The name Mike Conception rings bells, literally. Some even shudder at the mentioned of his name (including some of my close friends). But for me, he’s ALWAYS been a friend, colleague, business associate. That was until last Wednesday. As my real friends know, and my Facebook friends don’t, the last three years of my life work-wise has been hell.
When I arrived in Atlanta a little short of seven years ago, I basically walked into a dream job. My former employer and I met in 2002, and vowed to work together at some point intersecting the verticals of entertainment and technology. He (and his team) is the guy responsible for the way we book travel today. His team created the engine used by Kayak, Expedia, and many other OTA’s. When he turned his attention to entertainment, (we were introduced by a mutual acquaintance) we took it from there. We built a lab and a studio in the Inman Park section of Atlanta, and we were rolling. When I got there, my employer had about 30 computer programmers on staff, so the plan was to make entertainment and technology work together now, and for the future. We made some progress, shot a full length film, made some incredible promotional video, I even did a show demonstrating technology. It was good while it lasted, I learned a great deal, started my speaking career, and made some waves in the tech space.It was good, but then….
Legal ramifications ensued, and we had to close shop, hence, I was now out of work. I can actually start the lesson portion of this writing now, by saying not establishing myself (brand “professordaddyo”) independently of the company I was working for was a mistake. I had established my new reputation in Atlanta as the guy who ran the great digital media space in Inman Park. So I began my trek at “digital odd jobs” as I called them. A start-up here, an artist development project there, barely keeping the lights on, and then crash. It really seemed like work was avoiding me. I did get some help from friends, family, and of course my church, I praise The Most High we did survive. But April came, the expenses piled up again, a project I did STILL (I mean to the day of this posting) hasn’t payed me, and I’m praying a wondering what to do. Enter Michael Conception, a friend of mine I haven’t seen in probably a decade. So I see Mike, explain my economic situation, and helps me out. But wait! There’s more…
The day I go and meet at his hotel, he says “walk with me Daddy-O.” He grabs something to eat, and we sit at a table outside. So he asks, “what happened?, you look okay, but why are you in this position?” Then he looks me dead in the eye and tells me I’m angry. NOBODY has ever diagnosed that in me. He tells me I need to humble myself. That I need to lighted my approach, that I talk too loud and wanna beat everybody up. We proceed to the parking lot and get in his Bentley. On the highway, he tells me I stay in the house too much, “ain’t no money in the house Daddy-O.” We go to one of his Atlanta garages, we switch from the Bentley to his Rolls Royce, and he continues to tell me to trace my steps, find out what I did wrong, how I got here. By the time mike dropped me off to where I live (neighbors yelling “Daddy-O you ridin’ big now”) my head was about to explode. Mike was loving, but he was strict. He was informative, but some of it hurt. He reminded me that real friend ain’t always gonna say what you wanna hear. Here’s my takeaway:
1. “What Happened” = Always evaluate where you are.
Sometimes we think so much of our talent, our resume accolades, and our skill set, we have the tendency to blame others for not noticing us. The results are complaints about being overworked and underpaid. Everything we’ve done in life got us to this point, and everything is not just what’s on our resumes and bios.
2. “You’re Angry” = Accept your faults
Again, the TOTAL composition of who you are equal up to more than your perspective talents. We all have faults, and bitterness and anger happen to be the common ones. Really examine what makes you angry and fix it. It can ruin your chances of future advancement.
3.”Humble Yourself” = Humble yourself
Mike even went as far to ask “can humble yourself enough to take a job at McDonald’s to feed you family Daddy-O?” The struggle (when you encounter it) is real. To humble yourself does not mean to lower yourself. Really examine whether or not your pride is holding you back.
4. “Ain’t no money in the house” = Your comfort zone may be destroying you
It’s easy to get comfortable after thinking your the most talented person that nobody is hiring. And then depression is sure to rear her ugly head. And then you will be in the house with no money.
I know I’m particularly blessed in a certain way to have a friend the caliber of Michael Conception. But it doesn’t mean I can’t pass the lessons on. Since talking to Mike, I’ve gotten off my ass and scored contract work with the Sandbox Crew, Bitspray Technologies, and Complexions Dance. I drummed up more work in four days than I have in a year on my own. Shout out to my man Michael Conception, thanks for keepin’ it real with your brother.