Career Growth Through Rampant Egomania
March 25, 2011
If I were able to offer my younger self career advice, I'd tell myself to invest in Apple and Google. No, wait, that's not particularly "career advice." If I'd taken it, I wouldn't have needed a career. But I needed a career, and I ended up in radio, and if I could give my younger self advice that nobody gave me at the time, I'd tell myself to brag.
Well, that's not quite the word, but that's what a book a few years ago called "Brag" was about, how you need to blow your own horn to get ahead, and that much is true. I'm mentioning this because I've spoken to more than one person lately who's been looking for young programming talent, and it's occurred to me that there are programmers and air talent and producers out there about whom I really don't know much, because they don't draw attention to what they're doing. I know their stations, I may know their names, but I don't really know more than that, and it seems like the people to whom I speak don't know them, either. You just never hear anything about them.
This might not be their fault. There were multiple times in my programming career when I was specifically instructed not to talk to the press, to leave the public-facing stuff to the boss, and I dutifully did that. And once I left, i discovered that I wasn't getting credit for the work I'd done, because I was anonymous. It's good to be a team player, but if the process obscures what you bring to the team, it won't do you any good once you and the team part ways.
How do you overcome this? It's simple, really: Open up. This doesn't mean blabbing company secrets or leaking information that you shouldn't be leaking, and it doesn't mean to step all over others to take credit for everything, whether you did it or not. It does mean that you need to let the world -- the local news media as well as the trades -- know when something of note happens on your station or show, not just that you had a guest (unless it's an A-lister) but when something interesting or remarkable or just noteworthy happens. You raised money for a charity? Let people know. You did a show that caused people to march on the State House? Let people know. You added an extra hour? Again, let people know, and don't worry that you're at too small a station or in too small a market. I've known talent to climb the market-size ladder very quickly with the aid of a lot of noisemaking. You get your name in front of people a lot, and they'll remember it when they have an opportunity. "Hey, what about that guy in Jibip, West Dakota who did that corn price protest and raised six figures for bunion research?," they'll think. Okay, maybe you have to do something more colorful than that, but you get the idea. It's part of networking; you build your network by meeting and communicating with others in the business, but they have to know who you are and meet you and get familiar with your work before they'll really come through for you.
Of course, none of this matters if you don't have talent. But if you're working on the air or programming a station, someone someplace thought you do, so there's that. And maybe you don't think you're ready to move up yet, but that doesn't mean you can't at least get your name out there and let others be the judge of that. You know there are fewer jobs available for what you do, and even if you're comfortable now, you're always a budget cut or format flip away from needing someplace to go. The more people know who you are, the easier that'll be to accomplish. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you; Be your own publicist.
What, you mean you haven't donated to my wife Fran and my annual walk to raise funds to fight women's cancer? You know, the Revlon Run/Walk for Women in Los Angeles on May 7th? The one that I ask you about every year in this space? That's okay, actually; I know how tough times are, but if you can donate to the effort, please do; just go to do.eifoundation.org/goto/pmsimon, and know that every donation is always greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Time to see what's at Talk Topics, the show prep column at AllAccess.com, this week, and it's more of the kind of items you need to kick-start your show when the news just isn't cooperating. If you need more stuff to talk about, all you need to do is go here and you'll get hundreds of ideas, everything from alternative angles on the big news stories to stuff like weird crime, countless Mom's Boyfriend (run!) stories, toilets being used as restaurants and flower pots, how they used toenails to determine that mercury in fish may not put you at risk for heart problems, too many guys who can't keep their manhood in their pants, all sorts of studies that prove things we didn't need studies to prove, the Great Phone Book Protest, one big ball of copper, people biting other people's extremities off, and a goldfish that looks like Hitler, plus many, many more. You'll also be well-advised to read "10 Questions With..." the host and CEO of the unique weekly syndicated motorsports show "SpeedFreaks," Kenny Sargent, who talks about the show, the enormous growth of motorsports (and not just NASCAR), rock 'n' roll, and a lot more. And don't miss the rest of All Access, either, with all the news and features and ratings and job listings and other resources you need, updated all day every day, and all free.
It's that Social Media thing again: Follow Talk Topics at @talktopics and Net News at @allaccess to get the headlines in convenient and clickable form. And you can follow me at @pmsimon for random thoughts about life, the anguish and occasional ecstacy of being a Phillies (and Sixers) fan, and incomprehensible personal exchanges with friends, none of which shall be construed as being endorsed or sanctioned by All Access, because it doesn't deserve that shame.
Oh, yeah, there's my very own personal blog about life, sports, and extremely obscure pop culture ephemera, which recently passed its eighth anniversary and is at pmsimon.com, and my other writing outlet, Chris Hardwick's Nerdist.com, where I write about nerd culture from sci-fi to comedy to indie rock and more. These are both not the fault of All Access, so please don't blame them. Blame me. I can take it.
Next week: Oh, please, I won't know that until, like, the night before, when I do the process I've told you about in a previous column (rack my brain, finally write something, hate it, delete it, write half of a new one, fall asleep, wake up, delete it, write a third draft, hover my finger over the delete key, decide to send it in anyway). What REALLY matters is that baseball's regular season starts Thursday and the Phillies open on Friday. Spring is good.