In My Experience: Building Something New
Today marks a new series I'm going to contribute to periodically called "In My Experience." It is obviously important for someone who is offering to help other people to be able to cite their own experience in order to show they understand and can give informed advice. In this series, I plan to tell stories of my own experience within different areas in which I am offering support. I am also excited to have a way in which to reflect on and better process my own experiences, especially those that may be happening in real time, as today's topic is.
I studied entrepreneurship in undergrad. I spent countless hours ideating, innovating, planning, etc. But all of that was abstract. It was imaginary. And as I began on my career path and even as it shifted and changed over time, I did not know whether I would personally ever use that skillset other than in an advisory capacity.
But I couldn't have anticipated a pandemic. Or losing my job to it. Or finding myself existing in a world that looked very different than the one I'd left to enter lockdown and realizing that it would never really look the same. My first reaction was like most people's. Partially I just shut myself down and planned to wait things out. And of course I applied to lots of jobs. So was everyone else. Not exactly a seller's market. And as you can tell when you look at my experience page, I have a, let's say 'unconventional' resume. Needless to say I did not get many bites.
After this went on for a while, I started to think about how I had been spending my time prior to lockdown. Everything I did had the illusion of feeling as if it pushed me toward some ultimate goal, but I found two problems with that logic. The first was I never really took much time to think about what that goal was. What was I aiming for? Even if it was way off in the distance? Secondly, I realized that a lot of what I was doing wasn't actually progressing me anywhere at all. I came to understand I'd been on a treadmill rather than a path.
This awakening allowed me to take better stock of my priorities. What about how I was spending my time before and even during the pandemic was personally fulfilling? What played to my strengths? What energized me?
There have been four consistencies in my life, even prior to working, that define me pretty well:
I am an organizer & facilitator - On any team, in any group, for any project, I am generally the person who ends up scheduling, creating processes, being the person who makes it possible for everyone else to just focus on their main thing and not get caught up in the details
I identify gaps - I tend to look at a situation from a macro perspective and think, here are areas that haven't been addressed yet or opportunities that are yet to be fulfilled
I'm good at defining the undefined - In more than half of the roles I have ever had, I was the first person who held the position because either I identified a gap that needed filling (see thing 2) and/or someone I worked for or with knew I could take a vague mandate and turn it into a complete role (see thing 1)
I love being part of a team - when I look at what I have stuck with vs what I haven't. What I have gone above and beyond for vs. what I haven't. It always comes back to whether I had a great partner or team to work with and that we were a part of something we all believed in
I don't say all this to toot my own horn, but rather to illustrate that I hadn't really taken the time necessary to see the forest for the trees up until recently. I had found ways to fulfill bits and pieces of these parts of myself, but I had yet to find something that really allowed for all of these core parts of who I am to come together in the most effective and satisfying way.
As time went on during lockdown, thoughts started to swirl in my head:
There are so many people who have great ideas for shows and podcasts and videos and just don't know where to put them, or don't know how to take something from an idea to a real product
There are digital entertainment networks, but none of them are built on the principle of accessibility for contributors or on leveraging multiple content types for organic cross-promotion
There are creative communities, but they are often marred by unnecessary/manufactured competition and/or gatekeeping and/or financial barriers (or any number of other toxicities)
Could a business that fostered a communal, cooperative, and service-focused mentality also be financially viable? Could a space be open, welcoming, and supportive to creators while also providing great content and interaction for fans? Could an organization that covered multiple platforms and genres still have a cohesive and clear brand? I decided to try to find out.
Enter: The Trident Network
Put as succinctly as possible, The Trident Network is a three pronged (get it?) digital entertainment network that prioritizes accessibility both for creators to contribute content and for potential fans to find and enjoy it. We take care of the details so you can focus on making or enjoying the art. We are also a community of people who see each other as a support system rather than as competition. A rising tide lifts all ships.
Trident is only just beginning. There will be more entries into this series covering all kinds of topics that go into starting and running a new business. I hope you'll follow along on the journey. And I hope that my experience with Trident will help me better serve you when you need help in the future.