As I sit on my balcony this cloudy and cool Saturday morning, all of the events of 2011 are flowing through my mind. What a change this year has brought! I recall thinking through various scenarios this past spring, trying to decide whether I wanted to stay in Washington, DC and help the entrepreneurial community there grow and thrive, move to New York City (or Houston) to become a [social media] Mad Man, or head out west to San Francisco to do the Silicon Valley startup thing.
And yet on this 70 degree morning in the middle of Texas I can’t imagine being anywhere other than right here in Austin.
The last six years working in the media sector have allowed me to experiment and innovate with new forms of storytelling and in just that span the entire industry has changed tremendously; it was extremely exciting to ride that wave. From coordinating and working on engagement strategies for local news (man, elections are fun!) back in Columbia, Missouri – to imagining, creating, and teaching hundreds of public media practitioners how to use social media to bring their communities together. It was an adventure each and every day.
Earlier this year, I transitioned into a new type of role at PBS allowing me to help lead efforts to reconstruct one of the largest online video streaming sites in the US from the ground up. My team had a lot of success and was doing some really amazing things with the code that was being written every day. Unfortunately, they still just dont have the time, resources, or vision to build a world-class experience. I have the type of personality that requires excellence, and I’m willing to put everything I have into doing what’s right, so it was time for a change.
Which brings me back to the present.
After only two short months in Austin I feel more at home here than I have in the DC area for a while. You might say that Austin agrees with me. Between the fantastic weather, friendly people, and challenging job this is exactly what I need at this point in my life. Austin has a very special blend of southern charm, midwestern sensibility, Texas pride, and coastal arrogance (in moderation) that all comes together in a very Weird way. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Since moving down here, I haven’t said much publicly about what I’m doing professionally now, part of that has to do with how difficult it is to describe exactly what a ‘global online product manager’ really does. Suffice it to say, it has taken me a while to figure that out as well. Transitioning from a small (comparatively) non-profit with $500 million in yearly revenue to a Fortune 50 multi-national with $60 billion in revenue has been quite a change. Day to day I find myself working across multiple global business units helping to imagine, define and execute on ways to better create and distribute content to users on Dell.com in 100+ countries and 20+ languages across the globe.
I may start my day on a conference call with colleagues in Europe or Asia on the latest videos being created, meet with my team here in Texas for lunch to talk about next year’s projects, then finish up the day taking a class or learning more about how peers in South America are using the tools my team creates to cater and customize content to their locale.
What a difference a year makes! I can’t wait to hear about your year, and to see what happens next.
(Yes, I realize that in the span of a couple hundred characters I said it was both cloudy and cool, but also 70 degrees. Welcome to Texas.)