In the 10 years I spent working in the television industry, no two days were the same. I’ve interviewed top CEOs and entrepreneurs as a correspondent of an NBC-produced business show, hosted shows for children’s network Nickelodeon, reported pop culture stories for E! News and covered commercial space exploration for PBS.
Yet consistent in all of my experiences was the demand to deliver a stellar product. Through it all, I was fortunate to receive some great advice that I carry with me every day:
1. Adopt a “make it happen” mentality.
Launching a live daily television show is no small undertaking. But back in 2002, this challenge didn’t deter the lean staff of Nickelodeon’s U-Pick Live where I was a co-host and associate producer. Our head producer empowered us to embrace our lack of resources and adopt a “make it happen” attitude of real-time problem solving. Graphic designer out sick? No problem, here’s Photoshop – figure it out.
A segment that airs in three minutes was just rejected by Standards & Practices? Okay, rewrite it, right here on the set. Misplaced that music video that the record label sent over? No worries – convince the Grammy Award-winning artist that reenacting the video was her idea. When you adopt a “make it happen” mentality, you shift from solving problems to identifying opportunities.
2. You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything.
I still remember when my professor from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism said this to me after I shared the 10 different things I wanted to pursue after graduation. Our conversation led me to view my work like a computer operating system. Of course, when you have multiple apps open on a computer, your processor speed can slow to a crawl or crash altogether. I would regularly ask myself which “apps” or projects I wanted to keep open.
Keeping multiples “apps” open in business is the equivalent of FOMO — the Fear of Missing Out – and not being focused. This advice reminds me of what author Jim Collins said: “If you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.”
3. Don’t tell the whole story, tell a story.
This is another great piece of advice that I received as a graduate student. It’s no coincidence that when you read a national news article on, say, unemployment, journalists tend to begin with the story of an individual directly affected by it. This makes the story feel closer to home. It’s the same process when targeting an audience.
Initially, I targeted “young professionals” with my coaching services. Quickly I realized that this was far too broad. After some research and adding an application process, I shifted my target audience to high-potential young professionals and entrepreneurs, many in the media industry. These aren’t individuals who are content to sit in a cubicle. They want to be challenged and supported by a coach who has been in their shoes. I immediately noticed a marked shift in the quality of applicants and even had to create a waiting list. When you tell a story versus the whole story, it’s easier for potential clients to connect to your brand.
These three pieces of advice of have kept me focused and always ready to creatively identify opportunities. Running a business is very much like working in live television — you never know what’s going to happen, but if you’re prepared, you relish the uncertainty.
Antonio Neves is a career coach, speaker and award-winning business journalist. He is the founder of THINQACTION where he works with young professionals to produce exceptional results in their careers.