Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Milestone

Ten. Not Bo Derek and Dudley Moore. Ten. Not fingers or toes. Ten. As in Ten Years with the Walt Disney Company. Last week I hit that milestone and as is tradition at TWDC, this token of recognition arrived today at my house.

I knew that it was coming, but was surprised to see it when I opened the package from my Human Resources department. I thought it was a training manual I had to read before attending a class in Bristol in a few weeks. What a pleasant surprise. Plus no reading required!

I can still remember my second day at Disney (day one is orientation when new employees are christened with pixie dust), getting a tour from my new boss, Martell. At that time the business of Disney Channel was nice and small and it was easy to meet everyone and get a lay of the land. I remember seeing several ten year plaques hanging in people's offices or cubes and thinking at the time that it would be nice to have one of these if things worked out. I felt this way because at that time I had just left a less than ideal job at a non-profit foundation. I had only been there for about a year but it was my first IT job and I learned a tremendous amount about technology. I also learned a lot about how not to run a business and treat people. I had hoped to be there longer since I had just started in this field.

Two years earlier I had turned 30 and made the conscious decision to reinvent myself professionally and learn a new craft. Prior to that I had bounced around in several jobs, taken a stab at screen writing and worked for friends and family. To start working at Disney I felt as though I had a job in the proverbial "real world." Corny as it may sound, I really was proud of myself and excited to be a cast member. I really think that you do a better job for your employer if you like where you work and take pride in representing your company. I know that if I was doing the same job at a law firm or an insurance company I would want to kill myself and everyone else. At Disney we make fun.

When I started on February 23, 1998 I was determined to work hard, learn as much as I could and see how long I could survive in the corporate world with little IT experience. Having a great mentor in Martell and an open mind to his guidance made a world of difference as I survived despite several years of self-doubt. Part of my success in those early years was being patient in my career growth and taking it one day and one year at a time. To this day, I look at my career as a marathon and not a sprint. Many times I have reminded myself that I am in it for the long haul and not the quick kill. At the same time, I never assumed that I would always have a job and actually spent at least the first year waiting for someone to say that I know nothing about technology and get rid of me. That inexperience drove me to succeed and learn my trade. Ten years later, I think I have figured it out but still take nothing for granted.

As I reflect back over the last decade I realize that this plaque is about finding my way in the working world, succeeding in learning a new trade and being a contributor to some of the coolest brands in the world. Whether it be Mickey, ESPN, Disney Channel, Pirates or the Parks, I am proud to root for the home team and be a Part of the Magic.

And just to show you how much job satisfaction I have I was reminded of it today at lunch. As I was paying for my food, the cashier at the sandwich shop saw my ESPN shirt and asked if I worked for the company. I told him that I did and he asked about going to events and meeting our talent and whatnot. I gave him a brief nutshell on what I do, where I have been and who I have met. He told me how much he loved ESPN and asked if I was a sports fan. I said that I was and he got this big envious grin on his face and said, "Man, that is a dream job!"

It really is....