Soledad and the power of storytelling

American television personality, Soledad O”Brien offers us consolation in a world of us versus them. Our infinite power to tell stories will help us learn more about each other.

Soledad grew up as a biracial kid in a mostly White town in New York . Here, she understood why race was not a social construct. Race is real in America.  We are very much connected to ethnic origins, privilege, poverty, social standing and accomplishments.

Her parents were immigrants.  Her dad was Australian and her mom came from Cuba and it was tough for them to get get married and raise a family in the America of the 50s and the 60s.

In television, Soledad learned why producers had pre-conceived notions of stories even before they were aired. Stories of poor people almost always led with negative connotations of where they came from, unemployment in their communities, drugs and violence. Very rarely did producers take notice of the individual human being, their successes, their accomplishments. The personality of the poor gets sadly forgotten in American television, especially if you are black or latino. Soledad was delivering the Elizabeth D. Rockwell lecture at the University of Houston recently.

Today’s television relies on talking heads, who get an annual payment and claim to be so-called experts on specific subjects. Armchair journalists never got real stories from the field and I learned that in journalism school.

In-depth, incisive, deliberate reporting  is costly. Real reporting requires hard work, patience and the courage to ask hard questions. We have to be vulnerable and learn and understand the context of the subjects we are interviewing.

Sadly, our evening news revolves around shootings, the cat that got lost in the alley or an angry parent who found that the school bus was late.

I will leave you with a profound quote from Soledad: “I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom-how great is that?”


How long will you sharpen your pencil?

Imagine working hard and giving your best to a project but your client wants a faster outcome. You are investing your emotional labor and wants to convince your client about what is in their best interest. There are no gimmicks and it’s total sincerity and dedication.

However, the client pushes back seeking aggressive deadlines and wants an early closure on the project even though it has not been delayed and is very well on track. Here, you can do one of two things. You can keep convincing the client that there is more to be done, more research and more perfection. Or, you could say that you have tried your best and here you go.

You can keep sharpening your pencil but you will reach a stage where you will find no more lead.

So, let it go. Let’s ship it and forget the outcome. Holding on won’t do you or your client any good. Perfection wastes time and money.

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