Willing what doesn’t come easy (and remembering what it took)

As you might have heard by now, I got the job at Bazaarvoice. I’ll be their first Social Media Manager, and the work so far has been every bit as exciting and challenging as I had imagined. It was, literally, the “dream job” in “How I’m Using Facebook Ads to Find My Dream Job.”

How I did it:

I got scrappy to win. I had to relearn the focus techniques that helped me rise above the very real, very difficult ADHD I’ve always struggled with–the same methods that let me beat the odds at UT and even become, of all things, a study habits tutor for the University. The week before my final interview I buried myself in those very same stacks every day and methodically prepared. That’s not easy for me. Singular, sustained focus is foreign to my DNA. But just like I did before every test of every semester, I told my DNA to go screw itself and willed it.

I made uncomfortable choices. There were two fantastic offers on the table by the time I even scheduled my final Bazaarvoice interview, and I was waiting to hear back from two other interviews that went well. Yeah, it was a “good problem to have”. But it didn’t make it any easier to decide. In my life, hedging bets has never worked. Neither has taking the safe one. I had to tell these incredible people that I had met, all of whom had gone out of their way to reach out and offer me a way out of this jobless, moneyless slump I was in, “no thanks”. I had to tell my family, “I got a great offer today, but I’m not going to take it because there’s a chance I’ll still get the one true gig.” I asked nearly everyone I cared about, “Am I making the right choice by taking this risk?,” and everyone I cared about answered back in the most honest way they could, “Will you be happy if you don’t?” The answer was clear and it was “No.”

I asked favors of people I had no right to ask. After the first couple pride-swallowing phone calls, I realized that people want to help. Maybe they were rooting for the underdog, or had other reasons, but I decided to stop asking why someone would help me and just ask them already. No one let me down.

What I won’t do now:

Forget the people that helped me. People, if you’re reading this and you don’t know it already, I’m there for you whenever you need it and I owe you a whole lot more than a pretty thank you card. Just name it.

Rest on my laurels. When someone hires you, they’re giving you a chance and nothing more. I may have worked hard to get this gig, but I’ll work even harder to make sure no one ever thinks twice about why they hired a 25-year-old comic book geek to steer one of Austin’s great startup success stories through the social media universe. I’m going to earn every damn paycheck.

Forget what it was like. To not have a job or a dollar in the bank. To doubt myself and wonder, “how are you gonna screw this up now, Ian?” To ask my girlfriend why the hell she chose me over the blue-blooded frat boy on the partner track. To apply to the temp agency. To max out my credit cards. To wonder if my family was telling the truth when they said they were proud of me.

No, I’ll remember it all when that kid I’m interviewing someday can’t stop his hands from shaking or looks away when I ask him about a gap in his resume or stutters or pronounces my name “Green-lay”. “That was me, not so long ago,” I’ll think. And I’ll tell him, “you’re doing just fine, now tell me…”

I’ll earn that moment, and I’ll give him that chance to earn his, too.

Ian Greenleigh
Author | Turning data into stories | Sr Mgr, Content & Social Strategy, Bazaarvoice | Former baby
  • http://www.rocknrealty.net Nanette Labastida

    freakin awesome post Ian – you deserve it. i saw you work hard and be daring. i’m definitely gonna ask you for help especially the company at Torchy’s for a taco kind of help :)
    .-= Nanette Labastida´s last blog ..Save the Cathedral of Junk! March cause of the month =-.

  • michael pearson

    I need a shower after all the gooeyness but thanks Ian. Back at ya! You are the closest thing to what Peter Kim calls a “five-tool employee” as I’ve seen ( http://www.beingpeterkim.com/2009/09/five-tool.html ). You are perfect for SM Manager at @BazaarVoice. They are lucky to have you. And the journey has just begun. Good post!

  • http://www.rocknrealty.net Nanette Labastida

    Oh i knew if Michael joined it it would become a gooeylovefest
    .-= Nanette Labastida´s last blog ..Save the Cathedral of Junk! March cause of the month =-.

  • http://www.zuphix.com Elijah

    Another amazing post, Ian. Congratulations and good luck, even though I don’t think you’ll need it.

  • Ian Greenleigh

    @nanette My favorite kind of help! Ask away…

    @michael Sorry for getting that on ya. Glad you liked it anyway.

    @elijah Everyone needs a bit. Thanks, and let’s get lunch soon.

  • Leigh

    So glad you joined the team, Ian! I’m very proud to be working with you.

    And yes, people have called me “Lay” my whole life. Really? Parents are going to name their kid “Lay”?

    See ya Monday!

  • Ian Greenleigh

    @Lay I’m proud to be working with you, too! I love your potato chips.

  • http://www.thetrainingfactor.com Jonathan Saar

    Your persistence has paid off. From your post and from our conversations, it is inspiring to know that despite the hurdles life throws at us, that determination, grit, and elbow grease always gets the job done. I look forward to meeting you personally soon. All the best to you with your new career path!

  • http://www.steeltoesrequired.blogspot.com/ Katherine Kagler

    Wow, I guess you could basically say that I stumbled upon your blog as I was lurking around the Bazaarvoice career page, drooling on the keyboard at the “dream jobs”. I stalked my way further in, signed up for your Social Commerce Summit then *bam* found you and your inspiring blog posting. I’m a social media marketing enthusiast. Unfortunately I’m a bit of a newbie to these technologies. I have a background in more traditional marketing campaigns and professional client support but would love to get my foot in the door in new media. The creative aspect of mixed mediums in advertising feeds my passion as a “creator of stuff”. I think I’d be GREAT at account management, liaison between agency and client and hope to someday land that dream job. I just wanted to say “hi”, thanks for the post…you’ve got yourself a new subscriber;)
    .-= Katherine Kagler´s last blog ..limp wrist =-.

  • http://www.sasstown.com Cecilia

    Ian I love your “what I won’t do now list”. Holding to those goals is really going to be a mark of of your future success.
    .-= Cecilia´s last blog ..Random Sass =-.

  • Pingback: Don’t be “that guy” in social media

  • Pingback: On sucking it up for social media success

  • http://www.yourbrandsubjecttochange.com Justin P

    Ian – don’t know you, but saw your story on Bad Pitch Blog – great stuff. Congrats on your success!

    • Ian Greenleigh


      Thank you! It feels great, and hopefully some will be inspired to create their own FB ad strategy (just like the one I totally stole from Grant Turck).