Then the Sugar Wore Off . . .

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Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
When I was a much younger man, I worked at Niketown in Portland. I was as giddy as a three-year-old about the prospect of working with one of the world's best brands. Naysayers abounded. "But you're just selling the stuff at the store, you're not doing marketing or branding," an inconsolable friend chimed. Bottom line was, I was on the front line of an incredibly robust brand. It was a chance to learn as much as I could. And, despite my friend's misgivings, I actually WAS working in the marketing and branding space. It was just a different part of the space.

I recall, quite vividly actually, someone there telling me to temper my enthusiasm and that, after six months, the excitement of working for Nike would wear off. Never happened. I loved that gig. I never lost my passion for the brand, but I will admit that the job, like any job, had its peaks and valleys: the thrill of selling $10,000 worth of footwear and apparel to a visitor from Tokyo on a frenetic Saturday; the banality of just being able to move a pair of socks on a slow Monday morning.

The same thing happened when I went on the air for the first time. I was borderline hyperventilating with excitement as I cracked the mic. (I really need to find that aircheck and put it into an MP3 so everyone can hear how awful I was.) There, I had another "Debbie Downer" co-worker who told me that no one was listening to the station at 2 in the morning -- with the possible exception of a few insomniacs with Linda Ronstadt crushes and a janitor who used to call in to "just talk." I pretty much ignored that friend and decided to press on regardless.

The retail gig and the on-air job are two experiences that are more important than I realized at the time. I now refer to them as the emotional Clif Bar I pull from when things start to slow down a little -- which is EXACTLY where I am today. The dust has settled and the excitement of starting my own thing has died down a little bit. This is the biggest red flag and tale of caution I have heard from a number of people, generous contributors to this blog included. I have a consistent stream of work -- and I am continuing to evolve -- but the pace at which I was running before has eroded dramatically.

Chapter two of a very long book is being written. I am spinning what seems like a gap in momentum, into the realization that there are plenty of things out there that I haven't even learned or touched yet. It's like that first pair of Air Max '95 running shoes I sold, or that first Steve Winwood song I chatted about on the air. They were small pieces to a much larger puzzle -- and a picture I am not 100% clear on at this point.

I'm working in yet another new space. It's different, but eerily similar to those in the past.

Quick Hits

Did the "sugar" wear off for you after the first couple of months in your new gig?

What did you do when you reached an "oh s**t" moment in your job/career?

How do you recharge when it gets stale?

Are all of you still cross with me about my payola comments? Am I being paranoid? Are those spiders on my arm? Is someone watching me?

Which SNL episode was better? Julia-Louis Dreyfus or Peyton Manning?

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