What happens to a person when their career is forced to change paths? For me, today, January 13th marks a full year since my change. After nearly two decades on TV, 14 years along in Baltimore, my schedule has changed a lot, but my work has actually grown. I will be celebrating with a bold event I will announce (on my Facebook page) this evening. Much like last year, when I shared my thoughts in a very long FB post after parting ways with my last TV station, I felt I should follow up with an update now. I had a highly visible job and chose to remain visible. In fact, I fought for it! What has happened since has been wonderful. That’s right, a very good thing.
I prefer to think about my career as a transition considering I reach more people through social media today. When I left the station I had roughly 5,200 followers on Facebook, and now 1 year later I am closing in on 25,000. That’s almost a five-fold increase AFTER leaving. My Twitter feed has had a similar increase. During our last big storm the Facebook page reached 590,000 people, averaging close to 100,000 people a week. But this is not about numbers. There really is much more and it is quite profound.
Not all has been easy, but worth the challenge for sure. I want to show you some of the secrets to my success. All I ask is that you suspend whatever stigma you may have about TV folks, or weatherman. I am just a man not asking for attention but embracing what has already come. What has happened to me in the past year has been special and can happen to you. It is all how you approach it. In fact Ray Lewis said it well last night after the Mile High Miracle, playoff victory in Denver: “Listen to what people say you can’t do, and then go ahead and do it.”
Please understand that I am taking something personal and making it public by choice. There seems to be a nice response when I share a little bit of my personal side like when I introduced my dad over the summer and credited my oldest son with our Kid Weather App last fall. It is not about ego, but in part, a response to the reaction I have received. Ever since the tremendous response from my first announcement online, it has been non-stop. Rather than getting calls with job offers, I have actually been getting calls from people either thanking me for being open and positive, or asking for my advice. That has been a surprise.
In the eyes of some, and perhaps wishes from others I was plucked from my platform one year ago. It was suppose to peel away the prestige. Ah, but only if that defined me. I am not TV guy, just a guy who worked on TV. I'm a father, a son, a husband, a brother, and a friend. I have talents, and I have flaws. Just like anyone else, I'm a person who lost his job. I never quit, and wasn’t really fired. The station and I had a philosophical difference and parting ways was the best thing personally and for my public career.
The outpouring support by literally thousands of people on Facebook alone was endearing. The equally angry public messages to my former employer were something I avoided. One former colleague called me up and said I had accomplished something people try to do their entire careers: connect with an audience. I had always just been myself, and I’m just glad many people saw that. Rather than abuse the large platform of social media to vent and say some nasty things, I stayed on a positive path. Bitterness does not accomplish anything, and I have stood by that all the way through. In fact the best way to prove their mistakes was to just be more successful myself. Those that want to notice, will.
Friday the 13th, 2012 happened so fast for me. After my departing meeting, I had to race to my son’s school to talk with his grade about weather and, um, being on TV. The rest of the weekend was action packed with family activities as we were celebrating my oldest son’s 6th birthday (a few days later). In fact it wasn’t until after the weekend that I told my son, and he cried. Lesson #1 had just begun. I reminded him of everything we had done over the past few days, and it was all happy and good. I was not upset, so he shouldn’t be either. It was time to look forward, and to paraphrase my parents, take those lemons and make some sweet lemonade.
Fast forward to this month and one of those phone calls I had mentioned. It was with Gene Norman, a meteorologist from Houston. This was the guy I never met, but had made playoff football bet with during my last day on TV. You can see the video clips of that here. Later that fateful day he actually called the station looking for my video response for his show and heard I wasn’t working there anymore. He was surprised the say the least. That bet was the source of some rumors for my departure, but was just an odd coincidence.
The Ravens did win over the Texans and I never got to collect. The ironic thing was that this man on the other end of the phone, the Chief Meteorologist at his TV station, was recently let go from his station. Now, almost a year to the day of our introduction, we were once again connected by circumstance. This time he was asking me what I was doing right.
Rather than get into the philosophical discussion of our industry and its transition, I want to summarize what I told Gene. For starters, I was beyond excited and he knew it. I was proud to be able to share the good position I am in and let him know there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It didn’t just happen; I had to make it happen.
So what has been so good?
In addition to my health, my family and friends, I had some accomplishments and a mighty promising outlook. What is most important is that what I had already been involved with had not suffered.
Wind For Change is my education outreach program that includes a fundraising contest. My last day on TV I got to show photos of my visit the day before to a Our Lady of Mount Carmel school that raised over $3,000 for the Cool Kids Campaign. After two full years, we are close to $50,000 and schools continue to invite us in despite my departure from TV.
Stevenson University: I have been teaching there since it was Villa Julie College in 2000. I continue to have my class. However I did leave the Faculty Council after 2 years to focus my time on other efforts.
Running: I kept my focus on balancing work, fun, and physically challenging myself. I ran more road races this year than ever in my adult life. This includes two half marathons, two 10 milers, and many others. There will be some additions that I am combining with Wind for Change and Cool Kids Campaign charitable efforts.
What has been new?
· Just In Weather, LLC – I started a company.
· Voted Best Facebook Page in Maryland in the Mobbies Awards
· Weather Guesser – My first app for Facebook that reached 1 million hits in 7 weeks.
· Kid Weather-My first mobile app that I made with my son. I have been cross promoting this a lot lately, but it is my job. Really! That is the cornerstone of my business, which I am reinvesting to make it better and build more apps. We have already been hand picked by Apple for promotion as “What’s Hot” in Education for iPad and iPhone. I have been blessed with the support of many in social media and local media to help with a successful launch. Articles have already been published about my son and I, our story and app in:
· Baltimore Magazine (Feb ’13 issue)
Video Reporting: Thanks to Snowtime, Inc for working with me on our pilot Winter Snow Series that just started. Each week I report from one of their mountains. Whitetail, Liberty, and Roundtop. It has been great to keep that part of my experience going and growing. We hope to grow this into something very cool and innovative.
· Consulting- A healthy start of clients and room for more. Many have come to me rather that seeking them out.
· Promotion and MC a few local events. I will be announcing those shortly.
Baltimore City Mayor's LEPC- I became a member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
What’s my secret?
How do you define success? Sure income is needed to pay the bills and maybe buy some toys, but there are other valuable measures. My family has stood by my side. Many friends have been supportive and sometimes sarcastic to keep it real. The opportunities and relationships I have built through my career and online have been even more important than I realized.
I do believe in giving more than I get. The return will come in due time. I have practiced this in my personal life and online. I love to share because I care. Sure there is a little bit of me in everything I do, but that has gotten so many others to share. This is from personal stories, to great pictures. Just by giving credit to some photographers, many get a little more exposure (sorry for the pun) and perhaps some business. Many others continue to share and I love it! It has been the same way with weather events. Many of you were with me tracking that Derecho last June and were prepared for it. Many sharing their experience to our west, helped confirm my forecast, and thus the information benefiting all that were involved. It’s happened with many storms prior and will continue for more in the future.
Great content. Great community! It all led to great opportunities that have followed.
If there were a simple method to identify my philosophy, I’d break it down by vowels (sorry I do have a 1st grader in the house) like this:
· Authenticity: Be real and people will see it.
· Entrepreneur: Follow your heart to what you know and love to do. Connect all the pieces in a new way and you will have a winning combination.
· Integrity: This goes along with ‘A’. If you are real ant true to yourself, people with notice. Appreciation is reciprocal.
· Obsess much? A little OCD can be good for you, especially when trying to start something new. I sometimes post around the clock to reach many different audiences, but also to cover many different events. It has built a larger network, and many know that if I can available I will be around to be part of ‘it’.
· Understanding: This goes for you and for your adventure. Understand what you want and your goal. Understand that you must be patient. Understand that you have to give before you can get. Understand that at some point it is OK to ‘get’. Understand that while you may be consumed with your adventure, take time to appreciate your surroundings. Chill, relax, and play is just as important to success as the work in between.
· YOU! Not you the reader, but the “you’s” in your life. Whatever your goal is, most likely it involves other people. So for all of those people that you will inevitably rely on, say Thank You. I appreciate You. I love You. Whatever fits.
Yes, I went over all of this (and more) in 1 hour on the phone with Gene. What comes next is actually what came last for me but I recommend first. Read a book. In fact two books.
I knew I needed to read something, but I was waiting for someone to recommend it to me. It was during a phone meeting with Ryan Blanck (a young success story and partner in another adventure) that I got that first recommendation. It was in December, 11 months into my journey. This book actually captures everything I was already doing, but described it in a way that made sense of it all.
· The Go Giver by Burg and Mann.
In this quick read, you will see the 5 Laws to Stratospheric Success. All I can say is that I am living proof (so far) that it works. Now that I see it organized, I may be able to focus them a little more.
· Who Moved My Cheese? By Spenser Johnson, MD.
I read this years ago. I actually had intended to read it again, but I couldn’t find it. It was while reading the other book that I found this in my house. It is another quick read, but will inspire you with simplicity.
There are a lot of people that are not happy at work for one reason or another. The issue is that many of us get stuck in routine and comfort. Then the pressure of paying the bills and the routine paychecks make it hard to break free. That is confining. Many other people are out of work altogether. What I have done has not been easy, but I had not choice I embraced it and I owned it. Rather than wait for my dream job or the right job to come along, I created it. Will I work on TV again? Maybe if the right opportunity pops up. But I can’t wait for that locally or across the country.
I intend to be successful and hope to elaborate on that with more details that may be more relevant. Perhaps that tell all book will be out sooner rather than later. But I have to more work to get there first. Until then, I will be embracing it. Part of that continues with you. I am on the edge of something special and I have you to thank for it. If you value my advice and spent this time reading my story, then you have my complete appreciation. I continue to keep working for your trust and time.
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