Monday, February 4, 2013

Happiness is the new black (or, why you should stop obsessing over market size)

I think we took the car keys away from Mom when she turned eighty. Anyway, she didn't argue, but missed shopping on her own. Until she discovered television shopping networks. Mom was a trusting soul and believed the hucksters on the tube, but every once in awhile she'd buy something that would fall apart and have to be sent back. The conversation would always go something like this:

Mom: "I can't believe this fell apart. It's got a designer label."

Me: "Ma, the label next to it says Made in China."

Meanwhile, some markets and stations could be made in China.

A market size is just a number. It's a label, like one from a designer. You might think the number stands for a list of specifics, but every situation is different. Just because a station sits in a certain size market doesn't mean it's a good situation for you. The product could be awful, the ND could be a cylon, the company could throw nickels around like manhole covers, the city could be a dump.

Yet most of you look at the magical number first, before anything else. You'll live in God-awful places and work for demonic managers rather than take a job in a market with a slightly larger number.

Because, God forbid, what would people think? "He turned down a job at market 40 and took one in market 50! He must be an idiot!"

Here's a news flash: what other people think of your decisions or career has no effect on your happiness. The market size number where you're working will not make you happy. What will leave you feeling contented is a challenging job in a nice station situated in a great place to live.

I've had several clients over the years who would get good offers from solid stations, but if those stations were in markets with a number that wasn't appealing, they would hesitate. It would always be the one thing that seemed to trump all.

Market size is a number, that's all. It doesn't guarantee quality, doesn't mean your work will improve, and, most of all, doesn't insure you'll be happy. You don't want to end up with a "Made in China" lifestyle simply because of a label.


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