Back in the day, there was one particular person that I frequently used to present advertising concepts to who almost always gave me the impression that I’d got the whole thing hopelessly wrong.
As he listened, he’d screw up his face into a fierce frown, making you feel as a presenter that he abhorred everything about you and your damn stupid ideas.
It took a surprisingly long time before I understood that he frowned when he was concentrating and thinking hard.
His look of utter disdain actually meant something else entirely.
I recalled this the other day when I sat down to record a demo for the Stanford University radio station, KZSU.
For the past few months I’ve been training to start work as a volunteer DJ, and doing a recorded demo was the final piece in the jigsaw before I can be “air cleared”.
Actually I’m really excited.
Radio is something I’ve long wanted to do.
Although I’ve dabbled in the past with hospital radio in the UK, this will be my first opportunity to present on proper FM radio in the San Francisco Bay Area (also streamed live online).
But the thing is, although I’m hugely looking forward to getting on air, the learning process has been pretty heavy going.
So much so, that when I sat down to begin my demo show I doubted I’d be able to pull it off.
But I did it, recorded it, and it sounded surprisingly okay to be honest.
Plenty of room for improvement, but not bad for starters.
I even experimented with a “Morning Moodnudge” feature, which seemed to work.
Making the recording involved a steep learning curve, and I’m sure I was frowning, just like the gentleman back in London I used to present ideas to.
But learning is good, even (and perhaps especially) when it challenges us, pushes us, and maybe even scares us a little.
I expect you already know this deep down, but maybe it will be helpful to have a gentle reminder.
As you go about the next couple of days, why not try to find small chances to learn something new?
Even better if it makes you frown with concentration a little, because as I proved to myself last week, beyond the frown lies satisfaction, achievement, and a boost in self-confidence.
So until the next time, this is Jon Cousins on KZSU, Stanford.