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Be Inspired: “Social media saved my career”

Thought Leader

Be Inspired: “Social media saved my career”

MELISSA-JUN-ROWLEY.jpg

Eight years ago, Melissa was standing outside Paris Hilton’s house at 6am, waiting to get a soundbite before the heiress was taken to jail. Melissa suddenly had a realisation: “I’ve taken a vocational wrong turn”. 

 

As a freelance field producer covering entertainment, things were tough. The economy was heading into recession and media jobs were drying up. Frankly, the industry looked bleak. To add to that, her soul wasn’t in the game anymore.

 

In a bad situation creatively and professionally, Melissa moved up to San Francisco, where she began writing about topics that spoke to her heart and her sense of justice: human rights issues, social responsibility and how technology can drive social impact. While Melissa was enlightened, she wasn’t making enough money to make ends meet. 

 

Then one day, a TV producing opportunity summoned her back to LA. “I threw everything I owned into my red mustang, found an apartment…and then the show got cancelled three weeks later. I had no money. I didn’t know how I was going to pay rent.”

 

At this point it was time to get resourceful and think about what she could do to get her name, work and passions in front of people—to create opportunities. This is when she started her journey as an entrepreneur.

 

“When people ask me about how I became an entrepreneur, I don’t tell them I did it out of divine inspiration, I tell them I did it out of desperation,” she said. “But since I’ve been running my own business, I’ve never looked back. I’m totally unemployable now. I could never work for anyone else again.”

 

Melissa attributes a number of doors that opened for her to her embracing social media. 

 

“I resisted using social media for a long time. But when I had nowhere else to turn, I saw how other people were using digital platforms to share their missions and enhance their own personal brands. I tapped into the tech and social good communities and cultivated a supportive following. From there, I was approached by major brands to develop content for them, and I did a stint as a social media correspondent for a web series that aired on CBS News. Those opportunities wouldn’t have come my way if I hadn’t been all over social media developing the skills I needed.”

 

As her business evolved, Melissa attracted attention from organisations that needed editorial direction. This led to her working with the tech for good platform TheToolbox.org, which was founded by the legendary musician and humanitarian Peter Gabriel. The site started as a client project for her consultancy business, and has since become her own initiative. 

 

“I learned so much through that process, primarily that you need to work with what you have—your skills, talent and free, open-source resources. Social networks are free. Plenty of organizational tools are free. You need to educate yourself, get connected, and dive in deep.” 

 

What is your personal understanding of success, and of failure?

 

For Melissa, success is fulfillment—feeling creatively fulfilled and seeing that what she’s doing is having a positive impact on people. 

 

“Failure is not trying.”

 

“You don’t get anywhere without making mistakes. But mistakes do not mean failure.”

 

“There’s a quote I love by Sophia Loren. ‘Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.’’’ 

 

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I have a full life. But I’d like an even fuller one – so I’m prepared to make a lot more mistakes!” 

 

Have you ever changed careers? What did you end up doing? What did you leave behind? Tell us in the comments below!

 

If you feel like you have a story worth sharing, send a message to our Community Manager@Jen_welch.

Comments
Thought Leader

Sometimes situations make you do/try something different as in if you can't get a job/career, why not create one instead. "Have a go" if you have an idea-ideas, put it out there to see what it can attract and what  you can create. Failure is an attempt at success, the more you attempt, the more chance of success; the only real failure is giving up.