Now Now NOW.

I’ve written before about one my favorite habits: Sending occasional, out-of-the-blue “Congrats!” or “Thinking of you!” emails, or even calling old friends when I’ve got a free minute just to say hi.

I was thinking of that today while reading an oral history of Prince’s famous guitar solo at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2004. Says Tom Petty (bolding mine):

It’s funny because just a few days ago, he was in mind all afternoon, I was thinking about him. And I had just been talking with Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles — he wrote their “Manic Monday” song. She was telling me the story of that, of how she came to have that song and meet Prince. And I was thinking about him a lot that day, and I almost told myself I was going to call him and just see how he was. I’m starting to think you should just act on those things all the time.

Say it NOW, do it NOW. You never know.

I Almost Burned Down My Apartment Because I Was Too Busy Watching Hockey.

I don’t post a lot of personal stories anymore on the blog, but I put this one up on Facebook this week, and it got such a response that I wanted to re-post it here. TL;DR — I’m an idiot.

———

It’s Game 2, Caps-Flyers. The Flyers are on a power play. Sally goes to the kitchen to get some water. She walks back and looks at me.

“Do you smell something burning?”

I don’t, and besides, THE GAME IS ON. I don’t think much of it.

Five minutes later, the period ends, and Sally goes to the bathroom and screams, “The sink is on fire!”

We’ve left a candle burning in the bathroom. OK, correction — I’VE left a candle burning in the bathroom. It melted the plastic candle holder, and it caught fire in the sink. The flames are a foot high. Smoke is pouring out of the bathroom.

Here’s the good news: My in-laws bought a fire extinguisher for Sally when she first moved in to this apartment. (And if this story is any indication, you should probably buy one, too! This is the one we own.) I grab it and put out the fire. We clean up the sink.

We’re OK.

But the point is: I nearly set fire to our entire apartment, but didn’t notice because I was too busy watching playoff hockey. I may need to adjust my priorities.

The Job I Didn’t Get In New York.

Dan Oshinsky, Director of Newsletters - BuzzFeed

Four years ago, I took a job at BuzzFeed. I didn’t know BuzzFeed would grow into the company it is today. I didn’t know I’d get to do the work I’ve done, or get to work with the team I have. I took a risk in taking the job, and it paid off.

This isn’t the story of how I got the job at BuzzFeed.

It’s the story of the job I nearly got three months earlier — one that would have been a total disaster.

It’s August 2012, and I’m living in Springfield, Missouri. It’s the final month for the Stry.us team in the Ozarks. At the end of the month, we’re all about to be unemployed. I have no idea what I’m doing next, but I know I’m done with Stry.us.

I start applying to jobs. I want to go to New York. I think it’s the next big step for me.

And that’s when I see this story on the Nieman Lab blog about a news organization that owns a dozen papers around the country. They’re opening up an office in NYC that’ll be the central hub for all those papers. It’ll be the news desk coordinating national stories for all their properties, and they need a senior editor who can work with all these papers — and occasionally parachute in with a team to run point on big, national stories.

It’s the job I’ve been training for this entire time.

I apply, and I get an email back four hours later from the editor-in-chief: Let’s talk.

I interview with her, and I nail it. I do a second phone interview, and I nail that, too. I do a third, with a senior advisor to the company. He loves me.

They offer to fly me out to New York to meet in person. It seems like a formality at this point: I’m going to get this job.

I don’t get the job.

I bomb the interview. I don’t know why, but I’m a trainwreck that day. I’m evasive and vague in my answers. They ask me some personal questions that I don’t know how to answer. The interview gets uncomfortable, and then more uncomfortable. And worst of all: The trip home takes forever. It’s a three-hour flight to St. Louis, and then a three-hour drive back to Springfield. For 6+ hours, all I can think about is how I’ve blown the chance at my dream job.

I never hear from the newspaper company in New York again.

And then… three months later, I get the job at BuzzFeed. I don’t know at the time that it’ll change my life, but it does. And two months after that, the newspaper company files for bankruptcy. They close their New York office soon after that. Everyone gets fired.

The day I bombed that interview, I thought I’d blown it. I thought I’d missed my one big change.

I had no idea that I’d just experienced one of the luckiest days of my life.

Had I nailed the interview, I would’ve gotten that job. And five months later, I would’ve been out of work.

Instead, I landed at BuzzFeed, and I got the chance to be a part of building something amazing.

I’m lucky to be lucky, I guess.

———

That photo was taken by Anthony Lindsey, and graciously re-used here with permission of Campaign Monitor.

What Do You Do On Your Best Day?

sunrise over Spain

There’s a question that Facebook’s recruiting team asks potential new hires, and it’s a great one:

“On your very best day at work — the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world — what did you do that day?”

I’d have done two things:

1) I’d have a great conversation with a co-worker. — Every one of my best days involves a great conversation. Some of those conversations help a co-worker find a way to get past the roadblocks that are keeping them from their best work. When you help someone find a solution like that, it’s an AMAZING feeling. I don’t always have the answers, but on the rare day I do… that’s an awesome day.

Other times, I’ll have a conversation that gives a co-worker the chance to vent about their problems to a sympathetic ear. I don’t always have much more to say than “I’m sorry” or “That sucks.” But just being there to listen is often enough to help them — and help make the workplace a little better that day.

2) I’d launch something. — I love to launch new projects. I’ve launched big projects at BuzzFeed and small projects on my own. Some have grown into big things, and many more have not. But I love the feeling of launching new stuff. I’ve read interviews with stand-up comedians where they say they’re obsessed with the sound of laughter; I’m obsessed with the feeling you get when you put new work out into the world and get to see how the world reacts. I love coming up with an idea, finding a team, and sharing it with others. And on a great day, I’d get to launch something new.

So that’s what I would do. What would you?

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That’s a photo I took eight years ago off the coast of Spain. It was a pretty great sunrise, and a pretty good day.