Well, That Was 45

It was, as they say, a year.

I’ve likely said something like this before, but for someone like myself who likes clean starts, having a birthday that comes within days of the turn of the new year is somewhat calming. The coincidental proximity of those events means I get to look back at the life year and calendar year that has passed and the life year and calendar year that is ahead.

To mark the passing of both mile markers, allow me to indulge in a bit of a retrospective on a year that, to put it mildly, was unlike any other I’ve experienced in my now 46 years.

Professional Life

When Jason James called to ask if I wanted to join him in blowing things up at GoNoodle, I couldn’t sign on fast enough. What started in March as a part-time gig quickly became full-time and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Not only is the work itself rewarding, but reteaming with Jason has been a blast. Best of all, the job is free of the stress that comes with managing a 24/7 social media publishing program, which I was not eager to experience again.

Joining GoNoodle meant saying goodbye to Starbucks, where I’d been working for three-and-a-half years, since November, 2016. That parting was bittersweet, as I’d enjoyed the job for much of my time there and got a rush out of the hustle, even if it was frequently exhausting on a 40+ year-old body. While such things are relative, I always felt Starbucks treated its Partners, including myself, well, and that was proven during the early days of the pandemic. The toughest part, to be honest, was detoxing off the four to eight shots of espresso I drank daily.

The pandemic, combined with the change in my job situation, also meant an end to most all my freelancing. This is disappointing on some level, but as is the case with many people, I will take the stability of full-time employment even if I miss the adrenaline hit of freelance assignments and byline submission.

Writing Life

You might think that, with most all my freelance gigs closing up, I would have absolutely crushed it on the blogging front.

You would be mistaken. Mostly because as that door closed I was also learning how to walk up the stairs again in my new GoNoodle position.

That being said, here’s how last year looked on the blogging and writing front:

  • Chris Thilk: 37 posts, 22,160 total words
  • Cinematic Slate: 148 posts, 134,250 total words

Of course over the course of the year I did publish Productivity Lost (98 posts, 72,380 total words), a project originally conceived and pitched as a book.

And, as is the case with many writers, there are a handful of books, stories and other side projects in various stages of starting or completing scattered across Google Docs, Evernote and a handful of legal pads.

On to 46 and 2021

There have been challenges in the past and there will be new ones in the future.

There have been blessings in the past and there will be new ones in the future.

All I – and we – can do is keep working, keep fighting and keep putting one foot in front of the other. That may sound overly pragmatic as opposed to being inspirational or profoundly introspective, but what were you expecting from a middle-aged Gen X Lutheran? Unabashed sunny optimism?

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A Noodle-Centric Next Chapter

Some personal news.

Throughout the last nearly four years, my job situation has been..fluid. There’s been freelance work, contract work, retail work and just about everything else you can imagine. I’ve managed social media programs, written white papers, edited email newsletters and slung more than a few lattes over that time.

Now it’s time for the next thing.

Back in February I started doing part-time contract work for GoNoodle, a children’s entertainment company. Now I’m happy to say I’ve accepted an offer to become that company’s full-time Manager, Content Programming.

My short time already at GoNoodle has been wonderful. I’ve met some smart people who have accepted me with open arms, even as I ask “OK, but why?” several dozen times a day. They’ve welcomed my input and experience and put up my Slack GIFs.


So what will I be doing in this role?

  • Deciding which content is published to the GoNoodle homepages
  • Testing various theories and hypotheses regarding what makes content popular
  • Organizing existing content and participating in planning new material
  • Managing the priorities of other departments and putting them all in the content funnel

And, of course, showing off my Jordan-strong Slack GIF game.

One of the things that attracted me to GoNoodle was a desire to do something a little more meaningful with my career. Thankfully I’ve rarely been asked or required by any employer or client to do anything directly contrary to my values, but a company whose goals are childhood fitness, compassion and empathy for your friends and neighbors as well as educational success was just what I had been looking for.

Another element that led me to say “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes” was actually the same thing that brought me into the company in the first place: The chance to work with Jason James again.

Jason was my primary day-to-day contact when I was at Voce and he was at DC Entertainment from late 2011 to about the end of 2015, before he moved on to other opportunities. He and I, along with the rest of the Voce team, quickly found we shared sensibilities and perspectives, challenging while also completely supporting each other. Working with him was a blast.

So when I returned his out-of-the-blue call and he explained how he had recently joined GoNoodle and was looking for someone he trusted to come in and run the department he was overseeing, I couldn’t jump on board fast enough, especially after learning more about his mission.

You can read more about GoNoodle and its mission in this post from KC Estenson when he joined as the company’s new CEO in 2018. And here’s the story from earlier this year when Jason was brought on to head content strategy and programming.

This is obviously an unusual time, and being offered a full-time position in the midst of an economy-shattering pandemic was the furthest thing from my mind. I’m thankful for the opportunity and hope this will be the beginning of a long relationship with the company.