…because the best storytellers are willing to share their stories too.
• Listening is a lost art and the most powerful tool in the universe.
• Authenticity exists. Find it. Show it.
• Understanding the past is key to getting ahead of the future.
• Use your head but never abandon your heart — the strongest work marries analytics and an intuitive understanding of people.
• Curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Always be curious.
Call me Lois Lane…
When I was 20, my journalism professor wrote down a few dozen street names on pieces of paper and put them in a hat. One by one, my classmates and I chose our fates.
“That’s your street,” she told us. “Now go find your story.”
“How?” someone asked.
“Start knocking on doors,” she told him.
I’ll never forget walking up and down that street near my college, Brown University. The feeling of knocking on a door without knowing if the person answering it would be a dud or gem was a strange concoction of terror and intoxicating thrill.
Since that class with Tracy Breton, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter at the Providence Journal, and another on documentary filmmaking with Deborah Scranton, director of The War Tapes, I was hooked on stories— finding them, researching them and wrestling with the most responsible and compelling ways to tell them.
Since there wasn’t a communications-related major at the school, I focused on Latin America Studies, and managed to make it about storytelling anyway. Instead of a thesis, I convinced my advisors that writing and illustrating a children’s book about a manatee’s journey through Latin America would be just as scholarly. I continued to gain storytelling experience at New Hampshire newspapers and a video production company during summers, school breaks and after graduation.
Lois Lane goes online…
In 2010 I took a job in Salem, Massachusetts as the first editor for Salem Patch, a website dedicated to 24/7 coverage of the Witch City. Writer, photographer, videographer, editor, freelance manager, social media marketer — if there was a role for it, I did it at Patch. In Salem, I:
- was doused by a fire hose covering a blaze on my first day
- accidentally got in the middle of an online witch dispute on Christmas Eve
- went undercover with the cops on Halloween.
After 2.5 years in Halloweentown, my passion for multimedia production was stronger than ever, and I’d honed my digital strategy chops.
Lois Lane Peggy Olsen…
I moved to New York City in 2012, pivoting into marketing when I joined a digital agency. I quickly learned to condense my traditional article-length stories into 140 characters, copywriting brand Tweets.* My audience was no longer a city, but an online mob of millions with the power to comment and share. I developed insider knowledge of how customers interact with brands and created digital strategies for new business.
I took these skills brand-side at Liberty Mutual, helming social strategy — from anticipating social media response to ad spend, live events and TV ads to producing analytics reports. A highlight was tackling customers’ gripes with long phone hold times by co-founding a customer service program on social media with real-time service solutions. I won the top accolade — The President’s Award —with my team and learned the call center ropes in the process.
Call of the wild…
In 2014 I sent an audition tape into my favorite show, SURVIVOR. What started on a whim turned into the greatest and most rewarding adventure of my life. On the show I developed a reputation for my killer rhythm à la Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes.
I also had the habit of using off-the-beaten path analogies.
On SURVIVOR Kaôh Rōng I toughed it out in Cambodia for 39 days with no food (my tribe refused to eat the chicken) and placed second. Long days surviving in the dirt with only my creativity to keep me company; warp speed social politicking; and on-camera narrations of my observations reinforced what I’ve always known — I’m a creative. I’m a storyteller. And even when they’re trying to vote me out, I’m a people person.
I returned to the show for SURVIVOR: Game Changers and finished 5th out of 20 contestants. Hey, sometimes winning is taking the journey, right? Check out more here.
And would you believe it? I went back again and competed on SURVIVOR: Edge of Extinction airing Spring 2019 on CBS. Stay tuned for the awesome, 38th season of the best show on television.
That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know. If you got through it, thanks for being a trooper.