Yay, I just got fired! Woot!
Most people don’t usually send a message out to the whole world announcing this, nor are they usually excited about it. But, really, the day I got “Trump-ed” was the best day of the rest of my life.
By the way, if you (social media people) haven’t read Gary’s book yet, you really should!
No, the whole world doesn’t care why I got fired, or what I plan to do, but I am confident there are many (too many) of you out there who can relate to my story.
Yes, I know it’s trite, but it’s just so darn true: We should all be pursuing our true passions. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to those around us. Heck, maybe I can even help you determine #whatsyourwtf? (Wha? Just stick with me).
“Cause I’m Free To Do What I Want”…FTW!
So, do I know where or when I’ll get my next paycheck? Not quite. Do I need a paycheck? YES. Do I have anything in the pipeline? Always. Should I be freaking out? Probably, but I’m not.
I finally have clarity. I finally have peace.
Now, all of this might sound a little melodramatic, but if you have any streak of drive or passion in you, you’ll understand. (Don’t know what your passion is? This guest post on Christine Kane’s blog serendipitously wound up in my inbox last week, seriously).
The shackles are off. Physically. Emotionally. The painful “job” versus “passion” struggle is over. My mind and heart are finally congruent. I now have the luxury, yes, luxury, of busting my butt to make good on all those things tugging at my heart and settling for nothing less.
Yes, the whole termination meeting totally sucked, but it didn’t come as a surprise (What?) and went down the way I fully expected (Really?). As manager, (err, former manager) of a PR department at an advertising agency for five years, I know how all that corporate junk works. I’m just surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
Oh and yep, I cried. (Damn it, Jen, you said you weren’t going to do that!) Oh well, I am human. Believe me, this was overly evident as I sat among the “HR Robots” in the room. Please agency guys, don’t take it personally. Seriously, I know that’s just the way it goes.
At one point in the meeting I got to thinking, “Man, I don’t envy these guys at all right now. This completely blows. Could it be any more uncomfortable or uber unnatural for all of us?”
However, this whole process further validated that my dreams, skills, talents, goals and personality really do now belong in a different environment.
Fired Does Not Always= #FAIL
After handing over my office key and walking out the door, two+ years of pent up anxiety and tension literally rolled off my shoulders.
It was the most liberating feeling I think I have ever experienced (except for the time I showed up unannounced at my dead-beat dad’s house for some answers – but, I digress). I also left very proud of my accomplishments, work ethic, integrity and with no hard feelings, seriously.
Did I make mistakes? You bet I did. Did they make mistakes? You bet they did. Who doesn’t?
But, I think one very important thing to remember is that getting fired doesn’t always mean you did something wrong. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Sometimes, someone just has to pull the trigger.
Status Quo = #FAIL
For several years, my agency work was my passion. And, that passion proved to be very profitable and rewarding for the agency. With my nutzoid enthusiasm, I created a PR department from scratch, worked like mad to get PR integrated with the rest of the agency (fellow PR folks, you know the hell I’m talking about), landed our agency on American Idol, weathered growing pains, continued to be the much-needed advocate for PR and progressive thinking. I was having a blast.
The Make-up of @jenniferwindrum
Before going any further, for those of you who don’t know me, I think a glimpse into my DNA may be a bit helpful. I ooze insane levels of passion, enthusiasm, compassion, commitment and loyalty. I love challenges. I love to be challenged. I need to be challenged. I love finding opportunities. I love being an advocate. I love change and all of its unknowns. I love pushing the envelope. It’s “just me.”
Fellow passionnites, you picking up what I’m laying down?
A few other notable “just me” qualities:
- I am extremely fascinated by my industry -PR/social media/journalism.
- I’m an adrenaline junkie. (Fun…for awhile).
- I love to work (too much, probably).
- I take tremendous pride in my work (too much, probably).
- I am a straight-shooter. I am so NOT a spinster in any way, shape or form. (And I work in PR? YES.).
- I stand up for myself (Hey, I have two older brothers).
- I fight for what I believe is right (for clients, for my employer, for myself, for my family, for others).
- I’m super duper big on accountability (Umm, yeah, like my mom’s oncologist who forgot to schedule her chemo with his staff. My mom showed up on time. Unacceptable).
- I love to make a difference (too many to list).
- I am a progressive thinker (see below).
Not All Monkeys Are Cute
Fortunately, so far, these qualities have afforded me success throughout my career. However, as you can probably imagine, they can (and have) cause some “issues.”
Here’s the deal. Progressive thinkers make people work harder. Some people simply don’t want to work harder. We all know some of these people. Hey, that’s perfectly fine.
Progressive thinkers throw that whole “status quo” thing completely out of whack. Some people go for status quo. We all know some of these people too. Again, nothing wrong with that.
I don’t “do” status quo. Honestly, I don’t know how to. I have actually tried several times, but always came out on the losing side. Total “Fail Whale!” I’m just not wired that way. (Ok, failing at striving for status quo? Dude, that is so messed up).
Quick sidebar note: Just for the record I do have a much #lighterside. I prefer beer over wine. I sing everything from heavy metal to Italian arias. My favorite movie is Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, (the Gene Wilder original). I’m a total goofball. Oh, and I can stick my entire fist in my mouth (case in point). So there! (Dude, what you just said in this paragraph is even more messed up).
Ok, I digress again. Let me RT and further clarify: There’s nothing wrong with the “don’t-like-to-work-hard-ers” or the “status-quo-ers,” unless I work with you and we work at an advertising agency, an industry that prides itself on providing cutting-edge, non-traditional and all things “forward.” Let me make clear this statement is not an attack on my former employer in any way. Here’s why.
Progressive thinking means change, and, understandably, not every business is as willing or logistically nimble to embrace it is as I am – or as one individual can. This is especially true when that change is of monumental proportions…when that change creates a complete paradigm shift in the world of communications and beyond…when that change throws an ugly monkey wrench in the way you’ve always done business…when that change just keeps coming and coming and coming and coming in humongous waves and IT IS SO NOT THE FAD YOU WERE BANKING ON…when that change…OOOOOO.MMMMMM.GGGGGG! WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS THIS MONSTER?
Well, in a nutshell (or beautiful prizm), it’s that little thing called social media.
“Wha? Who? Wha? You mean those social networking ‘things’ like Facebook and Twitter?” Yes, those and a bazillion other amazing “things” that encompass the social web – it’s power, it’s total awesomeness. Still don’t get it? Here ya go.
Long story short, life as we’ve always known and lived it (personally and professionally) has forever changed. No, I am not exaggerating.
An unfortunate, but timely example: Haiti. Social media’s role in the Haiti crisis has been utterly amazing on many fronts. Here’s just one article on the subject.
As a former journalist turned public relations practitioner, I understood early on that social media was a total game-changer in my industry. A few years ago, I threw myself and my PR peeps into an “OMGweneedtolearneverythingwecanaboutsocialmedianow” whirlwind.
First of all, there is NO way to learn everything about social media. New tools and platforms, etc., are created and/or changed daily, hourly. While it was an overwhelming task, we dived in and remained fully committed to integrating social media into our PR repertoire -a natural and necessary merger.
My team pitched social media recommendations to specific clients and the clients jumped on board. I give these clients a tremendous amount of credit, as understanding social media’s value and measuring its ROI was much more difficult than it is today.
Our results were great. Our clients were happy. The agency was happy. We were growing existing client accounts and bringing in new business.
However, despite my department success, like the majority of the corporate world at the time, the agency wasn’t ready and/or structurally able to integrate social media company-wide. Back then, the jury was still out on the value of a tweet and/or chatting online with consumers. You know, that “engagement stuff.”
But, I was beyond ready. Man, all the opportunities in the social space. I could see them. I could taste them.
I became more and more anxious and frustrated with my role as PR manager. I felt stifled and needed to further grow and utilize my social media skills and at a higher level. My bosses were well aware, as we discussed this many times.
I give them credit for trying to help me advance my social media career needs within the agency by spearheading the effort to integrate social media into all of its disciplines (creative, account service, etc.).
This was a great opportunity, but, logistically and realistically, a very slow one. Too late, too slow for me, anyway. I no longer had the patience or interest to look back. My passion was gone. I was on “E,” and it was no secret.
In my “spare time,” I started putting part of my social media passion plan into action. F-bombs were flying everywhere.
In October, I launched a very personal and politically incorrect PR/social media campaign called “WTF?” (Where’s the Funding)? for Lung Cancer” to increase awareness and funding for lung cancer. Yes, you get the double-entendre.
My mom has Stage IV inoperable lung cancer. No she didn’t smoke. Yes, I DO have to point that out. Here’s why. Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer and THE least funded. (Hang with me folks, just a little more PR on the issue).
Oh, and bet you don’t know that more than 60% of all new lung cancer cases are found in people who have never smoked or former smokers who quit decades ago. Lung cancer is no longer a smoker’s disease. No one deserves it.
I am on a mission to get rid of the stigma, get the facts out and get lung cancer the funding it deserves. I am chronicling my mom’s journey, the bad, the worse and the ugly, as well as the stories of my “WTF-ers” to help make some real progress.
My mom is a total rock star. She’s not only giving lung cancer a run for its evil money, she understands the importance of sharing her story in such a public way (AND the “WTF?” campaign name is 100% “mom-approved”). Super cool.
As hokie as it may sound, when I was little, I knew there was something I was supposed to tackle – a “cause” I was supposed to lend my voice to. At that age I had no idea what a cause was. At one point I thought maybe it was divorce (remember aforementioned dead-beat dad?). Naw, that’s not it. Depression runs in my family and I’ve had my bouts with it. Maybe depression is my calling. Nope. (Whew). Five years ago, when my mom told me she had lung cancer – the mystery was instantly solved (unfortunately).
The overwhelming response and early success of my “WTF?” campaign tapped (SFX: Angels singing) into all of my missing “just me” qualities. I am able to be a strong advocate for something I’m extremely passionate about. I get to work with wonderful like-minded people whose sole mission is to make a difference. There is no choice. Lives are at stake.
We are making our voices heard primarily through social media strategies and tactics and progressive thinking is THE only option. Oh yeah, remember the whole “I need to be challenged,” thing? Lung cancer is taking care of that too. Damn it.
Now WTF Else?
In addition to my “WTF?” campaign, I plan to put some of my other social media dreams in motion, including the launch of my True Dirty Laundry vlog where I will cover a wide variety of topics (social media, hard news, entertainment, investigative, etc.), interview lots of cool (and not so cool) people and put the power of social media to work in real time.
Long story short, if you (or your company or whatever) sucks, you won’t want to end up on my vlog (unless you are smart enough to stop running away and come on my show). If you (or your company or whatever) don’t suck, congrats!
Have story ideas? Want to be on the show? Let’s chat.
In the meantime, to actually bring in some cashola NOW, I will continue with speaking engagements (social media, PR, reputation management, etc.), consulting and free-lance gigs…or entertain brand new ideas in the social space!! You know how to reach me.
So fellow passionnites, what’s your “WTF?” I know a ton of “dream-world” ideas are swirling through your head, some you may have started to pursue, some you haven’t. Bottom line: Wait NO LONGER.
Yes, you are busy. Yes, you are stressed. I’m telling you, the minute you start embracing your “just me” qualities you will be fulfilled and rejuvenated in ways you never thought possible. I am speaking from experience. My health is thanking me big-time too. I’m no longer forcing my mind to play the less than “B” actor it is for 8+ hours a day. Our minds and hearts don’t like that whole “incongruent” thing.
You see, I couldn’t pull the trigger, at least not before the agency did. The agency knew I wasn’t planning to be there much longer. I was moving in a different direction. My focused had changed. To continue to invest in a “short-timer” doesn’t make good business sense, especially when she/he is on the cusp of spearheading a major agency initiative. Time to cut the cord (way past time).
Just like most of you, I couldn’t, in good conscience, just up and leave my job. I have a family. I need the income. But, I worked extra hard to start bringing the true “just me” back and it’s the best career move I’ve ever made. YOU can do the same.
Firing the renewed “just me” was the best and most fair move the agency could make too. In fact, at the very end of my termination meeting, I tearfully shook the hands of my bosses and thanked them for letting me go. While I’m sure they weren’t expecting kudos, I am sure they understood why.
Ok, passionnites, here’s your assignment. Follow me along this blast of a journey. Tell me what your “WTF?” is and what you’re doing to get it in motion. Feel free to leave comments on this post or if you are a Twitter freak like me (@jenniferwindrum), let’s stay fired up and chat, using the “#whatsyourwtf” hashtag. It’s time to rock OUR worlds, nobody else’s.