Monday, December 8, 2008

Week Fifteen

Apparently we are living in an economic downturn. Now I know what you're all saying: "That's blasphemous, Don. My equity portfolio is fantastic, my property value is steadily increasing and my job couldn't be more secure." Well, it's true. And while we can't rely on news sources, financial analysts or economic data to inform us of the global downturn, we can rely on Don's blog to give us the cold hard facts. And kids, it ain't pretty out there.

This week the economic crisis hit Don. With little warning, I was informed I would be one of several casualties at a firm I truly enjoyed working for, and to add salt to the wound, I would be missing the company Christmas party as well. I thought that getting rejected by the same girl three times in four days encapsulated a rough week, but Burson-Marsteller helped to put things in perspective. I say this with some sincerity.

Getting the axe at B-M has forced me, albeit at an inopportune time, to reevaluate why I came to this country and what I wanted to get out of this experience. Honestly, I can't say I came to Australia to further my career. I did join B-M to enhance my PR knowledge and global perspective, which I believed would ultimately enhance my skills in PR. More than that, however, I came here to further my personal knowledge and perspective. I wanted to pursue a common dream to live and work abroad, to meet new people, to interact with people from a different culture, to find out how they got to where they are, and as a result to learn more about myself and the direction I want to take my life. Obviously, I wanted to do this while investing in, contributing to and impacting a company that reciprocated its investment in me.

Now I can't really complain about the company decision to downsize the Australia office. B-M gave me an opportunity to live and work here for 15 weeks and introduced me to some truly amazing people, which makes missing the Christmas party hurt that much more as I won't get the chance to meet the rest of the talented crew. Every unique skill is an asset and B-M is filled with well-traveled, highly-experienced, creative minds - individuals every PR guy strives to surround himself with. Sadly, I feel I am leaving as an Incomplete.

But, what's done is done and the decision has forced me to determine whether it's time to go home or find something new. And I decided I don't want to go home. Well... not yet.

I do miss the States, my friends and my love/hate relationship with my mother, but I haven't seen Australia, and according to Lonely Planet and Google Maps, there's a lot of Australia to see. Apparently the Whitsunday Islands are half-way decent, and even though I watched a National Geographic special on the Great Barrier Reef, one or two people believe it is also worth taking a look at in person. So, I booked my package to check it all out. I'll be spending Christmas on the north-east coast, which will be about 22,000 times hotter than the Christmases of Jasmine, Kate and Bob combined.

No company Christmas party this year, though that only puts me at the same level as an EDS employee or Hasidic Jew. I suppose Christmas in Cairns will be just as lovely. I'll miss spending the holidays in the O.C. but I'll be home soon enough.

Well there you have it. The global downturn has sunk below the equator. And you know it's bad when it even jeopardizes PR professionals in Australia, whose PR talent pool is shallower than an Orange County housewife. Really, Burson-Marsteller is no different than General Motors, Goldman Sachs or any other U.S.-based multinational corporation (except the government's not exactly jumping to bail our industry out). It is the product of a failed U.S.-powered global economy that has had a domino effect on the entire planet. Thousands of Australians are finding themselves in similar positions, yet most of them have families and mortgage payments. I'm lucky in the sense that I have my health, my friends and an iPod with 28 Christmas songs to hopefully get me a little cheerier in this time of great change. Fifteen weeks down, 37 to go...??

Week Fifteen Summary:
Weather: bright, hot and sunny with pouring rain
New observation: we should probably do something to help re-stimulate the economy...
New activity(ies): lawn bowling, The Belgian Beer Garden
New food: Australian Domino's
New word(s): "No chicken salt for my chips? I'm devo!" ("No Lawry's seasoned salt for my french fries? I'm devastated!")
New people: A 157-year-old lawn bowling instructor
What I miss: Starbucks Gingerbread Latte, Fox Soccer Channel, Chrismukkah, Hamburger Helper, Zatarain's Dirty Rice, ZipCar

1 comment:

Kate said...

Sorry to hear about the job. If it makes you feel any better, your weather comment is well-timed. We had freezing rain today with snow coming tomorrow. I'm headed to the Cristkindlemarket in the Loop with one of my friends who surmises that the snow will make it "Christmas-y." Enjoy your time traveling around.