My daughter sent me a text this week with her Chinese fortune: “Luck happens when hard work meets opportunity.” I had plans to write on that subject after a conversation with my friend, Richard. He asked me, “Does luck exist?”
I immediately answered, “Yes! Luck does happen, but it happens more often when you work like hell while you wait.” I read that years ago and I totally agree.
When I first started my business in 1972 in Denver, I volunteered my services to the in-coming Colorado Dietetic Association state president, who appointed me media chair. I matched dietitians to media opportunities and I recorded a weekly segment at a radio station in Boulder. A few years later, I was at a Board meeting and one of the dietitians volunteered me to do “Blinky’s Fun Club,” a children’s TV show with other guests like a fireman, nurse, and policeman, and as usual, I said sure. I did the program for 4 years.
Because of this experience a dietitian called me at the last minute and said, “We need a dietitian to be a guest tomorrow on NBC-TV on NoonDay for about 5 minutes talking about weight loss. Can you do it?” I had my own business, and I never turned down an opportunity for free publicity, even when I had to re-arrange my schedule. When I got to the station, the director said, “There has been a change. One of our guests can’t make it. Can you fill in for 15 minutes? We will open up the phone lines and people can call in with questions.” My stomach turned over, and I agreed. There was a 7-second delay in hopes of catching profanities, but that did not keep out the awful questions or the insightful ones for which I didn’t have an answer. We laughed a lot, I knew a lot of the topics because I was in private practice and patients asked those things, and on the last question, I said, “If they ask me back next week, I’ll look that up and report back.” Well, they did ask me back, and I was the NoonDay Nutritionist every Wednesday for 4 years, which opened up jobs as a national media spokesperson and my own nationally syndicated radio talk show that aired on Sunday mornings after I moved to the Dallas area.
What factors made this “luck” happen for me and for lots of other wonderful dietitians who work in the media and other areas of practice? I can think of six things:
- First, people have to believe you are credible—that what you say clicks with them—or they won’t open the lucky door for you. You can be exciting and a little quirky in your delivery, but you need credibility underpinning it.
- Second, you have to have some natural skill or experience. So, even if you haven’t done that job before, you need transferrable skills. Relate your content to the viewing audience. Look for common ground and language, and balanced reporting of the facts.
- Third, never underestimate having great people skills! People choose to be around others because they “Play well with others.” Showing your personality on the media is essential and that takes a comfort level or really good acting!
- Fourth, you have to be willing and available. Lucky opportunities aren’t always convenient. Last year, I interviewed Ellie Krieger about how she started, and she said, “After a year of sending out proposals and making phone calls, a producer called and said, ‘Can you give us a show with all new recipes really soon?’ and I made it happen.”
- Fifth, you have to have some degree of success doing what your lucky opportunity requires of you. Not every job works out and you won’t like everything you volunteer for or are hired to do—that’s OK.
- Sixth, you have to know people, which means you have to put yourself out there in the markets where you want luck to happen. It could be in your local area, nationally, or internationally. This can come from writing, speaking, networking, media work, or attending conferences—anything that spreads your good reputation.
Luck or chance is defined “as an event which occurs beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention, or desired result.” (www. Ask.com, 1/14) This seems to indicate that a person can’t always make luck happen, so I guess the best strategy is to be well prepared for that lucky day when you can jump on that lucky opportunity when it passes your way.