Monday, March 1, 2010

What I learned from a Kleenex Box

A former CNN colleague and good friend of mine once said she’d learned more after leaving the network than during the 15 years she’d worked there. At the time I wasn’t sure what she meant, but after leaving corporate America, I get it now. 

When you work along hundreds of talented people, there’s always someone who’s more of an expert than you and who can do the job better. As a producer at a big company I could call on one of my team members to go out and shoot video on a tiny gadget or edit video off their laptops. To some degree all this technology made me a little uncomfortable since I never used it directly. But as the sole member of Lila Eidi Productions, I don’t have the ability to boss anyone around except myself. And that’s not much fun. So when I recently took on freelance work with a new online startup company based in Portland, I sensed the time had come to learn the technical tasks I had always delegated to others.

My first story was about doctors who Twitter. I decided I would borrow a friend’s flip video camera to conduct an interview with a local doctor. But I didn’t anticipate needing a tripod, and found myself floundering around trying to interview and shoot at the same time. Some quick thinking, and a sudden need to blow my nose, gave me an answer to my problem: a box of tissues. I propped my camera up on the Kleenex box, lined up the shot in view panel, and, voila!, I was rolling on the interview.  





The next interview I had to conduct was with a doctor who lives in New York City. Since there was no camera crew to hire and send out to her office, I decided to talk with her through Skype, which is a program that lets users talk face to face over the Internet. Easy peasy. What I was clueless about was how to record the interview. I started to stress about it. I made a few phone calls only to learn there’s a program you can download to record skype video. So easy! Within minutes we were set up and Skyping. There I was, in my dining room, talking with a leading child obesity expert who loves to twitter professionally. I felt like the Wonder Woman of the digital age.

What’s amazing is that I’m finally learning that when you have no one else to depend on but yourself to get a job done, the technological barriers seem to fall down without much of a push. And I find it a little ironic that the technology I once feared is now integral to helping me make a living. It’s definitely something that makes my inner boss very happy.

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