In the summer of 2006, I was a newly minted graduate from the University of Maryland. I was full of excitement and hope, off to spend what would become a magical year teaching French in a Lilloise high school.
If you had asked me right then what I was going to do with my life, I wouldn’t have been able to give you answer that didn’t involve either a Leffe beer, a hot baguette, an all night multinational party, or some combination of the three (incidentally, if you’ve never had three Italian women cook you pasta in their apartment at 4am, you’ve missed out in life).
Fast forward to 2010. All that enthusiasm has turned into a law degree. But with the “Great Recession” of 2008, I had missed the uptake. More importantly, my confidence in myself was gone. I applied for a single job at a NYC law firm, got lectured on how bad the market is, and was told I would never be a lawyer.
I wish I could tell you I brushed it off and kept going, but that would be a lie. I left that office, walked out onto Avenue of the Americas, and swore to myself that I would never set foot in another law office again.
I never have.
From McDonalds to the 6 Harsh Truths
It’s odd to write that sentence so casually, because the truth is there is a lot of pain behind it. My first job with my newly minted, tier-one, law degree at the McDonald’s drive through. It’s an understatement to say I was professionally adrift; I was lost; bouncing from job to job with no end in sight.
Then, one day in 2014, I read an article that changed my life forever — 6 Harsh Truths that Will Make You a Better Person — in Cracked. That’s when I stumbled across the concept of “Value” — of the fundamental truth that the world “only cares about what it can get from you”.
That’s when it hit me. Things like being nice, or motivated, don’t matter; it’s what you DO with them that’s important.
It was a revelation. And it got me thinking about what skills I could use to bring someone value. I started by coming up with a list of the things I knew about myself:
- I love taking deep dives into the topics I’m passionate about
- I have professional training in how to do research and make arguments
- I can write pretty well
After thinking about it for a little bit, I contacted a friend of mine who runs a poker blog and asked him if I could write about a current trend in the industry — for free. He agreed, and my first post went viral.
Both he and I were thrilled. I had found what I had to offer the world.
Making My Way to B2B Content Strategy
I wrote for free for a while. After a few months, my friend mentioned my name when someone was looking for a paid writer (yes, it works like that). An offer was made and I accepted. Only a few months after hitting rock bottom, I was a paid content writer.
That was five years ago. Today, in 2018, that initial discovery about the power of finding the value I can give to the world led me to a passion for helping others do the same.
That’s why I’m in marketing. Why are you doing the thing you do?
Here are the motivation tips I would offer anyone struggling to find their passion in life:
- Find the communities surrounding something you love
- Ask yourself what skills you have that can be applied to that love
- Think about how you can use them to provide value to the community
- Stay humble and offer that value to someone in the community with a platform you respect
In future posts, I’ll take a deeper dive into those tips and talk about how to stay motivated in order to overcome the challenges they pose.