Thinking About a Career Change? Here’s The Secret To Knowing If You Are Ready

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Earlier this year I attended a workshop hosted by Career and Personal Branding Consultant Joseph Liu.

The presentation focused on helping participants realize what it takes to truly align your ambitions and personal values with your work to achieve happiness and fulfillment. The theme of the session was “career reinvention” and it delivered a realistic picture of what it takes to reach that goal. The session’s highlight was undoubtedly Liu’s walk-through of his patented “7 Stages of Career Change Roadmap.”

After coaching and speaking with hundreds of professionals navigating career change, Liu began to recognize certain patterns emerging among those who had successfully reinvented their careers. For those seeking reinvention, the roadmap provides clarity when sorting out the confusing emotions associated with unfulfillment and longing for change. Coincidentally, it also bears a striking resemblance to Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief. I’ve summarized it below:

  • (0) Status Quo – Individuals at this stage enjoy their jobs just enough. Their gigs don’t inspire true happiness, but it pays the bills and is tolerable.
  •  (1) Doubt – At this stage, lingering doubt begins. You often find yourself sitting in meetings and zoning out. You begin to wonder if this job is right for you. You conclude that you don’t actually like your job.
  • (2) Dismay – Here is where doubt leads to dismay. You realize you don’t enjoy your career at all — even if you were to switch to another position within your organization or perform the same role at another company.
  • (3) Mitigation – According to Liu, this is where people tend to get stuck. They tell themselves, “I am going to try and fix this,” because mustering the strength to enact true change in their lives is not easy. Another way this might manifest is by trying to do what you love on nights and on weekends. (Also, LOL.) This strategy rarely leads to success because you can only fool yourself for so long.
  • (4) Exhaustion – At this stage, you feel stuck. You have run out of energy trying to make your mitigation plan work. Most of your weekend is spent recuperating from the week prior. You are not living your best life.
  • (5) Departure – The exhaustion gets so bad, you finally leave your job. You resign, even if another job isn’t lined up. You take a break. You need time for yourself to get away from it all.
  • (6) Reflection – You have left your job. You take some time off or take a lower intensity gig. The reason being, you need some time and space to think about what your next step is. This time is important because it gives you the clarity to figure out what your next move is.
  • (7) Relaunch – This is your moment. As Liu says, this is where you say, “I’m going to give this thing a shot.” You’re determined to make a change and fully realize you owe it to yourself.

Mind-blowing stuff, right? I’m sure many folks reading this can pinpoint exactly where they currently fall on the roadmap in about two seconds flat.

Identifying where you are on the roadmap is only the beginning. According to Liu, the next step is to make a move in the direction you know you want to take your career. It could be taking a class, attending a networking event or talking with someone who works in an industry that interests you. And, taking even the smallest step is better than standing completely still.

So, what do you think? Where do you fall on the roadmap?

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Economic Realities of Actual Hardcore Show Promoter Differ From Those of Imagined Show Promoter

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For many years, I ran a production company/booking agency with my best friend and business partner Regan Clarke. We were young, excited and active members of the Boston area hardcore/metal music scene and realized that if we wanted to see the bands we enjoyed, well, we’d just have to book them ourselves DIY style.

So we did. And it was a blast. It was also at times pretty miserablePlenty of stories from those years. We met so many characters. They mostly ran the gamut from awesome bands and really cool booking agents to asshole bands and complete scumbag booking agents.  Club owners, sound guys and the “Can I get on the list?” crowd? Well, I could write another whole blog (or book) on that without issue, but I’ll save it for a rainy day.

Anyway, plenty of you are likely aware of the awesome punk news satire site The Hard Times. I wrote an article that satirized and summarized the aforementioned crazy years and submitted it for consideration. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the editorial cut. Hey, it happens! So with that, I decided to post it to my own site. You can read it below. Safe to say about 75 percent of it is 100 percent true. For the faint at heart, please be aware it contains a bit of blue language. You’ve been warned. Enjoy! 

Economic Realities of Actual Hardcore Show Promoter Differ From Those of Imagined Show Promoter

North Shore, Mass. – Stinging accusations have been brought forth toward Boston-area show promoter Nicholas Clarke, claiming he has unscrupulously built a six-figure empire on the backs of hardcore bands by booking shows at local VFWs and church function halls.

Clarke, who has spent the last four years as just-North-of-Boston’s most active promoter, is responsible for regularly bringing mid-level punk and hardcore acts to the Massachusetts’ North Shore communities. His efforts have grown a vibrant scene that sees punk and hardcore kids from surrounding cities and towns regularly making trips to attend his shows, all of which he absolutely loses his own money on regularly.

In regard to the accusations, locals happily weighed in on the topic with their completely uninformed version of the truth.

“Nick thinks he’s Ari-fucking-Gold,” said Local Scene All-Star Johnny Spinkick. “When he first started, shows would cost $5 at the door. Last week, he brought in three touring bands from Chicago and had the balls to charge $7. He said, the bands, ‘needed money for gas and food.’ Yeah, right. We all know he pocketed that extra money.”

According to Clarke, he spends about three Saturdays per month and now many weekdays producing shows from start to finish.

“Most DIY promoters won’t book a show unless it takes place on a Friday or Saturday,” he said. “Someone has to help out these touring bands with weekday gigs. I’ve stepped up to the plate.”

Running shows, according to Clarke, includes collecting money at the door, making sure sets don’t run over schedule and preventing the area’s self-proclaimed “biggest supporters of the scene” from sneaking in the back door of the venue to avoid paying admission. After mopping the floor once the venue has cleared, sources have stated that Clarke can be found alone late into the night sweeping up cigarette butts and glass from broken beer bottles left in the parking lot by show patrons.

“Every time I get a call from this kid, I can’t stop laughing,” says Robert McKinley, a local police officer who attends each of Clarke’s shows — a mandatory regulation set by the city which costs Clarke $350 per event. “I once asked him why he keeps doing this and he went on about ‘the scene being important’ and how ‘it’s a brotherhood, man.’ It was at that very moment I pointed out one of his ‘brothers’ who was pissing down the slide of the playground St. Mary’s Church uses for its pre-school/daycare program.”

Members of the local scene recently weighed-in on the matter even further via the highly respected message board ShoreXXXCore.com. Poster MoshFiend92 had some choice words for Clarke’s upcoming show featuring the return of local ‘core legends, Activate Hate.

“Here we go again with Clarke and his money-grubbing ways. Ten bucks at the door for admission? That asshole says he regularly loses money on these shows, but I saw him and his girlfriend eating dinner at Taco Bell just last Tuesday.”

Chimed in poster BoneNeedle18: “The one around the corner from the one-room apartment he shares with her? I just read that shit-hole they live in had no running water and was condemned by the city last week.”

“Yeah, that’s the one,” replied MoshFiend92. “Anyway, fuck him and his shows. Guy doesn’t give a shit about the scene. I’d totally start booking shows around here myself, but Zumiez just changed my schedule from five hours per week to ten, so I don’t have time.”

We were able to catch up with Clarke once more via email prior to this story going live. Below is his final statement on the matter, printed in its entirety:

“Sorry for my delayed response to your email. My cable/internet was shut off last month and I can only get to the library to use its public computers once a week since my car was impounded for unpaid parking tickets. Anyway, the show ‘MoshFiend92’ (BTW, Ricky – I know that’s you) is complaining about paying $10 for? Let’s do some math. One show with five bands. That equals $2 per band. That’s on top of the hall rental fee, payment for the cop, the two cases of water I provide and the monthly repayment plan I worked out with St. Mary’s after someone ripped the sink off the wall in the bathroom and smeared feces in the shape of an inverted cross on the mirror during last January’s Burnt Neck show. (Ricky – I know that was you, too. Can’t you just grow up?) Listen…I’m sorry, but I need to cut this note short. I only have an hour on this computer and I need to figure out how to apply for food stamps.”

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The One Question You Should Ask Everyone You Meet

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At the risk of dating myself, who else remembers “The Sunscreen Song?” The track was put to wax by Baz Lurhmann during the summer of 1999 and features lyrics taken from a hypothetical commencement speech penned by Chicago Tribune Columnist Mary Schmich. The tune features some great pieces of advice. Specifically, though, it features the following advice about advice:

“Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

I love that line. Dispensing advice is a way of fishing from the past, taking the best parts and reusing it. While this line and the majority of the song was written with the personal aspects of life in mind, I’ve found it applies to the professional aspects of life as well.

I mean, it makes sense, right? The best way to learn is to take on advice from those you respect and those in places you aspire to reach. Whenever possible, I ask the business owners, marketers, and entrepreneurs I meet to share with me the best advice they have ever received. You’d be surprised how much insight such a simple question can yield.

As it relates to PR/marketing, here are a few of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received in no particular order. Hopefully, they will help you on your own journey.

  • If it’s going to take two minutes, do it now.
  • Be strategic in everything you do. Moving forward with an idea? Vetoing an idea? Shifting direction? Have a reason why.
  • Take complete ownership of both your victories and failures.
  • Think big – every time – and scale it back to meet your needs.
  • Learn how to write (yes, this needs to be said).

Oh, and one more piece of advice. Remember cool songs written during the years before you were of legal age to vote. They might help you write a blog post one day!

(This post has been updated since its original publication in February 2016.)  

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8 Reasons Why PR Agency Pros Will Miss “Mad Men”

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Did you watch the series finale of Mad Men? It was exactly what you’d expect from the modern classic – emotional, compelling and wrought with existential crises. But perhaps most important, it delivered a fitting conclusion to the tale of Don Draper – arguably The Golden Age of Television’s most “difficult man.”

For those who work in agency life, the end of Mad Men allows for a different type of mourning, for we are no longer able to see elements of our profession represented during prime-time. Here are thoughts from me and several of my colleagues — all huge Mad Men aficionados and PR agency veterans — regarding what we appreciated most about the show as well as what we will miss:

  • “I will miss having a reference point for explaining what I do for a living to family members. My explanation usually goes a bit like, ‘Have you ever seen Mad Men? It’s sort of like that, but not at all.’” – Nicholas Porter
  • “I’ll miss seeing Don create campaigns on the fly. At his best, he’s a brilliant strategist who cuts through the clutter, drills into what the client wants and paints a vivid picture that sells the consumer on the client’s product. Heinz ketchup. Jaguar Cars. Coke. The stories he spun were inspirational. Now, on the other hand: Don at his worst? That’s a different story…” Michael O’Connell
  • “I will miss seeing the collaborative process on the small screen! Seeing individuals working together in one room to bring ideas to life was always my favorite part of the show.” – Jen Bonney
  • “I will miss watching Peggy Olsen’s career trajectory and her struggle to be taken seriously. It was inspiring.” – Gaby Berkman
  • “I will miss seeing the reality of agency life on television. Change is the only constant in this world and Mad Men exemplified that as each big idea or opportunity led to a new agency, and a new challenge for the core characters. The show demonstrated how smaller, more nimble agencies like Sterling Cooper Draper Price – and PAN – best serve clients by staying ahead of the curve.” – Shelly Runyon
  • “I will miss how the show used 1960s culture and historic events to tell modern stories that agency professionals and ‘civilians’ alike could relate to. I also loved Megan!” – Alyssa Miron
  • “I really enjoyed how spot on the series was when it came to 1960s pop culture references. It was a fun tour through history that felt more like “real life” than what we were taught in school or learned from our parents.  But the number one reason I will miss the show? Joan! – Nikki Festa
    • The show did a great job of capturing the décor and the attitude of the times.  My first agency job in was in a heavily smoking office working with a guy named “Sterling” who, in some ways, was a lot like Don Draper. I’ll miss the protypical agency characters. My favorite Mad Men scene: the picnic in an early episode where Don, Birdie and the kids have a picnic outside in a park. Instead of cleaning up the trash when they leave, they just pick up the blanket, dumping and leaving all the garbage all over the ground, and drive off. My second favorite scene: the birthday party/cookout with the kids wearing plastic bags on their heads and shooting guns at each other and not a single parent being concerned. I could relate to Mad Men—and that’s what I’ll miss most. It was like watching memories from my childhood – Tim Monroe

What will you miss the most about Mad Men? Feel free to share!

(A version of this post previously appeared on PRSpeak.)

 

Via Vanity Fair
Via Vanity Fair
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My 2011: A Photgraphic Retrospective

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I attended several professional development events in 2011 and an underlying theme in each was how the ability to tell stories using images is slowly becoming a crucial skill required of professional communicators.

With that in mind, here we are at the end of another incredible year.  Instead of providing a sentimental retrospective like last year, I instead chose to sum up 2011 with a collection of photos.  As always, this is not all-inclusive, but it is a pretty definitive – a collection of the people, moments and places that made 2011 special for me. Thank you all.

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True Till Death: How Metal and Hardcore Punk Shaped my Career in Public Relations

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The hardcore/metal scene is one formed upon community, friendship and progressive ideas. Yes, it has evolved over time, but for the most part, its ideals have remained the same: choosing to focus on integrity, morality and finding light within the dark.

NicholasGPorter.com_AmericanHardcore

The belief system referenced above also exist in public relations.  Sure, the structure, tools and players have also changed with time, but the message and goals have also remained the same.

Share stories with a positive message.  Value your relationships.  Respect your audience’s trust. Shine a light where needed.

It’s not exactly rocket science. The similarities exist because both communities have important stories to tell. I guess that is why I am a member of both.

Below, is a short documentary on Enjoy The Massacre – a Chicago-based metal/hardcore band whose talent is only surpassed by their passion for life and music. The documentary puts the finishing touches on my above-described ideas rather nicely.

An added bonus – fast-forward to 3:42 to hear about the time my band, The Auburn System, played a crack house in Detroit, Michigan while on tour with ETM in early 2008.

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