Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Follow your passion.

So, it’s a new year and I’m going to start things off right with a breakfast meeting with two trusted advisors and friends. Dan is a business development specialist at one of this town’s most respected advertising agencies. Scott is a veteran agency manager with operations and account management background and I am revisiting my undercapitalized marketing communications start-up. We are all feeling the pinch in a challenging economic environment. In spite of setbacks in the past year, each of us is cautiously optimistic.

Making sure we can secure a table and have access to intranet I arrived early. The agenda for the meeting is loose but we’re all interested in comparing notes on businesses, colleagues and career paths ranging from entrepreneurial to job opportunities. We’re not kids anymore. We all have contacts, networks and plenty of sources of information. We share a few stories about hits. misses and prospects.

“We pitched that business and we were sure we had the inside track. We didn’t get past the phone screening.”

“That job description seemed to have me in mind. They wanted a senior marketing person with the ability to think strategically and lead a team. I didn’t even get an interview.

“ Human resources must have been looking for a reason to eliminate me. There is no other explanation.”

“They aren’t even really looking for marketing at that company. They are just looking for a 25 year old, probably a good looking female to handle social media and a little bit of graphic design work.”

Not complaining, but we each show some insecurities and vulnerability. We are professionals with accomplishments in advertising and marketing communications. We’ve won awards, new accounts and promotions. By any measure, each a success. Yet, the world is changing. Life experience is valuable, sure. But so is youthful vigor- maybe companies are looking for people with skills more easily found in a generation that grew up on video games, the internet and smart phones.

The breakfast club had us lingering longer than a truly efficient business meeting should last. But we were enjoying the fellowship. As we started wrapping up the session, Scott shared a story about some work he had been doing. He talked about painting, power-washing, sealing, clearing, laying ceramic tile and woodworking. He showed us a couple of before/after shots he saved on his iPhone. “This is the kind of work my father did,” he said with a grin. “I’ve been doing this kind of thing since I was 15,” adding “…and it is so gratifying in two important ways: 1) The joy of seeing a satisfied customer and 2) the good feeling you get from a job well done.”

Dan and I looked at each other. “Oh my goodness. Scott, you are really passionate about this kind of work. Aren’t you?”

“You bet.”

With that closing line we left the restaurant and went our separate ways. Dan and I knew what maybe Scott knew all along. You have to follow your passion.

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