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Friday, June 4, 2010

Lesson Learned

Once upon a time I was a reporter. I gave it all up for a family and the glamorous life as an author... that might be a fib. I moved, but something about journalism still tugs at me. The siren song promising that if I just ask enough questions, I can have all the answers.

In school we used to talk about what would happen if we were called one night and told that we could have an interview with the President of the United States in the morning. What would you do? What would you say? What would you wear???

Eeek!

Wednesday I got my phone call.

Would I like to meet, not with President Obama, but with one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a small, townhall-style, meeting? Um, gosh.... whyareyouevenaskingsignmeup!!!!

...

Do you ever think I keep secrets from my blog readers? Maybe I do, just a little. Shhhh....

I went to the meeting this morning with about thirty other people. It was in a large press room curtained off to make it smaller. The Admiral was there with his wife. And I got to ask the first question.

SQUEEE!!!!

I've spent the past two days researching this person, his spouse, their kids, their policies, how much President Obama actually listens to what this person says, I had a biography in hand and nearly memorized. I was ready.

And I flubbed it.

I opened with a soft, easy question and didn't get a chance to get my hardballs in.

*bangs head on the desk*

Why, Liana, why? Why did you start with the easy stuff?

My one question opened an hour long debate. From a lecturing standpoint, the meeting wasn't well controlled, there was no guidance and the people in the audience tended to talk more to each other than to the person we were there to interrogate.

I was probably the only journalist in the room and I wanted to slap duct tape over some people's mouths just to get them to stop circling around arguments. Oh, the humanity!!!

After the meeting was pulled to an abrupt halt and slipped past the handlers to talk to the Mrs. who was visiting and managed to get her business card and e-mail. Not as hard as it sounds, but I had two secret service guys glaring at me for being that close.

As much as I would have liked to hit the hardballs during the meeting, I managed to perfect my follow-through and sent the e-mail this afternoon. There's no chance I'll have an immediate response or affect, but something has been done.

And I met someone pretty cool!

Lesson Learned: Open with the hard questions. Don't play it safe. Don't go easy. Whether it's questioning a government official or writing a novel, go for the throat with your first sentence.


So.... what's your random?

4 comments:

  1. When you get down to it, that's just a great lesson for life in general. If you hesitate or plan for "later," you could very well miss the boat.

    I speak this from ample experience!

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  2. What a great opportunity! At least you have a connection to maybe follow up on later even though you didn't get to ask what you really wanted to at the meeting.

    There is definitely something to be said for saying what you want to say instead of playing it safe.

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