Saturday, March 26, 2011

This is the sound of the Universe clicking

About a month before I was laid off from The Gottman Institute, I received a call on my “Gottman phone” in my home office.  Since most calls I received on that line were customer service calls that I ultimately forwarded on, I usually let the calls go to voicemail and would triage them from there. 

For some reason that I still can’t pin-point, I decided to answer this particular call.  It was someone from Canada who was looking specifically for me, saying that he had seen my information on LinkedIn and was hoping to contact me via my current employer.  He went on to tell me that he was interested in my expertise as an educational kids’ game designer.


At that point I was definitely listening, as designing and developing educational media for kids is my primary passion and what I consider the primary focus of my career.  As anyone in this field knows, though, something happened around 2001 when many of us were laid off from kids’ gaming companies that were suddenly going under and we ended up taking positions in other industries, such as banking, high-tech, and non-profits.  I ended up first at a few non-profits, developing and managing the development of media, then at Microsoft, managing content development and technical marketing projects, and finally with The Gottman Institute, directing their Professional Development department.  Each job presented different challenges and rewards, but none captured my heart as my position as one of the first five members of what’s now Disney Interactive, or as a designer of the Blue’s Clues computer games, or re-designer of Edmark’s House series, had. 

I longed to return to the realm of kids’ educational media and, when I was stunned by the lay-off from TGI two weeks ago, the first thing I did was begin designing a website for my new company, in which I would “manage and mentor media that matters.” The website is still not complete – mostly because I’ve been busy ramping up for my new gig!  (And also because I’ve been very sick; that’s for another post!)

As it turns out, I did answer the phone that morning and I heard about a game that an established Canadian company wanted to make for elementary school-aged kids.  I told them that I’d happily consult with them for free this time, but that in the future I’d need to charge my consultation rate – especially because I had a full-time job and would have to “squeeze it in.”  I gave them my very honest opinion about their planned game, suggesting that they make some fairly significant changes.  They embraced the feedback and came back for more, which I would fit in early in the day or late at night. 

Then I got laid off and wrote them a “you’ll never guess what just happened” e-mail and… well, here I am!

I’ll be somewhat vague for now in describing exactly what I’ll be doing and for whom, but suffice it to say that I’ll be designing and project managing an educational game about “community” that will focus on my favorite age group, kids in primary and elementary grades.  I expect this to be a full-time gig from home, with occasional trips to Montreal Toronto, and I expect it to last through summer.

Yes, sometimes the universe really does just click!

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Jean said...

So happy for you Carol!

Kathrin said...

YEEEAAAHHHH!! Fantastic Carol. I am so very happy for you that you can go back to what is your true passion!! Reading your blog for a few years now, I know that is where your heart is.
I thought to read between the lines that you were disappointed about having led go from the Gottman Institute, but you where also very calm about it. :))

Goofball said...

oh Carol, that is fantastic news! Awesome, I am so happy for you! Yipeeeee, sometimes all pieces fall down just fine :)

Lynn said...

That's so great, Carol- congratulations!

Tonya said...

This is amazing and wonderful! (And occasional trips to Montreal would be sooooo interesting!) I'm so glad they found you!

Margaret said...

Wonderful news--it sounds fascinating! I've always wanted to visit Montreal. Do you need a French interpreter? ;)

Unknown said...

I love the way that this worked out for you. When one door closes..... Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing!!

Unknown said...

Carol, it couldn't happen to a nicer person. The stars are aligned with you for sure!

Lorrene said...

It's amazing how everything just fell into place. Sort of like fitting the last piece into a puzzle. A design by accident.
I am very happy for you.

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