Get Over Yourself — You’re Not That Special

I did this TV interview on Friday and learned a little something that I should have already known, since it’s something I always preach.

People tend to think that their job or their industry is enormously complex and that an outsider could never possibly understand how it works. As a result, businesses often demand extensive, specific experience from their job candidates or potential partners and vendors.

And it’s silly, because PR people, consultants, lawyers and others are accustomed to quickly getting up-to-speed on new issues and industries. We do it every day. Give me an hour or less to do some online research or sit down with you and I can pretty much explain to others how your company works and the challenges it faces.

But even those of us who know all this can have a blind spot when it comes to our own work. So I did everything I could to brief the TV people on what I do. I emailed ideas to the producer, sent links to the website and videos, had the publisher send her a book. I assumed we’d do some kind of pre-interview over the phone, but with the holiday it didn’t happen.

Then when I got to the studio the morning after Thanksgiving I found the news anchor who was going to interview me didn’t have a copy of the book (luckily I brought extras) or much in the way of notes. All he had was a couple of sentences of intro. So during a break we talked for maybe 3 minutes, he skimmed the text on the back cover of the book, scribbled a few notes and that was it.

And you know what? He got it. He asked good questions, I gave good answers and it all worked out. Of course it did. He’s in the news business. He does that 10 or 20 times a day.

It was an excellent reminder that my work isn’t all that mysterious either.