Monday, December 03, 2007

I Was a Bratz Doll in a Barbie World; Lessons from My Failed Broadcast Career

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.


LizFuller said...

Thanks for a fun and interesting article. I was inspired by your own experience and the famous examples you gave. I'm going to make apoint of finding the book Don't Bet the Farm - sounds like a great read.

I found your article on the All Woman Blogging Carnival and am linking to it from my site.

Frugal Duchess said...

Hi Liz:

Thanks so much for stopping by. I am glad that you liked the post.

Reading Don't Bet the Farm was very helpful to me.

Thanks for mentioning the All Woman Blogging Carnival.

I plan to write a special post highlighting that carnival.
Take Care & Best Wishes,

My Inner French Girl said...

Hi, Sharon! Great post. Thanks for sharing your hard-earned lessons. I too learned a thing or two about myself when I was younger, one of which was something you pointed out in your own list: recognize your strengths, and use those to your advantage. Don't wish you were something or someone else when you can be exactly who you are.

Sounds like you've found exactly what works for you and which uses all of your talents to their fullest!


Frugal Duchess said...

Hi Marjorie:

Thanks so much for understanding.
Thanks so much for offering this line: "Don't wish you were something or someone else when you can be exactly who you are."

That's a great line and I appreciate your comments so much.
Best Wishes,