For 30 years, I loved my film- and video-producing career safely tucked behind the camera (more on that later). And for those 30 years, I created, budgeted, planned, executed, cajoled, and fixed everything from behind the camera. I was invisible, but I held the purse strings, and with that came acknowledgement, self-worth, and the mandate to make sure everyone had what they needed to perform. Everyone else, that is. I never got married or had children. Neither was on my life’s to-do list.
Frankly, I never really had a life’s to-do list. I just wanted to meet interesting people and make good money, so I could travel and afford “stuff.” I was great at meeting exciting people (that includes a few a-holes, by the way), and I did okay at making money. And yet, at 51, I experienced a significant shift. I felt unsettled, empty, and lacking direction, and for the first time, I was keenly aware of the finite amount of Mondays left in my life.
There was no divorce, no empty nest, I had just gotten a long-desired puppy, menopause was on its tail end, and both parents (back then) were doing well. On the surface, then, not a worry in the world if it wasn’t for work lagging a bit. Actually, a lot. Let me backtrack a bit…
I started my company, Clock Wise Productions, in 1997 because I had run out of visa options to stay in New York. My native Switzerland had a tiny film- and video marketplace, and I preferred to be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond. In all honesty, I never felt like I was enough in Switzerland. I hated all the comments and questions about why I wasn’t married, had a boyfriend, or had children. There were expectations put upon me that I simply couldn’t, wouldn’t, nor wanted to fulfill.
New York was perfect – it seemed everyone was single, everyone was “other,” and everyone did what they wanted. No judgment. Starting a company in the States allowed me to sponsor myself for a series of visas that eventually led to US citizenship in 2011. I had no clue how to run a business, but I figured it out. I didn’t know the difference between networking, marketing, and advertising. Word of-mouth was our way of getting business, and it worked well enough.
I did know how to run numbers, figure out logistics, put teams together, and get awesome videos done. We were doing very well until 9/11. That crisp fall morning in 2001, we lost all our European clients, which were 100% of our income. So we needed to do a major pivot to find a new niche of now US clients. And that’s what we managed to do. But after the housing crisis in 2009, I went back to freelancing as an executive producer to pay the bills. I worked for large event companies with tons of video needs for the corporate mega-shows they produced for Fortune 500 companies. No soul, lots of money, and working for the “man.”
By the time I was done with that, I had also lost my original business model as a small independent video production company. The next pivot was not going to be about finding a new niche market; it was going to be a complete reinvention. Web 2.0, social media, and smartphones had made us all but extinct.
All I knew was that I wanted to be 100% digital so I could spend more time in Switzerland, with my now ailing father and soon-to-be widowed mother. I had NO CLUE how I was going to get from location-dependent film shoots to 100% digital, but I trusted that there was going to be a way, and I was going to figure it out. I was not prepared to plod along doing something that wasn’t a viable business model anymore, hoping to hold out until “retirement” (no retirement, Nina – not for small business owners), and I certainly was not going back to freelancing. I knew needed to do things my way to suit my lifestyle and that I was done working with whichever client would pay me. I wanted to choose my clients. I can’t say I was thrilled to dig in deep again and muster the energy to reinvent and basically start a completely new business, and there was no plan B. It was Clock Wise Productions or Clock Wise Productions.
So, now it’s 2016, and I’m a video marketer. I figured it would take me three months to build a following and create some courses or programs – or whatever it was going to be. Yeah, right. It took over five years. And that’s the story of how I found myself being ON camera after 30 years safely tucked behind it. At first, it was ugly; I was merciless and mean to myself and made myself wrong for all of it. And that was the least of my trouble. Try showing up on camera as “authentically you” with that conversation going on in your head.
After five years of breakdowns, breakthroughs, business and personal coaches, and dozens of discarded ideas, I am at a good spot in life. I’ve learned to show up and talk about what I do, why I do it, and how it drives my passion. I’ve learned to be heard and seen and have fun with it. And with that, I’ve learned to show up all over my life again.
I’m rediscovering some of that sassy, loud (by Swiss standards), fast-talking, and funny teenager I
thought had left the building a long time ago. I’ve learned to laugh again – not because someone else told a joke, but because I am in my joy and happiness, and I’m doing stuff that lights me up. So, what do I do – exactly?
My clients are service-based entrepreneurs with a story. They are authors, speakers, coaches, and consultants, and they are looking to grow organically on LinkedIn. It’s a beautiful niche. Most of them – heck – all of them – are somewhere in that messy middle of life, trying to figure out how to talk about and be heard, what they are so passionate about. And it lights me up like nothing else to show them how to be heard and seen – both in simple terms of learning how to shoot (quickly, easily, and by themselves) and in terms of enabling them to give themselves permission to show up! And, it’s no coincidence that the majority of my clients are Queenagers. It’s a generational thing for Boomers and Gen-x-ers to get to the point where you can give yourself permission to be seen and heard (hell-yes!).
So yes, I’m Nina, and I’m a Queenager. Hear me roar and then fall over with laughter.
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