I’m a learn-on-the-job kind of girl. A self-starter. A systems thinker, strategic thinker. If I can understand how the parts of the whole fit together . . . I’m pretty sure I can build it.
I landed my first “real” job out of college at a business newspaper. I had no experience in journalism, nor was it my ambition. I’d recently moved to Phoenix and heard that the newspaper sold a book of business listings: I planned to use that for career leads.
“Are you looking for work?” the office manager asked as I fished my wallet from my bag.
“We need a temporary receptionist,” she continued. “Would you be interested?”
And just like that, I was hired.
I always tell people that I loved being a receptionist. I know this sounds silly, but talking with strangers on the phone — solving their simple problems — made me feel great. (You know what it was like? People watching all day long . . . and my sister and I are exceptional people watchers.)
When my temporary gig on the phones ended, I stayed on as an intern in the newsroom. I had a nook of a desk and my own assignment researching public company quarterly and annual earnings.
One day I ginned up the courage to ask the editor about my career.
“I think I can write news stories,” I said.
He leaned back in his chair and eyed me with suspicion. “Ok,” he said. “You have an assignment.”
I stumbled my way through that first article, and then the second. Within the year, I had a full-time job as a cub reporter. I still had a lot to learn . . . but I did it.
I remember every so often counting up the number of months I’d held the job, thinking, Soon they’ll find out that I don’t know what I’m doing . . . but they can’t take away my five-six-seven months of experience!
Leap ahead eight years. I am an award-winning journalist.
In my newspaper career, I covered business and entrepreneurs. Everyday, I had access to the minds of top performers who were taking risks and building enterprises. I interviewed hundreds of CEOs, founders, and leaders. I might have lacked the killer instinct that produces Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative work, but I made up for it with deep curiosity, solid reporting, and a love of storytelling.
To this day, I heed the many lessons I learned on the job. Journalism taught me to slow down and check my work. It taught me to write economically, explore issues from various perspectives, and meet deadlines. (Deadlines are the antidote to perfectionism, bar none.)
You know what it feels like to tell this story today? In a word, energy.
Energy is what we’re after. It’s the power of life. It’s our electricity.
Everyone gets the same 24-hours in a day. But why is it that some people can move mountains with theirs, and others of us struggle to get out of bed?
In some ways, we’re born with a set-point of energy, like an internal thermostat that controls the proverbial temperature of our lives. But we have greater ability than we know to generate more.
For me, reinvention generates energy. Seeing the potential in each person and helping guide them toward their personal greatness generates energy, too.
Coaching builds on my foundation as a journalist covering business, but its aim is to guide and lead rather than provide public oversight and education. How much do I love that?!
Launching a career in journalism wasn’t the only time I jumped into the deep end of the pool and taught myself to swim. It was one of many.
NEXT EPISODE: I call my sister to explore whether “professional people watchers” could be a legit side-hustle beyond the two old men Muppets in the peanut gallery.