Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What I've Learned In Ten Years

More retrospective thoughts tonight... if you're here or the TV stuff, I'm sorry... got reunion on the brain... taking stock etc. Please keep in mind that I love and respect many people still in TV news and Hollywood... it's just that in the end, neither was for me.

When I turned my back on TV news the first time, I was 22. I think my parents thought I was crazy. I was turning down a full time job as a reporter in Milwaukee for an eight week Academy internship, all the way across the country, with the promise of nothing more. Maybe they didn't think I was crazy, but I know, as proud as they were that I was chosen... that it didn't really make sense. But I started learning about a need to spread my wings. I was 22... single... and I'd never lived anywhere but Milwaukee and I thought if I don't go now, I may never go. So as I made my way through life in LA, I defined my goal for success as one day writing and producing feature films... telling amazing stories that would entertain millions.

If you work in that industry, most people work a job and as one is wrapping up, they're looking for the next one. It's a cycle, but it is true that once you've been there a while and made your connections, you'll have to turn down work. People who knew me in college, who knew how well I connect with lots of different people thought this would be the perfect place for me... but it wasn't. I started to learn about my insecurities... that I didn't like the idea of having to keep switching jobs and not knowing for sure who'd be paying you next... and that you might pay your dues for years and never get a chance to do what I wanted to do.

So I went back into news... where I knew I'd get to tell stories... different ones than in LA... shorter ones... but real stories that mattered and I'd do it every day and I did it at three stations. I learned that I loved the lighter stories cause there was much more room for the creativity I wanted to let out... and you weren't chasing after people at the worst moments of their lives. But whatever the story, I loved the sense of satisfaction that at the end of the day, it was done and nothing was really hanging over you. And I defined my goal for success... to anchor a morning show... wake people up and give em what they need to get through the day... then go out and find a story I wanted to do that would run in an early evening show. This I thought really fit my personality. I wanted to do it in as big a market as I could so I could make money to support a family cause TV around here for the most part doesn't pay that much.

But I started to learn more about myself. I learned that sooner, rather than later I wanted a family and wanted to stay near near family. Shannon likes to tell the story of a night when she was babysitting and the child wasn't being the best... and that's when I decided that our plan to wait two years was going to go out the window. I started to learn that I didn't want to move from market to market every couple of years. So I left news for the corporate world, where you don't work holidays or nights or weekends (okay, sometimes you do but not as part of a regular schedule). With a family, stability and money and good benefits became a lot more important.

So now I'm 32 and what I've learned in 10 years out of school is that your job, your career doesn't define you. I've learned that telling stories, while a very public way to touch people's lives is something that I miss at times, I can have an effect on people in other ways, as a coach, as a volunteer... heck as a blogger. And I've learned to really enjoy the people... cause when a story or project or a career is done and gone and forgotten, it's the relationships that last.

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