There’s an old Hungarian saying; “the best way to become wealthy is to appear is if you already are”.
It’s true – and it applies far beyond wealth. One good way to get promoted is to dress, and perhaps act, like your boss. Acting as if one is happy in a relationship can make you…happy with the relationship.
Amid all of the squawking and clucking about college educations and credentials – how little we got for all of Barack Obama’s education, how much Scott Walker has accomplished without a formal piece of paper – one of the most important lessons for people to learn, especially younger people just starting out, is how to take what you do know and turn it into something useful. And sometimes, it’s more a matter of taking what you think you know and you’re sure you can do.
I’ve told a few of those stories; how I wasn’t actually formally qualified for either of my post-radio careers, technical writing and user experience; I’d had no formal training in either. I just found opportunities, did what it took to get hired, and then worked like a sled dog to deliver the goods.
I love a good Horatio Alger career story; I’m drawn to them.
And NPR gave us a great one over the weekend – the story of Adrián García Márquez, who’s been a spanish-language sportscaster for, well, pretty much every spanish-language sports broadcasting operation the past decade and change; he’s pretty much turned into the Jack Buck of spanish sportscasting.
And he had a start for the record books; he started out as a strugglingl minor leaguer – until he and his girlfriend got pregnant:
So he got a part-time job with the promotions department of San Diego radio station Jammin’ Z 90. A few months in, he started DJing overnight.
“In my heart, I didn’t want to be a hip-hop disc jockey,” he says. “I mean, I loved it. But I wanted to go to sports.”
But a radio station was a radio station, and working there was better than nothing.
Actually, these days it’s frequently not. But this was still the nineties, and Spanish radio still makes decent money, so let’s rejoin the story:
Then, he remembers, a colleague told him, “I have a buddy of mine who told me that he has a buddy that knows this guy” who wanted to broadcast a handful of San Diego Flash games in Spanish on TV. (At the time, the Flash were an A-League soccer team — basically a minor league team, Garcia says.)
There was a problem, though. To get a sportscasting job, he says, you have to have a demo tape of yourself actually calling a game — a college game, a high school game, any game.
“How do I get a demo, on the fly, out of nowhere, having zero experience? Make one. Fake one, basically.”
I did the same thing, back in 1986, to cajole my boss at KSTP into letting me have a talk show. It worked – although not as well as it did for Márquez.
But Garcia didn’t have one.
“So how do I get a demo, on the fly, out of nowhere, having zero experience? Make one. Fake one, basically.”
He looked around the house to see what he could use.
“I did have a Sega. I did have [the video game] FIFA Soccer, 1995 edition,” he remembers. “So I pop that into the console, I recorded the beautiful crowd chants that they had. Because technology was advancing, so it sounded like a real soccer game. So I figured, I’ll grab that crowd noise, and put it on the tape.”
He put the soccer chanting in the background, called the video of a recorded soccer game, turned it into a tape…
…and the rest is history. More or less. Read the whole story.
And pass it on to a kid. Because ones own ingenuity is as important as ones credentials, unless you’re trying to be a cardiac surgeon or an engineer. And college (and education in general) these days seems to do a fine job of squeezing that out of kids.