Some years ago, I’m not going to say how many to protect the innocent and not so innocent, I started my career in media. Citytv was unique – everyone thought it was the number one station in Toronto – it was legendary. It was the little station that could, and the coolest one around. We were number 3, but if you are going to be number 3, be the best number 3 you can be. I was beyond excited and on my first day, my then boss gave me a whispered warning – don’t ruin my relationship with the Cityline producer, and whatever you do, don’t get on her bad side. Quivering on the inside, I was taken around to be introduced to a bunch of people whose names escaped me for awhile, then I was introduced to Chrissie Rejman.
Diminutive, with a British accent, and a slightly bored expression, at least when speaking with this newbie, she said hello, as she looked me up and down, then said her still famous line, “Well, of course you’ve seen Cityline.” Of course, I responded, a little to eagerly, and went on to say how much I loved Fashion Friday and Mega Makeover Madness! I was rewarded with a small nod. Back in those days when streaming services didn’t exist and VHS meant something other than VERY HOMELY SUCKER, we taped our favourite shows and this show was one that made the cut. If you aren’t familiar with Cityline, it is an interactive lifestyle show with themed days and as it’s producer always said, it’s advice your best girlfriend would give you. Chrissie was the producer from it’s inception in 1984 until June 30th, 2016.
After many months, and a HUGE project, Chrissie started taking a liking to me, I think she realized that I cared about her show and was willing to work hard. She even gave me an end credit a few times, I never told her how thrilled I was by that. Many of you fast forward the credits, but knowing the work that goes into production, I always try to read them. As time went on, my admiration for Chrissie grew and I started to not only see her as a producer that I had to be able to work with, but a dear friend and mentor. We started having after work chats at least once a week. These calls started as I often needed to get approvals for story ideas for clients, but then became our time to vent, and laugh and sometimes even cry.
To know Chrissie is to understand that there was a going to be a certain rhythm to the approval process. First came the no, with a mild insult. Often it was “vile”, “ridiculous”, a disgusted sigh or even “Jill, how can you ask me to do this?”. I’d say “OK Chrissie, I get it”, we’d have a little laugh, then say goodbye. Then, I’d count down 5, 4, 3, 2…ring (I’d smile to myself as I picked up the phone)! “Jill, I can’t do that dreadful integration, but here is what I can do…” – 90% of the time, it was always more than I’d ever ask for, and a better idea.
Outside of coming up with good sales integrations, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons from my friend:
- Remain ageless – it really is just a number
- Stay passionate about what you love
- Care about everything that has your name on it
- There are a million ideas out there, you just have to look for them
- If someone is applying for a job with you and they tell you that they are a people person, say “Really, I don’t” to see how they react. I haven’t tried this one, but it’s a brilliant line
- Keep your friends close and don’t worry about your enemies
- Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s a fight you aren’t going to win
- Pick someone that you are inspired by to be your mentor – I did, and she never let me down. I didn’t realize how much of a mentor Chrissie was to me until I found out she was leaving, then I thought back to all of the life lessons that I acquired over time just by listening to her, and realized how inspired I am by this woman
- The older you get, the bigger the bigger the jewelry you should wear. If you want to try wearing big jewelry, own it. Chrissie is 5 feet (ok a little less than that) and tiny, and she pulls it off
Chrissie – I’ll never quite get the right words to tell you how much you mean to me. You have been my comfort and my constant at work. You’ve made me laugh harder and cry harder than I ever thought possible. You are going to do great things – I don’t doubt that. You are vital, strong and brilliant. I love being your friend and I can’t wait to see what you do next.