My friend Chuck Matthews was "downsized" yesterday. It's always a bummer to read about people losing jobs in our business, but it hits you even harder when it's someone you know. It's especially difficult when that same person is a multi-talented guy. It makes me wonder why more companies don't attempt to find talented people another spot in another market within that company. So, if you're reading this and you know of a position that could utilize a talented imaging/production person with top 75-market PD experience, Top 20-market Imaging experience, and one HUGE voice....drop me a note.
When I was in the seminary, the great Monsignor Leonard J. Fick would often times call upon the wisdom of Santiago, the old man in The Old Man and The Sea. He would ask us to use Santiago as a model for overcoming obstacles. (I guess he figured there were enough priests in residence at the seminary who would already ask us to utilize that of the sacrifice made by our Lord and Savior. Best for him to stick with his beloved literary figures!) He would say, "Look at Santiago, for there you shall see the ultimate display of grace under pressure".
Grace under pressure. No, it's not the same as discovering that you have cancer or some horrible disease. But losing a job is never an enjoyable event. I know. I was "down-sized" at the end of 2006. After the initial shock wears off, and after you're done putting on a front for family and friends with clever sayings like "well, now I can find out if Drew Carey has been the right replacement for Bob Barker on The Price is Right", and things like that, the cold, hard reality begins to sink in.
What do I do now?
Do I send out massive emails to acquaintances and industry contacts? Do I send a package to the competition? Do I switch careers? Go back to school? Move...again? I found the hardest thing to deal with was the fact that I felt like my chosen profession, in a way, let me down. How could I be let go? I thought I had "talent"? Why aren't there 5 other stations already vying for my services? The Glenn Beck promo for the next day is not going to get done now. Surely, they'll realize this and by late afternoon tomorrow I'll get a phone call with the "we've reconsidered" lament and all will be right with the world.
But I was amazed at the ...small amount of reaction. People close to me shared their sympathies and a few extended an offer to "keep their ears open". But, all in all, the reaction was...not overtly strong. I told my wife several weeks afterwards that I felt really lonely. I thought I had more industry friends than this. I thought I was better than this.
So I thought of Fr. Fick. And Santiago. And "grace under pressure". And shortly after exclaiming "what a bunch of bulls*it" several dozen times, I decided to gather a bit of poise and press on. A little grace under pressure. And since then, after cultivating some very important relationships that I have with my current station clients, I'm able , at least so far, to pay the mortgage and occasionally afford a couple bottles of "Hot Rod Rye Ale" from Bear Republic Brewing Company. (an absolutely delicious beer!) After all, we all have our own version of "grace"...right?
You're not alone, Charles.
* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at www.mattmultimedia.com