Connections

You have to believe in networking. A long-planned meeting with the executive director of Sustainable Cherry Hill took place today at a local eatery. We got tons done in under 90 minutes. As we sat there at the table by the window, a woman who I’ve admired professionally for years walked by. She was coming in with her husband for some lunch. I approached the two of them and let her know I’d love to do work with her and her organization. She seemed enthusiastic about being in touch on that.

Just when you think no one is listening, I get a LinkedIn message from someone who I hoped to do business with. Film at 11.

I still have these ideas I need to formulate about connecting my business communications class and/or creating a new class.. to sustainable programs between Rutgers-Camden students and non-profits trying to make inroads in the city of Camden. More ideas forumlate each day. I’m starting to write them down.

Meantime, our Phillies ballpark seat buddies are connecting with us for dinner in Philly in February. It’ll be totally strange to see them in something other than a Phillies shirt, not to mention seeing them in winter.

OK, so this was a stream of conscience kind of writing day, but there’s lots to be done. Sleep is needed.

Good night.

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.

Another Chapter

The perfect age is 38. I made this declaration on the eve of my 51st birthday as my husband and I talked about the significance of this birthday. My 50th birthday came and went last year; I got a few more birthday cards than normal. This year, the usual smattering of cards along with some Facebook greetings, emails and text messages. But, as they say, it’s all good. This surely has been a transition year. My career change; deciding to begin a PR consulting business (What’s Next Productions) and actually signing my first client (Plato’s Closet franchise owners in the region).
We spent the weekend in Ocean City just as we have one weekend in June every year for years. My parents, brother and his wife and the three of us enjoyed family time with an ocean view. Doug and I spent a few hours on the beach Saturday. There were high school seniors soaking up the sun. Their toasted bodies showed no wrinkles or lines. Their smiles were carefree and (for the most part) their hair color was untouched by chemicals. Now looking at the groups of happy-go-lucky groups lying on colorful towels on this perfect beach day in June, I felt all of my 51 years. Your mind jumps into “oh-my-god” mode. How did the time go so quickly? Why didn’t I study in Europe? Why didn’t I take that OTHER job? What would have happened if… And then I stopped. I know the phrase, “count your blessings” is so cliche. But there’s a reason: it’s TRUE! I have a wonderful husband, son, family, a new career path, friends all the things you have no idea about when you’re 18. Now, when your 38, that’s PERFECT! You’ve been through all of the growing pains, trials and tribulations, breakups, career hiccups and missteps of your 20’s and 30’s. Finally at 38, you’re perfect. You’re in reasonbly good shape and have the stamina to stay that way, your career could be fairly stable (though probably not in this economy) and your hair is likely looking good just the color it has been for years without modifications. I must say, I am now in better shape than I was at 38. I was looking at a photo album the other day from a vacation in 1992. That was NOT a pretty picture of me. A few weeks ago at a party, a 16-year old girl was in disbelief that I was turning 51. She’d never seen me before and really thought I was younger. God bless her, her tight skin and naturally-colored hair.
The one thing I have now that I didn’t have at 38 was the patience to carry on. During my long career in radio news, deadlines were constant. I didn’t know any other way. Every minute was critical in getting stories and newscasts on the air. Even today, there’s no other way to approach radio. It’s hard to automate local news (though I’m sure they’re trying to figure out how to do that). Today, without that radio deadline clock in my face, I still have deadlines, but they are self-imposed AND forgiving. That’s the key: I forgive myself for being a little behind schedule. I’m thrilled when I come out ahead of the game. Come in on schedule: perfect.
So, friends, at 51, I’m the boss of me. I listen better now; I understand more with an open mind now; I’m able to turn the gray skies blue when the days are not so bright.
Give more, hope more, love more. Happy Birthday to me!

What’s Next?

Aaron Sorkin’s successful series “The West Wing,” featured Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet. The show’s rapid-fire dialogue, constant deadlines and behind-the-scenes look at the fictional Bartlet administration, enthralled viewers who enjoy politics, drama and news. President Bartlet handled problem after problem with the line, “What’s next?” after each situation was addressed.
For some time, my pace has been rapid-fire; deadlines every ten minutes, as I faced an unforgiving broadcast clock that drove me to be at the ready even if power was out or every drop of blood had theoretically drained from my body. It was always fascinating to see people’s faces when I explained to them I only had a production assistant; no team of writers or producers or any real help in compiling, writing, editing and producing the news of the day. The pressure was certainly nothing like a White House administration, but I knew doing morning drive news in a major market, all eyes and ears were watching and listening. When problems arose, I addressed the situations, fixed what needed to be fixed and often, out loud, said, “What’s next?”
Out of that history, I now begin What’s Next Productions, LCC. As with any business, the process is anything but rapid-fire; there’s research, education, planning, questions and more questions. My business plan outline is a work-in-progress. Being a one-person operation for now, I’m reaching out to the many resources available to firm up my ideas. My 30-second elevator speech is this:
What’s Next Productions offers public relations, media training and crisis management services to mid-sized and small businesses as well as non-profit organizations. Another service I’d like to offer is recording business or family histories that could be used to document a company’s progress over time. Family histories would be recorded for future generations.
So, the process is underway with the business entity formed and online “paperwork” processed. Now, looking into a web site, content and rounding up those clients will take time. My mind touches the wise words of my friend who said, “Find something that really makes you happy.” The prospect of working on my own or with a partner or two, setting a schedule that makes sense without the pressure and stress that enveloped me for so long, sounds attractive. Will this make me “happy” professionally? Time, of course, will tell.
I continue to volunteer with the Community Foundation of South Jersey, which is launching in the coming weeks, the public relations committee at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Cherry Hill, Sustainable Cherry Hill and just beginning work with the marketing committee of the Burlington County YMCA. The transition continues with the change now being to look forward at What’s Next, not at what is past.