If there is one thing every professional talent knows, it is that the struggles of life do not follow you into the spotlight. I now work in live television, but at one time, I was a cruise director for a fleet of 4 ships. Each time I donned my blazer and grabbed the microphone, I had to be the happiest guy imaginable. Anything less and the crowd would chew me up and spit me out! From my smile to the spring in my step, when I stepped out on stage, I was the embodiment of positive energy. It doesn’t matter if your dog dies, your girlfriend breaks up with you or your car got smashed. The moment the lights and lenses are on you, everything else melts away. It has to. Emotions are contagious and in the world of television, the lens has a critical eye. The camera zooms inside your personal space, bringing the viewer in close. If anyone were standing that close to you in real life, they would instantly know if something was up! Image the lens as a magnifying glass. Anything you feel is magnified for the person behind the lens. The world of television retail is on a very tight clock. The hands don’t slow down and if you want to flush your career, trying being late a few times too often! It is a freight train that moves fast and never ever misses a scheduled stop or departure. Be at the station at exactly the right moment or it will leave at full steam. No exceptions! I have been working in television retail for 14 years, the past 7 1/2 years as an HSN presenter. In my years as HSN talent, I have only missed work twice. The first was an unfortunate overnight airing when my neighborhood had a power-outage. My cell phone didn’t charge (alarm #1) and my clock-radio (alarm#2) both failed. I never woke up. That was years ago and never happened again (there is something to be said for old wind-up technology!). The second time I missed my airing, my truck was demolished on the way to the HSN studios. It was early morning, I was headed down the interstate and a construction vehicle was towing a large trailer next to me. That trailer jumped off its hitch and began rolling free on the highway. The driver had not hooked up his safety chains in case of this very thing. The trailer hit me like a charging rhinoceros. It threw me sideways across 4 lanes and into the guardrail at 70 mph. It took me almost 2 years to rehabilitate the 4 herniated discs in my back so that I could function without continual pain. The accident happened around 5:30am. I was on the air by 3pm demonstrating lawn and garden products. My scheduled airings continued without interruption each day after that…and there have been moments of heartache in my life much worse than that accident. Professional presenters know how to channel their “happy place.” I have found that in the midst of a crisis or heartache, it can actually help to walk on air. At that moment, everything must fall away. The lens requires something that you must provide: A positive experience for everyone involved. So, when the lens demands it, you must step up. There is no room for almost or nearly. As Yoda says “Do or do not. There is no try.”
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