Back in the spring, whilst doing my freelance consulting and just before starting on the HBO movie “Game Change”, I had what is sometime referred to as a “light bulb” moment. Yes, one of those moments of almost divine inspiration when you think of an idea that either no one has thought of yet, or that many very few people have thought of yet.

This is what happened- it was a Saturday morning and I was mooching around on Facebook, as ya do. I see in my feed that Morgan Spurlock (yes, of “Super Size Me” fame) was going to be over on the inspirational website “TED” answering questions relating to his new movie “Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”, which is a documentary about sponsorship and product placement that he financed entirely by sponsorship and product placement.

I write a bit about my experience of working in experiential marketing and how they “brand” a Santa area if they can, and also about my experience of working in set decorating and dressing on films and tv shows and how we always thought of product placement as just another way to get “free stuff” to dress the sets with. About how sponsorship and product placement is just an inevitable part of the advertising landscape. I had mentioned, sort of asked if there was a company that specialized in promoting green, sustainable, socially enterprising and/or local brands or could there even be one. We went back and forth a little bit as he said that often those types of brands don’t have the kind of money that big corporations do to afford placement. I wrote back that not all placement needs to be expensive. Usually it doesn’t cost all that much to actually place their products. And in my head I’m thinking that certainly a flexible fee structure could be created that would make it a viable marketing outlet for these types of brands. (Later on, on the movie “Game Change” I noticed that a few green brands were already being placed by some of the more traditional PP companies). Anyway, Morgan writes back “I think you’ve found your next career :-) ” (yes, I must mention the smiley face!)

So I do like a 2 hour exhaustive internet search and don’t really locate any product placement companies specializing specifically in promoting these types of brands. I find one or two consultants out to “green” the movie industry that list as something they do- but way down on a list of bulleted pointed other things they do, AND they don’t have a downloadable product list or aren’t set up to be production user friendly like the other established PP companies sites are. I buy a domain name. Soon, I have two friends on board my team, and then another friend on board who will become our legal counsel next year.

We’re starting slow building the business so we can do it right. We have our logo/identity, have just launched our website 2 weeks ago and we have a LinkedIn Business page. We’ll set up a Facebook page and twitter account in September and then later this fall, we’ll do an indiegogo fundraiser for the rest of the start up costs. We’ll be meeting with Morgan Spurlock in NY the beginning of October when my associate Lisa and I go up there for the Green Festival at the Javits Center. He’s said that he is thrilled that we are running with this and making it happen and he’ll do what he can to support us. Right now we’re concentrating on finishing our formal business plan and getting some initial businesses on board.

Another “If you Built it they will come”, I know. One thing I’ve learned since 2009- in this economy, it’s the innovators with passion that succeed. Nothing less will do. In the meantime, myself and my associates are all seeking as much paying freelance consulting and production work as we can as we’re bootstrapping this business with our own sweat equity. We plan to launch officially with production people and start getting our first products placed, in 2012

Here’s our website:   http://www.greenproductplacement.com

Here’s our first bit of media exposure: http://t.co/hGOjqcW

and if you google:   green    product   placement   not even in quotes, we turn up fourth on the page and the first actual media product placement company without a paying ad.

So, I suppose that’s a promising start! Now– to get some paying work in the meantime….


With the help of my friend Jansen  (http://www.vandok.co.uk/ ), I was able to put together a professional, yet very user and maintenence friendly website for all of the freelance consulting and production work I’ve been doing of late. Well, to reflect the fact I’ve been doing this work- sort of like an online “office”, and also to help drum up more work.

I keep thinking of that great line from the film “Field of Dreams”, “If you build it, they will come”. I’m hoping in my case it means enough new work coming in to keep me in regular income. ;-)

What he did was set me up with a customized template here on WordPress and then he tweaked it and modified it so that it looked much more like a professional website, and less like a blog. Meanwhile, I can manage all of the text and content myself, which is great.

Please do check it out- and if you know of any companies, projects or productions who can utilize my talents, please do send them my way!

Cheers,

Beth  http://www.bethbellconsulting.com


Wow. It’s been about a year since I’ve posted in this blog. A lot has happened since then. I did end up working for my friend’s company into December. Because there was only so much investment money left for operating costs, I went part time last spring and picked up other part time management consulting work with 2 different seasonal decor companies, and the odd day-play on a commercial.

In December, our main investor pulled out, so although I retain a title with the company, for now, with bills to pay, I’m on the hunt once again. I’ve been able to secure some more part time management consulting work for yet another decor company and the odd production set dec/set dress production work, but my efforts were hampered severely at the end of January when my husband suffered a brain hemorrhage due to a congenital condition that bled, called an AVM (ateriovenous malformation). I remember thinking, as he lay in his bed in the NCCU- “geez, up to now, I thought not having a steady job was my worst problem”. Having such a possibly life changing scare really put things in perspective. Plus the fact the job loss this time was not done in such a way- well in such a soul crushing, self esteem damaging way as happened in 2009.

Anyway, he’s on the mend, for now. The treatment for this condition could be rather long and involved and one of the options is a craniotomy, which poses it’s own set of risks (or gamma knife/radiation surgery, which although not as invasive, requires multiple procedures to see effect.). He has aphapia, which is difficulty with langauge, and through diligent work by him and work with his speech langauge pathologist, and through the natural healing ability of the brain itself, it improves with each passing week. (knock wood). He can drive now and will return to work part time starting next week.

So- at this point the job search for me is back in a higher gear. Tomorrow, myself and some of my fellow film production colleagues go to Annapolis, the state capitol, in support of a Film Production Activity bill, that, if passed, could bring more film work back to Maryland from places like Louisiana, Georgia, New Mexico and Michigan.

Between my husband’s health crisis, and what has just happened in Japan (the earthquake, tsunami, and then radiation from damaged nuclear plants), well, the not having a steady job thing- it’s worrying, of course, but somehow it’s not really “all consuming” any more. Bigger things have put it all into perspective.

Plus, I should be thankful and hopeful, as well, I guess. I’ve gone on a promising interview with an exhibition-event company (that is looking to grow this summer), and my part time consulting work continues. Oh- and HBO is supposed to be bringing a movie to Baltimore (I couldn’t work on the pilot they just shot here because I was having to do a lot more care giving for my husband at the time), that I hope I can at least get some day-player work on.

So it is with an optimistic outlook that I close this entry. Remember what’s important in life- jobs come and go, but your loved ones- they’re worth cherishing.


  I am coming up on just about 11 months since I was laid off from the company I worked for last year. The job that lasted 8-1/2 years… for a company whose name no longer even exists, sadly. It was absorbed into the corporate “collective”, the name that was so well known in its field, now just a memory.

  So- rather than reflect much on where I am personally right now- I did that in my last post, let’s talk a bit about the state of the unemployment situation in the US right now. As of today, April 3rd, Obama is telling us that the economy is starting to turn the corner.

  The Washington Post: http://bit.ly/cXLg7m  says that although 162,000 new jobs were added in March (temporary census workers among them), the jobless rate is holding steady. Well, at least it’s not going up any more. Among the still unsettling things about the current job market that is not changing is the number of long term unemployed. According to the Post, “The number of long-term unemployed- more than 27 weeks – hit a record high of 6.5 million in March”.

  The US Department of Labor said at the end of March that the unemployment rate is holding steady at 9.7%: http://bit.ly/udolmarch  Okay, so that’s not “1 of the 10%” anymore, but it’s still close.

  I have a friend who got laid off about a month before I did last year. She is an educated, capable, intelligent administrative type who has held numerous positions as executive assistant in the corporate, academic and not-for-profit sectors. When she happily finally found a job a few weeks ago, she posted the below on her Facebook page:

11 months, 2 weeks, 1 day
820 applications/resumes sent
54 interviews

6 second interviews

6 months of unemployment benefits

2 temp jobs

My 401K money

All my savings

Borrowing money

To get ONE respectable job offer!

Anyone who says its easy out there needs to look at my Outbox, get their heads out of the clouds and buy a clue.

 I asked her if it was okay for me to use this in my blog, because to me this really illustrates what the job market is like these days, and she told me, “sure”. Whether this gives you hope and comfort that she eventually found a job, or whether this gives you a better picture of what it’s like “out there” if you are just beginning the search, I think we all need to acknowledge that it is still a real uphill, challenging, mud and thunderstorm laden “battle” out there these days.

  Another friend from my old workplace who got laid off in December was able to find a new job in 3 months- how she got it? She went through old connections (as I did)- last time we saw each other was a happy hour we went to with a few ex-employees. She and I both agreed that in this market, working those old connections probably yields quicker results than the traditional channels. The friend who I quoted above- I know she was doing her best to go through connections as well, but it just was not producing any opportunities. That is why it’s also important to keep working all angles- to try and “have a couple of irons in the fire” I like to say.

 So- how has a year and a half of tanking economy and job market affected people’s sensibilities? I’m sure you’ve read all about people making due with less, the upsurge in home gardeners for both health and cost savings reasons, and the return to “simpler times” where less emphasis is put on consumption and more emphasis is put on saving resources, saving money, and quality time with the ones we love.

   I know for me, even though I’ve been earning a paycheck for the last couple of months, I am still living just about as frugally as I was before. Catalogues that arrive in the mail get looked at once and then chucked in the recycle bin. Do a really need a new “whatever”?? Usually no. If the answer is yes, after careful deliberation, then I make the expenditure, but the need for new wardrobe pieces at the beginning of each season, or even more books when there’s a nightstand full that I still need to read, has kind of dissipated. Free clotheswap clothes that are new to me help to refresh my wardrobe. That- or a visit to the thrift store on occasion (something I stopped doing for a number of years even though it was a hobby of mine all through my 20’s and early 30’s) gives me the same “thrill of the hunt” that I might have used to get from catalogue or online shopping or the odd trip to the mall.  Speaking of malls, I had to go to one recently to shop for a wedding shower gift for my cousin. I schmyed around a little bit because, well, I was there- but somehow the need for shiny new things has just dried up and blown away…

 I’m not the only like this these days. A number of other, more well known bloggers are writing about living the simpler life.

One couple did an experiment in living on a dollar a day:  http://onedollardietproject.wordpress.com/

Another woman has vowed to buy nothing but underwear for an entire year: http://www.thegreatamericanappareldiet.com/  (I believe she’s now even off new underwear).

I read about both of these blog based experiments in Time Magazine, last week:  http://bit.ly/timearticlemar2010

Is this crisis going to be a turning point for American societal priorities? Is frugality the “new black”? This is worth exploring in future posts…

For now- enjoy your spring weekend- if the weather is nice where you are, get out and enjoy it. Have a look at all the blooming trees and daffodils. These fleeting joys are the worthwhile and priceless stuff of life!


I blow out the candles officially putting me on the downhill path to 50.

         Recently I celebrated my 45th birthday. Besides all of the usual thoughts and comments of “Where did all the time go?”, and ” I still feel like I’m in my early 30′s” (well in some ways- not in how tired I get in my knees in the morning- oy vey!), I also look at the fact that I really am middle aged now. I am indeed in the middle of my time on earth, assuming I live to be at least as old as my Aunt Mary. I stand here in the center- looking back at all I have done and experienced in my life, and looking ahead at what these next years ahead of me might be filled with.

      It’s quite poetic that I am also just past the halfway point of the trial employment period with my friend’s company. So far, both she and her executive VP have been pleased with what I have brought to the company- as far as structure and planning. I’ve recruited some talented interns and have begun crafting policy and procedure for the company. Although I do feel a valuable  member of the team, I’m still not certain of my long time, permanent future with the company and organization. I do, know, however, that what ever way things turn out, I will continue to have some involvement with her organization.

    I need to assess at this point in my life if I’d rather be doing something I completely know how to do, with ultimate confidence, but that might not be quite as creatively stimulating, or whether I’d like to be doing something that utilizes my management skills that I know I do have, in addition to my creative input, but that might be in several areas that are new to me- in which I might not possess the innate knowlege that bolsters my confidence. Both situations present their own unique set of challenges.

   I still have about a month left in my trial employment period, and I intend to play it out as scheduled. My other possible opportunity may not become an opportunity until late spring or early summer, so for now I am taking things one day at a time, doing my best to be present in the current moment.

  Being present in the current moment is usually a reccomendable tactic, as it taking one day at a time. I have some other friends going through tough times and times of transition right now, and that it what I always tell them- “Take things one day at a time- if that’s too rough, take things one hour at a time, if that’s too rough, take things one moment at a time”.  I’ve had them tell me that those thoughts have gotten them through particularly stressful periods.

   Sometimes life events play themselves out the way they will, no matter how much we try to orchestrate them. I would hope that one of the wisdoms that come with age is the ability to sit still and and really accept that old saying “It is what it is”.

So here I sit-at the halfway point, in more ways than one. I am doing my best to just be here- where I am.


                    Well- so much has happened in the last month and a half since I last posted on here. All of the those connections I had been cultivating yielded a few results for me, but that said some pretty crappy things happened as well.

                  First, the bad news:

  • I heard that my old company got taken over by an even larger company under the umbrella that bought them, and with that, 15 more jobs got cut- people that had been there even longer than me, talented, smart people who didn’t deserve that kind of treatment any more than I did back in May
  • Our house got burgled while we were home sleeping and most of what they took belonged to yours truly. It took several weeks of, essentially, work, that cost me time and money, to get things back to close to what I had goin’ on before. (IE. they got 3 handbags, wallet, prescription glasses and sunglasses, iPhone, computer, etc, etc.) We got an insurance payment, which, due to the diligent and meticulous spreadsheet list made up by me, was only short the $500 deductable and $200 depreciation of the worth of the items lost. Still, $700 is a lot of money when you have only worked 5 months or so out of the year.
  • The earthquake in Haiti- well, this didn’t affect us directly but it was a Biblical proportion, horrific natural disaster, and not much money or no, I felt compelled to give just a little bit to helping in the relief. I hope others felt and feel the need to do so, too.

Now the good news:

  • A freelance gig that I thought was not gonna happen, happened on a lesser scale… but the result is that if the next point does not work out I may have a back up opportunity.
  • I have been hired, on a 90 day trial basis, for my friend’s emerging film production company, and soon to be affiliated not-for-profit org.Since it’s working for my friend- well, jobs come and go but friendships last a lifetime- if we sense at all that it’s not gonna work as a business relationship, this goes both ways, we’ll pull the plug and I’ll be back out on the market. (So- still trying to keep my options open, if ya know what I mean)

    That said, she and I met on a job originally, so I am thinking positively.

             But, like I said, I am keeping my options open- smart thing to do. One of the things I suppose I learned from the many hard life lessons of last year was to pay attention to the “signs” and to look- and read- when “the writing is on the wall”. This is a hard economy and work environment out there these days, and all of the connections we make are important. Cultivate them.

Because you never know where your next opportunity is going to come from.


  Like so many of you freelancers and job seekers, I utilize social media for networking. You never know where your next job will come from, and once you get a job, having a virtual rolodex full of business contacts is always a good thing. And this is not always for selfish personal reasons, ie. “what can this person do for me or my business venture”, but also, “how can I help this person out- further their cause, connect them with other people that might benefit them”. I believe that if you look upon it as sort of a “pay it forward, positive business karma” kind of thing, in the end, everyone wins.

  So, like many of you, I’ve been trying to “pimp my profile” on Linked In, which is the big daddy of business based social networking sites. I’ve been adding contacts, soliciting recommendations, and joining pertinent groups. The next thing that needed to happen was to get a better head shot of myself on there. The one that’s been on there for the last couple of years is the one above, taken in June 2006, and was not really intended as a professional looking headshot. I decided to take a stab at it myself with my point and shoot, some natural light coming through the windows, a mini tripod, and an incandescent aim-able floor lamp I brought down to the kitchen from my bedroom. I fixed my hair, put on a little makeup, wore a nice blouse and jacket and decided to experiment a little bit with the self timer.

 After a couple dozen attempts to get the lighting and my facial expression just right, I’m fairly pleased with the outcome. Really, the whole process took me only about an hour.

 Here are the contenders:

Okay, I liked this one, but I think I wanted to use one with me wearing my glasses, because it gives off, you know, that aura of “smart” ;-)

This one was a real contender!

I liked this one:

but that pesky clump of hair on the right was just too much for me to touch up with my rudimentary touch up skills in paint.

Ultimately, this one:

is the one I chose.

 I’m glad I’ve got a few options to use now for a somewhat professional looking headshot. If anything, the boosting of my online professional persona has been a little bit of a self validating ego boost. We all know our self worth can take a bit of a beating when we don’t have a job to show up at every morning consistantly.

  I have started volunteering for a couple of different friends. I hope that one of them may even open up to a full time opportunity next year. I hafta say that it feels really good to have something to be passionate about again. The short term consulting gig was supposed to start this week, but so far we haven’t heard from the client so I am hoping that this will still come to pass before my husband and I leave for the UK for the holidays.

 Regardless of any of this, the networking process continues. I am fairly certain that my next opportunity will come from this, rather than some random online ad. Like they say, it’s “all in who ya know”.

  Good luck with all of your online and real life networking, and do consider getting yourself “out there” and promoting yourself. I know, especially some days, it feels really difficult to do. That’s where the volunteering comes in. Find something you feel really passionate about, and go do that, at least a few hours a week, whether they want to, or able to, pay you or not. Work and self worth are more than about just money.




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