Storytelling 2010

This time of year always rehashes the old “Best of” lists and we begin to amass 2011 predictions. The advertising world is no exception to the trend. From Ad Age’s “Biggest Stories of 2010” to Twitter’s “Year in Review: Trends” there is no lack of pats on the back.

At Small Army we pride ourselves on being storytellers. It’s in every thread of what we do as people and as an agency. When I proposed to Jeff that someone at the agency write a year- in- review post for the blog he immediately agreed, but suggested that we all contribute. I got a bit nervous at the thought of contributing to Small Army’s year-end post as I’m still fairly new to the agency. Jeff reassured me that my year-end story was still valid, important and interesting and that even as a new member to the team, I was a storyteller and should share the moral to my 2010 story with all of you.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks to hear from the rest of Small Army as they recap the good, the bad, and the silly stories that made up our 2010- all culminating with an epic list of predictions for the new year. Without further ado: I present the moral to my 2010 story.

“Making Lemonade”

In January of this year I was introduced to Erik Proulx‘s film Lemonade. I had just landed my first job in social media and the theme of making lemonade from lemons really resonated with me as I reflected on the path I had taken to get into that role. Four months prior I had left a dead-end receptionist position to focus all my energies on freelancing as a graphic designer and intensifying my job search in AdLand. My dreams were halted when, on my last day at the reception job, I was in a debilitating car accident. I found myself drowning in lemons. How was I supposed to jump-start my career if I couldn’t even walk or drive?

Well, I turned to the web. I had been extremely active on “social media” since before social media was ever even a thing. My parents thought it was important that I learn strong computer skills- including, but not limited to, DOS and Mavis Beacon. (Bonus points if you’re a millennial and you know what either of those are.) From DOS I graduated to dial-up Prodigy chat rooms and AOL. Shortly thereafter I found my way to HTML, Livejournal, AIM and Myspace. (Side note: A goal of mine for a brief period of time in college was to be “Myspace famous” and be cool enough to have what is now known as a smart phone- lofty goals!) So, bedridden and unemployed, I started doing what I do best- Facebooking and tweeting. Graphic Design projects started coming to me from people I knew, and even those I didn’t, who had found me through social media. I’d do a small web project here, a poster project there and before I knew it I had a one-woman freelance business operating from my couch.

I coasted by on this for a few months during physical therapy and in January, began re-looking for that elusive job in AdLand. A friend suggested that I consider trying to find a job in social media- so, I listened. Perhaps what she picked up on, and what I now know, is that my real skill wasn’t in my design work, but how I went about getting it. I took a post-graduate internship managing social media for a non-profit and shortly thereafter became a full-time member of the team. I committed myself to learning everything I could to lead the social media revolution in Boston. I read books and blogs, I went to conferences and tweetups, I asked a lot of questions, and in no time I left to join the ranks at Small Army as their Social Media Strategist. (Somewhere in there I did also have my wedding and I did manage to get my body back in good enough shape to run a charity 5k in October.)

So while my Lemonade story may be a bit different than those in the movie, having overcome adversity to get into the advertising world, the moral of the story is the same: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. You’ll be amazed to find that the answers you’ve been looking for have probably been in front of you the whole time.


*This post originally appeared on Through the Ears of an Entrepreneur

Kaitlin Maud