as a freelance journalist at publications like The Washington Post.
A proud New Yorker, I want to bundle all of my business and writing experience to work for an organization creating social impact in education, access to the arts, and / or systems that serve as the bedrock of New York City.”
Whenever we start a job search, we often dive in looking at titles, areas of expertise, or industry. If like me you have worked in multiple industries with a wide variety of roles and responsibilities, then this method can take you in circles. Titles and job responsibilities are so different across companies. In my case, product management, product development, product marketing, operations, and communications don’t have clear and consistent definitions in the world of work and often roles have some responsibilities in a few of these categories.
So I’m trying something new. Because culture and mission are so important to me, I’ve decided to seek out companies that are interesting to me first and then dive into the different roles at those companies. My ideal is to find a place where I can learn and grow, meaning I would hold a number of different roles at the same company or organization over time. In this case, what really matters is the culture and environment. Roles and responsibilities can change on a dime; culture and mission are ideally consistent.
The job search can be a long and winding road. I’m hopeful that this new approach will make the destination a perfect fit.