Sunday, February 08, 2009

For Love or Money

Nope, this is not about Valentines Day, (Which is SATURDAY!!!).

It has to do with work, career, likes and dislikes.

In this day of rising unemployment and some folks are scared that they won't have a job, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

At the age of 19, some said I was lucky. I had my first full time radio job, in Marion, Indiana.

It wasn't luck. It took 3 1/2 years.

It may have begun even earlier. I recall listening to the radio at night instead of doing my homework. Or most likely, while doing my homework.

We had less local stations to choose from at the time. WOWO was a "full service music station". I listened to Ron Gregory at night, Chris Roberts in the afternoon, Jack Underwood in Mid-days, and Bob Sievers woke me up.

There were 4 other local stations on the AM Band, including WFWR, which played old country western music that my dad sometimes listened to; WGL, which I remember having a "Trading Post" call in show; WMEE was an AM station featuring Top 40 Music and Disc Jockeys such as Rick Hughes, Fast Jimmy, Diane Shannon, John David Spangler and others whose names I have forgotten. The other AM Station was WLYV, which used to play Top 40, then switched to country and then Oldies.

There were three FM Stations that I recall including WMEF, a Beautiful Music station; ROCK 95, which played Top 40 with no jocks, off of big reel to reel tapes and was located in the same building as WPTA- TV 21Alive. ROCK 95's call letters were WPTH. The Fort Wayne Bible College started a Christian Music station which is still around, WBCL. And between my sophomore and junior years in High School, Concordia Lutheran High School started a student run station, WLHI.

It was WLHI that opened the door. I, along with about 30 other students took a class that summer to study for our 3rd class F.C.C. Broadcast Licence with a Broadcast Endorsement, which was required at the time. About half of us passed the exam when the F.C.C. came to town and that first year, a couple of us got part-time jobs at a local radio station for a few months.

My senior year of high school, I took 5 classes and got out early (around 1:15), so I could either work, or work on finding another job in radio. Once or twice a week, I would travel to area radio stations trying to get a gig, and it wasn't until after I graduated that a full time opening was offered to me. In the meantime, I honed my skills as a disc-jockey at the Roller Dome and later at the West Park Skating Center in Huntington.

In my high school and junior high school days, I was a paperboy, dishwasher, convenience store clerk, and a grocery store clerk and carry out.

In other words, I did several jobs for the money, while I pursued my passion and dream of working on the air at a radio station. Out of that original summer class of 30, I was the only one that followed that dream until it became a career 3 1/2 years later.

Today, 30 years later, I sit and write this while sitting in a coffee shop across the street from where it all began.

When my kids were looking for a job, (or at least they told me they were looking), my advice was to accept any job and then you can look for a better one later.

Employers would rather hire away someone that is already working than someone that is waiting for the "perfect job". Besides, you need money, and there are lots of employers that are willing to pay people who will work!

And finally, by working different types of jobs, you will discover:
  • Jobs you hate, that you never want to do again. (Washing dishes in a restaurant, was mine.)
  • Jobs that you can do, if you ever need to fall back on something to pay the bills. (I am a pretty good thermoformer operator!)
  • Jobs that you really like and want to pursue. (I never would have considered marketing and advertising 30 years ago.)
What inspired this today was an email of a blog posting by Seth Godin:

The customer is always wrong

Richard was telling me that he doesn't care what his customers think.

Instead, he writes and creates for himself. If his customers like it, fine. If not, fine.

This is the gutsy statement of an artist. I pointed out to him that he's had a long line of successful books, conferences and consulting gigs. "I don't care what they think," he said with a bit of contempt.

Fortunately for Richard, there's a high correlation between what he likes and what the market likes. The power of his conviction, though, is that instead of being joyful when he runs into a customer who thinks the way he does (and annoyed at those that don't), he's comfortable enough with his sense of art and craft and quality that it's enough. He does it for himself. He actively ignores the market.

If you're strong enough to do that, more power to you. If you do your art and the market rejects you, though, you need to make a choice. If your art has no market, it's still art. It just might not be a living.

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