Why they pay me, part 243

Today I’m editing a white paper written by a hired-gun analyst. Here’s an example:

From:
As telecommunications continues to become a conduit for commerce by delivering content to end users,

To:
As telecommunications takes an increasingly greater role in the delivery of commercial content,

Destiny fulfilled

Today, I was officially transferred into the Marketing department of the company where I work (I was formerly in the Technical Documentation department). This completes a circle begun twenty years ago (!) when I accidently enrolled in the “Business Technology” program at the University College of Cape Breton (UCCB), a two-year diploma program designed to help the aimless find work.

I had the bright idea to major in Data Processing. Unfortunately, I don’t have the noggin for it, so half-way through my second year I transfered to Marketing.

This was around the same time I became a minor celebrity for my “Harry for Prez” posters, which depicted my friend Harry in a number of absurd situations that had nothing to do with his bid for Student’s Union President. He won by a landslide.

I was a budding cartoonist and designer, plus I was studying marketing. Sounds like a formula with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, this was Cape Breton, where most jobs involve either back-breaking labour, or automatonous button-pushing. At that point in my life I had never met a creative person–or at least one who made a living in creative pursuits. The result was that I never felt all this was anything more than fun and shenanigans.

On the last day of classes, after I had obtained a perfect score on my final exam, my marketing professor was chatting with a few of us about what we planned to do next. He said to me something like “everyone knows you’ll be going into advertising”. He might as well have said “Deep-sea golfing”. I just stared blankly and said “Huh?” then “No, I want to get a job”.

It never occurred to me that anyone (least of all I) could do anything other than sit at a desk and do what someone else told me to do. My response was to go back to school and get a Bachelor’s degree from St. F.X.U., focussing on psychology and sociology. I also wrote for the student weekly, photographed for the weekly and the yearbook, designed posters for the film and lecture series, and designed t-shirts for clubs and societies. By the time I obtained the degree I was disillusioned with psychology (enough with the rats!), and had no desire to be a burned-out, overworked social worker.

After a few false starts I got into technical writing, where I’ve been ever since. Along the way I always had at least one toe in the creative pool. For example, I spent a few years at Concordia University (part time) working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (incomplete). I’ve designed a few little websites, like this one. I’ve written the odd article published in obscure magazines. And of course, I entertain my friends with countless emails and blog posts about the silliness going on around me, such as this “requisition request” I sent to both my new and my former bosses this morning, after the announcement that I was moving to Marketing:

“Marketing Weasel” kit requisition

  • Armani suits = 2
  • Chalet in the country = 1
  • Amex Francium* card = 1
  • Lunch vouchers for “Le Mas des Oliviers” = 100
  • Pan-airline automatic upgrade card = 2
  • Gold tooth = 1
  • I still haven’t decided between the Porche Boxster and the BMW Z3. Will get back to you on that…

(*Francium = the world’s rarest element)

So now I’m in marketing. My job is primarily to write text for brochures, the web, magazine ads, etc., but I also contribute to the design process. I’m now where all those people from my past thought I would end up. Which of course begs the question, “What do I do next?

Dawn of the New Ed

About 12 years ago I was stuck in a rut, standing there with a piece of paper flapping in my pocket (a BA degree), with no clue as to what I should do–or wanted to do–next. So I found some book (for the life of me I can’t remember what it was called) that helped me map out what I liked, what I didin’t like, what I was likely to succeed at, where my interests lay, etc.Out of that came the famous “five year plan“, which basically starts with envisioning who and where you want to be in five years. The plan worked miraculously. It helped me figure out what I wanted, and helped me focus on that. I was able to deflect most distractions and stuff that was not important, or was not bringing me closer to my goals. (Yeah. Goals. For the first time in my life I had real goals.)

OK, that was around 1989, so my five year plan was achieved seven years ago. I built on it for a while, but for the last couple of years I’ve essentially been coasting. Just riding the wave, without thinking about where I really want to be going next.Or, more precisely, coming up blank when I’d think about where I wanted to go next.

This has been scratching at the back of my angst for a while now, but I’m finally doing something about it. I found a new book, “Me, Five Years From Now”, which I hope will be as effective as the last one was.

I highly recommend this approach for people in a rut. It’s a cliche, but if you don’t know where you’re going, you ain’t never gonna get there.

The cool thing about this new book is that you don’t just read advice, you write out your own plan directly into the book. The first part of the plan (for me) is to get healthy. I’m not going to starve myself, but I’m going to make a concious effort to shun crap food, eat more fruit and veg, and get active!

The difference between my saying that today and my saying it last week is that yesterday I went through the process of mapping it out, so it’s now a plan instead of just a vague idea. Once it becomes a plan it’s much easier to follow through.

This plan will grow and will encompass many other things. It’s gonna be good!