Just An Online Minute... Endings Are Really Beginnings... Or Something Like That

I have tried to write this a good 80 times this week. When thanking people that I met through this beat who inspire and influence me, whom I grew to trust, whom I could share an inappropriate laugh or story with, people who were beacons of real in the murky waters of the ultimate schmoozefests -- well, I didn't want to leave anyone out.  But I'm afraid I will.  So I get word-stunted.  Keep in mind I'm a shower thinker, so if I have left you off, realize I'll kick myself in the shower later, which will be more frequent in the near future since I'll actually have to go into an office.

How did this column even come about, you ask?  Well, I actually got hired  MediaPost for my social media experience, but then managed to weasel my way into the editorial team by shooting some of our events and writing goony captions in the Flickr sets.  The Big Bosses liked my style, liked the idea of a party and events column, seemed to dig my shooting skills as well, and this version of Just An Online Minute was born (this column has been reincarnated many times).  I remember MediaPost Publisher Ken Fadner coming to my desk (which was in a key location at that time: next to the toilet) and saying "You know this means you have to go out every night - think you can handle that?"  I was all fresh-livered and eager, already dreaming about that press pass getting me access to the most delicious events. 

Oh, please, I was terrified, too. I had managed to convince the team at our own events that I was Little Miss Outgoing, but the thought of not only attending parties full of people I didn't know but also attending as the reporter, not the actual party guest, scared the crap out of me.  Thank goodness I had this amazing black crutch and conversation-starter: my Canon, which has rescued me from many uncomfortable situations.

It became easier as my path was crossed by real, honest, hard-working, people like Matt Van Hoven, who used to write for AgencySpy.  I met him at a party at the old Buddy Media office and we became fast friends.   The same goes for Joe Ciarallo, who was also at the Buddy Media party that night.  Both, from that night on, were a relief to find at some of the most ritzy events -- just normal dudes in a sea of schmooze. 

Sure, MediaPost has an office, but my real office was the New York night and that's where I found my unofficial coworkers.  It's because of an I Heart PRNewser party that I met M Booth's Alyssa Galella and Frani Lieberman and it was because of a SocialVibe Tweetup (where I had forgotten to put the battery in my camera) that I met Karen Ram, who is now with Attention.  Actually, that SocialVibe Tweetup was full of people from what I like to call my freshman year out here: Joe Marchese, Adam Broitman, Kristen Bryan, Josh Sternberg (another keeper - if you want honest, bright, and sometimes Phish-filled conversation, talk to Josh), and Jenean Chapman. 

And really, who could forget the OG of +1s, Gail Hilton, of Thought Equity Motion? Persia Tatar is another one -- we met as coworkers at MediaPost, and she's moved around like crazy, now doing biz dev at Attention, and continuing as founder of The Social Media Society.  Persia is one of the hardest-working people I know and still finds time to create art.  Tameka Kee is another one.  Again, we found each other at MediaPost and continue to be in each others' lives.  Tameka inspires me daily and she is a woman to benchmark, to hunt down if you want a quality, no-BS, no-puffy-girl-power flowerisms, just hardcore, elbow grease and business-savvy advice and guidance.  

I'll miss Hearst Corporation and their many magazine events that kept me in pesto-crusted filets and lip gloss.  I'll miss NYWIFT and their inspiring luncheons that made me, if only temporarily, want to dump my material possessions and change the world.  I'll miss IFC for their quirky "slightly off" events.  I'll miss the "weeks": Advertising Week, which nearly killed me every year, and Social Media Week (which is right around the corner!).  I'll miss being accused of cynicism when questioning the validity of award shows and panels rather than following blindly.

Because of MediaPost, I have covered every inch of this island at every hour of the night, I have sampled (and gorged myself on) the best food these neighborhoods have to offer, I have shared drinks with CEOs, founders, creative, techies, artists, photographers, rappers, crooners, comedians, actors, musicians, and crashers.  I went from an insular internal IBMer to an overexposed night elf.  I've surfed the wave of buzzwords like transparent, genuine, and crowd-sourcing to hashtags like #crushit and #rockit (dibs on #VomIt).

I can't thank MediaPost enough, sincerely, for the opportunities this column opened up for me.  My job made it possible for me to carry on a three-year-long love affair with this city and all of you.  And I have to thank you, the readers, for creating an open-rate, subscriber-count-obsessed monster.  It is because of you that I get a paycheck -- this column wouldn't exist if you didn't read it, and I thank you for that. 

So, why leave?  I've been told that I have the best job EVER.  "How can you leave a party column!?" is usually the incredulous response I get.  It's just time.   I've always felt that when I approach something begrudgingly rather than with "go get it!" energy, it's time move on.   I'm turning 34, it's been fun, but I have been feeling that itch to get back into the non-party writer life.   I have always been a community manager before it was an official job title.  In fact, when I was younger, I founded The Jaws Club for my stuffed animals, a weekly meeting of the furry few to discuss all things murderous shark.  I even wrote a newsletter for them.  I wouldn't make up something this embarrassing, people, I really did it.  I have always loved getting people (or stuffed animals, I suppose) to circle their wagons around something, be it an Internet technology prototype from my IBM days, OMMA events, photography, anything.

Which is why I happily accepted a position as community manager at enter: new media, a social media agency that also happens to have offices in my 'hood (I could jump there from my roof).  I am tazer-level excited to join their team and work my butt off.  I love change; it's an incredible opportunity to learn more, to challenge myself, and to remain part of this industry -- just more from the inside, not the rim. 

The idea of going home at night rather than out to events still doesn't feel real, and I feel like a 14-year-old boy after a growth spurt: gangly and awkward.  I mean, what do normal people do at night around here?  I already have plans to revive my personal blog, focusing more on cooking, photography, and the East Village.  I've always wanted to learn how to knit.  And hey, about that online cooking show.  Oh right, and the gym. 

Thank you.  It's been such a sweet ride, I have loved every minute of it, even the name calling, the hangovers, the pizza Buddha belly, the snagged tights, the long nights, and the arch cramps, all of it. 

THE FUTURE: Have you ever read this column and said "feh, I could do so much better!"?  Then do it! I would love to see Just An Online Minute continue, with a fresh-livered effervescent writer with a keen ear for good party gossip.  It's not up to me; it's up to Editor in Chief Joe Mandese.  Shoot him an email with your plans for a new and improved Just An Online Minute at joe@mediapost.com .  I look forward to reading more!

Keep in touch! You can find me on LinkedIn, I'm a prolific tweeter (be warned, it's me. Sometimes you'll get deep thoughts, sometimes you'll get deep-dish pizza), and I can be reached at samardakelly@gmail.com for event photography work.

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14 comments about "Just An Online Minute... Endings Are Really Beginnings... Or Something Like That".
  1. Thomas Siebert from WOLFGANG SOLO: Strategic Communications & Benevolent Propaganda , February 4, 2011 at 1:40 p.m.

    Much entertainment value in your columns. You will be missed. Best of luck!

  2. Ngoc T from Iowa , February 4, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.

    If the cold winds of Iowa winter didn't take my breath away this week, your news of leaving did.

    I am shocked, saddened, and grateful for the memories, laughs, insights.

    You will be sorely missed, Kelly.

  3. M.l. Stone from Abstract Graphic Design Group , February 4, 2011 at 4:21 p.m.

    You absolutely will be missed. Thank goodness you are on Twitter!

  4. Warren Lee from WHL Consulting , February 4, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.

    Kelly, I love your column and am saddened by your early retirement, but quite understand that going out every night is for the young and resilient. Hey, at 34 you are no longer a "spring chicken" so its good that you turn it over. It will serve to keep it fresh. Being from the West Coast your column was the only way to keep up with the New York Media Scene.

    Good luck in your future endeavors.

  5. Kiana Watson from Mindshare , February 4, 2011 at 4:42 p.m.

    Kelly you will be dearly missed! Thanks for all the laughs & fun stories your column provided, and of course all the wonderful shout outs :-) Best Wishes !!

  6. Joe Mandese from MediaPost , February 4, 2011 at 4:49 p.m.

    Kelly, you had me at, "I have tried to write this a good 80 times this week." You are either a literary genius, or the sweetest, most naturally authentic blogger this industry has ever seen. Probably both. But you are definitely good.

    I will truly miss you. I'll even miss taking flak for all the snarky non sequiturs that flow out of your sweet, natural authenticity about meet-ups and meat.

    But mostly I'll just miss working with you.

    Good luck, and I cannot wait until a future snark-filled "Just An Online Minute" columnist covers one of your events when you become a big social media industry honcho. That would be karma.

  7. John Fredette from Alcatel-Lucent , February 4, 2011 at 4:54 p.m.

    Kelly, you have a unique and quirky voice and I will miss reading your appraisals of the New York new media events scene. Where will I go to learn new words and euphemisms for vomit? I have high hopes for your tweets.

  8. Nina Lentini from MediaPost Communications , February 4, 2011 at 5:31 p.m.

    Can't wait to see where you go! You've been a breath of fresh air, Samardak. Hugs!

  9. Kelly Samardak from Shortstack Photography , February 4, 2011 at 5:35 p.m.

    @Thomas Siebert :) Thank you, if you only knew I approached every party asking myself "What What Thomas Siebert Do?"

    @Ngoc T Sometimes, when I tell people I'm from Ohio, they think I say Iowa. That makes us extra connected for life :)

    @M.L. be careful what you wish for!

    @Warren!! I'm still sort of chickeny, but maybe more of a fall chicken. I hope we get some freaky writer in here that keeps up your connect to NYC media :)

    @Kiana - I LOVED running into you and nothing can take away the value of our meat butter and Top of the Rock experiences. I BETTER see you out and about.

    @Joe, seriously? I can't read that, it made my eyeballs sting. If you want, I can drop some offensive material into any pieces you're currently working on :) I'll miss you! (also, I'll be in the office on Monday)

    @John I'll bet you didn't know that one of my major life goals was "teach the world new words and euphemisms for vomit" . Checking that right off the list!

  10. Persia Tatar from , February 4, 2011 at 6:06 p.m.

    The comments on this brought a tear to my eye. I probably need sleep, but I'm serious!

    Also, I have a now have a new mantra: WWTSD ;)

  11. Matt Biscuiti from The Lippin Group , February 4, 2011 at 7:36 p.m.

    Kelly, you will be missed ... but never gangly. Best of luck!!

  12. Donna Declemente from DDC Marketing Group , February 4, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.

    Thanks very much Kelly for giving me a smile and a good laugh whenever I read your column always in true New York humor. Best of luck to you. Will miss you're writing and hope follow you elsewhere.

  13. Tanya Irwin from Tanya Irwin , February 5, 2011 at 4:09 a.m.

    Awww, I'm late to the party (of comments) but I agree with what everyone else said, and more. I loved meeting you in person when we both had occasion to be in Mantua (crazy small world, eh?) and I have loved reading your columns. Now I'll just have to settle for Facebook status updates and tweets, but that's OK. You'll be great at your new job, can't wait to hear all about it. I can't believe it's been three years. Time flies and so do you. Be free, little bird :)

  14. Kelly Samardak from Shortstack Photography , February 7, 2011 at 4:48 p.m.

    Thank you everyone for the kind parting words!