182. See Where You've Been, to Know Where You're Going
Phil Brangers is the Director of Events for the Embassy Suites and North Charleston Convention Center, with PDA Productions Associates. He spent over 15 years as a freelance events production hand, trying to find a way to integrate the work he loves with family life. After adopting a son, he spent the last year moving from a life of on-location events that required long days and nights and a lot of travel, to an attempted work-life balance.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I guess I realized I was a very technical person when I was a young boy. Even though it was the early 80’s, we always had a computer in the house. I played a lot of video games, with my 3 brothers. And being the youngest, it was very difficult for me to win, which I didn’t like very much. So at a young age, I found out how to manipulate the code in ways that allowed me to win. The DOS shell back then, when you would launch a game, actually just showed the code. It wasn’t like everything was encoded the way that it is now. Before you played the game you always saw all the code in front of you. I just started messing with stuff until it did what I wanted.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“One night at dinner my wife, Jen, said, ‘I can tell that you hate what you’re doing.’ I was taken aback, because I didn’t know that I hated it. I guess just the way that I acted when I got off work, she could tell I wasn’t happy. I had literally been working for 12 years nonstop, in the food service industry. She suggested I stop working until I figured out what I wanted to do. Since our overhead was low with no kids yet, her job would support both of us. From middle school I had loved working with video, lights and sound on productions of all kinds, but never thought I could make a living doing that. I started looking around and found a large-scale production company in Charleston. All of a sudden the possibility of actually doing work in this field became real to me. I became an event hand, a freelancer doing work that I truly resonated with. And it took me just 2 or 3 weeks before I sat down to dinner with Jen and said, ‘Ok, we’re going to figure out a way that this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.’ And now I’m delighted to say that I’m doing that.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“I think it’s important every couple of years to pause and look back. If I’d looked back earlier, I would have seen a lot of stepping stones in my life that would have led me in a different direction. It was almost like I had these two paths that I would jump back and forth from. If I’d just stayed on the right one, I would have gotten to where I am now much faster. So analyze how things make you feel along the way: Do you like doing this work? Does it fulfill you? Are you satisfied in this moment? Or does it make you want to pull your hair out? Does your spouse enjoy the person that you are? Or does she want you to walk away and leave her alone? It’s just so important to take a moment to see where you’ve been, so you know where you’re going.”
Steps to Success from Phil Brangers
1. Pay attention to how your work makes you feel day in and day out
2. Get honest feedback regularly from someone you trust
3. Figure out what you are good at and play from those strengths
4. Be curious about your options in your current job or possible new ones
5. Listen to your gut instincts
On His Bookshelf
Quitter, by Jon Acuff
Connecting With Phil Brangers
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