On Sunday 29th May, I was interviewed (briefly) on Radio 5 Live. Despite proper planning and preparation, I gave a truly piss poor performance which, no word of a lie, has kept me awake at night. This is what happened.
Back in the mists of time (well, 24th May), I picked up the following from my Twitter feed:
And I replied:
All seems innocuous enough, right? So, imagine my delight when one of the researchers got in touch through Facebook to invite me on the show.
Hours of feverish preparation ensued; rewriting my About Page, updating my LinkedIn profile, releasing new blog posts and so on to be ready for the deluge of people that might want to check me out online after the interview.
Fast forward a few hours, phone rings and the people on the show, quite rightly, rip my Tweet apart. What was cool though was that Corinne Mills spent a bit of time checking out my various online profiles, spotted that I’ve won awards and asked me about those live on air (thanks Corinne).
They asked me to explain my Tweet, what it meant and what I was looking for. Corinne also asked me why I didn’t mention the awards, and I replied because it’s not in my DNA to go on about such things.
So I received good advice from the show, fulfilling the point of their original Tweet looking for content. So far, so good.
So how did I balls it up that badly?
Because I didn’t stay true to my strategy.
My original tweet itself was never designed to get me a job, or even a conversation with an interested party.
My Tweet was designed to get me on the show (or at least have my name mentioned live on air). A fact that I didn’t mention. My Tweet was designed to give me the opportunity to get my voice, experience and skills in front of a bought-in, engaged, audience.
I took a calculated risk with the Tweet I sent, pre-guessing the show’s approach, content and editorial angle.
And the risk paid off. But, you know what, I didn’t mention that at all. Why?
The simple answer, and the one that I’ve been regretting ever since, is that I didn’t want to seem like some kind of know-it-all smart-arse.
I didn’t have the confidence to admit that I’d made a play against the system, and won.
At the last possible second, I decided not to circumvent the show’s purpose for my own gain.
I decided not to admit to taking a calculated risk nor to admit to being a risk-taker, for fear of pissing off the hosts (who, let’s face it, do a great job, provide interesting content and who probably don’t like being played).
I decided not to be who I was, instead becoming the person that I thought they wanted on the show (and, you know what, I was right because I got invited on the air).
I chameleoned in totally the wrong direction.
And the key word here is fear.
At the last moment, I let my own insecurity get the better of me.
I didn’t want to proudly shake my tail feathers and admit that not only had I played the system, but that I’d won as well. That they’d fallen into my honey-trap, so to speak.
I didn’t want to seem like a calculating marketer with a degree of smugness thrown in.
And that’s what tripped me up. I gave them the content that they wanted. But I lost the opportunity to give myself the content that I wanted.
So the take-away is…
To not be afraid (easier said than done). To take a risk in admitting that I’d taken a risk. To abandon the fear of a reaction which might never happen to stay true to a strategy which had got me to the point I needed to be at in the first place.
And you know the real kicker? The real nugget that digs me in the ribs and slaps me in the face whenever I think about just how badly I ballsed the opportunity up?
The real kicker is the fact that, had I been being interviewed for any of the projects I work on, anything that I promote in my day-job, anything that I put on my CV, I would never have subjugated my content for that of another.
So the real take-away, perhaps, is to have the confidence to treat myself as a living, breathing project and not the ‘Mr Nice Guy’ I tried to portray in deference to someone else’s limitations.
Damnit, I think I’ve learnt something after all…