INTERLUDE: An Important Life Update, and What I’m Thankful For This Thanksgiving
If you’ve followed me for the past several years, chances are you’ve noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet for the past few months, both on my site and on social media. There’s a rational explanation for this, and I’m ecstatic to report that it comes with a happy ending.
To tell this story, I need to go back to early-September. I had just worked, by my estimation, roughly 34 hours over Labor Day weekend, which included a lot of racing at Saratoga and Del Mar and a shooting outside the latter establishment. The following Wednesday, I was informed that, due to corporate cutbacks that are all too common in the fields of journalism, publishing, and horse racing, my position at The Daily Racing Form was being transitioned from full-time to part-time. This was not a performance-based decision, but strictly a money move.
At this time, it’s important to point out that I have no ill will towards anyone at DRF. I’ve been privileged to work with a lot of people who are among the best in the world at what they do, including my boss (editor in chief Jody Swavy), fellow web producers Neil Bisman and Matt Brennan, writers/handicappers, and people whose names you don’t know, but without whom nothing would get done. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, which included massive gains in social media metrics and providing some fun audio-visual and written content. Additionally, that I was able to stay on in a part-time role (plus pursue other freelance work) as opposed to being cut entirely allowed me to at least have SOME financial security while I looked for a full-time opportunity.
I kept this pretty quiet for a number of reasons. I don’t enjoy being a burden to others if I don’t have to be, and I also didn’t want people feeling sorry for me. For the things I know how to do in social and digital media, I’m in one of the best places imaginable. While this situation was completely out of left field and threw me for a loop, I was confident I was going to be okay in the long run.
It’s with that in mind that I can make the following statement: I’ve landed on my feet.
I have accepted an offer to join the team at Outpost Capital, a venture capital firm located in San Francisco, as a Content Writer. My duties will actually be pretty similar to the things I’ve done at DRF, TVG, HRTV, The Saratogian, Siena College, and NBC Olympics, just in a different environment. I’ll be handling a lot of social and digital media tasks for one of their companies, MOAC (a tech company specializing in blockchain development), while also taking on some PR responsibilities and assisting in production of their weekly webinars. It’s a great job, and I’m excited to get started.
Now that I’ve lined up a full-time gig, I need to spend a LOT of time talking about those who have helped me. This list is filled with many different types of people, but it’s headed by a select group that I’m incredibly grateful for.
First and foremost, I would never have been able to get through this without my family. My father, mother, stepfather, sister, and stepsister, among others, were as supportive as a family could be (no small task from 3,000 miles away), and it’s a tremendous relief to be able to tell them that they don’t have to worry anymore (at least not about this!!!).
Just as important in all of this has been my girlfriend, Alicia. I moved to Northern California nine months ago to spend more time with her. She’s been a rock in a time that wouldn’t have been easy for anyone, all while teaching a classroom of 26 third and fourth-grade students. We’re celebrating our five-year anniversary this weekend, and it’s great to have something else to celebrate on top of it. She’s amazing, and I love her very much.
Without freelance work, the past two-plus months would’ve been incredibly tough (have you SEEN rent prices in the Bay Area?!). Most importantly in this regard, I need to thank Joe Nevills, who introduced me to several contacts that provided work and helped me survive. A little less than two years ago, he listened to me vent my frustration about a situation I wouldn’t wish on anyone when he absolutely did not have to. That’s sparked a friendship I’m incredibly proud of, and one where I hope to someday repay the debts I’m quickly racking up.
In that vein, I also need to thank Patrick Mahan and Giles Anderson for allowing me the opportunity to work for them, as well as my bosses at Granite Media (Eric Ortiz, Michael Howerton, and Tony Mamone). With that in mind, I’m going to point out that just because I’m employed outside of the racing industry doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing and producing racing/sports-centric content. I enjoy what I’m fortunate enough to do, and I’m not just going to disappear (quite the opposite, actually, as a steady income means I’ll be able to play the races more!).
I dealt with a lot of recruiters and prospective employers during this process. I applied for almost 600 jobs in a 2 1/2-month stretch (if you don’t believe me, I have a running Excel spreadsheet that helped me keep track of everything), and in doing that, I met a lot of people. Naturally, with that kind of sample size, I’ve got some great stories and some really bad ones (including what will go down as the worst interview of my life with someone who couldn’t quite understand the concept of organic social media). To the recruiters that took time out of their schedules to help me in some way, and to the hiring managers who treated me with respect and honesty (and called/emailed when they SAID they were going to call/email), thank you.
Finally, there’s a long list of friends and professional acquaintances I need to mention that provided valuable support, whether they knew it or not. That list, which I hope is complete and reserve the right to edit at any point, goes as follows: Danny Kovoloff, Gino Buccola, Pete Aiello, Jason Beem (yes, the five of us and Joe Nevills talk; somewhere, there’s an emergency meeting being called by a terrified racing executive!), Ted King-Smith (and the entire King-Smith family, which put on one impressive wedding last month!), Jack Powers, Nate March, Nick Karski, Natalie Nevills, Nicole Russo, Barbara Livingston, Craig Milkowski, Craig Gorbunoff, Dan Illman, David Aragona, Mike Dubose, Nick Kling, Nick Hines, Rich Perloff, Mike Joyce, Scott Hazelton, Ed DeRosa, Matt Dinerman, Jeremy Balan, Alicia Wincze Hughes, Tom LaMarra, John Gaburick, and Norm Macdonald (yes, THAT Norm Macdonald). I’m incredibly lucky to be a part of a close-knit group of people, and in that regard, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the guy who sometimes has a VERY hard time shutting up may have just gotten a bit more of a license to be vocal!
On a serious note, the last few months have been a pretty trying time. To those who knew, thanks for being there for me. To those who didn’t, thanks for keeping the faith (even though you probably didn’t know you were doing it). I hope to be around a lot more moving forward, and I REALLY hope I can use that time to give out some winners!