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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Channukah Hints, Jewrican Factoids #1

So, sundown will mark the first night of Channukah, and while I'm a pretty bad Jew, I'm a pretty hawt Jewrican. I thought I'd take the opportunity to use the eight nights of Channukah to give out at least one good coaching hint. And maybe share a factoid about growing up Jewrican. (Might as well do one mitzvah to make up for all the mishegas, nu?)
Here's my coaching hint:
I'm convinced that many people remain stuck in careers they dislike not just because our economy's given up, but also because enough time, they start to believe they have no choice. "What else can I do?" These are people who would rather remain safely miserable at something, since the idea of figuring out what they would really want to do with their lives is just overwhelming. Panic-inducing.You ask these people where they'd like to be in five years and this Village of the Damned blank stare comes on. Now, five years is not a long time...but it is a long time to spend doing something which you may already hate.
I remember that when I left TV news, the thought of producing one more package, or doing one more interview made me want to get a gun. The thought of taking one more phone call from a certain anchor at a certain national morning broadcast made me feel like Jim Jones buying Kool-Aid at a Costco: "I'm going to need all the Kool-Aid you got. Yep, and the stuff in the back." I was a wee bit bristling with rage. A wee bit. Therefore, you can either assume the process of figuring out what you really want to do with your life, and creating a life you relish, is both naive and extremely difficult, and you're just going to compensate by spending a lot of time on Facebook and Tivo...or you can give it a try, right?
You could, for example, understand that you do not have to quit your job and throw away everything you've worked for and figure out the meaning of your life and your place in the cosmos within the next five minutes. But you could start setting aside time every single day to look back on your career, however long or short, and think about which jobs you truly enjoyed. Which jobs made you feel excited and fulfilled and competent? Before you roll your eyes at me and say, "Carlota, I hated them all," how about this: were there parts of said that you enjoyed? (Leaving at the end of the day doesn't count.) Were there specific duties which gave you personal and intellectual satisfaction? You could make a list--I heart lists-- of what those jobs/responsibilities were. You could go through your Facebook & LinkedIn friends and see what people you know are doing: are any of them involved in things which make your nostrils quiver? You could contact your alumni associations of your high school, college and grad school and see who is doing what. (FYI: if you're not already in touch with all your alumni associations, if you haven't purchase membership, and become their fans on Facebook, and generally stayed in touch so you can see what opportunities they have available...are you trying to irritate me? You spent good money to attend these schools: get your money worth!)
You could then research interesting and relevant jobs and/or careers on websites like, or Vault, or Monster. (I hear good things about The Google.)Basically, you could extrapolate from what you've enjoyed, from what you've been competent at doing, to understanding what you could probably be good at. (Conversely, you can also extrapolate from what you hated to what you shouldn't do.)
True story: I created this business because one of the reasons I excelled in TV was my ability to problem-solve on my feet, in situations of great stress and very little time. I liked having to fix problems. I liked researching a story, and figuring out interesting elements and learning new things. On the other hand, I disliked moronic anchor-persons who were more worried about their hair and make-up than paying attention to press conferences. And so I left TV. (Problem solved.) I extrapolated what I was good at, what I enjoyed, and used that knowledge to create a scenario in which I could use those skills to pay the bills. (Sorry.)
And now, as promised, here's my growing-up-Jewrican factoid: because I, at age 13, was an idiot, and thought I was an anarchist (I know! I know!), I dropped out of Hebrew school. No Bat Mitzvah, no lavish presents for me since I was "above" that. Meanwhile, a friend had his Bar Mitzvah at...the Copacabana. Yes, that Copacabana in NYC in the 1980s: ice-statues, frosted bangs, scrunch socks, rubber bracelets and pastel sweaters up the ying-yang. And all that, could have been mine...

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