Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An announcement

After two great years at the Austin American-Statesman, I will be departing for a new adventure with a local non-profit called L3.

I feel very lucky to have been able to work at a newspaper. The past two years have included the Fort Hood shootings, the guy flying a plane into the IRS building, the outbreak and subsequent panic over H1N1, and more fires, stupid criminals, and traffic accidents than I ever needed to hear about. Oh, and puppies. What will the world do when I'm no longer running the Statesman Dog Show? I have a feeling it will go on.

Working on has been incredibly challenging - things are constantly happening, constantly changing. That website is like a toddler - it needs to be continuously watched or things will break or mistakes will creep in. I've learned that a) I'm an awesome multi-tasker and b) bad news and/or a lot of news all at once really get my adrenaline pumping.

More than anything, I'll miss the people. The Statesman has some awesome people working there. My bosses, Kristi and Zach, have been more than just the people I work for. They have been good friends, who genuinely take an interest in my life and have been gracious enough to share bits of theirs with me. Those in my "pod" and the pods around me, particularly Etienne and Courtney, have been my sanity savers - without them, I could probably go an entire 10-hour shift without speaking to another human being. I could name so many people individually but suffice it to say, the people are the hardest thing to leave behind.

But I feel like this is the right move for me, and for Hans. As many of you know, I work the Monday through Thursday shift, taking over at 4 p.m. and finally dragging myself out at 2 a.m. I usually get to bed between 3 and 4, wake up the next day around 11, and have just enough time to work out and cook dinner before I have to rush off to work. I have been doing this since the fall of 2008.

When I started this shift, it wasn't so bad. I'm kind of a night person, and 10 hour shifts really don't feel much different than eight hour ones. Plus, I had Friday to get stuff done before the weekend.

But it turns out that all those night shifts add on each other. More like multiply. The first year, maybe even year and a half, were fine. But then I started to really feel it. I felt tired all the time. I noticed I was getting sick more. And I felt more and more isolated. With Hans working 9 to 5, we literally wouldn't see each other during the week. We'd say good-bye Sunday night until Friday evening. I didn't have much social life and I felt like I was constantly saying "Ah, I can't make that - I'll be working" for things like Relief Society and visiting teaching and social get-togethers.

I recognize this isn't unique to my shift. Sure, my hours are opposite the rest of the world. But changing shifts probably wouldn't help. The morning shift starts at 5 a.m. and the day shift is noon to 8. To be in newspapers, your hours, your life, will never be normal. You'll always be at the mercy of the crazy guy in the plane. Or the guy burning down the governor's mansion. Or the football players getting arrested for drunkenly driving into buildings. In newspapers, no hours are off limits. You can get called in in the middle of the night, on weekends, and yes, holidays are fair game. That's the nature of the business - your job comes first.

I love newspapers. And will continue to do so. But I'm not ready to have my job come first. I want my family to come first. The little one Hans and I have now, and the one that we will make together some day. I know some people do it, the balancing act between newspapers and kids. Kristi manages to pull it off like it ain't no thang (she calls it "magic"). But when we do have kids, I want to be able to be there for them. I want some flexibility. And newspapers aren't the place for that.

And so we arrive at L3. Brother Wenger from the Buda Ward heard of the position from his co-worker, who is the husband of L3's executive director. He must have talked me up pretty well, because I was contacted for an interview before they even had my resume. I owe you dinner, Bro. Wenger.

I met with the small staff at L3 and instantly felt comfortable. They are all incredibly driven, personable people who share my values and goals. Coming from the Statesman, I know how working with good people can have a dramatic affect on your work satisfaction. In the short time I spent with these women, I knew they would be wonderful people to work with.

Oh, I guess you're wondering what L3 is, exactly. It's a non-profit organization somewhat akin to the World President's Organization. It's for people 45+, who are presidents or major players of their companies, and heavily involved in philanthropic work (and that doesn't just mean writing checks). L3's purpose is to connect these people and engage them for personal betterment and purposeful collaboration.

Here's a good example Tammy gave me, for what they do.

Three members have three different resources.
Couple number one runs Glimmer of Hope, a nonprofit that has historically worked on health and education programs to help build communities in Africa.
Member number two runs hospitals in Africa.
Member number three has a special patented hinge that is affordable and effective for prosthetic limbs.

Each of these three members alone are doing great work, improving people's lives. L3 helped get them together so that guy number three provides the hinges that guy number two will use on people from the communities in progress by couple number one. It's a pooling of resources so that these philanthropists can build off one another and collaborate on larger-scale projects.

In addition to work like this, L3 provides resources to help improve its members lives in various areas like health, family, charitable giving, purposeful travel, etc. It's a lot about pooling information that is pertinent and helpful to these types of highly ambitious, very busy people in the latter half of life.

My official position at L3 is Communication Manager. I'll be working on writing, editing, improving and managing content for the website. I'll work on newsletters and make an attempt to engage members in social media efforts. I'll aggregate news and other resources to disseminate to members and conduct educational webinars. And probably many more endeavors that have yet to  be cooked up.

It's a scary thing to leave your job, especially one in which you've become quite comfortable. But Hans and I both feel like this is the right thing to do. It's a bittersweet time - sadness over leaving great friends and great projects at the Statesman, but excitement over new challenges and new opportunities.


  1. The first thing I had to do once starting reading the blog post was confirm with Google that there is an organization called L3 which isn't primarily driven by government contracts. It made much more sense when the fifth link down or so was a nonprofit :)


  2. Congrats! I knew the right job would find you eventually. :)