Friday, May 4, 2012

The Luckiest Man on Earth

So in a previous post, "The Weatherman", I mentioned that in a later post that I would talk more about how a change in my career made me the luckiest man on Earth.  The truth is, landing my current job was just another event on a long list of things that have left me wondering, in a good way, "how in the world did this happen to me?"  My family is and will always be my greatest achievement.  I have two loving parents who raised me right and a couple of older brothers who always looked out for me, even through their own struggles.  I met my soul mate in college, someone who truly understands me like so few people do and can put up with my crazy ideas and obsessions, and she gave me the three most beautiful little girls I've ever seen.  There are probably a thousand blog posts that stem just from those last two sentences, but today I'll stick to the story of how a shot-in-the-dark job application, weather radios and a whole lot of luck led me and my family to a better life in Houston, Texas.

In the summer of 2007, I was living and working in Savannah, Georgia.  That June, our first daughter was born, and as they say, our lives changed forever.  I was the weekend meteorologist at WSAV-TV, and my wife was teaching middle school math.  Together, we made just enough money to pay the bills and usually make ends meet, but knew that with the new baby and daycare looming when my wife went back to work, times were going to get a little tougher.  And they did.

When our Chief Meteorologist announced he'd be leaving for a new job, I saw an opportunity to be promoted to mornings or even the Chief position, which would bring a better salary and a little peace of mind with the added expenses on the way.  The morning meteorologist and myself both made our bids, but after seven weeks of busting our rears, trying to impress station management and working six-day weeks to cover the empty role, the company chose to hire a new face for the weekday evening weather, and we were left right back where we were.

During the interview process, when asked by my news director what I thought about the person who was eventually hired, I told him that she seemed very nice and would be easy to work with, but I was concerned about her experience as a meteorologist since she asked me to remind her what the strongest part of a hurricane was (being in the coastal city of Savannah, the potential leader of the weather team asking this question raised a few red flags for me).  When he told me that there were a lot of meteorologists in TV who were great at knowing and explaining the science of weather, but "quite frankly, they suck on the air", I began to question my career path.  When the decision was made to hire her, I decided to start looking for a new job.

Since December of 2007, I had been sending demos out to other TV stations and talking to meteorologists at the Charleston, SC National Weather Service office, but also kept an eye on the online job sites such as and, applying for anything that had the word meteorologist in it.  I even (somewhat reluctantly) sent a resume for a job titled "Trade Floor Meteorologist", even though my perception of the position was that it would be an extremely stressful job with crazy traders jumping up and down yelling and screaming like you see in the movies at the stock exchange.  My contract was going to expire in May of 2008, and though I felt like the station would offer to renew it, I had decided to leave one way or another.  I enjoyed working with most of the people there, and it wasn't a horrible job by any means, but I didn't feel like I was appreciated by station management for the work I was doing, and was tired of busting my butt for nothing.  When I told my news director I wasn't going to stay, I still hadn't found a new job yet.  At my salary, I figured I could do just about anything and still make as much money.  It was a risky decision, but I wasn't about to sign another contract for a job that wasn't making me happy OR paying the bills.

While on my way back to Savannah from the NASCAR race in Atlanta in early March, I got a phone call from my first News Director, who I worked with in Macon.  He had just taken a job at a new TV news station in Myrtle Beach, and was looking for some meteorologists and asked me to send him a resume and demo.  He said he couldn't guarantee a Chief position for me, but was interested in having me join the team as a morning or weekend meteorologist.  Finally, I had something promising!  After several weeks of waiting and after visiting the station and meeting the GM, he offered me the weekend meteorologist position.  It was a lateral move for both my title and salary, house prices in the area were a little higher, and moving to South Carolina meant my wife would have to work to get her SC teaching license, but I liked the people on the news team and really enjoyed working with the news director when I was in Macon, the meteorologists seemed like they'd be great to work with, and it would be a fun place to live that was still close to family.

On Monday, April 21st, I signed and faxed a 3-year contract to Myrtle Beach to accept the weekend meteorologist position.  Three days later, I received another phone call from a guy named John from PPM Energy. 

Ahhh yes, I remember that job posting... I applied for that job way back in December, and that was the crazy "Trade Floor Meteorologist" position.  All I kept thinking while listening to John tell me about the company and what they do was that I had just signed a contract for another job, and I couldn't back out of it (at least I didn't think it would be worth trying at the time).  I was honest with him and said that while the job certainly interested me, I had just accepted another job.  Also, I was a little unsure if a move all the way to Houston, Texas was in the cards for our little family.  John was persistent, however, and decided to put me on the phone with one of his meteorologists already on staff, Ankit, who also came from a background in television.  After talking to him and hearing how he had been so successful in his transition into the energy industry, which I had expressed as a concern for myself since before this phone call I had no idea what the job really entailed, I realized just how great an opportunity this was.  When I learned that the salary was as much as I would have made as the Chief at WSAV, and there was potential for something called a bonus (Bonus??  There's a meteorologist job which comes with bonus pay????), I knew I had to give it a chance.

Perhaps I shouldn't go into so much detail, but I have to at least talk a little about the interview process.  When I interviewed for my first job in Macon, I was moving from Tallahassee back home and literally stopped at the station on the drive up to Atlanta.  For my job at WSAV, I drove from Macon to Savannah one morning, had a brief interview and station tour, bought myself a hamburger and fries from Wendy's and drove back to Macon so I could work that night, all on my dime.

When PPM Energy (now Iberdrola) brought me in for an interview, of course I had to fly to Houston.  When I arrived at the airport, there was John, my future boss, waiting at baggage claim to pick me up and take me to dinner.  A step up (or a thousand) from Wendy's, he treated me to a steak dinner at a very nice restaurant I've only since been to once, with my wife for our anniversary.  About ten people interviewed me the next day, and one of the other meteorologists, David, took me to lunch and then drove me to the airport.  A couple weeks later, another round of interviews took place at our Portland, Oregon office, where I think for the first time in my life I stayed at a four-star hotel downtown.  I met the CEO of the company, was treated to lunch, and flew back home the next day.

While all this was going on, I was still technically committed to working for the TV station in Myrtle Beach, but wasn't scheduled to start working there until June.  I spoke to a TV news contract lawyer who said I shouldn't have a problem getting out of the contract, however, and called my News Director friend to tell him that a different opportunity arose, and he was more than understanding of the situation.  The rest is history.  I started working at Iberdrola in June of 2008 and it has been the greatest thing that ever happened to us.  Now I have a job I love, weekends and holidays off and two more little girls who were born here in Texas.  When I think back about how disappointed I was not being promoted at WSAV, how stressed I felt when I had turned down a new contract there without having something new lined up, and how the Myrtle Beach job may have just been a pacifier to get us by for a month until the time was right for Iberdrola to call, I know that God was watching out for us.  And trust me, not a day goes by that I don't thank Him for this opportunity, and I still often find myself walking into the office in the morning or sitting in a meeting listening to traders and managers discuss strategies and wondering, "how in the world did this happen to me?"  I guess I'm just the luckiest man on Earth. 

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