What’s in your pie, Dawg?

In the weeks leading up to the Grady College Centennial Weekend, April 16-19, we'll feature a guest blog post authored by a preselected alumnus/alumna. For ways in which students, faculty, alumni, donors and friends can share Grady College memories and photos in honor of the centennial year, please visit grady100.uga.edu.

Over the past decade a friend and former colleague has advised me from time to time on my career path. Part mentor and part coach, she has shared what I consider to be one of the most valuable tools when navigating business, and indeed, life: a question.

The first time I called Jamee for advice, I was considering whether to take one job over another.

Opportunity #1 was a development job, which paid very little, but would allow me to write and perhaps eventually produce my own television programs — a big payoff I was ready for. Opportunity #2 was similar to other positions I had held, but this time there was a much larger paycheck to go along with the responsibilities.

Eight years since graduating from UGA, it seemed this was an important crossroads and I did not want to screw it up.

This is (pretty much) how the conversation went:

“Look at it like this. Similar to the player piece in 'Trivial Pursuit,' each of us has a personal pie or 'life pie' and the goal is to fill it with valuable wedges known as experience. You have a few wedges already – your degree from the renowned Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia is one. Another might be your Live TV background -which includes extreme planning of details, working under pressure …

Now, look at your 'life pie,' and ask … 'Which of these two job opportunities gives me a new or additional wedge that might be useful? Do I need to sock away some money right now, or do I need the practice pitching film and TV ideas?'”

A thousand brilliant little light bulbs went off in my brain. I was hooked on the question.

And over the years, I have asked mentees who are just about to graduate, friends, other mothers, my husband from time to time — anyone and everyone who is wondering what they should do next — the very same question Jamee asked me:

Which opportunity gets you a new and necessary wedge in your “life pie”?

So, upon reflection, my pie started out something like this:
Get a job in the entertainment industry. I'll take any wedge of pie.

Then, it became …
Someday, I want to own my own production company. This year's wedge of pie will be to work for any and every production company as a freelancer so I can see how they operate — even if it means a cut in pay or a step back in status.

And these days, the pie is looking fuller.
Two decades in the entertainment industry. WEDGE OF PIE
Owner of production company. WEDGE OF PIE.
Producer of shows on network TV. WEDGE OF PIE.
Figure out how to file corporate taxes, stay married, produce a daily news program, and raise a newborn. (Answer — get help!) WEDGE OF PIE.
And so on …

The beautiful part is that whenever I find myself asking “what should I do now, what is the next best step?” the answer to the pie question really does sum it up for me. No anxiety, no pressure. It's just another piece of the pie. I don't have to fill the entire pie today and sometimes an opportunity just doesn't belong in my “life pie.” In honor of Grady's Centennial celebration, I'm thankful for the wedge of Grady pie. And I'm thankful to now be a member of the Grady Society Alumni Board so I can reconnect with those intelligent peers who helped me learn how to work with a team, get the writing done and the show on the air.

About the author
Inspired by her work on the Centennial Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies in Atlanta, Laura R. Cushing produces one of a kind history in the making events and the stories behind them. Cushing resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughters. cushcomedia.com

More Alumni Reflections:

There's always a friend to be found at Grady by Lauren Patrick (ABJ '07)

It's simple: The Grady family is forever by Michael Gray (ABJ '11)

How to celebrate a centennial: recommit, reconvene, re-engage by Brittney Haynes (ABJ '09)

It's easy to feel a sense of community at Grady by Shannon Sullivan Collado (ABJ '10)

Grady offers growth by Julia Hemingway (ABJ '14)

Grady grads get more than a basic education by Eric NeSmith (ABJ '02)

Lost and Found at Grady by Susan Percy (ABJ '66)

Looking back on the Grady School with fondness by Rex Granum (ABJ '72)

A nod to the professor by Ashley Callahan (ABJ '04)

Date: March 31, 2015
Author:  Laura Cushing, laura.cushco@gmail.com