Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

WFPG Transmitter SiteFor thirteen years I was the general manager of WFPG AM/FM in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The stations were successful. I was active in Rotary, the local chambers of commerce, community social programs in addition to running the radio stations.

We did the state’s first LMA (Local Marketing Agreement) adding a third radio station to our operation.

We had a print division that did zoned coupon mailers and produced an annual calendar for local advertisers.

I was in the zone, my comfort zone.

Success Is a Poor Teacher

When new ownership took over the radio stations in my 13th year of managing them, one of the owners was to be the “managing partner.” He didn’t have the equity stake to invest, so his contribution was to move to Atlantic City and manage the stations for the group. That meant that everyone in the radio stations were needed but me.

As I set out to find a new radio general manager position, I would be faced with something new that the broadcasting industry had never had to deal with before, consolidation. Consolidation was like a game of musical chairs, only in this game when the music stopped, you were out-of-a-job.

I thought that my long period of success would be a plus in finding my next position but kept hearing “you’ve been at the same place for over a decade?” I would soon learn that this wasn’t perceived as a positive.

My Road Trip

Eventually, I would land my next GM position and move to a new state. That would lead to a series of moves every two to three years after that as consolidation kept changing the landscape of the radio industry as we knew it.

Delaware, Maryland, Iowa, Pennsylvania and back to New Jersey a couple of more times would be my life over the next decade.

While I never would have chosen this path, what I would realize was that I learned more over this period of time than being in the same place for the previous decade. That being successful and in your comfort zone is a poor teacher.

College Professor

Seven years ago, I made a career change. I went from market manager of a cluster of radio stations for Clear Channel to broadcast professor at Western Kentucky University. I was moving out of my comfort zone BIG TIME.

That first year was a lot of heavy lifting as I created every course, every lesson, every test for each of my classes.

Eventually, I grew to a new comfort zone at the university. I was on university senate and several committees. I graduated from the university’s master advising certification program and advised around 100 students each semester. I graduated from the university’s police academy and my office was a campus “safe space” for students, faculty and staff. And I was active in state broadcast associations along with founding and directing a radio talent institute on campus.

Why Comfort Zones Are Bad for You

Staying in a comfort zone feels peaceful and relaxing. Comfort zones are not challenging. They become limiting and confining. They can produce a sense of boredom.

I know I certainly had that feeling of “Is That All There Is?” during my long tenure in Atlantic City.

Change is the only constant you can depend on in the world. Nothing stays the same. If you’re not growing then you’ve “gone to seed.”


What Would Jobs Do?

My fiancé shared with me the last words of Steve Jobs and it’s illuminating.

Jobs said that in the eyes of others his life had been the symbol of success. However, Jobs found that apart from his work, his life held little joy.

Steve had stayed in his comfort zone.

Once you’ve accumulated enough money for the rest of your life, you need to change your focus to pursuing objectives that are not related to wealth.

It is why I started this media mentorship blog in January 2015.

Happy New Year 2018

The new year is traditionally a time when we all look in the mirror of our lives and contemplate where we want to go next.

If you want to grow in 2018, decide to get out of your comfort zone.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

– –Steve Jobs


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio

16 responses to “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

  1. Art Versnick

    Your journey, scaringly, almost mirrors my trip, with the exception of being a college professor. I, too, have found that to stay relevant and to continue to move forward, we must dive into the deep end. That’s what I’m doing with a number of different ventures. Again, great insight and thought provoking. Thanks for saying it “out loud.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I went through this all through the late 80’s through the 90’s. By 1998, it was so bad I was changing jobs like underwear. I went to the Big 3. four year in, I had a heart attack on the line, which changed my life forever. I worked another 6 years until my plant cut two shifts just after I hit the ten year mark. I took a buyout, bought a nice house cash, paid off all my credit cards and started over, technically retired at 46. The last ten years have been a blur and I finally put on the brakes to get turned around from the wrong direction. I now sit, wondering what exactly the “right” direction is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Finding the answer that’s right for you, is the life’s great challenge. It doesn’t matter what others have done. Each of us must find the answer that is right for us. Talking about it, getting out in the world and trying new experiences is the beginning of the journey. I wish you well. -DT


  3. ds52

    Your comments apply to both one’s professional and personal lives. I am starting to feel comfortable …. time for new experiences.


  4. Thank you, Prof. DT! A whacked radio partner sent a bulldozer into our transmitter wetlands without permit nor permission; sure rocked my boat. But, escaping what I thought would be a great local endeavor opened many new doors. Such kryptonite is most uncomfortable but staying positive makes coming back tremendously comforting. BTW, my Grand Aunt, Ethel Clark Rattay worked on-air at WPG – The World’s Greatest Playground, live on the Steel Pier, thought the 1930’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Dick. You have to always look to grow and resist the temptation to “settle”. It’s so true what you say and that Jobs
    quote; One of my favorite from one of my favorite addresses
    by Jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Joe Bilotta

    The premise of constant change leading to a necessary and rewarding evolution in ones career is not an absolutism. Circumstances dictate status. While the industry has sacrificed employee tenure and loyalty as a result of consolidation, the choice remains ours to find that landing spot that supplies a safe haven to advance our career and support ourselves and our families.


  7. Sometimes that Comfort Zone, is just so damn comfortable Dick!


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dennis Gwiazdon

    Great post, Dick! Most of us who pursued a career in Radio learned early on that change was inevitable, a way of life. And opportunities to learn and grow. After all these years, all the changes, all the lessons learned I still look forward to what lies ahead. Now…on to the next adventure!



    Liked by 1 person

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