Lessons of a Lifetime – Rachel Kesseler


When I say London changed my life, I mean it changed the way I look at the people around me, the world outside of the Midwest, and the way I now think about my future. Looking back at all of the incredible people we had the opportunity to meet, I realized they all shared an equally inspiring love for the lives they have created for themselves, and the passion each person had for their field made me think, even if just for a few minutes, that anything is possible. Cultural differences are very recognizable from the US to the UK, but universality in relationship building and success measurement definitely exists. The properness of English society taught me a lot about how to approach people and deal with different situations using a lot of the advice that came out of our various discussion over the past couple of weeks. I did not realized the commonalities between the speakers during the sessions, several common themes come to mind when I think about my time in London – ask the right questions, share stories, always say yes, and find what you love.

Sometimes whom someone knows can be more important than what someone knows, especially in a relationship based industry like advertising and related media fields. The ability to create relationships and have conversations with people is a key trait companies often look for. Asking the right questions is one way to do that. Three of our speakers emphasized the importance of being able to conduct a successful interview. Although the women who brought up interviews mainly spoke about it in the journalism sense, I found the information very beneficial. Jen Thompson went through an extensive interview process before getting her job at Google. One of the most interesting pieces of advice was to mimic the way the interviewer asks and answers questions and try to match their body language. Psychological studies have found that this creates a connection between people because the brain recognizes the other person as being similar to her/himself.   While many aspects are the same, there are different roles one must play when playing the role of the interviewer, rather than the interviewee. Jean Makenzie’s presentation almost mirrored the Sue Elliot’s. They both placed major emphasis on the importance of knowing what information you want to get out of the interview and doing the necessary research before conversing with the interviewee. Interviews that take more of a conversational role often provide better, more interesting and in-depth information when the questions are sequenced logically and the QAQA strategy is utilized. The QAQA strategy is a structure in which every question leads to an answer and every question should be led by the following answer. This makes it necessary for the interviewer to place a high importance on really listening to what the person is saying. Although it may require some time to learn these skills, strengthening interview skills can lead to incredible opportunities and information.

Everyone has amazing stories to share; asking the right questions are the key to hearing what they have to say. Martin Rowson demonstrated the power of storytelling through picture, while many of the other speakers took a more journalistic approach. Our discussion with Sue Elliott most strongly conveyed the need for storytelling as a result of the stories she had about her work with WWII prisoners of war. She emphasized that the stories are our history, and it’s up to the media workers of the future to carry on these stories and preserve them for future generations. Almost everything involves story telling, from movies to magazines news broadcasts to newspapers. There has been an explosion of storytelling with social media and the Internet. YouTube alone shares millions of new stories every day. Story telling is imperative in all professions and aspects of life.

Storytelling is a major part of the mass media world. In fact, our three presenters at iTV and Josh Berger from Warner Brothers make their living on storytelling. They did not get to where they are today by telling stories though. The four of them, although they took different paths, started off as interns or runners in their respective industries, and worked their ways up. One of the major contributing factors that got them to where they are today was a work tactic they promised themselves they would keep – always saying yes. No matter what they were asked to do, they saw every new task as an opportunity to learn something new, make a new connection, or develop a new skill, and the hard work, long hours, and sleep deprivation clearly paid off for them. As we heard at Design Bridge, “Every project is an opportunity to become an expert in a new subject.” By committing to and believing in the work they were doing, they found what they loved to do and took chances that led to opportunities.

By taking chances and exploring new opportunities, eventually people may find what they are looking for. Josh Berger talked about the importance of loving what a job because so much time is spent working. Hearing him talk about his job really inspired me to find something that I love to do. His passion for his job created one of the most motivating, inspiring discussions I have ever been a part of. To do this, it is important to go with the flow, pay attention, and take all of the chances and opportunities that are presented. There is no substitute for working hard, but working hard does not translate to not having fun. By taking opportunities and trying new things in the areas individuals enjoy when they are young, it sets them up for a happier career in the future. Someone’s first job is not going to be their dream job; it’s just a step in the right direction.

Five weeks ago, the future was a scary place I was not ready to explore, but the UK has completely flipped my world upside down. Now, instead of fearing the future, I can honestly say I am excited. Of course, aspects of growing up, getting a job, and not living the life of a college student can be daunting and depressing., however, the media world, as we learned, is so diverse and has so many parts that eventually finding a job I love may not be as difficult as I once thought. Like Don Williams said, “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination,” and this really has been the journey of a lifetime

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