Sunday, October 12, 2008

All I really need to know I learned from the exploding laptop guy

Carmi Levy was interviewed by Melissa A. Bartell for All Things Girl. Here's a portion of what he said in the interview.

I think the reason I’ve made it onto so many journalists’ lists is because I call them back promptly and I give them what they need. I also treat them with the respect they deserve. It’s simple, really, but so many others in my field have apparently forgotten the lessons we all learned in kindergarten.

But it's not just that. Levy can (if I may use a Brian "Bex" Huff word) empathize.

When I was working in radio, one of my responsibilities was booking interviews for our noontime news and public affairs show. From the moment I came in at 8 a.m., I had, maybe, a couple of hours to convince total strangers to drive across town and sit in a studio where either I or one of our anchors would relentlessly grill them. Oh, and they wouldn’t get paid, either. As glamorous as that sounds, it still bothered me that so many people didn’t want to talk to me. They either wouldn’t call back, they wouldn’t show at the appointed time, or they’d lie to my face and hope I went away. For a while, I took it personally. Then an amazing thing happened: I got to know a small group of people who really wanted to help me out, who were willing to invest a little time to help me fill that very big hour of radio. I came to rely on my Top 20, and I knew I could call any one of them, any time, any day, and they’d always come through for me.

Fast-forward a few years and I’m now on the other side. I get called by people facing tremendous deadline pressure and bosses who may or may not “get” what they’re trying to do. The right thing to do is quickly give them what they need so they can produce a report, an article, a message that resonates with their audience. I’ve been in their shoes.

P.S. For more on kindergarten, see this Google Books entry. For more on exploding laptops, see this Written Inc. post.

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