Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I Know

If there is one thing I know for sure it is that eventually we are all judged by the content of our character. And preserving that character, whatever it may be, in every aspect of our lives determines the legacy that we leave behind. If there is one other thing I know, it's that it is never to late to decide to rebuild your character, to redirect your destiny and to change your ultimate contribution to the world.

Thank God for that.

Hush Your Mouth

Saying what you mean and meaning what you say are two completely different things. I know a lot of people, like me, who say what they mean all the time. They give honest opinions, offer honest advice and provide an honest perspective. They are the kind of people who are often accused of being harsh or brash and they are sometimes asked not to speak their minds as often as they do.

Meaning what you say, however, has more to do with making a conscious effort to only speak something that you truly believe or feel in your heart. It's so easy to get trapped into saying something just because it seems like the right thing to say, like, "oh what a cute baby!" or "yes, officer, I promise to slow down." And when you want to foster positivity with a loved one, it's just easier to cast the honesty policy aside and say what they want to hear like "oh your new haircut is great!" or "no, your butt doesn't look big." And too often the only way to get what you want is to say what you need to say and not what you really want to say like, "of course, Mr. Smith, I don't mind working the weekends" or... "I love you."

Falling into the trap of saying what might seem right in the moment leads you down a path that might be difficult to depart from later or that might even prove painful in the long run. A moment of satisfaction or the postponement of an uncomfortable conversation is not a good enough reason to deceive the people around you into thinking that you believe it or you feel it or you just plain mean what you say.

So the next time you are presented with an opportunity to mean what you say, either do it... or hush your mouth!

(If you need advice on what you should say instead, comment below or send me an email! I have an answer for everything!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Day I Left the Ad Industry

Industry diehards would say I am weak or lack passion. But the day I left the ad industry might have been the best day of my life. Strong statement, huh?

The advertising business is so much fun. I don't know of any other business except maybe film or music where your clients pay you to have a good time. The creative process is exhilarating to be a part of and fascinating to watch. The production of television and radio and print is rewarding. There is nothing like flipping on the television and seeing a commercial that you helped create or hearing a radio spot done by one of "your" people or seeing a billboard bearing the design and hard work of your coworkers. Every bit of the making of advertising is fun. Even in the midst of the chaos and stress, it is fun.

I loved my work. For 16 years, I served as a project manager on interactive, creative, experiential and social media projects for brands that ranged from dog food to fast food and health care to tourism. I thrived on tight deadlines and a heavy workload. I enjoyed problem solving. I made things happen. Every. Single. Day. And I loved every minute of it.

But there were many reasons it was time for me to hang it up and move on to a new career. First of all, when you are in your twenties and right out of college, it is exciting to spend nights and weekends cranking out work. Eventually that gets old though and, in the ad biz, there's no rest for the weary.

Second, there are a lot of jerks in the biz too. It's ok to be loud, outspoken and demanding if you are a man or if you are the boss but project managers who demand compliance with process and expect respect are short lived. Especially if she's a woman... It is the one industry I have been a part of where the role of the female vastly differs from the role of the male. Women are definitely kept in a box. I can't be penned in. I need room to grow and change and create new ways to do old things. Process is not about hard fast rules. It is about adjusting and stretching and altering the way you do things to suit the project. Besides I'm a big girl. And I'm claustrophobic.

Third,  if you allow it, the life will be sucked out of you. Literally. You will set aside your own life for the sake of pleasing others (the boss, the clients, your coworkers). If you are unable to create your own work-life balance, you will not have any because nobody else is going to help you.

Finally, the bottom line is the bottom line. There is an instability in the advertising industry that is blamed on clients. The client cut the budget. The client decided to give that piece of business to another agency. The client wants to do it for no money. The client, the client, the client... I would suggest that the instability in advertising is more likely due to the greed of owners and management and their inability to manage the funds that are coming in the door. Agencies are cost centers of extravagance. Yes, there are a lot of little things that the agency does day in and day out that warrant big retainers but there are a lot of people making one hell of a lot of money while the people who actually do the work don't benefit from those retainers. It's a pretty unbalanced situation.

So I woke up one day and I thought, "If I am pushed one more inch or asked to take on one more responsibility, I'm done." And it happened. If I could have a do-over, I wouldn't just walk out. I would have offered my resignation and got everything in order for everyone else before I left. But you can't live life with regrets. And while quitting a job in a poor economy seems irresponsible, I think that business owners and managers should stop banking on their belief that people should just be thankful to have a job. Yes, they should be but they still deserve to be treated well.

The day I left the ad industry was the beginning of new opportunity. It was crazy and a little scary. But I'm glad I did it. It may just prove to be the best day of my life.


"Relationship" as defined by Merriam Webster is the state of being related or interrelated and the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship. Interrelated means there is reciprocation of some kind. Therefore, relationships by definition are a two-way experience with a basis of give and receive.

Somewhere along the way, we became a world of entitlement. Either plagued by selfishness or raised in an environment in which others catered to our needs, we learned to take more often than we learned to give. I am rarely one to argue with the "NORMAL" of another person. If all you know is what you know then you cannot be blamed for not knowing. But today, I'm going to argue with somebody's normal.

If you have lived a life of receiving, at some point it is your responsibility to give back to the world around you.  This is one of the foundations for building and maintaining healthy relationships with others. I read somewhere that men need to feel appreciated in relationships and that most often when a man strays from his wife it is not because he is attracted to someone else, it is because he feels under-appreciated. I submit that feeling under-appreciated might be the reason most relationships end, not just marriages. If you master the art of giving and receiving, holding on to the people who are important to you will prove a little easier.

Now, I don't care what your circumstances are... Yes, you heard me right. Gentle understanding has just gone out the door. No matter what your circumstances are, you have the ability to give back in some way. It is up to you to figure it out.

Because I am a kind and loving person I have often found myself in relationships that are one sided. I am the giver and they are the takers. I have given of my time, my heart and most often, my money. Every year, I resolve that I am going to put myself first "from now on." But it never happens because I cannot resist working to make others happy. However, I am sticking to my guns this year. If our relationship is based on what I can do for you or what I can give you, it will be ending with 2010.

Relationships should have reciprocation and that is my only expectation. A hug for a hug, a listening ear for a listening ear, love for love, kindness for kindness, diamonds for diamonds... Ok maybe not necessarily diamonds. But you get the idea.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dear Brendan Ryan

Dear Brendan Ryan,

I know what it's like when your boss decides you're no longer good enough to do your job. And I know what it's like when your boss hires someone else to do your job without telling you. And I know what it's like to be employed but not really have a job to do any more.

I empathize with you, Brendan, because I like you.

There are three things you can do now. You can quit. You can fight to keep your job. Or, you can move on gracefully. I am not really in the position to tell you which of those things to do because I took the easy way out and quit. But I can tell you this: no matter the outcome, you must be confident in who you are and what you know about yourself. Don't let this situation define you. And don't let the underhandedness of the business or of your bosses make you bitter.

You are good. In fact, I see flashes of greatness in you. And they probably do too. Truthfully, I think your personality is just too big for the Cardinals. There are only a couple people allowed to stand out and rise above in this town. Sadly, you aren't one of them. (Neither was I.)

Nobody deserves a backstabbing after he's worked so hard to bring success to the community around him. But everybody deserves to be happy. If I was going to give you any advice, it would be to hold on to your happy and make that a priority. I'm thinkin' about you man!


Michele, a big fan (but no bigger than anybody else in the bleachers, because that wouldn't be fair)

P.S. If you do somehow stick around, lay low. That's all I got.