Tuesday, August 24, 2010

on reinventing myself

Who knew that I would be “finding myself ” at 46?!

Not that I really want to; I don’t have a choice. My skills as a print designer and even recently as a website designer are quickly becoming obsolete. I need to learn “interactive design”—and fast. Which I will, and this isn’t a bad thing. I tend to need to be dragged, kicking and screaming into situations that later are life-changing and I think this is one of those times. Yet, going back to school—admittedly just a night course or two—wasn’t in my career plan even two years ago.

Just a couple short years ago I thought I was approaching my “coasting” years—the ones where one has “arrived” career-wise and can rest on past successes. Those days are over. Steve Jobs made this idea impossible for any of us print people.

All my of mentors were able to coast in their later years. They earned their dues and deservedly got to the point in their careers when they could relax and know there would be work for them. Admittedly, I’m just a tiny bit bitter that I’m going to miss this opportunity. Part of me is kind of tired of striving. Frankly, I’m not dying to compete with the 20-something computer whizzes out there. I like designing printed pieces.

On the flip side, there is nothing like seeing your work on a screen. Even my printed pieces in pdf glow with colors that can’t be replicated on paper. Once I get over the old-lady-“Why do things have to change?”-shock, it’ll be great. Learning something new—especially something you’re afraid of—is liberating. I witnessed this recently with my 7-year-old and her bike. Because she was embarrassed, she’d avoided learning to ride it. It had become so big in her mind she became afraid to try. But once she got on, she rode it easily and now wants to bike ride everywhere.

Hopefully, 6 months from now I’ll be posting interactive ideas here—sans training wheels.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

ny circle

I’ve been working on this networking diagram for months, adding names after each meeting (added a client today, thanks to Debbie). The idea started as a way to keep track of contacts (and being a visual gal I had to make it fancy). After a while I was struck by how many women I’ve met in the process of starting this little business. I went back through my notebook and found a few from the beginning stages whom I had forgotten. Definitely a work in progress.

Networking is painful for me. Asking for help is simply not a natural instinct. So the fact that I have a networking circle is something. I started with a small circle of relevant friends/ colleagues, made contacts through them and through these contacts, more. Yeah, I know this is truly networking 101 but you have to realize that I am not a social woman, in fact, I’m downright shy.

The idea that women unknown to me agreed to a meeting just because another woman’s name was in the subject line of my email, is pretty cool. The fact that most of them agreed right away to see me was a relief. And surprising. And gratifying. Most of the meetings resulted in another name or an idea; even if nothing concrete materialized these meetings kept me motivated. If these women were game to have coffee with me my idea must have some merit, right?

Call me crazy—or sexist—but I don’t think men do this for each other. I can’t imagine my husband or one of his friends reaching out to the friend of another guy for help. I can’t hear the words “Hi X, Y says you might be able to help me with my resume.” Admittedly, I married another wallflower so he might not be a strong case study. Something tells me most guys would have a hard time making a diagram like the one above. Let me know if you disagree.

I do know I owe the women I met with. Many of my clients came as a result of this networking. So did the idea for the business itself.