Archive for category Media Impact
Over the last couple of days, little snippets of good advice have popped out to me, whether while in our meetings with people, or walking around D.C. taking in the sights. Here I have listed some that may or may not be very applicable to everyone, but perhaps will be good reminders just the same. (Note: I can’t claim that all of these are direct quotes, or even paraphrased, because some are summaries of bigger ideas discussed.)
- Strive for openness in a world that thrives working behind closed doors.
- People who seem untouchable can be reached through public opinion. A reputation can either be a strong point, or a weak spot.
- It’s important to see things from all sides. Even the sides you don’t agree with or like.
- How are you going to help organizations you are a part of move forward?
- It’s important to know whom you’re associating with or working for. Know their history.
- You have time; get a job you enjoy. But also, time things well – look 6 months ahead.
- Life is more fun when you’re scrapping your way along.
- If everything stays the same, it’s not worth it.
- Unabashedly knock on doors and take any opportunity; experience is experience.
- It’s always about the money. You know a person or company through where they are spending their money.
- Just ask, and keep asking.
- You can come from wherever you are and be successful – everyone was someone before.*
- Everything will shift. However, good stories told well will remain a constant.
- Connect people to ideas.
- Make sure to balance entertainment and education.
- Partnering with people allows things to get done, and opens new and unexpected doors.
- Cultivate a strong sense of volunteerism.
- Keep your options open; learn what you can.
- Work around people who can mentor you.
- Look for ways to push yourself.
- Don’t be afraid of moving sideways.
- Put yourself in communities you want to be involved with. We create the community we live in. Get involved now.
- You have to balance where you spend your resources equally, and among a few key assets.
- Brand yourself as someone who will be a champion for certain causes. Meaning, create a reputation for yourself as someone who will take up and pursue a cause, as someone who will see a goal through to the end.
- Drive the conversation. Gain loyalty. Be transparent. Make a case for your cause (don’t just spout your opinions). Be authoritative.
- Leaders motivate others, find people who are doing good things and let them know they are doing good work, and use mistakes as a chance for learning and growth.
Library of Congress (These are direct quotes from inside the Thomas Jefferson building. Here lists who originally said them.)
- The true university of these days is a collection of books.
- Books will speak plain when counselors blanch.
- The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.
- There is one only good, namely, knowledge; and one only evil, namely, ignorance.
Even though some of the speakers may have been talking about something in particular, I believe that these words have worth for a variety of situations. Similarly, some, or all, of these speakers may have been talking about things that were not of interest to everyone (or even in an interesting way). This doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. What’s great about learning from people of all walks of life is finding new ways to liven up your experience with something seemingly unrelated. For example, I am probably going to go into work somehow related to psychology. But listening to Marcellus talk about leadership within the broadcasting world still applies to how I should think about leadership in the psychology world. The heart of his words, the wisdom, remains. This is why it was so great to get a variety of people to listen to on the trip.**
*Even Taylor Swift agrees.
**Thanks for your hard work putting this together, Jim!
but I truly, genuinely, want to apply what I have learned on this trip to my life when I return home. I don’t want the wisdom and experience shared to us by the people we have met with to go wasted, or for the scribbles in my orange notebook I take to meetings to become incomprehensible upon reflection.
This trip provides a truly rare and special opportunity to pick the brains of professionals from all walks of life. They have different backgrounds, different passions, and different roles within their company. These differences led me to expect each person’s advice or beliefs about the world to contradict. This has overwhelmingly not been the case.
Here are some commonalities I have noticed:
- They didn’t start, or even picture themselves, in the career they are in currently. Their professional journey was a winding path, with small diversions and leaps of faith that took them to places they never would have guessed for themselves.
- They made themselves noticed. They got the attention of the people they worked with, worked for, and of the people they wanted to work for. They did this through being authentically themselves, and through working really hard (it was exhausting even just listening to their work routines/histories).
- They were actively seeking out new opportunities, even as they were working for someone else. This wasn’t behavior I would consider to be underhanded or sneaky, but a way for them to open themselves up to new opportunities. Sometimes stuff falls into your lap, but most often, you put yourself in positions where stuff will become available to you.
- They made sure to work well with others. Each person we have met has been extremely personable: willing to meet with us, willing to answer questions, welcomed us with a feeling of hospitality, took time to explain what their company does (instead of saying, “Didn’t you research us beforehand?”), and so on. Perhaps some of them boosted their charisma for the meeting, but I don’t think it was that much of a stretch – why would they fake being personable to a bunch of college kids from a tiny university on the other side of the country? The good-naturedness that we experienced is something that has, and will, serve them well in their profession. It makes them a good client, a good boss, and/or a good team player.
- They used every part of their personal experience to serve them in their current capacity. No knowledge or experience was too small for them. The best example I can think of is Christopher from NYC & Company. He got his start in the hospitality business (and on his LinkedIn profile, it says he went to culinary school), and has expanded that to his job of boosting tourism for the City of New York. That connection is not something I would call logical, but his background has served him well, and he still uses what he learned in the hospitality business for his current job.
It was refreshing to hear from people who have passion for their work. I think most of the time when I hear about people’s work, it’s about how happy they are it’s a Friday, and they get to go home for the weekend.* I am not naïve enough to think the people we met with don’t get tired or frustrated with their jobs, but they obviously like what they do enough to talk with enthusiasm about it for an hour with some random out-of-towner students.
*Please refer to a bit from John Mulaney’s stand-up routine, New in Town.
Somehow over the course of time, the term “networking” has devolved into a dirty word – not to the level of a curse word or slur, of course, but it is often seen as a somewhat crude word. You don’t want to be accused of doing it, but you know you need to in order to advance your career. Instead of a term to indicate the process of making connections, of professionals helping one another out, of sharing information, it is often a term that indicates a user, someone out for himself or herself, someone who doesn’t care about authentic relationships. Happily, if we have learned anything from the interviews we have participated in during this trip, it’s that networking can be an extremely positive thing, and in fact, is usually the source of someone’s professional success. Networking shouldn’t be negatively stigmatized. It prevents people from utilizing it for their own benefit, and perhaps even more importantly, it prevents a culture of helping one another within the professional world. If you still feel uncomfortable with the concept of networking, then think of it this way: by you participating in networking, you are in fact helping out others; it is an altruistic endeavor. Networking can have personal benefit, obviously, but it can also be a way to help out others. Consider this scenario: someone you know really wants to get into wildlife conservation, but they just don’t know how. They know that if they apply to some of the companies they have heard about, their application will most likely get lost in a sea of other interested applicants. Luckily, one of your mom’s clients happens to be WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). She is good friends with her client, as they have been working together for the past 8 years. You tell your friend about this connection, however far-reaching it may seem. They take you up on your offer, and you connect your friend with your parent, who will in turn connect your friend to the worker at WWF, who can point your friend in the right direction for obtaining a job at WWF. The WWF employee will be happy to do this, because it helps the company more quickly find a good worker who has been vouched for by a trusted source. (They will also be happy to do this, because someone in the past did the same thing for them, and they feel the should “pay it forward.”) It’s simple, good networking, and nothing about this scenario is underhanded, self-serving, or shallow. Obviously, networking has the potential to be a tool for those who are out for themselves. But when this happens, networking isn’t being used for its full potential. Instead of thinking “it’s all about who you know,” think, “it’s all about connections.” Connecting with people via networking inherently means, “give some, take some.” It a symbiotic relationship, and it’s the axel grease of the work world.
Today I spent the morning at the Newseum. Since I knew hitting everything in the museum would be quite an undertaking, the first thing I did was to make my way up to the 6th and highest floor in order to get a view of Pennsylvania Ave. When I stepped out onto the balcony, everything was slicked wet and mist hung in the air, sticking to the highest points of buildings up and down the street. To my left was the Capitol, covered in what looked like spikes but I knew to be scaffolding from the remodel. In front of me was the National Gallery of Art, with a banner hanging down the front featuring Degas’ Little Dancer. To my right, the avenue stretched upward until the end disappeared into the fog.
It became a bit too chilly out on the balcony, so I headed inside to visit the rest of the 6th floor. My plan was to circle around each floor, and then move on to the next, moving downward. This way, I would see the entire museum without spending too much time getting stuck at any one display. When I was finished I could exit and go to lunch at a nearby café I had spotted on my way from the hostel. Everything happened how I had hoped, save a few delays: mainly, the screens that were showing SNL, Jimmy Fallon, and Stephen Colbert clips. (I now consider these shows “educational,” as they are featured in a legitimate museum.)
I was wrapping up my last floor and decided to take one last look at the museum map to make sure I had seen everything. I noticed I had missed the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery, and headed over, curious to see some of the world’s most famous, and infamous, photographs. The collection did not disappoint – the Newseum successfully featured some of the most iconic and astounding photos I have ever seen. The gallery was essentially a visual timeline, which began in 1942, and led all the way up to present day. It was a tightly packed area, with each picture hung closely to the next, and people shuffling by one another and stretching to see over the backs of heads.
Soiling of Old Glory by Stanley Forman
It was too stuffy, too crowded, for such an emotionally charged display. Pictured in the gallery were glimpses of humanity’s extreme highs and lows. There were athletes celebrating their Olympic wins. There were people plummeting to their deaths. There was a mother too broken by sadness to show that she did, in fact, care that her child lay starving in her arms. There were old scars and fresh wounds on display. And, there were people bustling by, consuming all of it.
I felt conflicted. I wanted to see each of the photographs, to experience what the photographer had wanted the audience to experience; but, at the same time, I felt that this was not the proper place to respectfully view and take on the experiences the photographs displayed. I could not adequately empathize in such a public and casual setting. I felt voyeuristic, peeking into the lives of people who I did not know. I was dipping into their world for a few seconds, and then moving on to the next.
I left the Newseum bleary-eyed. Needing something less emotionally draining, I headed over to the National Gallery of Art. It is essentially a building with room after room of paintings, and a bottom floor for statues. I saw Picasso and Monet and Cezanne and Titian and all sorts of famous painters. The majority of the paintings ran together, despite their drastic differences in style. Most paintings were of people sitting patiently for the artist, or of landscapes featuring a beautiful countryside.* It was a vastly different experience from the Pulitzer Gallery. Yes, the paintings were hung close together, and yes, it was crowded. But with the National Gallery, all of the art was carefully planned and executed. There were hardly any “distressing” paintings, and the few that were had a detached feeling to them, possibly because the purpose of the painting wasn’t to be “distressing,” but to show off the artist’s talent. It was emotionally underwhelming compared to what I had just come from at the Newseum.
I know after what I have just shared, I have painted myself as a hard-to-please person. That may be true in some aspects of my life (e.g. at a coffee shop, when my drink ends up 95% milk, tastes like wax, and is served lukewarm), but that was not the case today – I thoroughly enjoyed my time at both the Newseum and the National Gallery of Art, even the parts that were hard to digest. This article is merely me trying to wrap my head around the impact that different artistic mediums have on the emotional experience of the viewer/consumer. A photograph is a millisecond of a person’s life, whereas a painting is planned and carefully executed (save that one painting where it’s literally just a blank canvas. Yeah.). Because a photograph is so quick, it’s easier for the photographer to capture the lives of people who he or she is not acquainted with. It’s easier to capture the lowest points of humanity. It’s the opposite for a painting or sculpture.
These differences cause me to wonder: are photographs more forceful in their exposure of the human experience, even to the point of being exploitative; and, do the benefits outweigh the costs? (I won’t pretend to have the answer.)
*For the record, this was the best painting at the Gallery:
Out of all the fascinating and informative places our group has visited on this trip, Getty Images stands out as the most surprising: not necessarily for what they do (I had expected something akin to Shutterstock) but for each employee’s passion for his or her work. Each person we met with seemed to have found a company that they believe in, and were happy to wake up each day and commute to.
Frankly put, I want to find that in my own career. I don’t necessarily know where or what I will be doing, but I know I want my company to have a similar essence as the one I experienced at Getty. I want the place I work at to have the same integrity, passion, and collaboration that Getty Images and its employees projected at our meeting.
Getty’s biggest supporter seemed to be Director of Photography and VP of News, Pancho Bernasconi. As we all experienced, he had a lot to say about Getty Images, photography, journalism, and the importance of passion in one’s work. We might still be in that meeting if we hadn’t set a stopping point; but that’s not a bad thing. For Pancho to have as much enthusiasm and drive as he does in his senior position is a very special thing. Even if he is currently experiencing or has experienced “burnout,” he certainly still knows why he does what he does.
I believe the source of Pancho’s drive, as well as the success of Getty Images as a company, comes from (as Pancho stated in our meeting) a desire for authenticity. Pancho told us of how he continues to strive for the best, for passion, for meaning, and for collaboration. These are things I want to emulate as I enter the beginning stages of my career, whatever that may look like. As long as I strive for and uphold a passion for the good, for the authentic, I believe I will be able to look back on my career with pride.
This blog is created by students of Whitworth University visiting New York City and Washington, D.C., for a class on Media Impact in the Contemporary U.S.