Growing Pains

For much of the latter part of last year, when people would ask me what I do for a living, my slightly stale “go to” joke was “I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up” (insert polite laughter here.)  Even I got sick of hearing myself say it.  This typically would shift into a conversation of how I had recently quit my job of 19 years to find and pursue my next. More recently, it’s different.  Although I’m not even close to having “grown up” quite yet, I at least have a much better picture of what it is that I want to be when I actually do.  However, I’m reminded once again that growth is usually preceded by growing pains.

This past week has been particularly achy for me, which I can only hope means that growth is not far behind.  I’m working on an important project for one of the companies in which I invested.  We are doing a crowd funding campaign that begins next month and will provide some additional funds and serve as a pre-launch marketing venue for our on-line kids’ game.  One of the most important aspects of this type of campaign is a compelling video.  As Chief Marketing Officer, this falls squarely in my purview.  As most small start up companies, however, we are each, in some way, involved in every piece of the company. This alone would provide an interesting study topic – the working dynamics of start up companies.  To our team’s credit, for the most part, we make it work.

It’s not always easy though.  This video creation has been particularly challenging.  We each bring our own strengths and perspectives to the project.  We all agree that the video should be professional, genuine and cost effective.  But, sometimes, those pursuits may contradict each other.  And, depending on the various team member viewpoints, agreeing on the right balance can be difficult.  After many iterations of our script, however, we came to an agreement…or so we thought.  We began production.  In my early career, I did a great deal of project management, so coordinating all the parts of the production across the different countries where we had video taken felt natural for me.  But even this was not without its glitches.

I hired a videographer in the US for a half day shoot on fairly short notice.  Although he provided examples of his work which were relatively decent, the resulting footage for our shoot was abysmal.  Despite the fact that I made the best choice with the information and limited time that I had, I still beat myself up for that one.  We had to rehire and reshoot.  And this week, I am now dealing with the conversation and potential confrontation related to what we are and are not willing to pay the original guy.  Through this, I was reminded that I have a strong personal aversion to confrontation.  And, I’m working through the “why” on that as we speak.  In business, I don’t shy away from it, but I really hate it with all my being, and I have to be very careful that I don’t become passive aggressive in dealing with it.  That is my challenge and my growth opportunity.

And then there is the editing.  After finally getting all of the proper footage in the style and level of professionalism that we sought (again different team opinions on what was good enough), our local video guy (who I had recommended that we hire) began putting our masterpiece together and sent us the first draft this past week.  What?  We thought we had conceived a compelling story that would give you goosebumps while explaining our company vision and desire for impacting the world through our kids’ online game. It would instantly make you reach for your credit cards and want to be a part of this crowd funding.  This definitely was not that.

Immediately my guard went up, and my initial reaction was to seek blame and protect myself in the process. Surely, I had nothing to do with this.  And, it’s strange the effect that this has on one’s mood and interactions with others.  It frustrated me.  It put me on edge.  I was a bitch with my family.  I was feeling anger and judgment towards others on my team.  The passive aggressive side once again emerged.  I had a litany of good reasons why we were not where we needed to be with our video.  Many of those reasons still hold true…but they were not coming from a place of how can we do better.  They were my defense.

Slowly, I began to deconstruct the root of my feelings and focus on the task at hand.  We needed a better video.  Blaming and defensiveness were going to get us nowhere.  I needed to take more ownership in developing a solution moving forward, keeping in mind that everyone, in the end, wanted to achieve the same result.  A great video.  We met, we talked, we challenged each other.  I took a great deal of time beforehand to think through what it is that we were trying to accomplish, and I felt confident in my analysis.  I went into the meeting with an open mind and a willingness to listen to the other side.  And, I felt great after that meeting.  It was confrontational at times, but it was good.  We came to a good decision for moving forward, and I am confident we will have a better video because of it.

As this week is coming to a close, I find that the aches are slowly dissipating, and those around me are definitely happier for it. And, guess what, I think I may actually be a bit taller too.

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