Follow Your Passion Series

It took me six years to find my real passion.

I thought I had everything figured out in high school (what high schooler doesn’t think that?) when I found the school newspaper and broadcast news. I did everything I could to gain experience and eventual admittance to the University of Missouri’s prestigious School of Journalism.

Once there, the determination didn’t wane, until my senior year, when I got a bit burned out. I took some advertising classes to fulfill my electives and loved them. The professor was encouraging and the class interesting. However, after graduation, it seemed all I was “qualified” to do was work in the news industry.

My first job was as an education reporter for a newspaper in Southeast Missouri. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. My fiancé at the time (now husband) got a job in San Antonio and we moved. There I was an education reporter for an even smaller paper. It was at that paper that I got fired for sticking to my journalistic ethics. I then worked for the FOX station in San Antonio. The hours were awful, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

After nearly two years of those hours, my husband and I knew it was time for a change. He wanted to go to graduate school and I was ready to be closer to our families. We packed up and moved back to Missouri. Where I was unemployed for about three months. During those three months, I did a lot of soul searching. I made lists about what I liked and didn’t in each previous job and looked for trends.

Want to read the rest? Go to Jessica Malnik’s blog.  She has a whole written and video series on Following Your Passion. Enjoy!

Evaluating Success

Image from:

Sometimes the easiest way to evaluate success is by what didn’t happen. I regularly talk to middle school, high school and college students. Usually the topic is about the perils of Facebook for their future be it college, graduate school or getting a job. In that presentation, I measure success in those conversations, not by engagement but by no one running out of the room, crying or throwing up.

What I tell them is scary and there are no solid answers. They can only be mindful of what they put out there. Often I see fear on their faces when they realize they’ve already made some of the biggest mistakes and might not be able to take those mistakes back.

To you, no one running out of the room, crying or throwing up might be odd litmus tests. I could instead measure success by sticking to the script, not saying “um” 20 times and applause. But I’ve learned that you can’t always stick to the script, you have to read your audience. Also, find different ways to present the same information so that if the first approach falls flat, you can try the second. Um is a natural place holder. Unless you’re a professional speaker or have practiced you’ll likely use it, practice as much as you can and then let it go. Applause is fleeting and I’ve learned that with the younger crowds, most of them only applaud when they see their friends applauding.

Some people hate to see their audience whispering to each other. I don’t mind. I’ve overheard comments, such as “I thought I was safe if my Facebook profile didn’t come up in the search or in Google,”  that allowed me to redirect the presentation to include that just because you don’t come up in Goolge, or in the Facebook finder, doesn’t mean you’re covered.

You have to choose what defines your success, even if you aren’t speaking in from of a crowd of teenagers. If a successful day is getting everything crossed off your to-do list, great! If a successful day is not falling asleep in class, perfect! Just make sure at the end of the day you don’t feel defeated.

How do you evaluate success?