Life + Digital + Passion = Opportunity

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 12.36.46 PMThe other day (well, the day AFTER SXSW ’14 ended, which was more like a couple of weeks ago, but I digress…) I was notified that I had been on Twitter for 7 years (SXSW 2007 was the event where Twitter essentially unlocked its popularity badge).  That means I’ve been industry blogging for about 9 years.  Wowza.  Those 9 years changed, shaped, and enhanced my life.

6a00d83451ba6469e200e54f4fbb438834-640wiWhen I started blogging, I did so because I was holistically passionate about the children’s entertainment industry.  For roughly nine years, I cheered, ranted, researched, theorized, lamented, and showcased various activities happening within story concepts, marketing and advertising, and (above all) digital interactivity and safety.

A couple of unplanned events happened for me with the act of blogging (and being active with Twitter):

  • I, unknowingly, made a name for myself (positive, for the most part, lol),
  • I found a like-minded network of people in the industry, who eventually became some of my dearest friends,
  • I built an evolving career for myself – based on my passions and interests.

This passion blossomed from an over-worked, under-paid writing/marketing assistant job (and part time moderator), to a career of my own creation.  I love the places I’ve worked, I love the fail whale moments and the success highs, and I love the variety and opportunity provided with each new turn.  Industry blogging (and the occasional Twitter rant) has been the ongoing thesis paper in a “Make-Your-Own Masters Course” for digital entertainment and the internets.

When I was young, my mom and dad taught me three essential lessons that helped when I first started working:

  1. Who you are and what you do affect the people around you – for good, and for bad.  Always consider yourself carefully, and then own your decisions.
  2. Success isn’t a destination, its moving goal and a supplemental desire that urges you toward new adventures.
  3. If you’re passionate about something, build a career around it. Be fueled by it. And just because there’s that cliché statement about doors closing on you, doesn’t mean you aren’t in a hypothetical hallway of doors, windows, ladders, etc.  Be creative, and go for what you want.

Often I find myself in the position of looking for talent to work with on projects with me.  We have an amazing pool of mods, CS agents, community folk, strategists, etc, here at Metaverse, so it’s like a Smörgåsbord of talent.  When new projects come along, there tends to be a few essential traits that I look for in candidates for my team.

So, my friends, as you look for new opportunities to build your career, keep in mind that there some traits you can pick up that can open doors for you.  For example:

  • Be Hungry.  You don’t have to have a degree in marketing or product development from Harvard to be a “go-getter.”  Some people blossom late in life, and some just haven’t quite figured out how to harness their creativity positively.  If you’re hungry in our business – you’re reading all the trade news, you’re playing with the platforms in your spare time, you’re building your own industry awareness, and you’ll help in any way possible.  Quick suggestion: want to be noticed? Volunteer and prove your worth.
  • Be Thoughtful.  One of the first issues with being “too hungry” is that you’ll throw yourself on any possible “grenade” that potentially threatens the success of a project.  You’re not going to be helpful if you’re no longer around, right?  There’s a time and a place for “taking one for the team.”  Be mindful of what a project needs,  and what unique perspective or ability you can provide to the client/project/team.  And think twice (maybe thrice?) before going rogue on a project when you’re a part of a team.
  • Be Creative, A Problem Solver.  Not everything is smooth or simple, and you cannot expect to just “Google” an answer (sometimes you have to “Bing” it… KIDDING!). Keep an eye on the industry you’re in — riff off of projects you’ve seen before.  How have others solved a similar project?  What can you do similarly/differently?
  • Be Passionate.  I think I’ve used the word “passion” enough in this post to make a drinking game out of it (um… coffee-drinking, obviously, lol).  Love an idea/project/concept/brand enough to do the best by it.  But be wary of “drinking the Kool-Aid.”  Being passionate doesn’t mean being obsessive, or obstinate.  Leverage that passion to help make you an expert on “what is known.”
  • Be Flexible.  Very rarely is something definitive (“Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” – Ben Franklin).  Learn, be knowledgeable and confident, but also know that – particularly in the digital world – everything changes, alters, and grows.  Roll with the punches, and embrace the excitement of new information.
  • make-the-choice-that-you-can-be-proud-ofBe Proud Yet Forgiving (Not Entitled Or Arrogant).  Forgive me, but I find nothing wrong in a sincere, genuine sense of positive pride.  Let it be welcoming, and engaging, and shareable.  Let your pride in your company glow!  People want to work with those who love what they do, and love where they’re at — it makes the tasks at hand so much more enjoyable for all.  Sometimes frustration and the feeling of being “boxed in” to a project or a role can bring out the insecurities, which also can result in arrogance.  And never, ever assume you’re entitled to something, unless its in your contract, and even then — approach with caution.  I cannot tell you how many people I run into, who are young in their careers, feel entitled to certain things.
  • Everyone You Meet Matters.  It’s an endless frontier in the digital world, but a small industry (as you’ll learn).  You’ll run into peers, foes, and other such colleagues throughout your tenure.  Find opportunity where you can, and build networks for yourself.  Do your best to find pride in working with anyone and everyone you come across, and help them to feel the same about you, it’s not only good for your career, it’s good for your ego.

I’m not even 1/4th through my career (my goal is to one day own Nickelodeon — it’s lofty, but it’s mine), but I’m proud of where I’ve been, what I’ve done, who I’ve met, and where I find myself!  And, oh, do I still have a lot to learn.  I’m cool with that!  The tips above are essential traits and tactics I’ve picked up along the way and take very seriously (and I know my parent company does as well. It’s why I joined Metaverse Mod Squad to begin with).

Opportunity lurks EVERYWHERE. So remember: there are others, like me, who are watching for you, waiting to work with you, and excited to see what you do with your future.

Izzy Neis
Director of Digital Engagement and Strategy

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