Back in my Hollywood days, I’d spend a lot of time going to meetings at production companies. They were a lot like blind dates. You’d check each other out, tell funny stories about yourself and hope that something might come of it so that you could stop feeling like such a hopeless failure.

But after a while, I started to notice that I would have a lot of meetings at companies that created content — mostly low-budget pieces for sites like YouTube, Vimeo or even Crackle. Sometimes, I would walk through these offices and see rows and rows of Macs, all manned by well-dressed people in their 20s clicking away on Adobe Premiere.

I began to wonder — what are these shows? Does anyone even know they exist? And who the heck is paying for all of this?

Eventually, I coined a name for it: the Content Industrial Complex. There is just so much stuff out there. And when you’re the one making it, staying creative can sometimes be incredibly difficult. In our Margins Season 2 finale, we try to figure out if it’s possible to have your integrity and a good credit score.

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Find Your Rhythm

Sarah Lessire is the senior content marketing manager at Culture Amp, and she’s also a formally trained musician.

For Sarah, creating content and making music aren’t all that different, and she reminds us that creative backgrounds can inform us in ways that make the content we produce much stronger. “Both have to do with empathy, emotional subtlety and rhythm,” she says. “You’re creating an asset, whether it’s a song or a visual, that needs to convey a certain message and that people need to resonate with.”

Rhythm, Sarah says, is crucial to a piece’s success — no matter what form it takes or who commissioned it. “Rhythm is extremely important because the currency that we’re all playing with is time,” she explains. “It’s even true for aesthetic assets because there is a pace in a way that our eyes will follow things.”

“There is kind of a magical rhythm that I’m still trying to grasp every day to how you can optimally sustain someone’s attention.”

Are You Sure You’re Selling Out?

Lily Zheng is a consultant and speaker. She is the co-author of two books. Her newest book, co-written with Inge Hansen, is “The Ethical Sellout: Maintaining Your Integrity in the Age of Compromise.”

For anyone — no matter their profession — there will be times when our personal ethics may come into conflict with professional opportunities. Sometimes, it’s easy to say no. But there are other times where the line is not as black and white as we’d like it to be.

When these situations occur for Lily, she tries to take a step back and approach the situation with compassion. She considers the impact of the potential work on her career by asking herself two questions:

  • What are the potential downstream effects of saying yes?
  • How can I be accountable to the communities and the values that I care about?

Ultimately, what’s most important is to make sure that you understand not just your own viewpoints, but also the viewpoints of those hiring you. Make sure that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision and be open about trying to understand the ramifications of your decision for yourself and for your client. “I never go into situations with no understanding of the context, because that’s how you get into trouble,” says Lily. “That’s how you find yourself in the middle of a messy situation.”

“I try to be as transparent as possible with my clients in the beginning of the process.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

This episode marks the end of our second season of Margins by Managing Editor. You can listen to the full season here. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please share with your friends and co-workers and leave us a rating or review at Apple Podcasts!

We’ll be back in spring 2020.