sioux city

The value of “thank you” (with help from Bill Plaschke)

The expression is as old as time (or at least as old as “How I Met Your Mother”):

Nothing good happens after 2 AM.

Allow me to offer an exception, starring a budding TV reporter, a veteran newspaper writer, last month’s Winter Olympics, and an easy expression of gratitude.

It is the result — but, I hope, not the end result — of an action I took ten years ago.

In 2004, I had not yet received my current job as a reporter in a major city. I had not yet covered an Olympics, a Democratic Convention, or any major news event. I had not yet achieved many of the successes to which I aspired.

I had barely passed my first year as a professional.

And I was struggling.

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The toughest question to answer for college journalists

It never fails.

Whenever I speak to a group of young journalists or communications students, I always receive a question or two that either stump me or touch me emotionally.

This past week, I had the pleasure of conducting a leadership forum for scholars of the Posse Foundation. The organization provides scholarships and support for up-and-coming leaders who, as they put it, “might have been overlooked by traditional college selection processes.” I spoke at the winter conference for Posse’s Atlanta chapter, spending nearly an hour with a few dozen students interested in communications as a whole.

I offered my advice for how to get ahead, answered important questions about how to network and build a strong portfolio, and had a genuinely interesting back-and-forth with a group of students who, I believe, will be quite successful in their chosen fields.

But, I found, the toughest questions they asked had nothing to do with how to “make it” or “get ahead”.

They dealt with how to balance one’s life in the process.

First, a student asked the following: “Since you work in such a stressful business, how do you still manage to have a life and not let work run your life?”

It’s a great question — and a difficult one to answer.

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