I think few people have a dream and know the exact path they must take to realize a career.
There are exceptions to the rule of course. Some professions do have a clear path. Lawyers, doctors, teachers perhaps? However, in the age of the dot.com millionaire, there are many 20-somethings who could not imagine working for anyone else, and they eagerly begin their journey with a naive passion that can make their success easier or more difficult depending upon their chosen industry.
Growing up, I dreamed of being the voice that accompanied lovers, truck drivers and anyone really, who needed company and conversation to get them through the night. I graduated with a degree in Communications with a focus on Broadcasting. I interned during college, I ran the college radio station as General Manager, created a radio persona at a local station, and I came out with a position at WABC-AM in NYC working with traffic & continuity for the Yankee Network.
As roads have twists and turns, so does a career.
My WABC stint was ended before I had too much time to get comfortable. New owner, new budgets. C'est la vie. I then joined a temp agency (lousy typist that I was) and had literally the best time of my life. Temping allowed me an inside look at a variety of positions and industries. My broadcasting background -- where I was routinely exposed to celebrities -- was a benefit. Few impressed me to the point of intimidation. I also landed a part-time position at Shadow Traffic which served the NYC metropolitan area. Each weekend I'd announce the traffic on various stations -- and became proficient at extemporaneous speaking.
Those first ten years helped me morph from someone who could have had what she thought she wanted -- to someone who wanted more and pursued it. Each successive job built on the skill set I had learned in the previous job. I liken it to reading one book, then a complete set from one author, and then being introduced to the library. Each time I accepted a new position after being recommended by a former supervisor -- I was forced to learn new ways of doing my work with new tools. It was an exhilerating time.
While I had positions in sales -- my true love was putting the pieces together -- "consulting." In 1997 I started my own firm and spent the next ten years doing what I loved most -- using all the tools (and many of the people) I had worked with in the past, and many new ones, too -- to solve complex marketing challenges. The best part was looking at something that seemed impossible, then breaking it down into a series of steps that built upon each other.
I co-founded a new startup market research firm in 2007 with a business partner and my tried & true team of colleagues who I worked with in the past. We were so excited to use what we had learned and wanted to take that 360 view and apply it to our own company. Our team was amazing. People thought we were much larger and better financed than we were because we all gave everything we had for a chance to own our destiny. While that company had to close -- due to nefarious actions by associates who were supposed to be helping us close on financing -- the experience provided a rich education on startups -- and criminal investigations!
I've come to realize that my greatest strength is my passion. And I share that passion through linking together people and methods or things with my storytelling. I've grown these past 20 years to become an evangelist of sorts -- for anything that I trust and believe. The great fortune of working for several leading information companies, then running my own boutique and research firm -- I've kept up and mastered the tools of the modern marketer.
While much of my career has been entreprenurial -- I've gained immeasurable exposure to some of the most well-respected firms in the world through engagements and at industry conferences. I've learned not only what I like to do -- and what I'm really good at -- but also, the things that bring out the procrastinator in me!
An evangelist needs to be able to take that 360 view. It's a position that combines traditional marketing, sales, PR, networking and true social media skills to be the voice of a company. And that is what I have evolved into. The only question left is which company is ready to take on someone who can be synergistic with existing sales and marketing staff, making their jobs easier?
How about you? Has your career zigged and zagged? What's your story?