Thank You, Susan Boyle

Sung to the tune of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables. (Sorry for the extra verse.)

I dreamed a dream of future clear,
Of boyhood plans and vague ambitions.
This thing that I would call “career,”
With cowboy hats and lunar missions.

But then there came the bills to pay,
And dreams were something one did sleeping.
My goals for life I’d put away
Deep in my brain, for safer keeping.

My harshest critics roll their eyes,
Betraying lowered expectation.
And so it comes as no surprise
That I would join in their negation.

The life that I have been denied,
I see so many others living.
Times I thought I’m satisfied
I can count upon one hand.

But then this woman, near my age,
Without a job, with modest dressing,
She sings a song, and she’s the rage,
The night she shows the world her blessing.

On hearing this, the time has come
To face that I’m my only critic.
I must cheer for my own team
Before I kill
The dream I dreamed.

Lest you haven’t yet seen the video, here’s a link. (They’ve disabled embedding.)

Spec Work Sites and the Golden Ratio

logoidolThe graphic design market is gaining momentum via social media and blogs. It seems the current way to introduce myself into it is to chime in about spec work online — or as I call it, the logo contest model — as used on sites like CrowdSpring and 99Designs, as opposed to RFQ sites like Elance and Guru. So here goes.

The first thing I’ve decided is not to lose sleep over the existence of such sites, or bother with movements that protest them. They serve a niche, and as a businessman who likes the Golden Rule, I know there are expenses I’ll have for which I’ll wish there was a crowdsourcing portal, so I can compare bids. Like the TV commercial says, “When ______s compete, you win.”

“Yeah,” you might say, “but spec work is wrong.” It depends.   Continue reading

Sully and the Law of the Sea

Currently, the TV networks are getting their face time with Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of the US Airways plane that made an emergency landing in the Hudson River January 15. America can’t get enough of him, and that’s a noble instinct. Continue reading

Buoyed

airsafetycardAs I enter Week 12 of my unemployment (or as I suppose I should prefer to call it, my “underemployment”), I’m grappling with the frustration of Job Hunting 2.0.

Here’s how it works: You find a listing through any of the services — thus far, Monster and Dice (symbolism alone keeping me away from CareerBuilder, owned by Gannett). You respond to it, cut-and-paste the text version of your résumé (already meticulously laid-out as a PDF but not uploadable or attachable), cut-and-paste individual lines from it yet again into their online application form, then hit the submit button.

And that’s the last you see of it. No rejection, no confirmation, not so much as a howdy-doo. Oh, with one exception: there was a job the employer had pulled, which generated a manual reply (yet still appeared on the list; go figure).   Continue reading

R.I.P., 2000-2008

tombstoneWhen a woman miscarries, they sometimes give the mother-to-have-been a funeral for the fetus. Amputees often have ceremonies for their dead limb. Is it possible that I need a parting ceremony for a period of my life? Eight productive years spent languishing? Am I in a grieving period for the prime of my career?

The period in question started in the year 2000, at a company that was just getting the idea to circle the wagons. The eight or nine small-town newspapers in Westchester and Rockland Counties, NY, bought throughout the 20th century by Gannett (of USA Today fame), were now one regional entity: The Journal News. A year later, they hired me for the art unit in their marketing department.

Till then, what I’d been doing for a living, clients would call temping, but we temps always call agency freelancing. It was one such assignment that The Journal News made permanent. I’d hopscotch between Westchester, NY and Fairfield, CT, meeting new people in different shops, seeing and comparing different workflows, and overhearing the button-down communication of scrappy small companies.

Gannett was by far the biggest corporation I had ever worked for. And knowing full well what a hoary tradition a newspaper is necessarily saddled with, I took my cubicle with trepidation, suspecting that I was now a cog in a monstrously vast gearbox.   Continue reading

I’m Not Afraid of a Colonoscopy (Nor Should You Be)

I couldn’t help using the “Finish This Tweet” meme to my own advantage. What I spent the better part of two days not being afraid of — as best I could — was a colonoscopy. Before you ask, it was routine; the occasion was my 50th birthday, put off until after my 51st but not before my health care coverage ended from my cubicle job I quit two weeks ago.

I owed you an explanation today. I’d like to expand the idea of this post to dealing with fear of the unknown, especially of your insides when you get to a certain age, and why it’s worth fighting through. I’d also love to revisit the whole idea of this fun Twitter game, which was wildly successful for me this time, and benefited only a little from an implied imprimatur from Laura Fitton (see previous post).

The fact is, I’m still a little out of it from the anaesthesia. (Not so much that I couldn’t spell anaesthesia!)

Nighty-night.

A photo after the break… Continue reading

The Art of Multichannel Web Storytelling

Last week, I witnessed a fun and touching piece of performance art. Its impact didn’t hit me at the time, and it might have had I participated in it more. But since that day, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I had the satisfaction of watching a magic trick which, even though I have a vague idea of the preplanning behind the scene—or especially because I do—I have an even bigger appreciation of its execution.

Early in the morning of Friday, October 17, Laura Fitton, a power-user on Twitter going by the name of Pistachio, read the following short bio of another user, whose name is probably Ben K. Weller:

I write songs, record them and sing them for people. I love music and Bass fishing. Most of all I love my wife Liz and my son Dorian.

This inspired Laura to post the following “tweet”:

@benkweller’s Twitter bio inspired this morning’s “Finish This Tweet” (#FTT) “Most of all I love ______”

Some things you should know before we proceed, if you’re new to Twitter:

  • “#FTT” is a Twitter code Laura also made up on the spot. It starts with a hashmark (#), making it a hashtag, which makes searching more tightly focused. When you put a hashtag code into search.twitter.com, you get only those tweets with the code. (She clarified herself a little in some other tweets.)
  • Laura follows many people via Twitter. But that Friday demonstrated how many people follow her—listening, going to sites she recommends, looking up people she may be conversing with who we ourselves may not yet be following. Yes, I’m among them.

Continue reading