Lessons From Chris Gardner and My First Satellite Media Tour
About 10 days ago, I woke up at 5am so I could be out my house by 6am to get to the studio at 6:30am to do a satellite media tour with Christopher Gardner. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he is the person whose life is the subject of the book Pursuit of Happyness, which then became a movie starring Will Smith as him. That guy. The dude who went from homeless single dad to powerful Wall Street Broker.
I was paired with him by the good folks of AT&T to do a satellite media tour promoting their #AgilityIs sweepstakes for small businesses. It’s a contest where they picked 10 businesses out of over 1,000 submitted, and our job was to do a series of TV and radio interviews talking about it. Both of us are now entrepreneurs (Chris retired and is now a world-renowned speaker), and the value of $50,000 to a small business cannot be underestimated.
We were the Odd Couple that wasn’t that odd when we got into a room. Chris is an older, Black man who is a finance guru and I’m a young Black woman who is a writer and techie. When we met, we noticed that we came in the same color scheme: blue and burgundy. And then as the morning went on, we fed off each others’ energy. By the time we were done, his manager said “You are actually mirroring each others’ gestures.”
HA! We even crossed our legs the same way.
So this satellite media tour. It’s basically when you sit in a room and knock out A BUNCH of interviews, some live and some taped. We also did a couple that could be used across TV that wasn’t specific to a channel or show.
So between 7am and noon, we did 20 appearances, and between interviews, I’d check social media and see people go “Ummm I just turned on my TV and saw @Luvvie.” SURPRISE.
I’ve done a lot of press but this was the first time I did something like this but Chris is a pro at it. And throughout, I couldn’t help but learn from him. Seriously. Just being around him had me absorbing all sorts of usefulness.
Know the colors that look good on you
I wore a cobalt blue blazer because I like how bright colors look on me, and it worked very well. I rocked it with a bright red lip and it popped on screen. HEYYYY! Whenever I do interviews now, I wanna make sure I’m in blue, red or yellow. They caution you against wearing white or tan, because you might blend in with the background. But beyond that, figure out what your signature colors are and bounce off that screen!
I especially loved how the blue I wore looked so if you need me, I’ll be looking out for more tops that color to rock. I only have ONE other shirt that is that hue.
The first interview might be rusty
At 7am, we had to record our appearance on TVOne with Roland Martin. It was early, our ear pieces were still acting up and I was a freshie at this. I didn’t watch that interview but there was no rhythm on our side yet. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the best one. SORRY, ROLAND!
Here’s one of the spots we did, that could be syndicated across different media.
WHYYYYY am I dancing at the end? NO behavior, yo. I hope whoever used that for real cut it out.
Address your interviewer by name
We had a teleprompter in front of us that always told us who were were interviewing with. Even if it was TV, we couldn’t see them but they could see us. We had on ear pieces where we heard the interviewee. Without fail when answering a question, Chris would make sure to address the person by their name.
Example: “I’m so glad you asked that, Rhonda.” Or “Eric, you know when small businesses run into trouble…” I didn’t notice it the first 3 interviews but I soon picked up on it, and it brought familiarity to the interview even though he hadn’t met most of the people.
Hit your talking points ALWAYS.
When you’re doing an interview, the person on the other side might be prepped to know what you wanna make sure you hit but there are times when they might not ask you the question that will directly lead to the answer you wanna give.
Soooo we were there to talk about this #AgilityIs challenge. Let’s say the interviewer was focusing too much on Chris’ movie “Pursuit of Happyness” he would always manage to bring it back to the point.
Example: “What made Pursuit of Happyness a huge success was how people were inspired by this story of how I made something from nothing BY BEING AGILE. Which is why the small businesses in this challenge rose above the others, and that is why they are finalists.”
I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, CHRIS.
Know your talking points. Bring them into everything no matter what you’re asked. Do not try to create new points as you go along.
Give a shoutout to the city
Chris insisted on knowing if there was a business that was a finalist in the city that whatever interview we had was coming up in. So when we talked to a reporter in Texas, he mentioned the name of the company that was a finalist there. AND he ended the interview by talking about the Dallas Cowboys. I was like “WORD.” As I filed that away in my rolodex.
Have fun! The interviews got better and better as the day went on and our last interview was the BEST.
Sometimes, I get to do some really cool things and this was one of them. Thank you to AT&T for having me do this, and for putting money where their mouths are. I chose to be a part of this because the #AgilityIs sweepstakes is pretty cool and I am excited for a major company to be investing in entrepreneurs and small businesses.
And having the chance to work with Chris was priceless. I’m hoping I get to do it again soon.
You can follow him on these interwebs at @CEOofHappyness.
BTW, y’all can check out the stories of the 10 businesses that are up for the $50,000 award and vote on them at BizCircle.ATT.com until July 26.
Fun fact: Chris’ son and I went to the same high school!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by AT&T but all thoughts, lessons and ideas are MINE. I keeps it 100 with y’all always.