Mining Facebook for connections – and finding inspiration

One of the business things I learned about at the recent Moby Dick Project event in Palo Alto last month was a concept that somehow I had missed called the ‘Valley of Death’ – the time in the life cycle of a research project where you’re caught between your early stage funding for research and the later-stage funding when your project/technology/research gets interest from investors. (Thanks to Nikita Bernstein at Boston-based for the educational moment.)

I think the job search has a similar valley, at least for me in this economy. Right now, I have reached out and connected with job opportunities that are most closely related to my media background, but I need to tap into that next circle, of organizations that are related, but not directly, to my background. It’s a tougher sell for me, and in this economy, I have a feeling that it will be a tougher buy for many people in PR/marketing/policy to stretch beyond looking for people with PR/marketing/policy backgrounds. (If you’re one of those hiring people – it’s worth it. You want people who can deliver quickly, smartly, on time and under budget? Look hard at former journalists.)

But regardless, it’s a time of uncertainty. And there are times when I’m not quite sure how to fill the next fifteen minutes productively.

One strategy I started last night to turn this negative into a positive was to start drilling into the Facebook feeds of some old friends and colleagues, just to see what they have been up to. Their kids are all stunningly older than when I saw them last, their lives full of new things, and in a few cases, there are whole major chapters of their lives unfolding that I just hadn’t grasped.

Take my former colleague, Ann Murray Paige. She was a reporter for WCSH 6 in Portland when I was there, who left after the birth of her first child. She’s one of those people who, on those moments when I was glancing at my Facebook feed, would be doing interesting things, but I never really clicked through. I knew she was working on some sort of documentary about breast cancer, which I thought was an interesting project. So when I saw a post from her ‘diary’ linked to her Facebook feed, I clicked through.

Turns out it was a project about her.

While I was busy doing other things, I somehow missed that she was being diagnosed with cancer, undergoing treatment and a double mastectomy, and deciding that she was going to document the whole thing, turn it into a film and a project, Project Pink, to raise money to support young victims of breast cancer. Oh, and then having the cancer recur.  Click here to watch the trailer for the film.

I could never do her story justice by giving it an abridged version here. Bottom line – I spent the next hour going through the blog, catching up and being inspired by Ann’s honesty, bravery and general awesomeness – even at times when she was feeling anything but awesome. I’m actually embarrassed that none of this registered with me for all this time. I would have thought good thoughts, prayed, sent positive vibes and done all those things that you hope somehow find their way to the person who needs them. On the plus side, the next time you are having a down day, here’s one more person thinking, praying, and sending positive vibes.

Kick cancer’s a**, Ann.

And thanks for the inspiration.


  1. says

    What can I say? I still see you telling me my script wasn’t good enough while at the same time smiling and wondering what time we were all going to meet at Boru’s for a drink after work.
    Thanks for writing this, and for caring, and for catching up–I’m honored, humbled, and inspired right back–to “keep kicking cancer’s a**.”
    And I’m glad to know you’re out there helping me with your good thoughts and great writing.
    Big hugs,

Leave a Reply