Role: Code Switch Blogger, NPR
1. What the best professional decision you’ve ever made?
It’s the biggest cliché ever, but the best professional decision I’ve made so far was leaving a job that wasn’t right for me. I loved so many of the people I worked with. And it was a good, stable position, so I was terrified to leave. I also had no idea what I wanted to do next – I just knew I needed something different. Leaving a full time job left me with just the right combination of inspiration and desperation to try anything that seemed remotely interesting. I stumbled into journalism somewhat accidentally, but it’s been one of the happiest accidents of my life.
2. What’s one lesson you've learned from a professional setback or challenge?
Own up to what you don’t know. I hate feeling like a burden, which means I’ve gone to great lengths not to bother my coworkers with questions. At one point I spent hours working on a project that could have been finished in about 15 minutes if I’d just gotten over myself and asked for help. When I finally turned it in, it was a complete mess. My boss and I made awkward eye contact for about five seconds and then both just started cracking up. Then she took a deep breath and said “Let’s let this be a learning experience that we don’t have to repeat.”
3. What's one thing you wish you would've known "then"?
Growing up, my dad always loved to say, “There’s no situation so unpleasant that it can’t be made more unpleasant by complaining.” And in my mind I was like, “What do you know, old man? Complaining is great. Let me do this all the time about everything! The world needs to know that my tea isn’t hot enough and my computer screen is too bright and I have the most annoying mosquito bite right on the bottom of my foot!” My dad was right. I wish I’d known that then and I wish I knew it more now.
4. How have you leveraged experiences you’ve had and connections you’ve made at NABJ/NAHJ conferences?
I’ve never been to NABJ or NAHJ before, but my trick for making connections is to always remember people’s names any way I can. I have a notebook full of little descriptions like “tall lady with eyebrow piercing is Sharon. Sharon likes to share her chef experiences. Because she’s a chic chef. Sharon.”
5. What’s one of your favorite public media stories, podcasts, shows or series? Why?
Besides Code Switch?
I love Two Dope Queens, I love If Our Bodies Could Talk (this health video series at the Atlantic), and I’m obsessed with any and all advice columns. Also, my sister just put me on to the podcast My Favorite Murder, which is my new fascination.
Follow Leah: @AskLeezul