Before you decide to work in media, you need to read my story

Before I asked my boss if I could take the day off, we had a heated discussion about the direction where the company is going and what it means for us. I work for a huge conglomerate, so the right thing to say would be, it was a discussion on the direction the product we are supposed to be on is going. I’m a brave man, I can take confrontation. I also am an emotional man who’d be devastated to find out what the colleagues think about him. Several hours ago I was. Like most problems in life, I slept over it. It helped. I just want to tell my story and hope it helps someone make a decision about their career. I wish I was told this before I joined a media company.

The confrontation was logical, rational as it should be between a boss and his subordinate. My only mistake, which didn’t seem like a mistake then was to do it in front of my team. I have heard of the expression “Every man for himself”, I never lived through it until today. I am not here to express my anger or disappointment with the team, rationally I should not even be feeling anything about it. I had the conversation with my boss in front of my team because the same team agrees to my disagreements in private, or rather behind the backs of the management. I thought I could garner support for my problems as they shared the same problems and show how unmotivated we are. I couldn’t have been wrong.

Everyone has reasons to stay silent, what put me off was when they started telling me those reasons. From accusing me of being a “teacher’s pet” to telling me that this is your problem, not theirs to pitch in, I heard it all. Maybe the way media channels work is you go to your boss and express your concerns offline. I am new in this field, I’ve worked in companies with open door policies. We express our concerns openly so we can work on a solution together. MEDIA INDUSTRY DOESN’T ASK EMPLOYEES ABOUT THEIR ISSUES, THEY EXPECT EMPLOYEES TO OBEY ORDERS. As I understand, each member of my team has expressed concerns personally, but when it comes to supporting another team member, they have remained silent. Even I have been accused of being silent.

Here’s my confession. I have remained silent on the issues that I do not agree on with the person complaining. After their rants, I have talked to them about it, like any friend or colleague should do. I spoke about what it is that I think they should be doing. In my mind, I was doing the right thing. There also have been times when I have stood up with the team, but like every good deed, it’s easy to be forgotten. Never once I thought someone will hold that against me, never. What I learnt today was a valuable lesson in life. Never ever trust someone has your back, atleast not in media. I have worked 5 years in consulting, I never had to say “I hate this company” to anyone, I say it a lot these days. I was tired of working in consulting, that’s why I quit. I am friends with my team even today. We joke about consulting work all the time. I joke about it with my boss too. I had a problem with one of colleagues there, but we were great friends outside of work and at work no client could say we had issues. They had my back and I had theirs. We worked as a unit. Here in media, sadly, that’s not how it goes. I may be wrong, it maybe just this one instance, but there is a high chance I am right. Because everytime I complain someone will say “This is how things are done in media”. So the culture could be a chronic problem within the industry.

I cannot work in this culture. I have ethics but I am not going to be bullied. My ethics do not allow me to leave this company. But my boss pointed out “Management does not care about whether you stay or not”, so I am fighting this will to fire a resignation right now. It amazes me that how everyone has just given up hope. I don’t blame the team for not speaking up today. If a culture doesn’t allow you to stand up, you will not stand up. I come from a different culture, I am an outsider, my team is full of media veterans. Emotions got the better of me and I left the office today because I could not stand a minute in the room where I felt alone, so alone I almost had tears in my eyes. What’s the point of being liked by the boss and being a hardworker when you cannot be a team player. A team player makes a great leader, but when a leader has to be a lone wolf, it gets brutal. And brutal is exactly what a boss needs to be in media. I would hate myself for being that, or I just am too weak to be that. My senior manager from Deloitte told me once, “Your greatest strength is the way you talk to people and get things done”. I think the reason I stuck with consulting was that I got to meet so many new people with so many different ideas, but in media people carry variations of the same mentality. This is media, it’s cutthroat.

Now, let’s talk about prejudice. As an engineer I approach every problem with a control in my mind. A control is when you let the things take turn by itself, like a control would be to keep a lemon outside for 5 days and see how it rots while an experiment would be to keep it in a fridge for 5 days. At the end you can compare the control and the experiment results. When I came to work for this office I let things take it’s turn, I understood how people think, and I understood it incorrectly. Prejudice is one’s biggest enemy. You build a character for a person in your mind and no matter what that person does, all you will look at is that character. I observe that some people in my team look at some other people in a specific way (mostly bad) and they don’t change their mind set even when the other is clearly doing better. I believed I have not fallen in this trap, I was wrong. But prejudice is not limited to people’s opinion or people, that’s when it gets ugly. Prejudice can cloud your judgment to perceive the emotion behind a certain thought. That’s my control. When someone accuses me of something, I picture the same accusation in an environment that is pressure free, and on a different day, in a different predicament. If the sentiment is hostile in that environment, it would be in the present day. If it wasn’t, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and forget about it. But that’s not how most folks take it, do they? I had to clear my thoughts to understand what my team was accusing me of today. I don’t blame them. They have built a picture of me from what they have chosen to see. I just think that in a consulting environment, we are more open minded than that. So before you join media, be sure to understand that admittedly Your first impression might just be your last impression.

I fear this post could bring serious ramifications to my relationship with everyone at work, but as I said I am not going to be bullied. People need to know what its like to switch careers and what its like to work in media. If I have to pay a price for it, so be it. Don’t say “This is how media is”, bring a change, be the flag-bearer to something better.

I wanted to put this out on my blog but I suppose the right medium is here.