I began my career in television news and I wanted to be a talking head. But I had a squeaky voice and in the world of Barbie Doll anchors (1980s-style), I looked more like a Bratz doll or one of those teeny-tiny Kelly dolls that look like Barbie's baby sister without the makeup, the figure or the heels.
I worked with super people; I had great opportunities and I was a big failure. But I learned a lot and those lessons turned my not-made-for-TV career into a very valuable experience.
"Successful individuals welcome failure to fail successfully."
With Bennett's advice in mind, here's what I gained from my stalled broadcast career:
1. Frugal living. My salary was small, so I learned a lot of lessons about financial planning and frugal living: I purchased books in a used book store, found an affordable (comfortable) apartment and used public transportation to commute. Okay, honestly: other important lessons about financial discipline took years to really sink in, but eventually I did learn and those seeds were planted during my early career experiences.
2. Diverse income is important: Too supplement the income from my first job and boost my ailing ego, I became a part-time petite runway model at a local Saks Fifth Avenue branch; my roommate and I cleaned a wealthy woman's home once a week and I began writing freelance articles.
3. Take voice lessons or learn a new skill: Even after several months of voice lessons with a professional coach, I still sounded like I was 12 years old, but I learned a lot about breathing and pitch. I never sounded polished enough to read on-air news copy, but the lessons helped me to develop a pleasant phone voice.
Later, my unusual voice turned into an asset when I worked the phones as a Wall Street beat reporter at Institutional Investor newsletters in New York and later in Miami. I still sound like a little kid, but now that I'm almost 50, it's kind of funny.
4.Take risks: In leaving broadcast news, I left a great job and a lot of people that I would later miss very much, but I found my voice in the process. In hindsight, there are a number of professional and personal situations that I would have handled differently. But my mistakes made me smarter and kinder in the long-run. Bottom Line: It's not what you do, but what you learn.
5. Be kind to yourself: My early career was such a disaster because quite frankly, I hated myself so much. I spent years wishing that I was taller, prettier and blessed with a low-range voice.
But once I got over myself, I got over hating myself and just accepted the fact that I am a print writer with a high voice. In fact, my salary and career improved once I just accepted myself as-is. I've saved a lot of money since I've stopped trying to be Malibu Barbie. Besides, I think Bratz dolls are way cool.
Here's a quick shot of celebrity setbacks & successes.
"You always pass failure on the way to success." --Mickey Rooney
Oprah: The #1 broadcast maven was quickly pulled off the air after her early anchor woman stint. The problem: Reportedly, she had trouble reading copy from the teleprompter and emoted too much. The Transformation: Oprah was offered a chance be a morning talk-show host and the rest was broadcast history.
Conrad Hilton: Paris Hilton's grandfather failed as a theater booking manager. He lasted just one summer in that post. He also initially struggled as a banker, before scoring big success in the banking and hotel industries.
Sam Walton: -Lost control of his first store due to a flawed lease agreement with his landlord. His later success with Wal-mart was built on some of the financial lessons from that difficult episode in his life.
R.H.Macy: The founder of Macy's--the big flagship store in New York and elsewhere-- had six failed (open-and-shut) retail stores before he successfully launched his famous department store.
The source for the above examples: Never Bet the Farm by Anthony Iaquinto and Stephen Spinelli Jr.