Job Lessons From Riding the Red Carpet With Matt Damon

[ 0 ] November 22, 2010 |

The other night I had the opportunity to interview Matt Damon on behalf of a fantabulous new client (and then he dished breaking news to me! Super exciting!) As I left Lincoln Center’s closing night of the New York Film Festival and feverishly gallivanted home to transcribe the Q&A, a fun scene all too familiar to me, I simply had to pause.

There are several secrets to success on the job everyone can learn from riding the red carpet even if you’re not in the midst of the scintillating scene.

1. STAY IN THE MOMENT. How many times have you sat through a conference call wondering what to order for lunch or reminding yourself to call your dentist for an appointment? When you’re on the carpet there’s a no snoozing zone. Or at least that’s what I call it! You absolutely must be alert, you never know who will bypass you, who will stop to talk to you and you must think on your feet. Nothing else matters. You’re in the game, completely focused and the whole world disappears. It’s a beautiful thing.

2. PLAY NICE IN THE SANDBOX. We’re roped off into “pens” so still photographers are in one, television crews in another, and yes, print and online outlets in another. We’re all there for the same reason: To get solid quotes based on specific questions. We have the same mission and time is limited so the key is getting in what you need to and realizing others need to get theirs in, too. And since you’ll see each other time and time again and you pass the time waiting for their brief arrivals, you might as well make friends. So, the next time you’re in a boardroom and see a nemesis or another department at odds with yours, please take a deep breath, be the better person and try not to get sucked into political quagmires. Net: We’re all in this together.

3. PRIORITIZE. Have you ever been overwhelmed by a project list that you simply don’t know where to begin? When you’re in the heat of the moment as other journos are also firing off questions, the key is this: Knowing what’s numero uno and paring it down to the fewest words possible in order to be heard. Technically there are priorities to everything, even in our lives. Although we want everything and we want it all NOW, reality rules the roost. Focus on the most important thing you need whereby everything else simply does not matter.

4. KEEP IT SPICY! Ever since I conducted my first celebrity interview (Angelina Jolie, circa 2003!) I was hooked. The industry is mesmerizing, screenwriters are my heroes, and no two events are alike. They’re fresh, enticing, unpredictable and spicy! So, what are you doing in your job to get yourself out of a rut? Perhaps you can volunteer for a community project, network internally or get a new mentor? The key, my friend, is not letting your skills nor enthusiasm go stale.

5. “YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOU’RE LAST PIECE.” I participated in an entrepreneurial journalism panel at the New York Press Club’s annual J Conference this past weekend. I made this statement and it’s true as a freelancer but also applies to full-time EE’s (employees). Every time I submit a piece, my name is on it. It’s my stamp, my signature, my mojo and moxie. It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked with a client for ten years or two months, what they remember most is your last piece. So, even in a day job where your income isn’t solely reliable on your last piece (i.e., if you’re in internal communications and make an error on a press release, you’re probably not going to lose the gig), it’s still important to focus on quality. Excellence. And oh yes, meeting those deadlines.

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Category: Career, Entrepreneurship

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About Vicki Salemi: Vicki Salemi is a career expert who taps into her 13+ years of experience as a human resources/recruiting executive at KPMG and Deloitte to enlighten and empower people. She’s an author, journalist, public speaker and [...]
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