Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Back Story

Theories and constructs and analysis get you only so far in life. Other people's mistakes are much better learning opportunities. Here’s how I did exactly what I just said not to do.

When I got out of college I said to myself, “I know! I like theater, and I like to be in charge of things. I will go into theater management.” Nice try. Except the part of theater I liked was being on stage in front of many people. And the part of being in charge I liked was having everyone listen to me. And in theater management, real, marbles on the floor, theater management, you don’t get to act and nobody really listens to you. They listen to the talent. Which is as it should be. I made the mistake of taking the two blue velvet bags of “Theater” and “Management” and trying to put them together. Which landed me answering telephones, word processing (that’s what we called it in those days), and helping people who were to become movie stars learn their lines for Hamlet. Not quite what I had in mind.

Before I went to graduate school, I told myself, “I know! I like to write, and I am interested in business. I will go get a joint degree in journalism and business!” I applied to Northwestern and to Columbia, both of which had joint degrees, and flew off to India where I wandered around for 3 months writing my first newspaper article ever. When I returned, I had been accepted to Northwestern for both programs and to Columbia for an MBA. Rejected from Columbia’s journalism school. Unsurprisingly. It was the best program in the country at the time and I had never done a lick of journalistic anything in my life. I didn’t want to leave New York. So I went to business school. I was 25. I figured it would be a fun adventure. Little did I know.

At 52 I now understand that business journalism would have been the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I like to write, sure, but the part of business that interests me is the strategy, the structure of industries, or else the juicy gossip about who is a real jerk. Not what many business journalists get to write about. Business journalists mostly get to write about numbers. Numbers scare me. When business journalists write about people they have to be nice or public relations agents come and kill them.

Again, I took two bags of marbles, cats-eye, steel, speckled, and tried to make one big bag. When really what I wanted was just the speckled ones. I failed to disaggregate. I should either have gone back to business school for a Ph.D. so I could give endless lectures on strategy and industry structure, or I should have become a gossip writer. As I said, little did I know.

And no, I'm not done yet.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where were you two years ago when I graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy and decided to shake two bags of marbles into an utter mess and combine my love of children with Philosophy? Let me tell you, the market for Masters in "Philosophy for Children" is even worse than the market for B.S.s in Philosophy. And that whole children thing? I think I confused liking children with wanting to have kids someday. Totally different beasts! woah. (Learned that lesson quickly!)
I am now trying to reorganize my marbles. Somedays I think I'd rather just lose them and start over.
I am beyond excited there is more! You are speaking my language! And have given me so much to think about!

June 17, 2009 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger the communicatrix said...


I wonder if anyone in her 20s could look at this and *really* get it. I know I could not have, b/c I was the dumbass for whom this tidy bit of info was invented, and I would have been all "Who in the what, now?"

Great way to sum up how we gum it up. Really.

June 17, 2009 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger LPC said...

What I plan to say is that in your 20's it is to be expected that you won't get this. In our 20's most of us will gum it up. As long as we learn while doing it, learn what we are and aren't suited to, no problem. Life is short, but it's long too. I don't mind getting to the punchline early.

June 17, 2009 at 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Maureen at IslandRoar said...

I find this all very interesting. I knew at 8 I was a writer, period. But went to college for nursing so I could "earn a living," as I was instructed. I've spent the better part of my life making up for this. No regrets, really, but lots of frustration. Can't wait to hear mo;re.

June 18, 2009 at 5:17 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

I'm in my 20's (late) and I get this. I haven't figured out how to fix it yet, and I'm waiting for the next installment, but I absolutely get this.

Stop underestimating the young. Really, when one does that, you're just looking back and not giving yourself enough credit when you do that. Hindsight is 20/20, and you were very smart in your 20's doing the best you could, not able to see very far ahead.

June 18, 2009 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Little Bow Prep said...

Interesting story.

I'm still at a loss for what precisely I want to major in...

June 18, 2009 at 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello there, You have done an incredible job.
I'll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I'm confident they'll be benefited from this web site.
Feel free to visit my web page how i make money on internet

December 6, 2012 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After looking over a number of the articles on your
web site, I honestly appreciate your way of writing a blog.

I book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be
checking back in the near future. Please check out my web site too and let me know your opinion.
Here is my web-site ; make legitimate money online

December 6, 2012 at 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howdy great blog! Does running a blog such as this require
a lot of work? I have very little knowledge of programming but I was hoping to start my
own blog in the near future. Anyway, should you have any recommendations
or techniques for new blog owners please share.
I know this is off topic however I simply wanted to ask.
Many thanks!
Stop by my site ; hydrocodone

December 6, 2012 at 11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post.
Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!
Check out my weblog affiliate programs

December 7, 2012 at 12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!
Here is my web blog ; high volume penny stocks

December 7, 2012 at 3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your
post is simply spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.
Look into my web site - solihull home options

December 7, 2012 at 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This piece of writing will assist the internet visitors for creating new blog or even a weblog from start to end.
my webpage: Highest paying affiliate programs

January 18, 2013 at 11:41 AM  

Post a Comment

I thoroughly enjoy your comments. If you find this form is broken, my apologies. Please email me and I will rage against the machine.

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home