By: Allison Kugel
Build Your Own Chair
“Either I will find a way, or I will make one.” – Philip Sidney
When people ask me how I landed my first job in journalism, I often have to laugh and say, “I didn’t. I made my own job.” Or as I like to put it, “No one offered me a seat at the table. I had to get out some wood, a hammer and nails, and build my own chair.” It was the winter of 2005 and I happened to have a friend who was getting into the arena of online press release distribution. I inquired if he was planning to add any articles to the mix, and offered up my writing services free of charge. I hadn’t yet written professionally, but I knew a bit about writing and a bit about the entertainment industry.
When I was asked to pitch the creative direction for an editorial (articles) portion of his newswire, I suggested interviewing celebrities and newsmakers.
Since I wasn’t yet asking for any money, I got a half-hearted green light. “If you can make it happen, then you can run it,” I was told. The very first interview I landed is still burned on my brain. It was one of the cast members from the very first season of The Apprentice. At the time, thirteen years ago, it felt like quite a feat to get anyone notable to speak with me for an interview.
My first handful of interviews left me giddy with excitement in a rather childish way, mostly because I couldn’t believe that by simply declaring that I was going to become something, it actually began to happen. Before I knew it, I was interviewing talk show hosts, media personalities; a musician here, an actor there. The ball was starting to roll.
After eight years and more than one hundred interviews that eventually rose to the level of Oscar winners, Emmy winners, Grammy winners and U.S. presidential candidates, I parted ways from this original position. For quite a while I felt certain that an opportunity like that would never come my way again. Time went by (five years to be exact), when I had an epiphany. Nobody had given me that initial opportunity. I created it, myself. And if I created it once, I could create it again.
Once again, I dipped into my bucket of fairy dust and declared that I was going to build a syndicated interview column from scratch. In fact, it was my New Year’s resolution nearly one year ago. I didn’t know exactly how I would re-build these important relationships, get media outlets to come on board or get anyone to say yes to an interview, but I knew I was going to do it. Well, here we are, ten months later, and my portfolio of published and syndicated interviews is more substantial now than it was eight years ago before I ventured out on my own.
My question for you to contemplate this week is this: Are you currently waiting for permission to do something you’ve always wanted to do? Is there something creative inside of you that wants to come out, but, “no one will give you the chance”? If a seat at the table is alluding you, it may be time to roll up your sleeves and build your own chair.