Unlocking Potential #12: Q&A With Mariah Haberman

You’ve really gotta own it and believe in yourself, and when you make mistakes, you assess and move on.

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This article originally appeared on garthbox.com. {Interview by Garth Beyer, @TheGarthBox}

Welcome back to another Q&A with a remarkable marketer as part of the Unlocking Potential series. I heard about a woman named Mariah Haberman when I first moved to Madison, I found out she worked at the PR agency I hope to work at, and then I got to see her speak not too long ago. (Post about impressions and link to her presentation here.)

Mariah has drive, excitement, and more passion that I thought one person could have. It will be clear as you read on. Without further ado, welcome Mariah.

Q: What motivates you to get out of your bed in the morning?

Mariah: Caffeine! And lots of it! I am so not a morning person so the fact that I make it into work before 10 a.m. is a miracle in itself. That said, I can honestly say I have never dreaded a day of work. Getting to discover Wisconsin is a cool gig but I think working alongside amazing and talented people is just the best thing ever. (Also: Free Sprecher root beer :D)

Q: What business would you say you’re in and how did you get there? What’s your story?

Mariah: I have a weird hybrid role: I’m both a television/radio host and a PR and social media marketer.

I always dreamt of working in television. In fact, I can recall writing my sixth grade career report for Mrs. Herbers about my aspirations of becoming a news anchor. In college though, I threw those dreams out the window after coming to the conclusion that a television career in Wisconsin during a recession was a ridiculous dream to have.

So I picked public relations. And upon graduating from UW-Oshkosh, I threw a few suitcases in my tiny ’02 Corolla and with my shiny, new diploma in tow, I made the trek to Chicago. There, I worked as a temporary assistant at an entertainment PR firm. Next, I decided to freelance back in the Madison area and then I worked at a wonderful marketing agency in town.

Meanwhile, I spent three years competing for the title of Miss Wisconsin. That endeavor really reignited my desire to pursue television. So, I reached out to the one contact I had at Discover Mediaworks and asked if, by any chance, they’d ever consider letting me guest host an episode or two. After several months of back-and-forth, the crew finally invited me to come in for an interview and audition. Apparently, they saw something in me, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Q: What are four life lessons you’ve learned from following your muse?

1) Make things happen for you.

2) Be nice to people.

3) Own up when you’ve messed up.

4) Never take yourself or your work too seriously.

Q: You’re constantly putting yourself out there. How have you dealt with fear – be it of rejection or failure or even success?

Mariah: I hate to quote the most buzzed about kid flick of all time, but when it comes to being in front of crowds, you really have to just let it go. I’ll get nervous from time to time during the preparation of a big shoot or speaking engagement, but once I am on stage, or those cameras are rolling, I don’t even let myself go to that place of self-doubt. You’ve really gotta own it and believe in yourself, and when you make mistakes, you assess and move on.

So much of the television business I think is listening to your own gut. You are going to get people who absolutely adore you and your work. And the opposite of those people are Internet trolls :). I take it all with a grain of salt—both the compliments and the critiques.

Q: What do you do to continue growing in your field? Are there a few special practices or habits you think people reading may benefit from doing too?

Mariah: The idea of being stagnant or out of the loop as both a host and marketer downright scares me. I am constantly trying to learn and get better at my craft whether it be through improv classes or online marketing research—you name it. Regardless of how long you’ve been in the biz, learning is essential.

The beauty of working in the agency world is that you’re surrounded by folks who specialize in all sorts of things that you may not necessarily be an expert in. But making an effort to understand their work inherently makes you better at your own.

Q: What has been a major highlight of your work?

Mariah: A viewer reached out to me on Facebook the other day to tell me that he and his daughter make it a weekly tradition to sit down every Saturday morning and watch Discover Wisconsin together. Hearing things like that – from people who make our show a part of their lives – is the kind of stuff that sticks with me.

Q: What is one characteristic you’ve noticed every successful marketer has? Better yet, what the heck does it take to become a remarkable PR pro or marketer?

Mariah: Great marketers want to learn; they are asking questions. They are paying attention not only to what other brands are doing out there, but more importantly, they’re noticing what people care about, why they do the things they do, buy the things they buy, and hang out with the people they hang out with. I think a marketer has to be easily fascinated by and curious about the world around him or her—and I’d say the same thing applies to great TV/radio hosts.

When you understand why people do the things they do, the ideations, strategizing and executing for brands comes a whole heck of a lot more naturally. (It’s still a tough gig, don’t get me wrong!)

Q: Would you tell us about a time you almost gave up and what you did instead?

Mariah: Interestingly enough, I actually have to tell myself to let go of things more often. (Noticing a theme here?) I get invested too easily. I love to dream big and I think the upshot of dreaming big is that you tend to bite off more than you can chew. So while “giving up” often has a negative connotation, I really have to continue to remind myself the importance of walking away from the stuff I can’t or shouldn’t fix.

Q: How do you try to live your life? Do you have a life motto or a particular quote you stand by?

Mariah: Nah. No life quotes really. I just try to live life to the fullest…you know, find the silver lining in even the crappiest of days!

Q: What is a dream you have or a project you want to create that you haven’t had the time for?

Mariah: Sooooo many. I want to write my own book(s). Open a wine bar. Learn French. And piano. And how to cook (better). And more time for travel would be lovely!

Q: Where can people find you and your work? (Shameless self-promotion here!)

Mariah: Why, you can watch “my work” every weekend on your TV screens (or laptops or tablets or smartphones)! Broadcast guide here: www.bobber.discoverwisconsin.com/broadcast …and because social media is my thang, I’m pretty easy to find on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram 🙂

 

Stay Positive & Curiously Alive

 

Garth Beyer is a Madison-based writer and Public Relations Strategist focused on telling stories, running through trend-making PR strategies and trying new things in life.

16 of the Craziest Things I’ve Done on Discover Wisconsin

Cheers to another year full of adventure, mishaps and fearlessness!

One of the more popular questions I get asked is: “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done on Discover Wisconsin?” There’ve been so many wild moments, but here are 16 that come to mind:

  1. Completely bombed a waterski jump on Lake Arrowhead…three times in a row
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  2. …but redeemed myself by waterskiing behind a seaplane!
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  3. Kept the bulls at bay as a rodeo clown in River Falls
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  4. Competed in a smooshboarding competition in Hudson
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  5. Judged a “Show Me Your Fur” Contest during Fun on the Frozen Flambeau in Rusk County
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  6. Kayaked these CRAZY rapids in Black River Falls…
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  7. Floated above Lake Geneva in a hot air balloon
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  8. Motorcycled my way around southeastern Wisconsin
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  9. Toured Lambeau Field with former Packers kicker Chris Jacke
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    Dressed up as an 1800s dame at the Baker House in Lake Geneva
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  11. Competed in a barrel racing competition in Buffalo County
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  12. Buzzed around Lodi’s Smokey Hollow Campground in a giant shopping cart
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  13. Made my way around the backwaters of La Crosse by airboat
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  14. Flew over Oconto County in a helicopter
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  15. Played snowshoe baseball at Blizzard Blast in Conover
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  16. Performed with the Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Show Team in Janesville
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Ah, the memories! Hats off to the #DWcrew for putting up with my shenanigans 😀 If you have a favorite moment or episode, comment below. Let me know if you have a destination you’d like to see featured on the show, too!

Cheers to another year full of adventure, mishaps and fearlessness!

How I got my Job as a TV Host

It didn’t happen by accident.

Q: “Sweet gig. How’d ya land it?!”

A: Here’s the CliffNotes version:

It all started with a dream…as most things do. It didn’t happen by accident. Since I was in middle school, I dreamt of working as a journalist. I wrote my 6th grade career report about the role of an anchorwoman. I fan-girled over seeing Susan Siman in person. But in high school, I told myself a career in television was not realistic. And according to early 2000s world wide web research, it didn’t pay all that well. And so I shelved the idea. I don’t think I ever told a single soul about my ambitions…perhaps, I was too worried I wouldn’t be encouraged to pursue them.

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In high school, I ended up getting my poms team’s picture in an issue of CosmoGirl magazine and my coach joked that I should go into public relations. I was intrigued by what seemed to me at the time a somewhat mysterious field…(cue daydreams of girlbossin’ Olivia Pope-style).

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I’ve kept the copy all these years. Still makes me giggle. FYI: Katie Holmes and Usher were on the cover of this 2005 issue. One of the headlines also read: “Kanye’s Life Advice”

So that’s what I did. I attended UW-Oshkosh and majored in Journalism with an emphasis in PR and advertising. I’ve always been excited by marketing and PR – even to this day. I’m fascinated by how and why people do the things they do, say the the things they say and buy the things they buy. The very fascination with the “inner thinking” of people is exactly what I believe also intrigued me about hosting. There’s actually quite a bit of overlap between the two, at least for me.

Anywho, I digress. I graduated from UWO in 2010. That year pretty much sucked for college grads. I ended up finding a Craigslist post from a PR agency in Chicago that was looking for a temporary assistant. It was a foot in the door and that was all I needed at the time.

Then I moved back to Madison and continued working in marketing for the next couple of years. During that time frame, I was also competing for a spot at Miss Wisconsin. It was my pageant journey that re-ignited my desire to do something a bit more public-facing…

I started flirting with the idea of doing some on-camera work. I heard Discover Wisconsin was recruiting a new host and so on a whim – without any expectations whatsoever – I submitted a video. And – surprise, surprise! – no one called me. (Womp. Womp.) But I did become Facebook friends with the digital guy there. (Hi, Michael! 👋) I reached out and again – without any expectations – asked whether there’d be any chance they’d let me guest host an episode. They didn’t say yes but they didn’t say no. We did keep in touch for a year and a half. Eventually, the managing producer (sup Chadd!) reached out and asked me to “dust off my video camera and record a few lines.” And that’s where this gem of an audition video comes into play:

Shout out to Alan Ruby for graciously helping me out ☝️ I can’t believe this was four years ago. (FYI: The cell phone number featured in the video is no longer mine.)

And then to play the rest of this out like a 1980s conversation between two teens…

They go: “Part-time gig as an on-camera host?”
And then I go: “Full-time or no-time.” (Totally would’ve accepted part-time…)
And then they go: “Alright, fine.”
~End Scene~

Thanks to my marketing background, the production company offered me a full-time position that involved on-camera hosting as well as marketing strategy. (I’d say 90% of what I do revolves around marketing and brand management in general. Hosting is my fun ‘side job,’ if you will.) In other words, I marketed both skill-sets to my prospective employer:  my marketing know-how + half-developed knack for being in front of the camera – plus my passion for all things Wisconsin.

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Filming at the beautiful Campo di Bella in Mount Horeb, Wis. during the summer of 2015.

This is the most important thing. For anyone looking to break into TV/media: Don’t try to mimic my path. What worked for me probably won’t work for you. I wish someone would’ve drilled that into my head 10 years ago because I found myself obsessively researching the career paths of people that were doing things I wanted to do. No two people experience the exact same path. HOWEVER, there are always – without fail! – several underlying common themes, like perseverance, hard work, laser focus, open-mindedness, entrepreneurship and even dumb luck.

Sadly, there’s no magic bullet for getting exactly what you want out of your career. But to quote one of my favorite late night TV hosts: “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” This is a formula that does work every time – I’m sure of it.