Autumn 2001, a friend and I are promoting a pantomime. I’ve never done this before, so am learning as I go from my significantly more experienced friend. He has the great idea of running a competition for tickets in collaboration with the local radio station. “I’m going on the breakfast show to do an interview – why don’t you tag along?” he says.
We turn up, meet the DJ and sit in front of those big microphones that all radio stations have. I’m a bit confused why there is a mic in front of me, but think little of it.
The song ends. The DJ looks at me and grins. “So, Joe – tell us why you decided to run this competition!”
I look at him for what feels like an age. Mind blank, mouth dry. Why is he asking me? I’m just here to watch! Eventually, my brain catches up. [Sort of].
“Well, er, basically we want to advertise the pantomime.”
DJ looks at me. He’s not impressed. “At least you’re honest!” he says, somehow finding a positive spin.
My friend looks horrified, then jumps in and rescues the situation. I’ve little memory of the remaining conversation – but I know the DJ didn’t come back to me until the very end, when all I had to do was say goodbye.
This taught me two things. The first is obvious: in any public situation, know what you’re going to say [and what not to say!]
The second – more important – lesson came on the drive home when my friend turned to me and apologised. “I’m sorry about that,” he said. “I should’ve known he might ask you something, and I didn’t prepare you.”
I learnt a lot from my friend – but that was probably the most important lesson.
When it’s on you – say so. Take responsibility.