By Roland S. Martin, Host of TV One’s NewsOne Now
On the day I signed on as a CNN contributor in 2007, I planned my exit.
I told my then-agent, Marc Watts, “Let’s go find another deal that meets or exceeds the CNN deal.” When we got that one, I said, “Let’s go find another.”
Does that sound disloyal? Then think about this: Time Warner took a meat cleaver to their global workforce two months ago, slashing as many as 1,500 jobs. Was every one of those 1,500 workers bad employees who weren’t doing good work? Nope. It was all about one thing: Improving shareholder value after Rupert Murdoch tried to buy the company.
I get it. We live in a capitalistic country. But if companies get to put shareholders first, it’s time that workers abandon the notion of lifetime loyalty to a single boss. Workers need to see themselves as their own CEOs, head of a company – and brand – known as Me, Inc.
For example right now, I have five jobs. I’m looking for several more. Why? It’s called multiple streams of revenue. Here are mine:
- Host and managing editor of NewsOne Now on TV One Cable Network
- Host of a nationally-syndicated radio show with REACH Media
- Senior analyst for The Tom Joyner Morning Show
- Columnist for The Daily Beast
- Owner of Nu Vision Media, Inc., through which all these jobs are channeled.
I also deliver speeches, publish books, have my own line of men’s accessories and use my social media and web platforms to generate more revenue. Additionally, I’m moving into the arena of brand building, using my platforms to build the brands of up-and-comers who want to do just like I am.
My mindset is this: I don’t see myself as an employee. I’m a vendor.
That sounds like a lot of stuff. And it is. But I decided long ago that I wasn’t interested in being trapped in a job doing one thing.
That’s because my mindset is this: I don’t see myself as an employee. I’m a vendor. The company is a client. I tell them I can deliver a service; they pay me to do so. If it all goes well, we continue the relationship. If they move on, they terminate the contract.
But the key is that for me, I don’t depend on them as the only source of revenue for my company. As CEO of Me, Inc., my job is to find additional clients so my future isn’t based on that one company – in the same way that Fortune 500 companies don’t rely on one source of revenue for success.
Look at my friend, journalist Soledad O’Brien. For years she and I would talk about her dreams and aspirations, and she was always awed by all the different things I was doing. There were so many things she wanted to do but simply didn’t have the time and was contractually restricted to working only for CNN. If she had an idea and they said, “No thanks,” it just died.
I kept telling her, “Soledad, you’ve established relationships with major advertising clients. You speak at their conferences and moderate their panels. When you do stuff at CNN, the ad sales team goes to them to advertise on your shows. Why not go directly to them and do your own projects?”
In 2013, she did just that. She severed her full-time deal with CNN and they became a client of her Starfish Media Group. Soledad then cut deals with HBO, Al Jazeera America, and others, and began to work on documentaries, special reports, books, movies and other projects. She built her own studio to handle interviews. She had created her version of Me, Inc.
Is the work grueling? Yes. Is it difficult to lean on yourself and not a major company with big resources? Yes. So why do it? Happiness. Fulfillment. Contentment. And not being at the mercy of the whims of the industry.
Don’t get caught falling asleep. Accept the world for the way it is. People are transient and are moving from place to place, sector to sector, all in an effort to help companies to grow scale and generate bigger revenues. If it works for them, why not you?
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