Sweet Sweet Change.

This is not advice. You’re going to do what you want.

But here I am on vacation in Sonoma, California, in a tiny town called Healdsburg.  There’s a place that sells homemade ice cream, and a book store that doesn’t rhyme with “glamazon” or end with “& noble”.

There’s mountains and ridiculous views of the bay and a highway called Route 1 that twists and turns its way into the sky, and at no point do you lose a quite ridiculous view of the ocean.

California State Route 1.
Image via Wikipedia


There are redwoods that were here before any of us were gleams in ancestors eyes, and places that will exist long after we’re gone.

This is not an ad for Sonoma (though it certainly could be).

It’s an ad for change.

I’ve been unemployed since January.  Little by little I’ve sunk into a rut.  Yes, I’ve been job hunting.  Yes, I’ve been tweeting, growing my network, even expanding my skills (I’m learning Final Cut Pro lately).  Yes, I’ve made the effort to get outside as often as possible (or as often as the harsh New York City winter and ever shrinking window of Spring will allow).

I haven’t felt anything resembling true vitality in awhile.  I’d hit that unfortunate place where the days seem simultaneously short and long, where they seem more about finding ways to spend them than living them.

But here, in the midst of this nature, and friendly, and different, I’m beginning to feel reborn.  I feel possibility creep in.  I’ve cocked my head just slightly, just for a week, and it turns out the world isn’t quite what I’d set up in my head (it rarely is, but I often need reminding).

I’ve often said (and admittedly probably stole from somewhere) that life is like a mobile, that you can’t make one change without affecting everything else.

Well, Kate and I decided to go on vacation, to the other side of the country where the sun is shining, where the trees are growing, where the people smile back.

Maybe we’ll stay.

Change is delicious.  I choose, for the moment, to bite into it like a crisp apple pear and let the juices run down my chin onto my shirt.

Fuck it. There will always be other shirts.

If the mood strikes (actually, if it doesn’t, especially if it doesn’t), you might want to give yours a little push, too.  If you dont, expect a kick in the ass from the people who love you.  I expect one from you, when I forget what I’ve learned. That’s part of what love is.

Let’s find out together where the mobile stops spinning.

So… What’s next?

What’s Next? Changes ahead. Permission to move on granted.

I must tell you that I stopped writing about social media for 1 year plus and it was one of the happiest times of writing I have ever had. I restarted because of a new book last summer. I hate it. I have to do it professionally, but I hate it.  –Geoff Livingston

[This post is inspired partly by my friend Jennifer Leggio’s “No One’s Influencer” post, and partly by Tamsen McMahon‘s recent enthusiasm for writing again.]

When I started on Twitter in 2008, I was lucky enough to be able to be part of the conversation with a bunch of early adopters, many of which became friends or at least people I’m friendly with, and several who have become leading voices in the social media and online marketing space.

Being a part of this community led me to work on finding my voice for this blog.  Up until late 2008, it was much more of a personal music recommendation & cool links destination (which was admittedly not all that popular).  It gradually moved toward posts focused on how we communicate on the Interent, which includes what some call “Social Media.” (you can actually see the exact moment the focus shifted, with this post about podcasts which features Chris Penn).

Since this shift, the blog has grown in readership to a respectable number (if one cared about such things), and I’m appreciative of every person who takes the time to check out even a single thing I’ve written.

Time For Change

My blog output here has been slow in the last few months.  I know this.  Part of the reason is that I’ve felt trapped by the subject matter, and feeling (rightly or wrongly) like the people reading (i.e. you folks) have come to expect something specific from me.  Because of this, and because I’m stupidly stubborn (I am a Taurus, after all), I’ve kept myself from getting too “off-topic” here, beyond the occasional personal/professional rant.  But that needs to change in order for me to be fulfilled, to keep sharing, to have any agency at all.

I’ve never been a “Go social media! You have to do it this way in order to not be a megafail!” type blogger (I’ve written a bunch about why in posts focused on writing evergreen posts, and why social media isn’t a game changer).  I’ve been called out not infrequently for not being on the bus, and for occasionally being a grump.  Yes, I am sometimes guilty of that.

For me it is so frustrating to see people making friends and giving all the credit to a website, instead of owning the connection themselves.  Twitter doesn’t create friendships, twitter is a channel for people to meet and cultivate a connection.  It is the least interesting part of the process.  And here you see where I get labeled a naysayer, a skeptic, a grump.

It’s never been more clear to me that for me writing about Social Media is akin to writing about newsprint or phone wires.  I cannot wring any more substance from the tools.   I cannot both be true to my core and keep the sole focus of my writing to “how companies can connect with consumers”.  The whole enterprise (given recent political events, as well as my upbringing as the child of artists) rings hollow.

There are now hundreds of worthwhile bloggers covering best practices, concepts, toolkits, and even philosophies behind the sea change.  I just cannot bring myself to be passionate about “…and here’s what it means for your company”.  That’s not what communication that manifests online is about for me.  It never has been.  In this way, I guess I’ve never really ‘fit in’ as either a marketer or a ‘social media person’, and although my resume makes it seem like I am, I’ve never felt “in my element” as a marketer or a strategist.

These last few months of being unemployed have given me ample time for self-reflection and some new directions are starting to become less fuzzy.  Taking a look across the blogger landscape, this particular reflection seems to be a growing trend (Jennifer “Mediaphyter” Leggio, Gapingvoid via Copyblogger, and even the illustrious Amber Naslund have recently weighed in on the topic).

Upon so recognizing my limitations, my interests, my challenges, I take a deep breath and embrace scary change, because it is the only thing that can lead to growth.

All who have for whatever reason decided to keep me in your reader (or even just click through to posts as they show up on the feed) are not just here for my posts about social communication, right?   There are a lot of things that I’d like to talk about with you, things I’d like to explore and learn about from you.  I hope you will continue on with me on my little corner of the interwebs, but if this isn’t what you signed up for, I totally understand.  Maybe I’ll cry a little, but I understand.

I have not yet decided about the specific aspects I’d like to cover here.  Will some of the posts be about how we communicate online?  Undoubtedly (and hey, I still have a backlog of half-finished posts to complete).  But it will not just be that, it cannot.

There’s a huge amount of music  I’d love to share.  There are a lot of bands out there that deserve your attention.   I’ve not written nearly enough about my time creating podcasts at Sony Music, exploring the stories behind the albums many of us love so dearly, and why I believe in the anecdote as a social object is so powerful.  Also, I’d like to not be so deadly serious all the time.

My goal is truly to build something that reflects all of me (and takes cues from your feedback), and not simply focus on this one part that aches to steer the community away from “OMG chrysler just cursed on twitter” (this reference is probably already dated by the time you read it) and toward “what can we do now that 2 billion of us can connect with each other.  Can we save the planet? Make each other laugh? Remove the concept of ‘the other’ from our vocabularies? From our children’s vocabularies?”  Those discussions are happening, I will contribute to them on others blogs who say things more eloquently than I.

Anyway, this is what has been on my mind.  Thanks for your attention and indulgence, as I know posts like this can be gratuitous or dramatic (which is truly not my intention).  I simply have not been able to post, and I felt I owed you all an explanation and myself a kick in the pants.  And to all those that may be feeling similarly, consider this your permission (nay, encouragement. nay, DEMAND..tion) to blog about whatever the fuck you want.

So… What’s next?

What’s next for me: What I bring to the table as an employee.

I’ve been out of work since January 5th.  Thank you so much to everyone who has offered well-wishes and connections (truly the power of friendship, both online and off), and I look forward to repaying the kindness someday. I’ve met with a few folks, have some leads, and I’m still on the hunt for that ideal match.  I’ve taken some time these last few weeks to reflect on the kind of employee I am capable of being, and the kind of employer that would be the best fit for me. Though my critical inner voice is saying that posting this here is self-serving, I hope that it may open up some opportunities, and also that perhaps some of you might spend some time reflecting as I have, and share some of your insights as well.

Throughout my life, a core focus of mine has been creating environments where people can share, be themselves and feel safe and inspired. Sometimes this has manifested itself through online peer counseling in chat rooms (in the mid 90s), to DJing (for a decade), to helping to get the stories behind classic music told through podcasting, to my latest incarnation, helping companies communicate online.

Ultimately what it comes down to, in terms of a philosophy, is this: I care about creating a great experience for and with people who honor us with their attention.

Some of what I bring to the table:

  • Over a decade of professional experience (both in the music industry and PR world) focusing on meeting or exceeding the needs of communities to be connected, informed and entertained in a shared environment where consumers and businesses are on even ground.
  • A truly collaborative employee. I don’t like to be ‘the expert in the room’.  When I am on a team with smart, open people I will raise the level of creativity, collaboration, execution and creative results.
  • A thoughtful, passionate writer.  I love language, its specificity, and using it in clever ways.  Feel free to peruse the archives of this blog for some samples.
  • A focus on strategic execution.  I like to be in the trenches, building stories, connecting with people, producing.  I also enjoy the creative process of coming up with strategic arcs, breaking a story and keeping to it.
  • Deep and broad interest in a wide range of disciplines. Honestly, this has made it challenging to job hunt in the traditional way.  Am I interested in community management? Sure.  Am I also interested in digital strategy development? For the right thing, sure.  Am I a passionate, creative and dedicated producer of content and conversation? Absolutely. Would I be happy only doing one of these things as my job, when I could be rocking at several, and learning and growing along the way?? I’m not so sure.
  • A fundamental allegiance to the end user. I work to ensure that their perspective is heard, that whatever we do is interesting and valuable to them, because ultimately they are what matters.

My ideal environment:

I’m interested in working a non-corporate small-to-medium sized company focused on customer value.  I’m also looking to relocate away from NYC if possible.

That having been said, here’s some thoughts on that topic:

  • I believe that enabling connection through the sharing of common experience is at the core of making the world a better place, and that the story of a thing (when told well) is as interesting as the thing itself.  To that end, I’ve found the most professional joy when I’m developing and producing remarkable online content that tell stories in a compelling, unique, personal and valuable way. This has taken the form of producing podcast series, writing blogs, and interviewing people and compiling for video series.
  • Any job where I can explore a topic with a bunch of interested, passionate people from a variety of angles for the benefit of a community would be awesome.
  • Although I like to have a variety of work, it would take a very very special place for me to go to an agency, at this point.
  • To me, Social Media (one of the few times I use that phrase on my blog) and the channels, metrics and ‘stars’ are the least interesting part of the transformative nature of technology.  To that end, I’m not sure that continuing in the ‘social media strategy’ world would be the best fit for me.

I’ve been finding that the points above make it a bit of a challenge to job hunt in the “well, heres generally what I want to do, but there doesn’t seem to be a job title that describes it out there, really.”  I enjoy doing a lot of different things, and for me the group culture may end up being more important than the specific position.

Anyway, if this post speaks to you in either a “we need someone like him at my company” or “I have something to add”, I would love to hear from you.  More formally, I’ve posted my resume (DOC, also in HTML), and my LinkedIn has more detail on me, professionally.

I’m looking forward to what the next chapter may have in store for me!

In which Jeremy’s time with @WaggenerEdstrom comes to an end, and he asks for help.

So, here’s some news.

As of the beginning of January, I will be leaving my position as Digital Strategy Specialist at Waggener Edstrom‘s Studio D.

This decision comes at the end of some intense reflection about what I truly value and what I want to be a part of creating.  My focus has always been to see things from the community side, rather than the corporate ROI side, and this is something that I’d like to focus more on professionally.

I do truly believe that when it comes to business storytelling, social innovation awareness and digital strategies for business, there are few better than the team at Waggener, and I wholeheartedly recommend their services if you or your organization find yourself in need of such things.

In the meantime, I do not have another gig lined up, so here’s where I humbly call upon the power of the interwebs and my friends who read my blog.

If you know of a position or a company that you think might be a good fit for me, if you’d like to chat about opportunities, if there’s something you’d like my input on, if I can help in any way, please let me know. My email is jeremy at this domain.  My resume is easily viewed or downloaded as a Word document, and I have a profile at LinkedIn.

For some context, here’s my Career Objective from said document.

I am passionate about leveling the playing field between companies and fans by facilitating conversations around personal experiences that encourage real connection.  I lead story-based projects, fueled by this collaboration, that build, feed and grow communities

I’m thinking seriously about industries such as Video Games, where the people working on the product exist within their target audience.   In other words, the makers geek out on the same things as the consumers.  That makes community building (the thing I care about) so much simpler and more fun.

I am not at all adverse to leaving the NYC area, especially if it involves the west cost.

I am not interested in a job that is mostly social media strategy, but for the right company, I could be swayed.  I would really like to work at a company doing a variety of work, rather than at an agency for a variety of clients.  But again, given the right environment and culture, I could be swayed.

Oh, also… If you think you’d like my job (Digital Strategist with a focus on new business and located in the NYC office), I will have a job description available shortly, so feel free to contact me on Twitter.

So, I call upon you, my dear friends, community members, associates.  Let’s demonstrate the power of connection.

Thanks for your time.

[Previously: In which Jeremy’s career begins a new direction at @WaggenerEdstrom]

Shouting into the void [UPDATED]

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtd12186/3003133343/This post will not help you define your social media strategy.

This post is hard to write, and it may be hard to read. Sorry in advance.

Here goes.

I’m scared.

I’m scared that because I’m a smart guy and my particular combination of skills and interests tend to put me about a year and a half in front of the general population’s thinking on some things. I’m scared that this means that I’m always going to be “out of phase”.  This is not ego. I’m not happy about it, I’m not bragging, this isn’t a ploy or a personal branding exercise.

I’m scared that I’m always going to have to go into a room full of skeptics, at a disadvantage, and have to prove myself and why what I’m talking about is important. Some people geek out on this. I don’t. At all.

I’m scared that I’m never going to have an experience where I say something and a person who can make it happen says “Of course. Obviously.  I’m right there with you. Let’s go do something great.” I want that so much it hurts. I am capable of great things. I’ve already done some.  I want to do more.

I’m scared that this is going to continually be an isolating force in my life, that its always going to separate me from other people, that I will look back on my life and wonder where the opportunities went for me to be creative in a way that fulfills me, with a group of people who are similarly fulfilled.

I’m scared of where this came from, and I’m scared of what it means about me and what my life is, and I’m scared I’m the only one around like this.

So here I am, shouting into the void, hoping it’s not just me.

It’s not just me

Is it?

Updated: Apparently it’s not just me.