Monday, December 29, 2008

Strategic Stepping 12/29/08

One man's ceiling is another man's floor.

Paul Simon

The metaphorical meaning of this Paul Simon line was very important to me about 20 years ago. I had been, for two years, a staff announcer for one of the most important radio stations in the country. I had reached the apex of my career in my specialty. I worked with some of the most intelligent, cultured and entertaining personalities in the business. I was paid very well and, because I worked in the mornings, from 6 to noon, I had up towards a million listeners on any given week day.

For my colleagues it was a thrill to go on the air. And so it was for me, for a while.
But one day the thrill was gone. Nothing changed. I just began to realize that the work I had wasn't enough for me. I was bumping my head on the ceiling.

I used to say that if I ever wrote an autobiography I would add a chapter about my broadcasting career and title it "Talking to Myself in a Small Room."

The radio studio was a secure, comfortable and lucrative place to be. But it wasn't enough for me. I wanted the danger of the stage. So I gave my notice.

Almost immediately three things happened that told me I had made the right decision.

First, the manager of the station called me into his office for a final chat during which he said that he thought I wanted to do something more "noble" than radio announcing. Broadcasting can be and often is a very noble profession and if he didn't think so what was he doing being in the business himself. I've written about him before. He did not specialize in intelligence.

Second, the management didn't want me to work my last day. They gave me the day off, with pay, just as I was finishing my day's work. The only reason for that would be that they thought I would go on the air and make critical remarks about the place. That is not what a professional would do. I thought if they don't know what a professional is then I have no business working for them.

Third, within two weeks after I left I had an Off-Broadway show which ran for a long time.

Now I'm retired and I don't have the fancy 401K I might have had, the luscious pension or the constantly splitting stock of the company. And suffocating in a barrel of invoices is hardly noble. But, hey, they say, you've had an interesting life. I suppose that's true. But everyone's life is interesting if they take an interest in it.

DB - Vagabond Journeys


Joann said...

I think you are very brave to take the steps you did to pursue what you wanted to... I'm not so bold, but then again I really do like my job. However, If I was more bold, and not so worried about the security and retirement, I'm sure I could think of a million things I'd rather do.

Rose said...

You made a wise decision and you were happy that you did. Kudos!

Most people are not that brave and would prefer the safety cushion and security but in today's economy and lifestyle....there is no more job security and the gold watch at retirement!

Hugs, Rose

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Not so sure that any broadcasting companies are "splitting" stocks these days, unless it is through a shredding machine.

The important thing is that you followed your gut and did what you enjoy doing. One day at a time, each and every day, that is what we call LIFE.

Beth said...

It sounds like you enjoy the challenge of a thing. Once you mastered the broadcasting gig, you were ready to forge onward and upward, and to find a new challenge. Most of us don't have that kind of fortitude!

Hugs, Beth