Tuesday, May 25, 2010

while you wait

Last night I went out to dinner with 2 of my favorite friends, one a creative director, one a news producer, both insanely successful in their fields. As a stay at home mom who juggles work, volunteering, and kid stuff, sometimes I feel less than. Not like a failure, but certainly not even close to what they're accomplishing on a daily basis. Fortunately, those moments pass quickly as conversations careens from news stories, tv obsessions, bad dates, relationship issues to last night's cat poop in minute detail and Elvis's defective colon. We talked about my View experience, my burgeoning "menstrual expert" position in the world, and delved deep into city politics and education as my new role as PTA president means I'm closer to the source and what's going on in public schools. So, I was feeling slightly less less than (I'm hoping that made sense).

We dropped one friend off at his building and seconds later bumped into someone my other friend had worked with before,. He asked if we remembered each other–apparently I'd freelanced, years and years ago, at the agency they'd both been at. Neither of us had any recollection whatsoever. They traded stories for a moment or two, catching up on people neither had seen in awhile and then my friend threw out that I'd written FLOW and had recently been on The View (it was a lovely non sequitor). She looked surprised, so I mentioned the whole title was FLOW: the Cultural Story of Menstruation and she said yes she knew, that she had 5 copies of it, that one was always on the conference table at her office, that she was working on a new job for a menstrually related product and the client loved the book so much he insisted everyone involved read it. And that she loves it. LOVES it. She was literally thrilled to meet me.


She asked if I'd please be in touch, if I did any consulting, and then we talked and talked about the book.

In a split second I went from a friend of a friend who happened to be waiting at the edge of a catch up conversation to someone she was going to run home and tell people she'd met.

I have to say it again. Whoa.

We talked about ad campaigns, different ways of getting the word out and after we parted ways, my friend and I kept talking social media. He had just started on twitter, wasn't sure how it all worked, and was shocked to discover how much I know. He had no idea I have this online life, thousands of twitter followers, that I blog every day, have fanpages on Facebook and websites that I created and maintain. That I write at Huffington Post on a regular basis and pieces I've written are all over the web. Apparently these days, employers want people to have all those pieces in place.

I have all those pieces.

But what's it getting me?

So far, not very much except lots of google search mentions.

Maintaining this online presence is a very involved part time job that earns no money, gets no real world recognition, doesn't feel to be furthering my career in any way. And yet, I'm compelled, addicted almost, and blindly keep going, hoping that someday, somehow it'll make a difference.

Am I crazy? Is all this outreach building my profile, my brand, my image or am I spending my time and energy spitting into an ocean?


Stephen Tiano said...

I see your conundrum. I feel similarly, but in the opposite way.

I've already earned more this year designing and laying out books than in any year previously; and we're not half done. Yet even tho' I've been interviewed numerous times the last coupla years, have guest blogged a coupla places, have semi-regularly kept my own blog on book design and freelancing, and have extablished a Twitter and Facebook presence, I think I'd rather enjoy more recognition for doing good work.

As a kid, I was actually quite shy and it really never went away that I noticed. Yet suddenly I realize it'd be a kick to be famous. I don't understand how this happened.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow! I do understand the 'less than" feeling! Trust me! You are already light years ahead of me. I have an online life taht my immediate 'irl' friends don't seem to have a clue about either. The links are there, they could look if they wanted, but... and of course, when working from home, with kids, laundry and multiple duties, there is a sense that we are just playing on the computer, wasting time, or whatever, rather than networking, researching, learning, writing, etc. Whatev. We know the truth :)
You have done so much, seriously, it is actually inspiring in a warped way, for me to see that you have your own doubts and struggles. I think also I learned from your experience to always be ready because you never know who you may meet or when you may get an opportunity to work and network. Kudos, Ms. Stein!

MrsWhich said...

So much going on here, so I'll maybe tackle the last part. I wonder if you've thought carefully about your purpose in all this social media involvement, and how it ties to your search for purpose in your momentary existence as a conscious being on this planet. You know me well enough to know my tongue is slightly in cheek, but still... is it really about your online profile, getting work, improving your image? I get the impression it's more for you, and that personal journey may actually be more important than the career aspects. If that's true, I would only count the extra-curricular stuff (like guest blogging) as time spent on building your work practice and reputation. The rest is a hobby that aids your personal development, and wouldn't it be great if it also helped your career?

I'm rambling - sorry. I hope that's another way to look at it that helps justify the time away from your family, other work, and life responsibilities. It's the one I like.

mrsktj said...

If it was not for your online presence I for one, would have never known about or purchased FLOW, which I loved by the way.

sweetwoman said...

keep posting i like your posts