Yesterday I officially graduated from the University of Washington with a Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) degree. I have a huge number of people to thank for “holding me up” when I was ready to fall and joining me on the journey. The two primary people I want to thank are my spouse and partner, Carol, and Hanson Hosein, director of the MCDM program (pictured here handing me my diploma). This would have been impossible without them.
Of course, while a signature event, the degree was never really the point. It has always been about the journey, and this has been a doozey. A few years ago I realized that I had reached the limit of what I could do with my existing set of skills and framework of understanding. I considered going for an MBA, but thought better of it for a few reasons.
First, I had taken a few management courses and read a bit of what I’ll call “classic” MBA-type literature and was not getting fired up about it. It seemed very dry to me and didn’t seem to concern people as much as numbers.
Second, taking a survey of the career landscape around me, I saw, if you will, thick herds of MBAs everywhere. I had no desire to become one of untold thousands and de-individualize myself (as a balancing statement, I know a number of friends and colleagues who hold MBAs and I hold them in the highest regard….I just wasn’t the path for me).
Third, the MBA-type reading that I had done didn’t seem to be taking into account the incredible disruption taking place via social networks and digital media. Co-opting it and attempting to fit it into older modes of understanding, yes, but recognizing the opportunities for disruption and new ways of working with and for people….not so much.
A good friend of mine at work was working on his MCDM degree and we spent many lunch hours talking over what he was learning. His passion and excitement about the future this line of study was obvious…he frequently referred to it all as “brain candy”! He invited me to sit in on one of his classes one evening and I took him up on it. It just happened that Hanson was the instructor for that class, and so we were introduced. During the break he and I chatted and decided to set up a meeting to talk about the direction this program was going and what it might mean for me.
That meeting was the tipping point for me. I went home and effused about it to Carol. After going over costs, both in time and other resources, we decided I should go for it. The resulting part of the journey took me three years.
This program of study has changed the way that I think about people, about business, about communication, about who I am and what I’m capable of and the interconnectedness of us all.
The usual question I get asked now is, “So what’s next?”. What’s next is now. What’s next is this work you’re reading. What’s next is this very next step on my journey, and I’m loving it.