Do you ever feel that you’re slightly wining it though life at the minute? Well it might bring you a little comfort to know that Ira Glass labelled himself as ‘hopeless’ at his job until he was aged twenty-seven.
‘I think for anyone starting off in any kind of creative work, this is the most daunting thing about it, this period when you’re lost, not very skilled, and you have no idea if you’ll ever get the skills you’re hoping for. For some people this period just lasts a year or two. For me, it took eight years.’
The Roman philosopher Seneca sums up what I feel Ira Glass is trying to highlight. ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ He began as a rookie reporter, who although trying hard, struggled to gain the skills required to make radio packages to the same standard of his more experienced colleagues.
Eight years later the right balance of preparation and opportunity allowed Glass to create his own luck. There is perhaps one little flaw to this theory and that is it heavily assumes hard work will eventually result in success. It does of course take hard preparation and opportunities to be able to become ‘lucky’, but sometimes others have more luck, that might translate to they are more prepared and talented than you.
Glass began working at National Public Radio aged nineteen but it took him many years to realise something very important, connection. The connection with the consumer(s) is key. In an environment where it is all too easy to ‘spout point’ Glass noticed ‘the most interesting stuff usually happened when the audience interacted with the people in stories.’
But we can take Glass’ example of this theory which involves a dead frog and apply it to a contemporary example. Just think about if you read the headline ‘What could be the economic impact of Brexit? Does that really reach out to you? Let me answer that for you, NO! It’s an impersonal uninviting headline that does not connect the issue to the consumer. But let’s take this example form The Guardian’s YouTube channel.
From the title alone it invites you to make a human connection with the content. They are going to tell ‘you’ how and why this issue should be important to you. What Glass is trying to highlight is in storytelling it is so important that it goes beyond a formula of script then quote then script and quote. It’s essential to have ‘human flesh to them, human motivation, a little humour, a real emotion.’
I will shortly be moving into the production stage where I will be combining radio and visuals to digitally story tell. I have discovered from Glass just how easy it is but moreover how important it is to stay away from the temptation to fall into a regimented formula and stand back to examine the connection.
But out of personal interest, do you agree that as students we are in a place of ‘hopelessness’ and that thorough preparation and grasping opportunity’s it might just make us more ‘lucky’ in the future?