I am a freelance writer. I usually work from home, but I was contracted to work through the summer on-site at a local university. The “scope of the project changed” and my contract was cancelled early. As I drove home feeling like a complete failure, I replayed the last meeting I had with the hiring manager and my editor as if it were a video. Phrases such as “very good writer” and “better at long form writing” went through my head. Were the editor’s words sincere? Was I really just not a good fit for this particular project, but still a decent writer?
I went through email and social media before dinner. I wanted to start fresh the next day so I thought I would scan what I had left on my desk for the last month. Two items jumped out at me and made me feel so much better. First was Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Owning Your Losses” video. It’s a very short video in which he talks about how the reason we don’t like loss is because we worry about what people think of us when we screw up. (By the way, he has very colorful language, so beware if that stuff bothers you.) When you boil it down to that least common denominator, I think he’s right! I will no longer care what other people may think when I tell them why I’m back at my home office earlier than expected.
The other item was an article about how Sree Sreenivasan is leaving the Metropolitan Museum of Art. More than that, it is about how he owned his loss (they are cutting costs, so they decided to cut Sree). I don’t know Mr. V., but I do know Sree. He was the chief digital officer for Columbia University and a professor in the School of Journalism and became the Met’s chief digital officer in 2013. He has spoken about social media at most of the ASJA conferences I have attended. I have always said his session made the entire conference worth the price of attendance because he teaches us all about how we writers should use any new social media tools that have popped up since we last heard him.
The day the news of his departure was announced to the public, Sree decided to reach out to his friends and colleagues through Facebook to ask them what he should do next. He is calling it “Sree 3.0” with 1.0 being his stint at Columbia and 2.0 being his stint at the Met. It inspired me to see both the video and the article after my unexpected end of my own contract. If these two powerhouses can accept major unexpected changes in their careers, who am I to lick my wounds?
So, today I reached out to many of the clients who were expecting me to be available in September and told them I am here now. Aside from a well-deserved family vacation over the summer, I am here to write for their blogs or magazines and to speak to their groups. I will work on the book revision that was moved to the fall when the on-site job came up and those videos on pocket parks. In short, I am in my happy place with my tchotchkes around me working in my pjs with the radio on (not plugged into headphones lest I bug the person working on the other side of the cubicle wall). I am taking this loss as a win.
I wish the best of luck to Sree. He is such a talented person whose heart is in the right place. Most of the people who know him are surely thinking the same thing I am thinking. He will be more than fine. He will continue to change the world of social media and journalism while being one of the nicest gentleman you will ever meet.
Go for it, Sree! I can’t wait to see what’s next for you. Thank you @Sree and @GaryVee for putting this week in perspective.