This past week’s been an emotional rollercoaster for me. My partner Tracie broke her arm and displayed an amazing resilience that put me to shame. It was quite the wake-up call.
I learned three key things:
• Playing small and safe doesn’t help you, those close to you or the causes you’re passionate about.
• Opportunities rarely come when you’re ‘ready’, you create the opportunities by putting yourself out there, leaving aside your self-doubt and sharing your skills and knowledge.
• Don’t hide your views and values because they may be considered controversial.
The third point is, in itself, potentially controversial because a lot of people in the business, entrepreneur and corporate sectors will tell you the opposite:
Posting political views on your Facebook page is, apparently, professional suicide.
If you support a campaign that’s considered ‘radical’ – marriage equality, feminism, animal rights for example – you’d do best to keep quiet if you want to be hired.
I cringe when I hear these things. Personally because I’ve been involved in a number of social justice initiatives for many years, and professionally because as a journalist we’re always on the lookout for interviewees and personalities who have something to say and are prepared to stand by their convictions.
To make a name for yourself, you need to stand out from the crowd. Sure, it’s important to be credible, but there’s plenty of others with similar credentials and experience as you. It’s the ‘extra’ stuff that only you possess that makes you special and memorable.
A few years ago when the GFC hit and media companies cut back on their hiring, I panicked and sanitised my website. I removed every bit of colour, pizazz and fun and turned it into what I thought was a ‘sensible’ and ‘serious’ site.
A friend hired me to do some editorial work for the company she worked for, but she did that based on her knowledge of my vast journalistic experience, not on the site. In fact she told me how “awful” it looked!
If take a look around my site now, you’ll see it’s far from serious. There’s a mirrorball sparkling off a brightly coloured background, a collection of photos and a bio that reveals way more than most professionals dare to share.
I love it. It’s very ‘me’. Will it turn some people off? Sure. But that’s ok. I also include on my Linkedin profile that I’m vegan and an animal advocate. That definitely sends some folk running away! It also attracts others (and not necessarily those who share my values, but respect them).
So, does this mean you should be controversial, particularly when you’re doing interviews with the media? My advice is yes – but only under certain circumstances.
To find out if and when you should be controversial when dealing with journalists, watch this week’s episode of Katrina Fox TV: