This is a photo of our dog, Jordan. This feisty Shiba Inu was completely blind at the time of this picture, but her nose was evidently working fine because it led her to a refreshing snack alongside of our deck. As you might imagine, this did not end well, but more on that in a minute…
"Generally speaking, getting stuck isn’t lethal but in business it is a dangerous place to land."
ADMITTING MY STUCKNESS
In the mid-2000’s my career was running full throttle. I worked as a writer and producer for television, and also started a creative services division for a company I had freelanced with for years, working with clients to create strategic marketing concepts, campaigns, and content for broadcast and digital. At this time, there was a major evolution occurring in my industry, and broadcast standards, file formats, editing systems, and even camera and broadcast resolutions were rapidly changing…and changing again…and outlets, distributors, production houses were all using different formats and settings during this transitional time. True “standards” were hard to keep up with, so I chose to narrow my focus to the things I had always known best and rely on the “techies” to manage the standards. Almost a year passed by with me digging in my heels and refusing to keep up with the industry trends. After all, they would only change again soon, right?
My strategy could not have been more wrong. In order for me to excel at “what I had always known best” I needed to change my mindset and my actions.
WAKE UP CALL
Thankfully, an eye-opening conversation snapped me out of my oblivion and I re-entered the (r)evolution. Bethany, the then-vp for programming at a large, national network and a friend/colleague/client, was a true visionary and I always enjoyed talking with her. On this day, she mentioned all the places that she believed TV was heading: real-time interaction with viewers, 1:1 targeted marketing, consumer-driven content, and more. In an instant, this conversation about our industry lit a firestorm in me. It was as though I could suddenly see an infinite horizon of possibilities in my industry...far beyond what she and I discussed. And dang, I wasn’t going to be left behind to run-aground only to be stuck in my own out-of-date muck as this rocket ship blasted off!
I dove into formats and CODECs and groundbreaking post-production and animation programs. I researched the forecasted digital and marketing trends and learned as much as I possibly could take in about this soon-to-come landscape. One year later, in 2007, my brother and I launched the first livestreaming, real-time, interactive webseries, mentioned in my Brand Portability post.
Big kudos to Bethany for igniting the spark that got me unstuck because our conversation that day changed my life, my career, and defined the trajectory of my future.
My story isn’t different from anyone else’s. We all get stuck at times—in jobs, relationships, ideologies, beliefs, patterns, habits—we get comfortable and, let’s admit it, for most of us, change is scary. Or too much effort. Or both. Generally speaking, getting stuck isn’t lethal but in business it is a dangerous place to land.
Had I continued on my path of being stuck, I would not have grown or learned much of anything new. I would never have introduced innovative digital marketing strategies to my clients or led them to be one of the first in their industry to use social media, or designed longform content that could be easily chunked into bite-sized pieces, or showed them that podcasting is more than a recording—it begins with a strong concept that integrates into their entire mission, including campaigns, strategic and communications plans, and marketing strategies.
Had I not broken through my resistance, I would never have ended up teaching (and learning) from my students. When the pandemic hit and I was director of marketing and digital strategies at Ringling College, I would not have known how to pivot on a dime to help deliver online learning in addition to building and delivering all of our year-end events on a real-time, livestreaming platform, or vaulted the college into the world of esports.
MAYBE YOU CAN RELATE?
All around me I am noticing people and businesses that are stuck. They know that the world is changing, our community is growing, our prospective donors, patrons, and users are getting younger and they expect that we will deliver a unique experience for them, unlike those who came before. While knowing all of this to be true, these organizations are immobilized as to what to do and where to go next.
"It’s a hard and even terrifying question to ask, but face yourself squarely and ask it. Am I stuck? Are WE stuck? "
Jordan stuck on move-in day
If you’re planning to keep your business “status quo”, or if you subscribe to “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”, then you may want to take a closer look…at yourself, your organization, your audience, your board, your current model, your strategic plan, and your future. Who knows, it may just ignite a decision to dive back in, like I did when I tweaked some of my beliefs back in 2006. And that decision alone could open you up to being a leader and pioneer to whatever and whomever is coming next. I'd love to continue this conversation, bounce around some ideas, or cusomize ways to get unstuck. Feel free to get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org
As for Jordan, the fiercely independent, stubborn, blind Shiba? I happened to be there when she decided to pull her big, fluffy head back through that railing. She immediately realized she was stuck and she panicked, howling…no, actually screaming in fear. I reassured her and held her tightly to keep her from hurting herself. When she calmed down, I twisted her head ever-so-slightly and she easily slid it backwards through the spindles. Unscathed and free, she listened for a moment then trotted on to her next adventure…and attacked that noisy sprinkler head!
Jordan stuck in a wire hanger