Completing the “Origin” Chain

It seems as if this is the week that we’re all writing about our “CME origin” stories — Derek led us off last week and Intern Katie followed him a few days ago — so I guess I’d better share mine. It’s equally riveting.

As a 16-year-old high school junior, I remember completing an assignment where we had to write a letter to ourselves 25 years in the future. You probably had to do it too – seems like one of those things every high school English teacher in the country would have conspired to assign to their students.

The assignment was given right about this time of year, so I wrote something like, “I assume you are at the Super Bowl getting ready to cover the game for Sports Illustrated.” (Keep in mind that Sports Illustrated was a big deal back then. Now? Not so much.) The details of my essay are a bit hazy, but I definitely remember writing, “I’ll be very disappointed if you aren’t doing something related to sports.”

Sigh.

Yes, 16-year-old Scott would not be particularly impressed with my career path, but as with many of us in our little CME niche, it’s actually turned out quite nicely, thank you.

Unlike Derek, I did actually find full-time work in my initial chosen field — sportswriting — spending 5 years toiling away in the glamorous “not-Phoenix” part of Arizona and the equally-glamorous “not-Chicago” part of Illinois before becoming frustrated enough with my lack of professional progress and walking away.

My first healthcare job was at a medical publication company, where they apparently churned through people like me who didn’t know the difference between a myomectomy and a myeloma every couple weeks. I was told that one recent hire started on Monday morning, went to lunch, and didn’t come back. Great. That was reassuring.

What came next was even worse. As a “Welcome to our new employee!” gesture, the team I was working with said they’d take me to lunch.

Great, I love a free meal!

I sat quietly in my corner cubicle waiting for someone to come get me “around noon.” Noon came and went. 12:05. 12:10. I didn’t want to be the annoying newbie interrupting busy people, so I waited until 12:15 to stand up and see what was going on.

The department was empty. Everyone else had gone to lunch but no one had thought to take the new guy along. Was it a hint? (Yes Derek, you can insert your snarky comment now) (Note from Derek: Too easy. I’ll let it slide.)

Anyway, I survived the day after profuse apologies (“Oh, we all thought someone else was taking you.” Sure, sure) and kept plugging away. I could talk about the intricacies of Temple basketball’s 1-2-2 zone press for hours, but now I had learn about the ABCs and XYZs of bulk allograft transplantation for osteochondral lesions of the talus. It was not easy. There were many days when I felt way, way over my head. Katie wrote about how she was overwhelmed by all of the jargon and abbreviations at her first CME department meeting. We’ve all been there.

Within a year or so, I transferred over to the medical education group and found my home. This was back in the “Wild Wild West” days of CME where supporters were typically very much involved in the development of content. I remember numerous lavish dinners the night before a live program where the “supporters” (these were all marketing folks back then) would drop lots of money on food and drink and then sit side-by-side with you the next morning at the actual program offering their thoughts or commentary to be shared “during a break.” It was certainly different.

I was likely a bit of an arrogant, self-absorbed 30-year-old know-it-all (things haven’t changed very much) as I meandered about professionally over the next decade, wondering why no one realized how brilliant I was (Note from Derek: Again, too easy.) I finally started making some real progress about a decade ago, making enough friends that striking out on my own as a freelancer back in 2014 wasn’t quite as risky as it might have otherwise been.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to partner with some really talented and kind people over the last several years. I am not naturally a particularly nice person (I was quite proud of my last professional nameplate where we all were assigned a cartoon doppelgänger. I was Oscar the Grouch), but I like to think the CME world has made me a bit more well rounded. I make fun of Derek a lot – you know you love it!! – but it’s OK because he is truly one of nice guys. I think that people like me more just because I’m tied with him through CMEpalooza. I tell my son all the time, “Surround yourself with good people. That way, everyone else will think you are a good person too, even if you aren’t.” It’s good advice for you too.

(Note from Derek: Well, crap, I wasn’t expecting that. Does this mean I need to go back and delete the jokes I made about Scott?

[thinks]

Nope. Nice try, Kober.)

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