Getting Let Go Was the Best Experience of My Career

 

I want you to think back on your life five years ago from this very day. Where were you? What were you doing? Were you still in school? Working? Retired? Wherever you were, I assume you are in a much different position today than you were five years ago. One of my favorite artists, Dave Matthews, says it best when he states,

"Every day things change, but basically they stay the same."

How true is that? If I think back about my life five years ago, much of my day-to-day is pretty similar. I lived in Columbus at the time, but I would wake up in the morning, get ready for work, grab breakfast and head to work. Here and there, that routine changed, adapted, grew or faltered completely, but basically things stayed the same. Except they really didn't. Every single day, things were changing. My career, my thoughts, my growth, my family, my friends, the world, my living situation, the seasons. We become so accustomed to our routines and levels of comfort that we don't take a second to look around at the changes occurring in the world, as they are happening. Change is constant and if you don't accept it, learn from it, or stay ahead of the curve, it will completely pass you by.

So, now that you've thought back on your life five years ago, I'd like to let you in on mine. As I mentioned, I was living and working up in Columbus, OH, at the time, honing my skills in IT sales. I'm not sure honing is the word, because I was terrible at my job. I really was. Sure, it was my first job out of college, but I didn't really have any passion for it and my work environment was interesting to say the least. Looking back, I see that I lacked any type of vision for my life. Like I said it was my first job out of college, but I had no wherewithal on the direction of my life and where I wanted to go. Sure, I had dreams, but I wasn't doing much of anything with them, and it seemed like I was just going through the motions each and every single day. Looking back, I wasgoing through the motions.

I made excuses, stopped working as hard as I should, feuded with our new sales manager, and was finally hit with a corporate "talk" discussing my numbers, or my lack thereof. I was essentially put on a plan, and if I didn't meet the goals my sales manager set for me, I would surely be let go. Ouch.

So, what did I do? Well, I wanted to quit right there. I really did. I almost did. But, I just couldn't do it. A person who I lacked respect for had called me out, challenged me, and essentially told me I wasn't good enough to work for the company any longer. He was probably right. I wasn't a fit for that role and they should have gotten rid of me months earlier. But, they didn't, and here I was sitting in his office with an employee plan in place.

My requirements were obviously above the norm and extended well beyond the reach of what I had previously accomplished with the company. But, I got angry. In the words of The Hulk,

"You're not going to like me when I'm angry."

And, that's how I felt. So, I came in locked and loaded every single day from the conclusion of that meeting, up until my final hours with the company. I hit and exceeded every number, I set a record number of sales meetings for my account managers, I recorded the most daily calls in my time there, and at the end of every week, I was completely exhausted. I'm not writing this to toot my own horn. I should have been working that hard from the start, but my heart just wasn't in it. I felt sorry for myself because I was the only employee probably in the entire company who hadn't recorded an official start (landing someone in the IT field a contract or job with a client), and I constantly fell back on my excuses.

I never interned at a company in college (I actually worked at a warehouse).

My sales manager doesn't care about my success (I had several conversations with my former sales manager about my success and how I could improve there).

My account manager doesn't care about my success (Also not true. My AM went out of her way to include me in meetings, show me the ropes and set goals with me. I just didn't take initiative).

See what I mean? My excuses started to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher:

No one cares! It would be better if I said I no longer make excuses, but that just wouldn't be true. It's something I've been working on for awhile, and maybe one day, I'll stop falling back on them. But, when I think back on my time in 2012, I realize that no one truly cared about the excuses that I fed them. Why should they?

So, as I continued to hit my numbers, I noticed the atmosphere in the office beginning to change. People were working scared, the overall day-to-day experience was darker, and I started to get a bad feeling about the entire job. One day, one of my friends in the company was let go. The next day, my friend who was working towards a promotion came in and told me that he was going to quit that day. Twenty minutes later, our sales manager had an office-wide meeting telling us that our friend had moved on, and deep down, I knew it wouldn't be too long. The following afternoon, six people were let go before lunch. One of my good friends called me right after he was called into the meeting room, and I texted him back letting him know that I'd call him back in a second. His text to me,

"Just wanted to let you know, man. They are bringing the firing squad today."

No more than three seconds passed by as I was getting up to grab a glass of water, when I saw my sales manager out of the corner of my eye.

"Can I speak with you for a second?"

And, just like that, I knew it was over. I'll never forget that feeling for as long as I live. Overall, we actually had a very professional meeting. I gained his respect by proving him wrong for over two months, and I gained respect for him along the way as well. I realized he wasn't a great sales manager, he was only two years older than me and he also had been receiving information and demands from upper management on how to run our office. The kid was put in a bad situation. I just don't think he handled it that well. Most people don't handle power that well though, so it's not surprising.

When all was said and done, I looked him in the eye, shook his hand and took the elevator down to the parking garage. A group of us met at a cafe for lunch and shared stories about our time there and what we planned on doing next. My friend who quit a few days prior, met us there in sweat pants, a t-shirt and a full beard. We were required to shave every day at this job, so he had obviously taken full advantage. That weekend, I headed home to Cincinnati, and my dad picked me up on his way home from Pittsburgh. It was an awful weekend. I felt completely insignificant. My parents asked if I wanted to enjoy some dinner with their friends one evening, and I couldn't do it. I couldn't look them in the eye and tell them I had just been let go. It was too difficult. I laugh about it now because I realize that many people are fired or let go or laid off in their time.

Some of the most successful people ever were laid off from several jobs because they didn't follow rules and knew it was their destiny to carve their own path.

But, at the time, it was the end of the world as I knew it.

On Monday, I drove to the gym to get a much needed workout in, and a sense of pure joy and jubilation completely overtook my body. I was possessed with happiness. I yelled, screamed, honked my horn and turned up my music, because I finally realized that I would never have to step foot inside of that building again. That excited me. The possibilities were endless and my journey was truly just beginning. Had I not been let go, where would I be today?

It is a weird question, because I believe I was supposed to be fired that Friday afternoon back in 2012, but what if it didn't happen? Would I be living in Cincinnati? Would I have met my girlfriend? Would I be working in Marketing? Would I be working in videography? Would I have ever interviewed in New York and Chicago? Who knows. Yet, I'm glad it happened and I hope this inspires you to look in the mirror and ask yourself what you really want in your life.

It might just be the most important question you ask.

This article can also be found on my LinkedIn network:

A-Town Divided Makes its Premiere!

We are excited to announce our first premiere for our upcoming documentary A-Town Divided at the Anderson Center Performing Arts Theater on October 6th at 7:00 pm! Come one, come all to enjoy PK Productions first ever film premiere!  We will have time for questions and comments at the conclusion of the film and will also ask that audience members join us for a celebration after the premiere.  Our celebration will be held at a bar & restaurant in Anderson Township that is still to be determined, but we encourage everyone to join us for a few drinks after if you so choose!

Trailer coming soon.

A-Town Divided:

In 2007, Anderson High School faced off against Turpin High School in the OHSAA Division II Football Regional Championship game.  With the two schools located a mere 3.3 miles apart, the Anderson Township archrivals have played against one another in all team sports since 1976.  However, from 2002 until 2006, the two teams discontinued their annual football meeting, leaving much to be desired from both student athletes and members of the Cincinnati community.

After the 2006 season, Anderson's male attendance numbers decreased, and the school dropped to a Division II class football team according to the OHSAA.  Turpin, coming off one of their best years in school history with a trip to the OHSAA Final Four in 2006, was primed to defend their Final Four run and compete for a Division II State Title. 

After being picked to go 5-5 from several experts around town, Anderson was predicted to finish the season as an average football team. However, after finishing the season 8-2 and claiming an outright FAVC Buckeye Title, the Redskins marched their way into the state playoffs looking to win their first football playoff game since 1992.  Turpin, claiming a FAVC Cardinal title, finished the season 10-0 and advanced to beat Winton Woods and Trotwood-Madison before facing the Redskins at Princeton Stadium on November 16th, 2007.  

In the biggest game in the township's history, a hard-hitting, ferocious neighborhood rivalry unfolded.

What ensued was one of the greatest, yet most controversial finishes in OHSAA history, with the Anderson Redskins advancing to beat the Turpin Spartans 24-23.  Anderson led the game only once, as the clock read 00:00, and the Redskins moved on to win two more games in their eventual (and school's only team) Division II State Title victory.  

With its 10-year anniversary quickly approaching, for both the Regional Final and the State Title games, our film centers around the pageantry and intensity that is the Anderson vs. Turpin rivalry.  On a wild night at Princeton Stadium, friends (both former and current), colleagues, peers, and coaching trees came together for one of the greatest, and most memorable games in the state's history.

In our upcoming film, A-Town Divided, we celebrate the privilege both teams shared playing in that game, and the eventual crowned winner of the 2007 OHSAA State Championship Division II Final in Canton, OH.

What Do You Want To Do?

I want you to think about this one for a second.  When you go to sleep tonight, what do you want to wake up doing tomorrow? Seriously.  Don't give me the, "Well if I made more money, I'd be doing this" or "That's just too hypothetical for me to even imagine" answers.  

I want you to really think about this one.  If you woke up in a brand new situation tomorrow, what would you be doing?

I ask because I feel like so many people find excuses for why they are not doing what they want to do.  I know because I've done it myself.  I still do it every now and then, and for the past six months or so, I've finally just learned to say "screw it."  I make things because I want to make them.  Period.  If you want to do something, then do it, but I believe we all need to sit back and ask ourselves why many of us aren't following our own dreams and ambitions.  

Are we scared? Yes.

Many adults act like fear is for children, but when we dig deeper, we realize fear is very prevalent (if not more) in adults navigating this world.  If you think about it, we are basically kids trapped in adult bodies with responsibilities and careers and bills, and when we get to be creative, much of that child-like behavior comes soaring back to us. When we create, we begin to feel like kids again.

Take a book like It for example; the scariest book I've ever read.  The creativity and descriptiveness from Stephen King is a thing of legend and when I read It, I felt exactly like several of the characters in the novel.  I could smell the fear and dread with the turn of each page, and at times, felt like I could literally smell the rank sewer stench that Pennywise evokes. That's some damn good writing.  However, the fears that this writing uncovered were almost unsettling for me to think about.  Why are we so scared of something or someone that isn't even real? Contrary to popular belief, Pennywise is not a real character and killer shape-shifting monsters/clowns do not live under the sewers of our towns.  

But, what if they did?  Wouldn't that be absolutely terrifying?  

You see what I mean?  The unknown can be pretty damned scary.

If you're still following along, thank you.  I've been very conscious about creating this blog for individuals who like to step outside of their comfort zones and take a walk into a different world.  I'm asking this question because I truly believe in its importance.  What do you want to do every day and who do you want to become?  While our passions are extremely important, so are our strives in personal growth, kindness, acceptance, love and more.  We must first look within to find what is out there, and it all starts with asking "Who, what, why, when, where and how?"  

Who am I going to become?

What do I want to do?

Why do I want to do it?

When will I start doing it?

Where can I start doing it?

How can I make it happen?

If you have 15 minutes or so today, take some time and write or type out these questions at work.  I want you to answer them all and see how/if they connect.  Is there something that has been hiding in your subconscious for years and you haven't untapped it until now?  Is there something recently you have found a lot of passion for and could see yourself doing in a full-time role?  If anything, this exercise is a good way to dream for the future, while also preparing for it.  

These six questions might help open a door or uncover a hidden gem that's been waiting for you all along.  

Who knows. You might as well give it a try.

Art, Communication & The Lure of the R-rated Film

I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately.  I can think back on movies I've seen throughout the years and the ways in which audiences reacted, and the fanfare or fallout that comes with a film.  Take a film like Moonlight, voted Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards, and fill a room with 10 people who have seen it.  I am willing to bet that five people thoroughly enjoyed it, and five absolutely loathed it.  In my opinion, that means the film accomplished something, because yes, films like these are made with the audience in mind.  However, I also believe that the best Writers, Directors and Producers make films with solely their vision in mind, and that's it.  

"I have an idea for the film and how it should sound, feel, look and pace, and by God, we are going to make it that way."

Hollywood gets a lot of shit from people these days.  Self-importance and the "look at me" attitudes are not always well-received by the masses.

"You direct movies for a living?  Your life isn't that hard, get over yourself."

"You get to work out all day for a role and eat healthy to star in an action film that might make millions?  Please."

As artists put their work out there, that is the risk you take with your art.  Not everyone sees another person working in an office or out of their home doing business all day.  But, many people do see films.  Many people do listen to music.  And, many people do take the film going and music listening experience very seriously.  And, they should.  It's an important part of culture that can help you identify your likes, dislikes, fears, insecurities, stress relievers, memories, communication skills and so much more.  

I'm about to finish up Amy Poehler's great auto-biography titled Yes Please and there is a certain segment of the book that really stood out to me.  In it, she speaks of how she learned many of her communication skills by watching television and seeing how characters interacted with one another.  

While reading her book, I feel there are certain aspects of her life and style in which we are direct "spirit animals."  It's actually kind of crazy.  This chapter really made me reminisce on my own childhood and direct experiences with television, feature films, music and so much more. You see, I grew up in a house where Parental Advisory stickers ran the show.  Every kid from my generation knows about the Parental Advisory sticker and every single one of them hated those things.  

Attention parents!  This music contains content that may be innappropriate for young suburban children and you should not let them listen to it.

Similar to the video games rating systems (it took my mom a year to realize the title of Grand Theft Auto and its implications), ratings eventually started to rule the world.  So, I was usually stuck with the edited versions of albums and had to sneak in ways to find the unedited ones.  It was probably more exciting that way, as sneaking around your parents is the biggest thrill of all growing up.  

Now onto movies and their rating systems.  For whatever reason, my parents were extremely loose with their restrictions on which movies I watched growing up. 

Why?  I have zero idea.  I do know that my dad did not want to completely shelter me from the world and both of my parents absolutely adored watching films.  Rap wasn't his thing.  He just didn't get it and I know that he still does not, and most likely never will.  That's okay.  But, he did get movies and so did my mom, and that was the greatest gift of all.  I was that kid who could watch PG-13 films at age eight, and I was the kid who watched his first R-rated film at age 11.  It was Air Force One by the way.  

When you're that kid growing up, a lot of parents become leery of your home.  I watched Air Force One at my buddy, Evan's house, played Grand Theft Auto for the first time at my buddy, John's house, and then watched Scary Movie at my house with Evan and my younger brother Kevin, who was about 7 at the time.  

Mom: What's Scary Movie about?

Me: Oh just a spoof on the scary movie genre.

Mom: Is it bad? Inappropriate?  Can Kevin watch it?

Me: It's not that bad.  Kevin will be fine.

Mom: Okay sounds good.

And that was that.  My 7-year-old brother watched Scary Movie as his first R-rated film and basically, I scarred him for life.  Sorry mom.

What about you?  Were you the kid who had to call home and ask if you could watch a movie at a friend's house? The first time I had to do that was for Air Force One because Evan's parents forced me, but once I got the green light, I never called again.  It's my life, right? Parenting and watching your children is important, but it's a big world, and sometimes, I think you need to let children grow up a little on their own.  Hell, they might watch a movie that is way too scary for them, or something that goes completely over their heads, but sometimes that is the risk you have to take.  Now, I get it.  Some movies are not for children. Period.  Their brains aren't quite there yet, and hell, I've seen filmsin my late 20's that have affected me for extremely long periods of time. 

However, life is about experimentation, trial-and-error, stepping out of our comfort zones, and finding our passions, likes and dislikes in this world.  Films are an important medium that can open up minds, provide beauty and raw emotion, create laughter, angst, discomfort, fear, sadness and so much more.  Films have a way of getting in touch with all of the human elements of emotion and the best filmmakers know exactly how to push these buttons.  

So, think back on that first R-rated movie you watched and how it made you see things a little differently moving forward.  How did it affect you?  What did you like about it?  What did you dislike about it?  Was it worth the wait?

I bet you'll take a nice little trip down memory lane.

What Makes a Documentary Special?

Last night, I finished up HBO's Four-Part documentary series, The Defiant Ones, on Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre.  With a storyline centered on the uniqueness and genius of both Dre and Iovine, Director Allen Hughes created a vision that was also completely different and unique in the documentary sector.  Camera angles were different from other documentaries I've seen. Shots were edited and spliced together in unique ways, and the story bounced back and forth between the two while never straying from the finalmission.  Overall, it's an excellent documentary that I highly recommend you check out.

It also really got me thinking about different styles of film, art, storytelling and so much more. Can you think back on some of your favorite films and documentaries throughout the years? What made them so special to you?  Did you notice the differences in styles or did the story just resonate more with you than others?  As the viewer, it is easy to get lost in the vision and watch film as it occurs on your screen.  When it's well made, you don't even notice the crazy shots mixed in with voiceovers and interviews throughout the film.  You just accept the art as it is.  It flows, it's natural, it's riveting and it guides the story along without retreating from the goal at hand.

Some of my favorite documentaries I've seen in the past few years include (in no particular order):

  1. The Defiant Ones (HBO)
  2. O.J.: Made in America (ESPN 30 for 30)
  3. Long Strange Trip (Amazon Prime)
  4. Blackfish (Netflix)
  5. J. Cole - Homecoming 2014 Forest Hills Drive (HBO)
  6. J. Cole - 4 Your Eyez Only (HBO)
  7. Searching for Sugar Man (Amazon Video, YouTube, etc.)
  8. Four Days in October (ESPN 30 for 30)
  9. The U (ESPN 30 for 30)
  10. The Two Escobars (ESPN 30 for 30)
  11. The Best That Never Was (ESPN 30 for 30)
  12. I Hate Christian Laettner (ESPN 30 for 30)
  13. Playing for the Mob (ESPN 30 for 30)
  14. Bad Boys (ESPN 30 for 30)
  15. You Don't Know Bo (ESPN 30 for 30)
  16. Phi Slamma Jamma (ESPN 30 for 30)
  17. This Magic Moment (30 for 30)
  18. Fantastic Lies (30 for 30)
  19. Trojan War (30 for 30)
  20. Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals (HBO)
  21. Crossfire Hurricane (Netflix)
  22. Bowling for Columbine (Netflix)

*Most of these are available to rent or watch on YouTube as well!

My list keeps growing and growing as each day passes.  There are a lot of talented filmmakers out there and each documentary possessing it's own little flavor for the viewers to enjoy, critique and share with their family and friends.  As a filmmaker, it's always so interesting to understand the vibe these producers and directors are going for.  I can't even imagine some of the content they have to edit out of the final product.  But, as time passes, a lot of these documentaries are really getting a major revamp with the massive amount of content that they share.  Ezra Edelman's five-part epic spans over 7 hours of footage, voiceovers, narratives and more.  That's a whole lot of footage, folks!  The Defiant Ones clocks in a little over 5 hours and there are countless others out there that do the same.  

Sometimes, the story must be told in longer form, and the best filmmakers know how to master this.  It's impressive.  It's exciting.  And, really, we are living in one of the greatest era of documentary filmmaking the industry (and the masses) has ever seen.  So, you just have to dive right in!

You can also find tons of great documentaries below:

Enjoy, my fellow film lovers.

 

Take the Plunge

Buying my first camera was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.  It was a big step, and half of the people I know just sort of shook their heads at me.

"There goes Patrick again."

First, I was pretty scared I would never use the camera.  What if this was just a one-time thing and I suddenly lose my love for it all?  What if the camera was too confusing to use?  What if I didn't find enough time between my day job and going on shoots?  What if my videos sucked?The funny thing is, my camera sat in my room unopened for two weeks.  I was too afraid to open it and too afraid to read the manual.  Basically, I was just afraid to fail.

So, what did I do?  I compensated by making excuses.

"I'll open it when I have time."

"I just have to sit down and read the manual.  I'll open it, eventually."

"Who even wants to see any of my videos?"

This list could go on forever.  Then, one day, I was watching David Lynch's Blue Velvet, a mind f*$@ of a feature film, and I had the craziest bout of motivation overcome my entire body.  I said to myself,

You know what?  Screw this.  I'm getting that camera out and I'm going to film something. And, you know what?  It was the best decision I've ever made.

What did I shoot?  Well, my room sits up in the attic, so I have a pretty cool view of our street from the third floor, and I decided to give it a go.  I also set up my iPhone 7 for a little timelapse of the sunset and the crazy clouds that night.  I then put my Canon Rebel T6 on some of the trees, cars driving by our house, the sunset and more.  While Blue Velvet rolled along, I checked on my camera and my footage as I laid on my bed and watched David Lynch create his magic.  

A lot of the scenes in Lynch's film involved the juxtaposition of happy dialogue and shots mixed in with deep psychological layers and elements of darkness.  I remember thinking,

"This is so brilliant. I can do some of these shots!" 

I mean, obviously not quite like these Hollywood cameramen do it or how Lynch nods the film along, but still, I can do something like this, while adding my own flavor and creativity to it.  

So, I did.  

And, now, as I progress (I have a long, long way to go), I can at least say I did something.  I filmed this.  Or, I wrote this script and put it to film.  Or, I created a video for my Instagram page, a client's page, or, I even helped create a documentary.  It feels even better because each project is so scary.  I can't imagine the pressures some of these filmmakers face with millions of dollars on the line.  I really can't.  Maybe I'll feel those some day, but for now, I'm going to continue doing what I love, and I urge you to do the same.  

Quit worrying so much about time (even though we're all racing against it), and start following some things you're passionate about.  Even though it will be daunting at times and extremely difficult, making something is extremely exhilarating.  The process is out of this world.  And, like most of you creatives out there, sometimes you just have to know when it's time to start.

And, that time, is right now.

Welcome to PK Productions!

             Great American Building (photography by Patrick Kollmeier) 

            Great American Building (photography by Patrick Kollmeier) 

Hello and welcome to PK Productions, folks!  Wow.  It feels so good to say that.  We are officially up-and-running as an LLC here in Cincinnati and I couldn't be more excited for what the future holds.  Or, scared.  I'm pretty dang scared.  But, that's when I knew it was the right decision to make.  When excitement and fear collide, you're onto something.  Now, where was I?  Oh yes, let me tell you a little more about our new company.

So, we decided to start PK Productions due to our love and passion for all things videography and film related.  We love the process.  Kind of like Joel Embiid.  Just a whole lot smaller.  And, less talented at basketball.  

That said, we live for the creative process and all the collaboration and ideas that it brings.  Putting videos together to fit and mold storylines, while evoking emotions through film is one of our favorite things in the entire world.  Heck, I watched America's Got Talent last week and a young ventriloquist took the stage.  With the combination of an amazing performance, great camera work, flawless editing, sleek slow-motion shots and some incredible music, I began to tear up.  I couldn't help myself.  A video of a young ventriloquist (whom I don't even know) sharing her story and talents with the world, had the power to bring me to tears.  It was incredible.

But, that's the power of film.  If you combine all of the elements of videography, creativity, music, emotion, and storytelling, it is a pretty powerful medium. That's why I love it so much, and also why we are seeing so many more people and companies focusing on their video efforts.  If you can grab someone's attention with a great video, you may just get them hooked.  From documentary films to special events, engagement ceremonies, weddings, real-life remembrance videos and more, we are looking to shake things up a bit here in the video world. We want you to feel special and proud of your video, while working with us to really step outside yourself and let it all out on camera.  Film is an amazing way to preserve information and evoke real-life emotions and we believe in the art form to the fullest extent.  

Interested in doing a video with us?  You can learn more on our About Page but we just thought we'd give you a little rundown on our mission and those that we'd like to help.  

Everyone has a story, but it's extremely difficult to tell that story on your own dime and time. It's just not as feasible.  Welp, that's where we come in...