Such a year

I have never been a fan of “odd” years. Maybe it’s superstition, but I always have this nagging feeling that things will be better when it’s an even year, even age, even month. You get the picture.

As the answer blows in the wind on this blustery, December day, the great news is I’m on the right side of things. My successful career in broadcast journalism has now transitioned into my public relations consulting start-up. My bottom line looks respectable for a one-person operation and I am learning more and more every day through wonderful people I’ve known through the years as well as family and friends.

Driving in the car with my son the other night, I asked him what he thought about the changes our family has been through this year. First thing he said was,” You are doing an amazing, amazing job with your business.” He went on to say flattering, positive things about my transition into this business and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Our son has really blossomed in the past few months. He is now working at his first job as a bus boy at Mirabella Cafe near our home. I met the owner/chef, Joe Palombo, through Sustainable Cherry Hill. I am now the communications director, on the executive board and general board. You see, these are things I could never do for years and years because of my crazy schedule. Now, community involvement is a critical part of what is making me happy now.

I was watching a show last night and there was a line that really rang true to me: “When you figure out what kind of person you really want to be, then you’ll really be happy.” How true. How often do we glaze over each day, muddle through lists of tasks, grumble at our family, friends and associates and wonder, “Is that all there is?” That feeling gnawed at me for the longest time. Fear and comfort and a respectable paycheck kept me from making any moves. After management decided I didn’t fit in to their picture any longer, I was almost relieved. Beyond the lack of respect or appreciation by the top brass when I was let go, I knew the journey to find a better life, more happiness and fulfillment would get underway.

Here are some of the positive changes (in no particular order):

  • no more sleep deprivation
  • regular and constant visits to the gym
  • intense involvement in volunteer community groups that mean a lot to me
  • more quality family time without being sleep deprived
  • being “the boss of me.”
  • flexibility in how my day operates
  • meeting new and interesting people
  • more socialization

OK, the list is getting long. It’s a beautiful thing after living by a very tight schedule with absolutely no wiggle room for years, to be able to structure my days and nights so that they work for me. Of course, I still have to be certain places at certain times, but I don’t have deadlines every ten minutes. I am appreciated for the work I do (most of the time) and I have a sense of accomplishment almost every single day.

Advice from people in-the-know has been critical. There’s been fantastic advice and advice I knew instinctively was crap. The latest great piece of advice I received was from a firm I was talking with about their expansion. The CEO suggested that I narrow my focus in what I want to accomplish. Done…next!

One thing I will always be is a news junkie. I have instincts about people that are spot-on. I know crap when I hear it and I know a true-blue, honest to goodness, truthful person immediately. That has always been a key to success in my figuring out the news. Now, it translates into good instincts about how to help elevate a client’s profile in the audience they are appealing to or figuring out a great pitch to the media to bring a client greater exposure.

That even-numbered year is upon us: 2010. I’ll be turning an even-numbered age as well. It’ll be my second year in business with What’s Next Productions, LLC. It’s all good.

Happy holidays and a safe, prosperous New Year.

It’s been more than two months since I was on the radio and I am still receiving emails from listeners either wondering where I’ve been or expressing disappointment that I am no longer at my former radio station. I have written back to each one of them with gratitude. I spent two days this week on a trip to Florida to do some freelance work for Philadelphia Academies Inc. which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The organization provides specialized career training and mentorship at dozens of high schools across Philadelphia. The group, run by CEO Lisa Nutter, wife of Mayor Michael Nutter, was co-founded by Lee Everett, a retired CEO of what is now PECO (Philadelphia Electric, back in the day). I bring this venture up because as with every person I’ve interviewed through the years, I learn something. 83 year-old Lee Everett talked about the pride he and his colleagues had in creating Philadelphia Academies. He said the Academy was “a dream no one dared to have,” during a time of race riots and division in the city schools and in society. Students hand-picked for the program because of their lack of achievement, learned a trade which became a career. They were paid; they got a summer job.The dropout rate declined; attendance soared and those students on the bubble between failing and succeeding, found they could have goals and dreams that were achievable. The program has become a model for similar programs across the nation. Find out more on their web site
Of Philadelphia Electric, Lee Everett told me while the company had billions of dollars in equipment, most important were THE PEOPLE. He said THEY made up the company. He said they took care of their people with training, promotions and other services. I learned from Lee Everett, that the focus by companies on PEOPLE is gone today. Everett said people in companies today, are just the cost of doing business. We are all widgets; replaceable when broken and eliminated whenever something goes wrong. I have learned that your experience and years in a business often count for nothing today.
Read the headlines daily and you see job losses listed in totals. Of course, there’s no way to list every person’s story and how their lives are altered by the loss of a job, but we are survivors. I have been getting such incredibly great advice and support for so many people over these weeks, that I have no option BUT to be optimistic. My work with Philadelphia Academies will be short-term. Other opportunities around the corner. I am reaching out to organizations in my community I have always wanted to be involved with, but never had the time. That time is now and I am stepping up. The Lee Everett’s of the world may be from the past, but perhaps we have lost the lessons of the past: people count, every day. Without a friend at work, a caring colleague, a compassionate boss, we’re just a bunch of widgets who don’t give a hoot.