For most people, it’s usually a milestone moment – the start of a new year, a special birthday, a life-changing event – that makes them stop and take stock of their life.
For me, it was a single Facebook post.
Or to be more specific, one of those algorithmically-generated “see your memories” posts.
This week Facebook resurfaced a post from four years ago when, well…let’s just say I was doing very, very different things.
It was a stark reminder how much my career – and life – have changed. Since joining a Jewish non profit in Atlanta just over a year ago, I’ve gone from flying business class and staying in five star LA hotels to hang out with Emmy and Academy award winners, to getting the middle seat on Spirit Airlines, staying at the Holiday Inn Express and visiting local Rabbis and Jewish community leaders throughout the southeast. On the surface, my “then and now” could not look any more different.
Here’s the thing, though: I don’t miss my old life. Not one bit.
That may come as a surprise since, admittedly, I was incredibly fortunate to spend more than two decades in the entertainment industry. (Yes, we did do some actual work between going to parties and generally living the high life.)
What did I do this past week as the CEO of Ramah Darom? I spent my time reviewing the program schedule for our PJ Library Weekend…discussing ideas for some brand new retreats…and helping families with scholarship applications so they can send their kids to Jewish summer camp.
And what were my old Viacom colleagues (sorry, ViacomCBS – BTW, wouldn’t it have been easier to say CBSViacom?) dealing with? Just fun corporate stuff like merger layoffs and integration synergies.
I’ll stick with my new life, thank you.
While my day-to-day work has clearly changed, surprisingly I’ve found there are actually many similarities between the corporate life and the not-for-profit world. The main one? People are people.
As a leader, there’s really little difference leading a team of media marketers or a team of Jewish professionals. My role is to provide direction, motivate the team, help get rid of roadblocks, make sure everyone is working together effectively and yes, be a referee when conflict arises. The work has changed; the day-to-day realities of leading a team are remarkably similar.
And as it relates to the team, what’s super cool in this role is that I’ve seen the same level of commitment from many of our hourly dining room staff as I used to see from very-well-paid senior vice presidents. I’ve learned first-hand that motivation for ones’s job isn’t driven by the money one earns; it’s driven by a genuine commitment to the mission of the organization (and the effectiveness of one’s direct manager). Loving your job is possible even if you’re making minimum wage.
At the core, though, what I’m really loving about my new career is that after all is said and done, the work we’re doing is actually changing lives. That’s a pretty good thing to know as you go to work every day. In fact, we’ve just completed a new Strategic Plan and one of the key priorities is to broaden and strengthen our inclusion and vocational education programs. Very different from making TV shows and trying to convince people to watch them.
So as I take stock of the last year of my life, am I happy with my change? Absolutely. Do I miss the glamour of entertainment industry? If I’m being honest: not at all.