When I began my second career in writing and then in Social Media, I had four goals. The first three were in no order of importance but the fourth was a distant fourth from the others. It’s been quite a while since I began and it seems time for a “report card” and review of how successful I was at achieving these goals.
Goal Number One: Tikkun Olam – Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for “Repair the World.” It is further suggested in Judaism that we should do this “One person at a time.” I love this idea because it is achievable. When we look at the entirety of the world’s problems they can seem so overwhelming and impossible to conquer. But, everyone can help a single person and we all know many individuals who could use a helping hand.
I began my second career while simultaneously becoming a mentor to a young man with a fatal genetic disease and a Big Brother to a young boy without a father in his life. These were obvious ways to achieve some Tikkun Olam. All these years later, I still mentor the young man with the genetic illness. But I’ve also discovered that my writing and Social Media endeavors have reached so many people and affected lives in so many unexpected ways.
This has been the greatest satisfaction from my second career. Sometimes, I simply get a query from a parent seeking some answers to seemingly impenetrable problems. Other times, it’s an email expressing the value a reader got from a column or the laughter a Because I Said So comic strip provided.
#DadChat, the tweet-chat I founded three years ago, has been a regular source of human connection, Tikkun Olam, and building community. We’ve done several fund-raisers for non-profits and I know we’ve brought together many isolated parents who needed to know they were not alone in their struggles.
Goal Number Two: My Boys – My boys only knew their dad as a retired-from-show-biz man who had some fun stories, though in many cases they wondered if they were true. One example was my regular story telling of adventures I had years prior with Stan Lee, the man behind Marvel, Spider-Man, Iron-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, and so many other iconic super-heroes. They doubted these stories until we attended Comic-Con. My boys were wearing their Star Trek costumes and it turned out that Stan was there signing autographs.
We quickly bought a copy of Spiderman #1 – by Todd McFarlane – and patiently stood in line to meet Stan and get it autographed. The moment of truth came and I greeted Stan as the old friend I felt he was. He looked at me puzzled. My boys’ hearts sank. Then, Stan burst into a big smile and greeted and hugged me.
As my second career developed, my boys did see my growing success and growing impact, however narrow it may have been. They came to the radio station to hear and watch me do my radio show. They enjoyed many of the “perks” I got in exchange for reviews (which I rarely do anymore) or simply because. They loved attending the movie screenings I was now invited to on a regular basis. Goal achieved. Ironic note: other than the things that they selfishly appreciated, I don’t think they truly gave a hoot about much of the rest of it.
Goal Number Three: Fun – Since I had been very fortunate in my first career to have made a healthy living, my financial needs were less pressing in beginning this new phase of my work-life. So, having fun was my third goal. I was blessed to have largely enjoyed my former career in show biz so I knew what it was like to wake up in the morning and look forward to my (work) day. I wanted the same with my next career.
Having fun is certainly not a lofty goal in and of itself but having fun does encourage creativity and enthusiasm. As it turned out, not only have I had fun but the Social Media aspects of my new career introduced me – virtually and in real life – to an entire world of fascinating and interesting people. #DadChat is the plu-perfect example of my enjoying incredible adventures. I’ve made friends from all over the world, gotten an education often on the subjects we tackle, and simply had the time of my life.
Goal Number Four: Monetize – Most people approach their careers with goals number one, two, and three being centered around, and second to income. That was truly the last goal on my list and a distant fourth at that. Having that fiscal freedom was a mixed blessing because I didn’t pay attention, during the early years and formation of my evolving work-life, to various aspects that would and should and could have brought in income from the onset.
Things like SEO (when it mattered more) I chose to ignore. The value of images and all the hassles that come with securing them was something that wasn’t “fun” so I didn’t bother.
Having largely fulfilled my first three goals – to one degree or another – I’ve now put this goal of monetization on parity with the others. I work so hard that it wouldn’t hurt to make some income from my efforts. To that end, I’ve begun to consider the things I ignored before and I’ve now begun to make some money.
Granted, the income potential from writing and radio is not huge given these two arenas are largely dying, along with the newspaper and publishing businesses. So, if making money were a primary goal, writing and doing radio would be low on my list of work choices.
But, I like the various things I do and my revised goal in this regard is to monetize where I can, without compromising the first three goals, or compromising the values I cherish.
I won’t assign a grade myself. I will let you be the judge of how I fared with this “report card!”