My Last Indiana Sunset

I have spent the last year and a half watching the sunset from my rooftop deck in Muncie, Indiana. And this is the last sunset I’ll watch from this deck. Sunsets are amazing symbols. They usually mean an end to something, but with every end comes a new beginning. The next day the sun comes up again to start a whole new day.

Tomorrow the movers come to pick up all of my things and drive them south. I am moving back to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Even though I’ve been going back about once a month to see my kids, I really do miss North Carolina. They say that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone (there have even been several songs written about that very idea) and that is definitely true about a place. I just never found my home here in Indiana.

I came here to teach marketing to college students at Ball State, specifically social media marketing. Not only did it prove to be a larger challenge than I expected, but I really did not have the passion for teaching or the academic life. This was surprising to me because many of the things I do, my blog, my book and speaking at conferences, are about educating an audience. Sustaining that over a 16-week semester is more difficult than you would imagine. And I found that undergraduates do not quite have the business context needed to understand my goal-oriented approach to social media marketing. I was trying to teach them how to apply the lessons of marketing to a set of platforms that they know very well, and all viewed through the lens of strategy. Some of the students think differently about social media now. But not all.

I have made a few friends here that I will keep in touch with, as well as keeping up with some of the students that I worked with, but mainly I will be moving on.

There are lots of things going on on a college campus, but I discovered that academics are not my people. I don’t think like them. I don’t act like them. On a recent trip back to North Carolina I went straight from the airport to a start-up meeting in downtown Raleigh. I walked in during the middle of a presentation from a start-up founder and it just felt very natural to me. I looked around, I saw some friends I knew, and I just soaked in the energy of the room. After the meeting I met a few new people and it really felt like home. It just confirmed my decision that it was time to leave Indiana and come back to the Triangle.

As far as what’s next for me professionally, look for an announcement very soon. I will be going back to the marketing technology space in a content marketing role. After being out of the marketing world for year and a half I am really looking forward to getting back into it. Through social media and blogs I have kept up as well as possible, but it will be very different to get back into the fray. I’ve had conversations with colleagues about the state of the industry and I’ve also thought a lot about where I think things are going.

One of the things that I’m looking forward to doing is continuing to blog for, more regularly blogging over here and, of course, as part of my new job, I will be blogging for my company. I think my time in academia has re-energized me and I really want to focus on sharing my ideas more often.

If you are one of my friends in the Triangle, I look forward to seeing you at a local meeting or event or maybe we can meet for coffee. If you are somewhere else, look for me at any of the usual conferences, because I will certainly be getting back out there more and speaking. I have already committed to speaking at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston in October.

I’ve been thinking about some takeaways, or some lessons learned from this experience, and I don’t know that I have completely processed them all. But I can tell you that I have learned a lot about myself in the past year and a half by being away from family and friends and the place that I call home. I will come back with new energy, new excitement and a very intentional approach towards living my life. Things do not always come to you as you expect they will, but sometimes you need to go after them. And sometimes you just need to put yourself out there and try things that you would not expect you would ever try. And it doesn’t always work out as expected, but you really don’t know if you don’t try.

The sun has now dropped below a bank of clouds and the sky is darkening. The wind is picking up and there’s a chill in the air. And thus ends my last sunset in Indiana.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen