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.

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.

From Traffic Jams to Peanut Butter & Jelly

Truth is, I still struggle with my decision to stay home daily.

Editor’s Note: This article was guest written by Milwaukee media personality turned Los Angeles stay-at-home mom, Caitlin Morrall. 

It was the family Christmas vacation four years ago. Everyone was out to dinner on Miami Beach, enjoying steak, seafood and cocktails. Well not, everyone. Before the questions about why I wasn’t drinking the wine came up we presented our Moms with their Christmas gifts a few days early. Bracelets with little baby carriages because in seven months they would become Grandmas for the first time. There were the hugs, of course my Mom said she had kind of figured it out already and the congratulations.

Dessert had barely digested and we were walking back to our rooms when two family members asked, “Will you continue working after the baby is born?”… that didn’t take long. This was something my husband and I hadn’t discussed yet. To be honest, I kind of assumed he preferred I stay home. He was raised by a stay-at-home mom, his Grandma was a stay-at-home mom. It’s just the type of life he came from and I thought was accustomed to. On top of that, he was smack dab in the middle of a medical residency in plastic surgery. I wouldn’t wish marriage to a surgical resident on my worst enemy. It’s the pits. Plastic surgery is the second longest medical residency there is… six years of uncertainty, middle of the night pager noise, missed holidays and vacations, going alone to nearly every event you are invited to and sleeping alone more nights than you care to think about. One parent should probably be available and present to our child.

I replied to the question as I assumed much of the family would see fit… that I would likely stay home with our child. You would have thought I proposed taking up work as a professional hit man. Apparently what was once a way of life for many people in my family was no longer a thing… women belonged in the workplace now. It was never brought up again and seven months later we welcomed an amazing baby boy and 12 weeks after that I went right back to my job as a Traffic Reporter on the morning news.

Returning to work was not without its own challenges. Think back to the uncertainty I mentioned with my husband’s job… due to his call schedule I couldn’t count on him to be home overnight or home the next morning to take a baby to daycare. I had to be at work at 4 a.m. before daycares are open. That means we find a nanny who can arrive at 3 a.m. Who wants to work at 3 a.m.?! I mean besides my crazy ass! But lo and behold, we found one… somehow, someone who was willing to wake up in the middle of the night and hang out while our kid slept. Do you know how depressing it is to pay someone to sit in your living room while your kid sleeps? To be honest, I found two someones who were willing to do that. We had to find a fill in when the original nanny was offered a summer intensive spot at a prestigious university as part of her Masters program.

Clearly the work lives we led were not the norm. You’ve heard of the term “two ships passing in the night”? That was our life. Sometimes the only time I would see my husband was to catch a glimpse of him sleeping as I woke up for work. Or we’d let out collective groans during the third overnight wake-up with an infant. My day went as follows: wake up at 2 a.m. (often after having been up once or twice in the night with the baby), shower and do makeup, nanny arrived at 3 a.m., I take the dog out for a walk, come back up and make coffee, go to work. On the air at 4:30 a.m., last update at 9 a.m., home and take the dog out again before the nanny left. Mom all day, kid to sleep at 6:30 p.m., take the dog out, get myself to sleep by 7:30 p.m. I often called myself a stay-at-home mom who works full-time. I did most of my working while my son slept and once I came home I was “on” all day until bedtime. During that first year my husband was also interviewing all over the country for fellowship positions in orthopedic hand surgery and he was given the opportunity to travel to South America for a medical mission trip. To say things were stressful would have been an understatement. In May of that year he matched into a very prestigious hand surgery fellowship that would require us to move to Boston the following July after his residency had been completed. Around the same time, my mom asked me if we would even be married by the time that move came around. Our lives became a constant argument centered around who was more tired, who had the next turn on dirty diapers, who was waking up with our son next. It wasn’t like my husband could switch jobs and I was worn so thin, you could see through me (Although I wish I was saying that in a literal sense… baby weight is a bitch!). The only answer was for me to stay at home.

To make matters worse (or maybe better?), our nanny took a job as a research assistant and would no longer be able to work early mornings for us after the school year started. I had hoped to ride out my contract, which ended on December 31 but couldn’t hire someone for mere months under those conditions. I gave my two weeks notice and said I would be available to fill in as needed until they found a replacement. I ended up filling in for myself at least once a week until December 31. Thank goodness for a retired Grandpa who didn’t mind sleeping on our couch.

Now here I am… explaining my decision to you all, like I need to make excuses for being a stay-at-home mom. This blog post simply should have started out with “Hi, I’m Caitlin and I am proud to be a stay-at-home mom”. But no, our society doesn’t find a whole lot of value in the woman who doesn’t bring home a paycheck. I’ve always said one of the hardest things about being a woman is that now that we CAN do it all, we are EXPECTED to do it all. I’ve had friends start on the SAHM front, and months later they are reapplying for jobs because they feel like their education is going to waste, or that they aren’t contributing enough. That being said, I also have career Mom friends who tell me that my husband couldn’t afford me as an employee… that the work of a SAHM is a million jobs in one. In one day I work as a chef, a chauffeur, a dog walker, a maid and a nanny. Sometimes I work as an assistant too, managing calendars, picking up dry cleaning and booking appointments. There’s very little glamour (we’re lucky if I shower some days), there’s very little praise and there is nearly no encouragement. You are exhausted and irritable all the while never feeling like you’re doing enough. And let me tell you, coming from the working world of local television, that’s a really difficult transition. In Milwaukee I was “The Road Warrior”, people would see me out and talk to me about my future plans. I typically parlayed my decision into “Well, I am preparing to move our family to another state” instead of just owning my decision. Always the question of “Will you be returning to work?” and “What’s your plan once your son is in school?”. I had been coming into the living rooms of thousands of people every morning for five years. Many of them couldn’t grasp the idea of me not working. Their opinions weighed heavily on me and I was never happier to move to another state, a state where would only be known as “Jack’s Mom”. But in hindsight, was I just shifting the blame? Was it just me who couldn’t grasp the idea of not having a career outside of the home?

Truth is, I still struggle with my decision to stay home daily. I sometimes still think former colleagues and former viewers look at me differently for deciding to leave it all behind. More than ever I am realizing those thoughts are a product of my own insecurities. I often have to remind myself how much I loved having a parent waiting in the hallway at school to pick me up. How much it meant to have a parent in the audience at school programs. In my case it was my dad. My mom worked in corporate America for most of my life. She traveled the country almost every week. As a little girl I thought working until 7 p.m. every night was “the norm” for her. My husband will rarely be able to pick our son up from school. He will never be able to help organize the class Christmas party and couldn’t take a day off if our son needed to stay home sick. I have the opportunity to be that rock for our little boy. To be the face he sees after lunch every day (and when he yells “Hi Mama!” through his classroom window, it’s pretty awesome). I’m a work in progress most days still… but I do make a mean class treat, I have a hell of a cleaning schedule and like most moms who have 90% of their human interaction with a three year old, I lose my shit occasionally. But I do the best I can, the best I know how. I take each day as it comes. Some days are easier than others. Every stage of childhood and motherhood is equally difficult, unpredictable, frustrating, wonderful and amazing. I’m sure when my son is 18 I will have finally come to terms with my career… a Stay at Home Mom.

Caitlin Morrall is a former Miss Wisconsin USA and competed for the title of Miss USA, live on NBC in March of 2007.  She finished among the Top 15 semi-finalists. Caitlin continues to be involved in many areas of pageantry including judging, coaching and consulting. In addition to her work with contestants in the Miss Universe Organization she was also a four time titleholder in the Miss America Organization, placing as a runner up at the state level each time she competed. She continues to volunteer her time as a pageant producer, emcee, judge, coach and local competition board member in the state of Wisconsin. During her time competing in pageants Caitlin championed the causes of Breast and Ovarian Cancer awareness and the important of Character Education. She has also been very active in her community, participating in events supporting charities including Children’s Miracle Network, Special Olympics Wisconsin and the Make A Wish Foundation. 

Caitlin joined Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate, TODAY’S TMJ4, in November of 2009 as the “Road Warrior” Traffic Reporter on “Live at Daybreak”. Prior to joining the TMJ4 team, Caitlin was a freelance reporter for Fox Sports Wisconsin. In 2008 she was a sideline reporter for the WIAA State Football Championships. She also contributed to feature reports for “Bucks Live”, the pregame show for the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Caitlin attended Alverno College in Milwaukee and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Communication. Upon graduation she completed an internship with ESPN Radio in Milwaukee. In 2013 Caitlin appeared in a Wisconsin Summer Tourism television campaign alongside Hollywood Actor, Robert Hays.

Caitlin currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, their Pug and their three year old son, Jack.

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 They Got There: Discover Wisconsin’s Mariah Haberman

Everyone wants to play teacher. Be the student.

This article originally appeared on uwoshjournalism.wordpress.com. {Interview by Brenna McDermot, @letterstowomen}

2010 UW Oshkosh and journalism department alumna Mariah Haberman is the host and brand manager of Discover Wisconsin, the nation’s oldest-running travel TV show. After graduation Haberman went on to do agency and consulting work and win the title Miss Wisconsin Central 2012.

When you were in school, did you know that you wanted to work in television? What was your ultimate goal?

My 6th grade career report was about the role of an anchorwoman. So yes, there was always some sort of desire to get into television but by the time high school rolled around, I decided TV was not a realistic career path. I was instead swayed by the challenging, fascinating and exciting world that is PR and marketing.

But during my senior year of college, I somehow found myself on stage competing in the Miss Oshkosh 2010 pageant. This experience sparked a three-year journey to the Miss Wisconsin competition, which ultimately reignited my desire to pursue some sort of public position after all.

My career goal back then was to either become editor-in-chief of a woman’s magazine or owner of my own PR firm. I still think both would make for a kickass career but I see myself heading in a slightly different direction these days.

 

When you were a student at UW Oshkosh, what did you do outside of class in order to prepare you for your career? Did you take any radio-TV-film classes or participate in Titan TV?

I didn’t take any radio-TV-film classes or partake in Titan TV but boy, I wish I had—especially considering UW-Oshkosh has a renowned RTF program. I was heavily focused on the journalism side, which I also really loved.

As far as outside involvement, my immersion in the Miss Wisconsin program absolutely prepared me for what I do today but at the time, I didn’t realize it was laying the groundwork for what I now do. Of course, my internships also each played a key role on the marketing side of my position.

 

What were some of your favorite and most useful classes at UW Oshkosh? 

Every journalism class! The UW-Oshkosh J-department does an excellent job arming its students with a solid foundation, particularly so in writing and AP style. I’m always surprised by the number of professionals I encounter today who want so badly to “find the story”…but don’t have the critical writing skills to tell it—and that’s a tragedy for anyone who considers themselves a storyteller, whether they work in journalism, marketing, television or the like.

A few journalism teachers who come to mind include Sara Steffes Hansen. Dr. Julie Henderson, Dana Baumgart, Mike Cowling, Miles Maguire and Barb Benish, among others!

I also took an intro history class when I was a sophomore that left a pretty big impression on me. I had a fabulously passionate professor (Stephen Kercher), who helped me appreciate the excitement in history and politics.

 

What skills do you suggest students who want to go into journalism or public relations work on honing the most while they are in school? 

Write, write, write! Try all different styles of writing: fiction, non-fiction, headline writing, social media, blogging, etc. Then take the initiative to ask others for feedback on your writing. You should always want to grow and that should be the case for anyone at any experience level in any industry.

 

What was it like transitioning from student to public relations professional? How did you get your first job after graduation?

Well, I still consider myself a student in so many ways but my first job out of college was a temporary position as a PR & Social Media Assistant at a firm in Chicago called Carol Fox & Associates. This company specializes in entertainment and the arts, so when I showed my interviewers the campaign portfolio I worked on as a senior for our “client,” the Grand Opera House, I could tell they were impressed. Still, I didn’t get an offer right away…I had to follow up a few times to make sure they remembered meeting me and they finally invited me to work there from September until December in 2010.

 

Was working in an agency what you expected it to be like? 

My very first boss at Carol Fox & Associates made a comment to me that she didn’t think I was cut out for agency work. This stung but what I knew at the time (and she clearly didn’t) was that I just wasn’t cut out for that particular agency. So what I realized straight out of the UWO gates was that every agency is unique and like any career really, it may take a few sloppy attempts before you find the perfect fit.

I consulted shortly after leaving CF&A and later, accepted a position at another agency – this time in downtown Madison at a firm called Hiebing. When I dreamt of the “agency world” as a college kid, I thought of a place like Hiebing, where you may have smart, demanding clients but clever and creative colleagues and inspiring leaders.

Today, I work at Discover Mediaworks in Madison, which is part agency, part production firm. I get challenging work every day and I also get to spend my time with a super awesome team. (Confession: That is one aspect I’ll say I didn’t think much about back in college: the importance of having wonderful colleagues. You can have the most impressive clients and interesting work, but if your co-workers are lame, you’ll be miserable. #Fact.)

 

Why did you decide to do your own consulting, and why did you stop?

I wish I could tell you that after leaving CF&A in Chicago, I was inundated with clients begging to work with me but…ah, not so. Although I knew I wasn’t meant to work at CF&A long-term, I was hoping they’d hire me because, well…because I didn’t have a back-up plan come December. But a full-time job offer never came my way and so, I moved back to Madison and did what any desperate, jobless 23-year-old would do (?) – I scoured Craigslist for clients. Yep. I met with realtors, construction managers, even an owner of a wine shop start-up. It was random and weird but I was ambitious and open-minded and optimistic.

Was it ideal? No. Not in the slightest. I hardly made any money and it felt like I was hustling for nothing. I was living in my aunt’s spare bedroom. And the whole “CEO of my own PR firm” thing sure didn’t feel like how I dreamt it would. But I learned so much and I think it helped me look pretty decent when I went to apply at my next employer (Hiebing), where they happened to be searching for an ambitious account coordinator for their PR team.

My main takeaway during these first couple of years was probably: “This career thing is messy, even downright ugly at times but, if I stick it out, someone will notice my awesomeness! (Right!?).” (ßTotal Millennial ‘tude)

 

Did you enjoy working for yourself? 

Yes and no. The pay was no bueno. But I loved the pressure of having the success of someone else’s marketing efforts on my shoulders—so in a way, it confirmed that I was in the right field. Freelancing may not have been my first choice but looking back, I’m proud that I had the gumption to make up my own job when 2010 had practically nothing to offer college grads like me; I was as determined as I was inexperienced.

 

What were the challenges of having your own consulting business?

You have to have a ton of self-motivation and a fair amount of confidence. The motivation part, I had down. Consulting definitely tested my self-confidence but lucky for me, UW-Oshkosh granted me a strong background in PR  and my pageant days meant I was generally unintimidated by the folks who sat across from me at meetings—no matter how brilliant or smart they were. (If you can answer, “What are the top three biggest threats facing our government today?” in 20 seconds in front of a pageant panel of five distinguished strangers than you can sure as heck spitball marketing ideas with some realtors.)

And as I previously mentioned, I certainly didn’t make millions while consulting but I consider my freelancing gig an investment as I picked up invaluable lessons such as the importance of coming prepared, being open-minded, doing my homework and digging deep to get the job done right.

 

How did you get your job at Discover Wisconsin? 

 

While I held my first and only pageant title, Miss Wisconsin Central 2012, I reached out to someone I kinda, sorta knew who worked at Discover Mediaworks, the production company that produces Discover Wisconsin. I asked him if the team would be willing to let me guest host one episode. He didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no and he did promise to keep in touch and run my idea past the managing director “when the time was right.” I remained optimistic. I also would remain in touch with him – sending messages here and there on Facebook to make sure he knew I was still interested in meeting their team and discussing the possibility of guest hosting a show.

They finally invited me in to “audition.” I should have been pretty darn nervous as I’ve never done any sort of audition in my life – and truthfully, I didn’t think it went all that well. They were originally only going to offer new talent part-time positions as ‘field hosts.’ They ended up offering me a full-time job as the lead host and marketing strategist. It’s been quite the adventure ever since!

 

What are your responsibilities at Discover Wisconsin? 

As a host, I perform voiceovers, improv and scripted material, conduct interviews, dress up in weird costumes, waterski behind planes, eat lots of cheese curds, ATV in -30 degree weather, etc. etc.

As the brand manager, I take part in tradeshows, premiere parties, client meetings and handle media relations and social media efforts. I oversee our radio program, marketing materials and scriptwriting.

 

Would you consider your job at Discover Wisconsin a public relations position?

In part, yes. My job is very strange. I don’t really have a lane. But I tend to get bored easily so this position suits me well!

 

What can a journalism student do to make him or herself a good candidate for television? 

Be eager to learn…forever. You want to learn about other people and you should want to learn about yourself, too. I think sometimes on-camera folks get a weird rap because of the vanity aspect, but I wish I could eloquently describe to others how much I’ve learned about myself by watching what I do and say on camera. It’s so not about whether my hair looks decent but instead about the way I communicate to others and how they communicate back. It’s fascinating and surprising and that is one of the thrills of getting to work on camera.

 

What role has networking played in your professional career? 

If I didn’t make a point to reach out to a Facebook acquaintance I “kinda, sorta knew,” I would not have this job. (And now I consider that guy a good friend of mine – bonus!) Networking is invaluable. I’d say even more generally, just putting yourself out there and not being afraid to say hello to someone or being open to meeting up with someone over coffee is a good thing – you just never know what could come of it.

 

What have you found is the best way to network with the right people not just a lot of people? 

Social media. I’m honestly not the biggest fan of networking events because as your question points out: You do tend to meet a crazy amount of people—and not always the “right people.” With social media, it’s easier to strike a quick, casual conversation with the “right people.”

 

Is social media an important part of your career? If so, how do you use it to enhance your career? Does someone REALLY need to be active on most platforms? 

Social media is a huge part of my career, both for the Discover Wisconsin brand, but also for me as a public figure. I love giving fans a peek behind the “curtain”. That’s also the place I most often receive feedback from viewers. And, when I started, I relied on social media to learn about the state of Wisconsin very quickly. I get inundated with travel recommendations and since I’m still a relative newbie in regard to being an “expert on all things Wisconsin,” I do rely on social media to get answers and ideas from viewers.

I don’t know if I would say someone who wants to be in television absolutely needs to be active on most platforms; I’d say do what you love. For me personally, I have fun on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat so those are the channels I focus my efforts on. For the Discover Wisconsin brand, it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and our blog.

 

It is often said that today’s job seekers need to brand themselves. How did you go about doing that successfully? 

I’m sure that’s true but there is something about calculatingly branding oneself that rubs me the wrong way. Getting your name out there and working hard to differentiate yourself from the competition? Yes and yessss. I suppose that is part of personal branding, but my advice would be to make sure you’re emphasizing your strongest traits while working on your weaknesses. Obviously, don’t shout your weaknesses from the rooftop but take active steps to improve on your flaws – without being disingenuous on- or offline.

 

For many this is a time of self-discovery, so they may not know exactly what they want their brand is or exactly what they want to do. What advice can you give to people like this? 
I think the journey to self-discovery involves as many experiences as possible. I love newand different. Surround yourself with people who maybe have very different interests and take up experiences that you normally wouldn’t.
And don’t lose your authenticity along the way. That’s key.

 

Current students are mostly used to working with people their own age. Is working with people from all generations different? Are there different ways to work with each?

Yes, working with folks from different generations is different – but it’s also better. A healthy work culture is a diverse one. I love learning things from people younger than me and people older than me; people from completely different professional backgrounds and people who worked in similar fields. Humans are generally inclined to connect with people who are most like them, but I would challenge anyone reading this to strike up a conversation with whoever seems the most unlike them at work or in the classroom. I’ll think you’ll be surprised at what you might learn.

General rule of thumb: Approach every work relationship with the “What can I learn from this person?” sort of attitude. Everyone wants to play teacher. Be the student.

 

With all life transitions comes fear: fear of moving, fear of not finding a job, fear of not being prepared, fear of the unknown, etc. What kind of fear did you experience as a student or as a professional and how did you overcome it? 

I’ve experienced all kinds of fear and I’ve come to realize fear is an amazing thing. Use it to your advantage and do not let it cripple you. Overcoming fear is actually quite simple: You just barrel through it. You say yes to every opportunity you possibly can. So when you’re asked to give a presentation at the local boys and girls club, say yes. Better yet, you proactively reach out to the boys and girls club to ask if they’ll let you come in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve introduced myself to an organization and asked if they’d allow me to come in to speak about x, y or z. I do that less and less these days but in my first couple years as I was trying to develop my public speaking skills, you can bet that I was putting myself out there as much as I could. At the risk of sounding a bit corny, it really does come down to facing fear and saying, “Watch me shine.”

 

Is there anything else I should know about you or your career that I didn’t ask?

I believe my career started long before college graduation. People tend to have this weird sort of notion that the “real world” begins when that diploma is handed to you. This is garbage. I’ve had a lot of crazy, part-time and/or temporary odd jobs that played a role in my profession today – from standing on the line at Oscar Mayer to bartending in Oshkosh to being a ring girl at a handful of MMA fights. I always felt a bit self-conscious that I wasn’t one of those college students who worked at the same grocery store for eight years but every single weird, odd job I had made me a bit sharper, a bit more sagacious and a quick(er) study.

My point in sharing this is to reiterate the advantage of partaking in as many varied experiences as possible. It doesn’t need to be in the form of work but just know that the more people you meet, positions you take in and organizations you learn about, the better you’ll get at jumping head first into new experiences sans trepidation.