Friday, January 22, 2010

Connecting the Dots

For the first time in a long time, Sunday has that strange hollow feel to it.

While the absence of football is certainly adding to the emptiness I'm feeling right now, it's a return to unemployment that's mostly at fault.

Almost two weeks ago, What Not to Wear offered me a job as Casting Producer that seemed too good to be true. I was worried that I would have to leave my job at Discovery without notice, burning bridges in order to take it. Luckily, I was able to give my 1 week notice to an understanding production staff. Unluckily, WNTW is still waiting for budget approval and has yet to establish a start date for me. I'm kind of worried that there may never be one.

I thought I had caught a break last Thursday when mtvU called me out of the blue with gig for this week. But before I could breathe a sigh of relief I was told there still wasn't a definite start date to that project either. Why? You guessed it, budget approval.

TV Production... it's an uncertain, competitive world full of "hurry up and wait."

So why would I leave my rewarding, long-term freelance position for another one that wasn't 100% during a recession a year after being laid off? Because being laid off isn’t like getting chicken pox. Getting downsized once doesn’t give you immunity to being downsized again down the road. It's important to always look out for #1 and grab opportunities that will help you network and grow professionally. For me, casting WNTW is one of those opportunities.

Vicki Salemi, one of the many talented people I met while networking in the 405 club, wrote a book that I'm mentioned in titled "Big Career in the Big City." I read the advanced copy and found it to be full of good advice for both newcomers to NYC and unemployed veterans alike. The book contained one quote in particular that eased my mind on this uncertain Sunday:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever--because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference."

That little gem was a part of Steve Job's commencement speech to Stanford's class of '04.

I'm sure something equally awesome was said at my own graduation, but Bobbie Jo Solomon, the Blue Sapphire, was sitting next to me. Needless to say I was too excited to listen to what whoever was speaking was saying. I was focused on Bobbie Jo, hoping that she would pull three batons out of her gown, light them on fire and start doing toss cartwheels down the aisle.

Before that graduation day rolled around I had already prepared myself mentally for the real world by memorizing Conan O'Brien's commencement speech to the Harvard class of 2000. Conan's story helped me to stay positive during my own rocky start in the entertainment industry. His last words on the Tonight Show were equally inspiring and are helping me deal with the situation I've gotten myself into right now. "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

The calls I have been getting over the past few weeks have proved that statement to be true. I'm glad to know that there are people out there who know what a driven, dedicated team player I am. I still have a long career ahead of me though, and I can't wait to one day look back at all the connected dots and see the big picture.

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