PlazaJen: The Blog

Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: advertising (page 1 of 3)

Ahhh, Fall

I love Fall. For so many reasons – the cooler air, the crisp bite of fresh apples, the faint trails of smoke on the wind once fireplaces start up…and… Fall TV. This year’s even bigger than ever, because I have several clients active on television and it’s important to know what is on, what’s new, what’s going to do well, and to avoid the inevitable bombs. (Hello, Animal Practice, I’m looking straight at you. Monkey sidekicks are a death-knell.)

It also means creative DVRing, because apparently Sunday nights are now going to be akin to flying into Atlanta after being re-routed for weather. It’s not helped by the fact CBS football always runs over, shoving Amazing Race back and requiring a safety cushion of 30 minutes over, sometimes adjusted to an hour. Because just hoping I remember everything is a thing of the past, this is what I do:

Because only the networks fit onto one page, I’ve got crib notes for the cable shows as well – even if they’re not starting tonight, I need to remember they’re coming. Sundays for cable are crazy!

New shows that have some promise – 666 Park Avenue (ABC, Sundays, 9p CST)  might be a good replacement for the Desperate Housewives set, though with a slightly more devilish twist. (It can always be dicey when you pull Satan on tv). We watched the premiere of the Mob Doctor (FOX, Mondays, 8p) and it was rather entertaining – plus Revolution seems to be doing well right out of the gate (NBC, Mon, 9p) and will probably be their winner of new prime shows.  The Mindy Project (FOX, Tue, 8:30) will do well, Nashville (ABC, Wed 9p) looks good as well. I’m excited for Vegas (CBS, Tues, 9p) – hello Michael Chiklis, you’ve been missed, as well as Elementary (CBS, Thur, 9p) because I don’t believe you can have too much Sherlock Holmes, ever, plus Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are easy on the eyes. The X Factor (FOX, Wed, 7p, Thur (Results) 7p) is actually quite good, because Simon has moved on and it’s a fresh(er) take on reality singing shows.

First shows to bite it will be The Neighbors (ABC) and as mentioned earlier, Animal Practice (NBC). My poor rep tried to convince me Animal Practice was going to make it and had no rebuttal for “It’s a horrid concept! WITH A MONKEY.” Guys with Kids (NBC) is probably not too far behind.

Returning sophomore shows I think are good and I try to catch on demand, or am just impressed at how they’ve succeeded – Grimm, and Once Upon A Time. Person of Interest is one we watch, I’m glad to see it return, and while I don’t watch Revenge, I have several friends who get very dramatic at just the drop of the show title. (“Reveeeengggge!” they all exclaim, with big eyes and great drama….)  2 Broke Girls is definitely doing well, as it’s now the 8p lead on Monday.

Cable shows I’m stoked for (already started or returning): American Horror Story (FX, Wed, 9p, premieres 10/17) – holy crap-my-pants is this one scary show. I have to wait until Saturday morning to even watch it), Sons of Anarchy (FX, Tues, 9p, premiered 9/11), Walking Dead (AMC, Sun, 8p, premieres 10/14) – that one will get recorded at like 1 in the morning, thanks to these returning favorites crowding in around that elongated Amazing Race setting:  Dexter (SHO, Sun, 8p, premieres Sept 30), Homeland (SHO, 9p, also premieres Sept 30) plus Boardwalk Empire has begun (HBO, Sun, 8p) Thank you, Oh Great On-Demand Options on the Holy Cable Box!

At least I’ve got PLENTY of yarn to knit with as I watch my newbies and returning favorites. Though Walking Dead and American Horror Story :do: make my gauge get noticeably tighter….

Big Stuffs

Tomorrow, I start my new job! I had started a conversation with a former colleague a year ago, and he had said then he wanted to add media to their agency, but they just weren’t ready. In the meantime, I took a job that let me work from home, and my new co-workers and clients were awesome. So it wasn’t the easiest decision to make when the opportunity from a year ago came to fruition, but in the end, I knew I had to take it because if I didn’t, I’d always wonder and possibly regret not taking the chance. I’m excited, it’s starting from scratch, but I believe it’s going to be a great job. The commute is crazy – all three minutes of it! We joked about me requiring a fuel stipend. And, they picked up a huge account this past Thursday, so I’m going to be a little crazed this first week – heck, the way my home phone and email blew up from certain reps that afternoon, I know I’ll be spending quite a bit of time on the phone!

In other adventures, we’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I’m pondering the menu, as well as getting the house clean by then. I keep debating on whether or not to have turkey, or something different. (Any ideas? Don’t say turducken!)

I took this past week off and spent a fair amount of time in my head, pondering current things, pondering the future, not getting as much done as I’d hoped to, but finally making headway with my laundry, at least. (That was the biggest “con” of leaving a work-from-home job: more laundry! Even I knew that wasn’t significant enough to sway my decision!) I think I want to challenge myself to share more, especially through my blog, but trying to be careful not to be passive/aggressive about it. There are a lot of things that still piss me off, or still hurt, whether from people’s actions/inactions or certain former employers/colleagues. I think what has emerged is a clearer understanding that all I can be sure of is where I stand, and what lies ahead. I think the downside of feeling like you’re on the outside looking in is that you feel excluded, or like you’re missing something you thought you wanted or something you once had. Or still want, but only if given. Certain pains are familiar, the reverb goes straight to the core, you wonder why you’re going through this all over again, yet things you don’t want to be cyclical are just that.

Today, I’m turning around, because the rest of the world is actually right there behind me, on “the outside.” New doors will open, undoubtedly. Maybe some old ones, too. I just know that I’m walking through a new one tomorrow, and it gives me hope. 🙂

Hello, Neighbor…

No, I’m not talking about Crazy Cat Lady, though she had her own personal  festival of lights last week, courtesy of the emergency-service vehicles lined up in front of her house. I’m just feeling very…. Mr. Rogers. Won’t you come in? I should put on a cardigan. (Actually, I really should, I’m kinda cold.)

Starting off 2011 very differently than I started 2010. For one thing, I’m unemployed again, as my part-time employer unceremoniously gave me the boot the day after Christmas weekend. Of course, I could have been surprised, but when you advertise for a junior buyer on internal job boards at a local agency, I’m connected enough to find out within fifteen minutes. (That happened on Dec 1, ironically, my one-year anniversary there.) I was given a nice platter of prevarications.  I tried to accept them at face value, but, frankly, there had been enough lies before that point (nothing like having to keep from the client you’re only part-time and they’ve been told you’re full time) to know that it was time for something new, shiny and distracting to take my place. I got in touch with one of my co-workers, and let him know what was going on – and warned him some of the things I’d seen and heard might mean he was next. Sure enough, he came back from vacation and got axed today. I told him when he called to just keep feeling the relief, of not having to sustain the impossible anymore.

So what does that mean for me? Well, I have some opportunities for freelancing, and I’ll certainly be pursuing them as much as I can. I’ll have unemployment for when that’s not active, and I’ll keep my health insurance current. I think what I learned from the last go-round is that when you feel like you’re losing your integrity, just by walking through a door, you may be losing a salary, but you’re starting the process of regaining so much more. I also learned that as much as I worried and fretted and stressed, it didn’t make one bit of difference. I feel a strange sense of calm, and assuredness, that is really rather surprising. I have great friends in the community, former colleagues, vendors and clients. And as my father said in the worst of times, it will all be ok. I’m glad I don’t own a business that is hemorrhaging money and worrying about if I’ll make payroll and what happens if one client leaves, will it all go under. One of these days, I’m going to write down all the sordid stories, and they will astonish you, children, they really will. The advertising biz tends to look a lot more Gordon Gecko and not so much Melrose Place.  (I remember my father asking me, “This business? Does it have any NICE people in it? It doesn’t seem like it does.” Yes, dad, plenty of nice people. Just not the most honorable, as some are merely glorified con artists.)

I may need to take up violin lessons, though, all my appointments for fiddling when Rome burns and whatnot. Heh.

Well, that’s all for today, kids. I’m going to enjoy my zen, while others chug the Maalox. It’s a new year, and I just have a feeling, it’s going to be one of my best.

xo

jen

Ahhhh, Spelling.

Ironically, I was thinking this morning about how, at a former place of employment, typos weren’t really regarded as the heinous transgressions that they are, and it was quite minimized whenever I raised the issue. But, that’s their cross to bear now, as it’s my experience that most clients really, really appreciate it when you spell their stuff correctly. Or put together plans and recommendations that don’t have proper grammar, punctuation and other high school English mistakes.  This photo isn’t their work, by the way. It just felt fitting to have run across it on the same day. Enjoy! School sure isn’t what it used to be, eh?

Full story here.

Contraindication

I’m going to try to write a blog post today in the vein and spirit of an ad colleague I admire greatly – Mr. Sam Meers. He writes great observations on business practices, pulling from ordinary life experiences. I hope I do justice to his style today.

One of the things that has bugged my husband to no end over the years is when we’ll drive by an office building in the evening, and the automatic sprinklers are bursting out water…..in the rain. Or the day following a rain. He’s right, of course. It’s incredibly wasteful. My problem-solving brain ponders this every so often.  I’ve wondered why these automatic sprinkler systems don’t seem to have some sort of moisture-content trigger, rather than a timer. Or at least an employee designated to switch them over to “manual” during periods of heavy rain (like we’ve had the past two weeks – 12+ inches!)

Today, I glanced out my window and saw that the shady side of my building was a congregation area for all the young punk geese who are unicolor and fluffy and awkwardly gaggling about while their parents keep watch and let them feed. I decided to get a closer look, and walked around my desk to stand right up against the floor-to-ceiling windows. I needed to see over the row of hedges, and indeed, there were a whole bunch of birds, some chilling out, some nibbling.
And then I felt it.
A burst of hot air.
From the baseboard heater that runs along the length of the windows.

It’s in the 90’s here. Fahrenheit.

Mind you, I have a thermostat in my office, and it’s set at the lowest setting possible, because I’ve noticed it just never seems to cool down. Gee. No wonder. So we have a call in to maintenance, and soon I’ll stop wondering if I’m going through early menopause every afternoon.

It made me think, though, how much money is wasted by such simple, common-sense practices. You don’t run a space heater at home while you crank down the a/c, do you? Because not only does it cost money, it’s silly. We’re grateful for the rain (in moderation), because it means less watering. This building has been paying for more electricity, because they don’t come through and turn the heaters off when the seasons change. The a/c works twice as hard, less effectively. Boy, I’ve had jobs like that. Doing something the same way as always, because a boss doesn’t want to question the client or the process or suggest a different way of doing things.

Contraindication is used mostly in medical terms, but it certainly applies to situations like I’ve described. It could also apply to a certain oil company who is under the microscope right now, and needs to portray an image of dedication to undoing the worst ecological disaster, ever. Such a visible leader/representative of the company might want to take a break, say, to watch his yacht race, but that would be contraindicated, because it sends the message, hey, I’m going to spend some time on a sport most of you cannot relate to AND I’m not spending time on the disaster that happened on my watch. Tony Hayward, I get it. I bet your life sucks really, really badly right now. You want your old life back. Guess what, it’s not going to happen for a long time. As long as there are tar balls and people wondering when their car’s going to get repossessed because their livelihood was taken away from them, you have to maintain at least the appearance of diligence. No fun for you until your chores are done, that’s how I was raised.

And as for businesses who cut staff and make the ‘survivors’ work harder, and tell them they’re expendable, while keeping spouses on payrolls? One place you might find some extra money is in your landscaping budget. Or your own pocket. Berating and punishing contraindicates a productive work environment. People are your greatest asset, and how you treat them during the bad times, when they want to hang on to their jobs, will serve you when the tide turns. Will you see mass exodus? Or devoted loyalty? The tides are turning in the job market, slowly but surely, and I’ll have my own schadenfreude moments when I see trapped friends finally able to burst free and go someplace new.

Me, I’m in a good spot, thankfully. Life is pretty darned good. Apart from the extra heat.

UPDATE: Since I started/finished this post, Tony Hayward got sacked from being the point person on this oil spill. Hope the new dude learns from his predecessor. I am available for common-sense consulting, should you need it.

Sometimes Being Blatant Feels Brilliant

I have a fascination with Lady Gaga, I’ll admit it. I have always loved dance music, and she churns it out like salt-water taffy. But her videos – lord – they are something else. She makes mini-movies with bizarre storylines, insane costumes, and all with a healthy dose of sexuality bordering on soft-core porn. Take a look (fair warning for those watching at work – there’s swearing and a nearly-nekkid GaGa):

I love it. I think her latest video is exceptional because it unabashedly works product integration into the show – who’d a thunk Lady Gaga could elevate making a sandwich with Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip to such heights? She flashes her Virgin Mobile phone at us several times, and the old-school Polaroid gets props as well, and the prison guards use the PlentyOfFish dating site. Even Diet Coke (I do miss you, friend) has a supporting role – in the form of giant hair rollers. A fast-food joint also gets a nod, and Quentin Tarantino’s infamous “Pussy Wagon” is resurrected. I’m sure there are more brands there – this is just my takeaway from watching it once. Also got a chuckle out of the guard’s line, “I told you she didn’t have a dick”… a little GaGa fuck-you to the internet speculation that she’s a hermaphrodite or really a man. At this point, who cares?!

Just as OK GO had to secure a sponsor for their equally brilliant (though wildly different) Rube Goldberg video, in order to allow embedding, I expect we’ll see more product integration in videos like this – and it won’t feel bothersome because we’re being highly entertained. Embedding videos means the record company isn’t making money off the views, but if they can get their nickels another way, through sponsorships and product placement, it allows videos to be more viral, gaining more exposure for the artist. OK GO left their label EMI at least in some part because of the control they were exacting over their video distribution – and OK GO is actually one of the most viral-video-creating bands, ever. (Think of how many times someone sent you a link to that treadmill video!)

So, because I can, here’s that video from OK GO:

21-paintball-gun salute to our indie boys, and if I had a crazy rotary telephone hat to tip in your direction, Ms. Ga, I would.

Facebook Win… and Facebook Fail.

FBWin, FBFail

eeeyeah.

I do enjoy Ms. Lampanelli, she pushes things right past uncomfortable, and I just love any no-holds-barred sort of humor. So to be served an ad featuring her upcoming show? Great! Win! I even clicked “like”. I’m interactive that way. ~gives you saucy marketer look~

But then look right below it – one of the several thousand “get free products at home” ads I’ve gotten on Facebook for the past few months – usually it’s a fabulous gadget, or M&Ms, or some makeup, or something relatively girly, yet fun….. but today? Today I get Always Maxi-Pads, sitting there teasing me with their enticing …. wings. Because when I think, “Hey! I am so signing up for something that promises to give me something free and fun, like candy, or an iPhone, because I really, really think this company needs someone to to “test” their products and provide feedback to help these mom and pop companies like P&G, Mars, and Apple? Dude, I have passed up all those other things in hopes that one day, I could get my feminine hygiene products for free.”

mmmm, yeah. Let me use one of thosee super-absorbent pads to wipe up all the sarcasm I’ve dripped everywhere. There’s a little Lampanelli in me, too, y’know.

I Might As Well Live Blog This

Because Plurk/Twitter ran out of room! I’m sharing my thoughts on the Big Spendy Super Bowl Commercials b/c I got tired of keeping my character count low.

Final Final Update:

My apologies to Betty White. I started late and skipped the Snickers spot. Please don’t come and kick my ass. I saw you roast William Shatner and what you lack in football skills, you more than make up for with an acerbic tongue.

If you want to watch all the spots, here they are at AdAge.com.

Final Update,9:00 pm

Congrats New Orleans. Great, great defense, despite me wondering aloud to the dogs, repeatedly, “why so much tiiiime for Manning?” I’m sure the Chiefs will get there next year. (try not to snort all over your screen, k?)

Egads, yet another eTrade spot. Maaaake theeeeeem stopppppp.

Final flo.tv spot – funny, made the point, but it also made me think – really? Do we need to have television :everywhere: all the time? Heaven forbid you talk to you kids in the car, just keep ’em hypnotized.

Update: 8:48 pm

WOW. N’awlens is gonna win this, I do believe!

Danica Patrick: you need to find some sort of better gig. Have a little pride in your accomplishments, not your accoutrements.

Denny’s Chickens? Now only require :10 to make me laugh. I reverse my earlier declaration that the campaign was off.

Update: 8:42 pm CST

OK. Ninja Dorito Tim made me laugh out loud. Nice touch with the chip-to-the-neck.

Bud Light Book Club – huh. A bit funny, made the guy look like a total cheesehead. (Hey, I’ll be fair!)

Oh yay, more weird eTrade babies. I didn’t even understand that one.

Yay, the Amazing Race starts next week!

Update: 8:37 pm CST

And Tracey Porter will live THAT moment for the rest. of. his. life.

Audi’s Green Diesel car – nice spot. I’m the recycling nutjob in our house so it resonated.

Taco Bell – kinda lame. Star power be damned, Charles Barkley. Yes, I said it. Please don’t show up on my doorstep.

Update: 8:30 pm CST

I have to say, this has turned into quite good football game.

Dante’s Inferno only reminds me of LEEEEEEROOOOOY Jenkins.

Budweiser colt/calf? Gotta have the animal spot.

Honda – interesting I suppose – got the nooks & crannies and a fit for everything message across.

Denny’s follow-up spot – now, this is good. Especially on the heels of Leroy Jenkins, who at least has chicken. The screaming chickens, fleeing respective cities, and the Oval Office scene should make this one of the top-rated spots tomorrow.

Update 8:10 pm CST

Vizio’s new tv? with video apps? WAAAAANT. Pretty cool spot and loads of tiny details for the web-devoted.:cough:

Emerald Nuts & Pop Secret: funny. Odd combo. A bit confusing at first, but I’ve seen enough EN commercials to know they always deliver- gotta love the people-as-dolphins, and kudos for including a dude.

Update 8:08 pm CST

Did you know that in this huge chunk of tv time we call the Super Bowl there’s really only about 11 minutes of actual football PLAYING TIME? There’s just a lot of standing around and getting ready, but not so much action. (article in Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago.)

NFL: Nice spot, using Arcade Fire automatically makes me feel connected. Except it got used a LOT for the movie “Where the Wild Things Are” and I went to put that in our Netflix queue.

Second time Air Force ran their spot – it’s good. Obviously aimed at chilluns who can read that shit faster than me, on the bottoms of their surfboards and boogieboards.

Time Warner Cable: Wife is swooping in and making you scrapbook if you have Direct TV. Fuck. My. Life.

Quick Trip (local spot) – funny.

Update: 8:03 pm CST

Kia Sorento? Loved it. Sock Monkey is a scamp. Entertaining. The tattoo scene was the best.

Roundup: What are you doing in here? It’s February. We have snow everywhere, not weeds. I hope you didn’t pay a lot.

Budweiser 55: Huh. Eventually beer will be devoid of all flavor, calories and color. It will be called “water”.

Update: 7:59 pm CST

Census: Yay, look at my favorite actors from Waiting for Guffman, etc.

Google! You pretty much rule the school and own the world. Spot gave me goosebumps. Googlebumps?

Update: 7:52 pm CST

Michelob Ultra with Lance Armstrong? Huh. Surprise. Memorable, if only for the surprise factor. Whodathunk he’d spokesperson for beer?

HomeAway.com – good takeaway, disarming to see the stars from movies I saw in my formative years looking like my grandparents.

Bridgestone – whew, I thought we’d have a mysogyny-free 3rd quarter, but good! Way to keep it revived. Message?  We’d rather keep the tires than our wife.

Coke! I love your ads, sorry I forgot to give you props for the earlier awesome Simpsons ad, and this safari trek was nifty.

eTrade, thanks for bringing up the rear there with another bitchy woman-in-form-of-toddler ad. Thanks! Because you weren’t creepy enough.

Update: 7:43 pm CST

Miller HighLife – made me chuckle, but not compelling enough to go to the website.

Football: Hank Baskett is gonna re-live that moment for a long, long time. Woof.

PunchBUG! I love it. Nice touch with Stevie Wonder at the end.

Denny’s chickens? Kinda freaky. I kept expecting some sort of fried-chicken dish, much as I oppose putting live animals in juxtaposition with cooked product, so was relieved it was eggs. (good thing no pigs had cameos, given the side of bacon…)  I couldn’t tell you what the timeframe is for the giveaway, but I’m sure it will be just as successful as last year’s.

Halftime Show:

I’m not kidding. It’s like one giant run-on ad for the three CBS CSI properties. Coincidence? I think not. Someone had to dust Roger Daltrey off and wake him up.

Update: 7:12 pm CST

So, I’m back. And I’m wondering if CBS, the NFL and the Super Bowl realize that women watch this game, too. (About a third of the audience is female)

The Dodge Charger ad? Meh, fine, all you guys are put-upon and we nag the shit out of you and you agree to do it because, in the end, you get a speedy car. Just to be a bitch (and as someone who knows more about car models than a lot of guys), that rear window is a real challenge to see much of anything, so if it comes with a rear camera option, take it. I found myself going nuts trying to place the voice. (Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, if you were also wondering.)

But THEN, flo.tv? I hate you. Women remove their men’s spines and make them go underwear shopping. Huh. Does this actually happen in the real world?

Teleflora – women are backbiting bitches in the workplace, too. Sweet. I guess the beyotch getting evil flowers in a box from someone in prison was ‘justice’ but still. I kept hearing the arrows whizzing past me at the male target.

Intel – poor man’s Paul Giamatti. Sorta flat. Nice touch at the end though, putting people behind the trademark notes and electronics/brand.

Second flo.tv with the will.i.am re-mix was much better, but it’s too late, I already hate you.

All the Budweiser ads have been meh to me as well. The human bridge was kinda freaky, the Lost spoof was amusing but predictable.

Oh, and Danica Patrick? Please. Someday GoDaddy will just…GO. Away.

6:33 pm

Ads so far: LOVED the Letterman Show spot, with Oprah and Jay. Like, mind-blowing for a dedicated Dave fan. Awesome.

I liked the Dove for Men ad. I would buy it for the Wo.

Let me take a minute to school our friends at the Dockers home office. If you are going to run an ad (a rather weird ad, but it had a great lead-in with CareerBuilder’s startling workplace with underwear-wearing employees) that states “Free Pants” DURING THE SUPER BOWL, you are going to need a bigger server. I immediately typed in the dedicated URL and waited. And waited. After several minutes, it loaded. I clicked on “Men” and the whole fuckin’ thing crashed. Yep, it was me. Guess what – people watch TV and they multi-task. I guess if you wanted hits as your measurement of success – yay! You got it! But how annoying to not have the party ready when we all showed up.

The Doritos ads are… meh – though the shock collar one did make me chuckle. Right now I have two dogs begging to be fed, so I’m going to pause & be back shortly.

Unsolicited Advice

It’s been busy. Between going back to work part-time, and having a huge cool freelance project, it feels like I’ve been juggling my time like old times for the past couple of weeks. But of course, it’s great. Friday, we had an awesome new business pitch, and we did a great job – rehearsing several times, hashing through our messaging points, constructive feedback and just a general coming-together …. let’s just say it was a nice way to do business and built camaraderie.

And through all of this, in the back of my head, I’ve been thinking about unemployment, and how it feels when you first become unemployed, and how it evolves, and things you need to do, and things other people should do when it happens to you. Because it sucks royally.  So I’ve put together a quick list of the core learning points I got from my arguably brief stint on the unemployment lines. I realize my experience is my own, and my time on the sidelines WAS short, so by no means do I fancy myself the most sage and learned person on the topic. But there were some things I was told when it happened to me, and I recently passed some of those on to a friend of mine, and if it can  help someone else, well, that’s awesome.

1. File for unemployment immediately. Do not pass go. Do not wait a couple weeks. Just get yourself into the system. If you received any severance, but you don’t know how much yet, well, just be honest and report everything you can. Your employer will report as well, but the process of starting your benefits will at least begin.

2. If you are receiving severance, get it in one lump sum. You may be getting paid for four weeks’ of time? But if you receive it all at once a week after you leave, you report the amount you were paid, and you’ll discover your eligibility kicks in sooner.

3. Get thee on the LinkedIn. Connect to everyone you’ve ever worked with. Change your status so people know you’re looking for work. There are different camps out there on this? But I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to hear from my client, concerned about my welfare and offering to help me network any way they could. Your soul will need these things. Network, network, network.

4.Get out of the house. I heard stories about some former colleagues who withdrew, just retreated and played video games all day. First off, I haven’t heard of anyone finding a job that way, and second, being isolated gives you WAY too much time in your head to get discouraged. The good/bad side of this vast amount of unemployment is that a lot of folks are in the same boat. Meet at a Panera (free refills!) and just talk. I made some new friends (or finally met my virtual ones) – pensive girl, a new knitting pal – and re-connected with SO many people. I had the time, after all! And it was heartening. To not feel alone.

5. If you know someone (or worked with someone) who’s been let go – reach out. Give them a call, drop them an email, just say “hi”. I had a couple people I shared a lot of time with in my job completely ignore me after I was gone – and even if I didn’t consider us great friends, per se, it would have been nice to at least have heard a “Hey, sorry to hear about this.” I get that there’s survivor’s guilt or you think your own job will be in jeopardy – but at the end of the day, we’re all people, we’re all human beings, and it’s nice to hear that you’re missed. It definitely changed my opinions of the ones who never said a word.  (Of course, there are going to be folks you don’t miss for a moment! So there’s a silver thread in that bit of truth…)

6. Accept that there will be bad days. Don’t beat yourself up for them, it’s part of the experience, unfortunately. We are one of the most ‘working-est’ societies in the world, and if you have a career you enjoy, losing it will feel like part of your identity is gone. You will question your skills, your last environment, try to figure out what could have happened differently, but the important thing is to pick yourself up, and keep moving forward. Even if that means standing in place for a little bit.

7. Get a recommendation from your existing employer as soon as you can. I did not do this. If they tell you it’s got nothing to do with your performance (as they told me), then by all means, get a letter so you have that as a reference.

8. Speaking of recommendations, ask for as many as you can on LinkedIn – because these will give you positive input and help you through those days of gloom and paralysis.

9. Consider career coaching (LandaJobNow.com is a great resource here in KC, specific to advertising/marketing folks) to help you with your resume and identify new avenues. I have a longtime friend at LandaJob who gave me some invaluable advice on my resume. As in, suddenly I not only looked great on paper? I felt great. In real life. Unemployment can leave you feeling like your accomplishments have been devalued – but they haven’t. You’re vital and have something to offer the right place!

10. If you can freelance, do it. Just keep an eye on how much you’ll make vs. how much you’re getting in unemployment. If you make more than you’d get on unemployment, you won’t get UI benefits for that week. (You don’t get to have both.) If you make less than UI benefits, the state will calculate the difference and you’ll get a portion of your normal benefit. Your benefits are supposed to cover you (marginally, granted) while you spend all your weekday time looking for a job. If you cut into that, it affects how much you get.

11. Don’t listen to people who marginalize you for being unemployed. Frankly, with 10% unemployment rates, those people should shut their pie holes and be grateful they’re not in that pool. But I’ve  heard stories of people being sneered at, asked why they don’t just go get any job, how do they like living off the government, living on the dole. Well? It ain’t welfare, folks. It’s not a huge amount of money, but in my situation, I couldn’t just go and get any old job at minimum wage, because that would have brought in LESS than unemployment, and I wouldn’t have had any time to look for a job in my field, let alone interview. Employers pay unemployment insurance, and this is all part and parcel of being a business owner in the US.

12. COBRA benefits. Right now there is legislation that allows you to maintain your health insurance benefits for the first 9 months at a greatly reduced rate. This is crucial and awesome. I believe you only have to pay a third of the regular COBRA rate. And this counts for DENTAL as well. My former employer didn’t even know that and we had a huge flurry of emails hammering it out because I received a notice from Delta Dental referencing the lower COBRA rate that I should have received. I had even done the math on whether or not to maintain the dental insurance, but seriously, just get it, as one cavity and your out-of-pocket goes way up and beyond the insurance costs, even at the open rate.

13. Common sense stuff – create a new budget right away. We shaved our monthly expenses down rapidly, and in the process, discovered just how much money we saved by simply not eating out. Not that we were dining out on the town with bottles of wine and four-course meals, but when you’re working all day, you’re tired, you come home and don’t feel like cooking – well, those $20-$40 takeout meals add up right quick. We dropped our subscription to the Star (which I confess I still miss, though I feel a little better about not amassing all that paper for recycling), went down to one movie instead of three from Netflix, I extended the time between haircuts, and scaled back on shopping and food choices. CostCo and Aldi’s were my new best friends, along with the sale flyer (online now!) from Price Chopper. I suddenly paused at the prices at coffeehouses, trading in my large lattes for a regular coffee, room for cream.

14. But don’t eliminate everything, if you can afford a little slush in your budget. One of the kind things my husband said to me very early on was that he understood and appreciated how hard I was looking for a job, but that in all of this, I should take a little time for myself, try to have a little fun. Another friend encouraged me to do the same thing. I went to a movie (matinees are cheaper!), and spent money on coffees and even went out to lunch with friends. (Oh, how many lunches I owe people, too. What a sweet, sweet gift it was, to be treated. At first I felt very blustery and insecure, absolutely nobody could pay my way, but I saw that it wasn’t the money I was rejecting, but kindness and generosity. So I accepted it, and look forward to repaying the gestures in fun and unexpected ways in the year ahead.)

If I think of anything additional, I’ll follow-up with a part 2. If one person reads this and finds some comfort and assistance, then it was worth it! Always start your day with breathing, and for that matter, end it on the same task. Hang in there.

Hrm.

I met with a freelancer today & got a project she doesn’t have time to do.

While I was meeting with her, I got an email from a former co-worker, with a freelancing project that may come to fruition down the road.

While I was answering the email on the second project, I got a message on Facebook that my friend sent my email and name to his old boss who’d just posted they needed media freelance help.

My mind is whirring. And whirling. And wondering.

Is it a sign?

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