Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Burned out at 23? It's not you, it's them.

I continue to be amazed at the emails and phone calls I get from people in their first jobs who wonder if they've made the right career choice. They wonder if they're "burned out" or if they're not cut out for the business. Some even start thinking about a career change.

Here's a math formula for those feeling that way. The size of the egos in a market is indirectly proportional to the size of the market.

In English: The smaller the market, the bigger the egos.

Over the years I've run into some massive egos, and there's a common denominator. Just about all of those people worked in small markets. Maybe it's because they've been stuck there for a long time, or they just don't have much talent. Doesn't matter. They turn into newsroom monsters, acting as though they worked for the network.

Here's a news flash: network people don't act that way.

Maybe you've never heard this one: "The bigger they are, the nicer they are." If the network people I work with are any indication, it's true. Oh sure, there was that one woman who loved ordering the crew around, but she didn't last, and isn't working for any network anymore.

Those who have reached the top, or a spot near it, are comfortable in their positions. They don't need to play mind games in the newsroom, don't stir the pot, don't act like dictators, and, most important, don't scare the hell out of the new kids. What some of you are seeing in small markets is simply insecurity; people who have such serious doubts about their own talents that they attack others. (Sometimes this manifests itself in bigger markets in which the station has been stuck in last place forever; bringing out the small market mentality.)

You can't possibly be burned out at 23, or even 25. But you can be emotionally battered when you work in a toxic environment. You probably still love what you do. You just don't love the people you have to work with. Fear not. Nicer people are waiting up the ladder.

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