About a month ago, I ran into some friends and mentioned my attendance at the University of Washington's Certificate in Storytelling and Content Strategy. They looked at me incredulously and said, "Storytelling and marketing?"
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A Journey of Magic and Mayhem
- Aug 10, 2018
- 7 min read
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Frustration is a common negative emotion I’ve experienced on this journey so far.
Two years before I applied for and got into an MBA program in the Twin Cities, I was frustrated because I already knew that to improve my financial situation, I needed to find a better career path for myself. The MBA may have been my attempt to rectify this issue. The process since has been both a journey and often times frustrating. Before I got to that point, though, I came down a path of twists, turns and dead-ends.
I’d gotten into admin work as a default, I think. I used to pick-up temp gigs in the San Francisco Bay Area on breaks from school at UC Santa Cruz Started off working as a receptionist answering phones at companies for $10 an hour.
Later, after some experience with that, I moved up to Administrative Assistant or did a bunch of filing jobs and learned applicable skills, whatever I could pick up. I did well at them and easily built rapport with hiring managers.
I was young, and probably more immature than my contemporaries. I didn’t really understand what it would take to build a career at that point. I felt as though I had time on my hands and the world was my oyster.
My family background
My father barely graduated high school, went to the Army and worked his way up in his company. He began as a technician repairing radio equipment and eventually, through a series of job titles and travel opportunities, made it to the Program Manager level, running satellite communication projects for Ford Aerospace.
My mother was a stay-at-home home until I was in middle school. She tried a short stint as a real estate agent (which she hated) before going back to college full-time when I started UCSC. She had spoken about a broken dream of being a nurse. I encouraged her to go back to school and she did. She retired earlier this year (2018). She loved her job as an occupational health nurse, a career she stated in her forties.
My career planning (or lack thereof)
I can’t say I got the best advice from my parents about career-building. Whether it was naiveté about my potential or simply that having risen to a middle-class lifestyle, they were ill-prepared for shepherding modern career development, I don’t know. My father was more worried about nepotism then skill-building. He expressly told me he wouldn’t get me an internship at Ford because he didn’t want to be perceived as favoring me.
Sadly, other students were getting internships at their parent’s companies and building a network or gaining the career understanding leading to further opportunities down the road. I did a bunch of odd jobs instead. Maybe in the end, that was my path. I’ll never know. If I wasn’t temping, I worked as a food delivery driver, as a ride operator later guest services at Great America and a bookstore sales clerk. One of my early temp jobs was a long-term assignment at a company called Network General. We had to enter faxed sales orders into their new database system.
When I returned from film school in Miami in 1998, my state of mind, as previously mentioned was broken. I could barely get up in the morning or function so trying for a high-powered career or moving to LA was not an option. I settled for my default of temping and soon got a contract at a pharmaceutical company called ALZA as an administrative assistant in the animal research department.
I performed well there for a time and won several awards. Unfortunately, my manager whom I had a great rapport retired. A reorganization took place as a result and suddenly, I was the subject to scrutiny about my performance.
The shift kind of threw me off. I was ill-prepared to handle the jockeying politics. I went after what I think would have been a great role in the marketing department, writing and working on technical manuals and marketing collateral. I was offered the job, but they rescinded the offer when the Director of my department provided a poor performance review (despite the two years of positive feedback by my previous manager). I didn’t take this well and started performing badly to match their perceptions, talking ill of management to other employees and not caring about my job. When they started performance improvement processes, I just handed in a resignation and quit.
I moved up north of San Francisco for a dubious reason at the time, I won’t go into here. Nevertheless, soon got an Executive Assistant position at Autodesk (also temporary) due to my previous skills as an admin. For some reason, I didn’t think to go after a marketing role. Disappointment collapsed my desire to try too hard. Or maybe I did and got too many rejections, can't remember.
The Autodesk role didn’t last too long. I started in February of 2001. By September 11, 2001, the fractured economic state of the California blew up in a several fire-y balls when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. A week later, they let me go. No one was hiring. Companies all over the state either went out of business from a failure to handle catastrophic change to their model or a failure to be ethical in their practices.
The story that took place between 2001 and 2005 deserves its own blog. By 2006 I was living back home with my parents and restarting my admin career from scratch. While someone suggested an MBA, I didn’t feel equipped to go back to school. I let the idea go. Instead I focused on rebuilding my experience and reference list by doubling down as an excellent performer.
By 2008 I was about to be hired at a small start-up called Tidal Software, for my excellent performance as a receptionist/sales administrator. I loved that job. I thought I might have a chance of moving into a marketing role, if I just played my cards right. The Universe had a different plan. The company was sold to Cisco and I was out of a job (again).
In late 2009, I knew I needed something BIG to shift and decided (after a series of weird events) to move to Minnesota. The weird events also deserve their own novel series. Some of it involved a spiritual push or awakening to the idea that there was more out there for me than living with my parents the rest of my life. That maybe living with them and creating a default career may not have been my best choice.
I completed the first stage of my move east in March of 2010. Little did I know that I would be starting over from scratch (again) as I knew no one and had no network. Social and financial forces would be at play in my growth and development for the next several years. So, would the growing frustration that while I was an excellent office manager, project coordinator and executive assistant, I was bored and unable to move past the entry-level salary that those positions typically offer.
I got booted from a job at a non-profit in 2013. I was a job seeker – unsuccessfully from February through December, attempting to go after project manager roles or something else that didn’t involve executive calendars. My attempts were fruitless. That is when I saw an ad for the St Kate’s MBA program on the side of a bus. I had exhausted my unemployment and my give a damn was busted. While I’d put off the MBA at another time in my life, now I was ready. I applied, got accepted and started school in February of 2014. Still unemployed.
I did a series of odd temp jobs through the summer and finally got sent to Springleaf Financial in August of 2014. I returned to my roots as an Executive Assistant, working full-time for this growing company while studying for my MBA full-time. Finished my coursework in February of 2016 with a final four-week marathon studying Japanese culture and business which included a two-week trip to Japan.
Now I had all the skills and awareness of how one goes about building a career. Maybe it was 20 years later than everyone else, I don’t know. The frustrations are cyclical these days.
I have a list of volunteer assignments and an internship under my belt. A growing portfolio of professional published pieces. A series of informational interviews, a network that grew to the point of personal referrals, and a pretty steady slew of actual interviews for both contracts and permanent roles.
I decided after much consideration to leave my full-time job as an administrative assistant to pursue a contract role in December 2017. It was not an easy choice. I did love the company I worked for, but I needed professional experience on my resume in my field. The contract ended after two months, shorter than originally anticipated.
I’ve been job searching ever since. I work at two restaurants part-time and live on unemployment. Frustrating on days when there is not enough money to pay the bills. Frustrating that even when I get to a third round, in person, as a top candidate, it isn’t quite the right fit. Or, outside circumstances like the department reorganizations play a factor in my not getting hired.
In the end, I have been through these ups and downs many times. As I write, what seems like a long litany of career issues, I can’t help but realize how they all built who I am today. Even when I failed or turned down something, I learned and grew as a person. I became better, more grounded and centered.
My interviews for a career position in marketing are what they are, because my experience contains wisdom that can’t be found in an MBA textbook. I know myself. I am confident in a way that I was never. I understand the cost of missed opportunities.
I began Day 4 writing about my frustrations. Perhaps I just needed to get that out on paper long enough so that the real point could come through. Loving yourself is a journey. My career was a journey. I’m finally present, to win.
#2018 #mind #financialhealth #innerwork #energy #selfhelp #career #betterchoices #bestself #finances #health #connectiontoself #Transformation #patterns #newoutlook #business #story #trust #selfempowerment #Authenticity #jobsearching #jobs #Spirituality #Journey #personaljourney #soul #breakthrough #frustrations
- Sep 20, 2017
- 6 min read
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Recently, I visited Duluth Minnesota to attend the Zenith Digital Marketing Conference 2017.
Last year, I attended Zenith 2016, not long after having graduated with my MBA in Integrated Marketing. While we learned various integrated marketing basics in school along with our business education, it is not until you enter the real world that the true work begins. Zenith was a part of that for me. To be surrounded by marketers and marketing language and the all the sub-culture attributes was like being a kid in a candy store.
Now that I have cut my teeth covering events for MIMA and working on the Irish Fair’s marketing plan, I ventured there again. This time, with awareness and experience under my belt. Rather than rush, I wanted to spend more time relaxing and integrating my time away from my day job.
I ventured out to “see the town.” So, downtown Duluth is not exactly hopping on a Wednesday night. In fact, by the time I checked in, most of the stores were closed or closing for the day. Snow was wafting down from the skies, as it had been ever since I stopped for bakery at Tobies.
I stayed at the Radisson, a round building known for their moving restaurant. It wasn’t open for the season yet. After walking around for a bit, I decided to stop in at The Blind Pig, a local café. Upon entering, the door attendant suggested I go see and try out the Rathskeller, an additional bar area in the basement below. He said, “Pick floor Minus One, not One. One is a creepy basement area used for storage.” Duly noted. Indeed, the elevator button was (-1) According to the website, this used to be the old prison.
The place was virtually empty when I arrived, except for two local regulars enjoying whiskey. As it turned out, it was “Whiskey Wednesday” at The Blind Pig/Rathskeller. I don’t normally do the whiskey but “when in Rome.” By my 2nd glass, I enjoyed a peaty number that tasted of burned gasoline – but it fit with the musty cellar and ghost stories. Yes, I even got to see the picture of one of the resident ghosts that showed up as a very distinct grey outline on someone’s photo (shown to me by the bartender on his phone).
One of the jokes tossed out was about a friend of the two regulars who lived up north near the border. “He’s practically Canadian, he lives right there on the border.” To which the bartender said, “Well, he probably just wants to jump right over about now and be Canadian.” Referring, I am sure to our political situation here in the States. Some talk about fishing and the weather.
After my time at -1 was done, I needed food, so I headed back up the elevator to floor 2 or was it 3. I ordered the house special, lamb Shawarma. On stage, a local band called WhiskeyTrail played country covers. I found my foot tapping and myself singing along. I only had few bucks left so my tip was small. I saw on their FB page that someone recently gave them $50. I felt a bit unprepared.
Course, I was lucky to be in Duluth at all. Building my career has been rough going. Volunteering my time, attending conferences with my own resources since my current role isn’t marketing related. Hearing a lot of “Nos.” It takes a lot of tenacity. I try not to eat too many ramen noodles, but I know that is a famous story of people wanting to follow a dream. Maybe it isn’t ramen noodles but small tips, or scraping up the money to take the next step and hoping it all works out.
I head out early – 7:30am. Since the hotel shuttle doesn’t start until 9am, I am on my own to walk to the Greysolon Ballroom – an event space near The Blind Pig. The weather is cool, a few snowflakes fall and the ground is wet but I am excited to be here.
After getting breakfast and coffee and settling down, Marty Weintraub - founder of AimClear - kicks off the morning’s Keynote by taking a picture of us all with his fisheye lens. From morning until about 4:30pm when everything wraps up for happy hour, we’re running around learning. Given that I am attending MIMA events at least twice a month, it is amazing how much I have learned and retained since the process started a year ago. Acronyms like SEO (search engine optimization) and AI (artificial intelligence) are familiar to me and that includes typical uses for brands.
When the day wraps up, we’re all ready for the after party at Blacklist Artisan Ales. , a new brew pub featuring Belgian-Inspired beer. A Canadian friend suggested the night before that I visit “Last Place on Earth.” When I looked it up, it was “permanently closed.” Turned out he was joking (I think). Why? Because the proprietor of the “head shop” was in jail.
Little did I know, until our group took the brewery tour that we were actually in the same space! One of the Duluthian’s explained that the previous owner had been investigated for some time for selling something called “Bath Salts,” which in theory could have been bath salts but when smoked or eaten or whatever someone crazy would do with those, were an illegal narcotic. Lovely. Seedy under-belly of Duluth.
Over the course of the evening, I met and talked with marketers, mostly from Duluth, but others were sole proprietors from the Twin Cities or students. I mentioned more in my previous blog. Katie and I ended up talking with one of the owners Jon Loss of Blacklist and his partner Elissa and getting into the nitty-gritty of beer making in the tour. From one type of chemistry to another, I suppose.
We discussed marketing strategy and ideas. It felt good to be here. Article about Black List
Went out for breakfast and ended up at the Holiday Inn’s restaurant near my hotel, so that I wouldn’t waste too much time. Nora, my waitress was nowhere to be found so the back-up helped and soon I was rocking and rolling with steak, eggs, pancakes and coffee. Took care of business and writing for several hours in the hotel lobby after check-out. Then I headed out to Namaste, a healing store.
Just my kind of place – candles, spiritual statues of gods and goddesses, healing books and crystals. The feeling in there was so amazing. If I could, I would have taken a few large crystals home with me. There were beautiful lava rocks and large columns. Immediately I was drawn to Quan Yin, a goddess I work with extensively in Transforming Blockages. In the end, I took a couple of candles for my altar and incense.
From Namaste, I headed across the freeway to the tanker boat. However, at 3pm, the last tour had left. Grandma’s, a known landmark restaurant on the pier, where happy hour was in full swing with ½ price drinks and cheap apps. For a tourist destination, it had its fair share of locals, and I felt out of place, maybe a little different. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the ambiance and the history showing in the old signage and photographs.
My final stop before leaving Duluth to head back to St Paul, was the local Starbucks. I drank my Mocha while charging my phone. A Somali man enjoyed his coffee while iPading in the corner and another guy listened to something on his headset while watching passersby in the window. Outside my view, the Duluth steam escaped from drain holes by the intersection.
I remembered the Blacklist owners talking the night before about how they used the steam to make beer and without it would require a much larger space and more equipment. The intersection of environment, city policy/resources and commerce.
All in all, I needed this experience of expansion in Duluth. A city full of stories, locals and seafaring folk who masquerade as brewmasters and computer geeks. The occasional marketer from AimClear, maybe. I may not know when my career will be full-time marketing, but what I do know is I love the process and where it is taking me. How else would I become so intimately connected to the thriving businesses and storytelling of this community?
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#Duluth #Travel #Zenith2017 #Marketing #EvolutionaryLove #Transformation #Food #career #networking #blog #conferences #learning #personaljourney #life #business #trust #process #mindset #Authenticity #community #Journey #Spirituality #creative
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