My very first media experience presenting on television occurred in 1975. I was 12 years old in the seventh grade at Quail Hollow Junior High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. And there was a 15 day contest. So everyone was encouraged to dress up like a character from the 50s. Now, this was the 70s. So there was a very popular show called Happy days where the characters were based on the 1950s.
So I dressed up as a character named Fonzie, who was the big cool guy. I had my hair slicked back dark hairs breezed back a leather jacket out a little more hair back then. And sure enough, I won the Fonzie look alike contest. Well, my reward was going on the junior high school newscast the next day to deliver the morning announcements. It wasn't CNN. It wasn't 60 minutes.
It wasn't the BBC. It was al-jazeera it wasn't some big, fancy important press conference. My first time was just talking about who's supposed to show up. not show up for homeroom or band practice. was a great at it. I don't know, I was nervous.
I was scared, but I got through it. And even though I was a shy kid didn't speak that much, was not someone who was just naturally gifted at telling stories and being the center of attention. I did like it enough to not be scared. And soon after that, I got interested in student government ran for homeroom representative got active in student politics. And then the next year, I ran for student body president and became president of the Student Council. Not that anyone else cared about it much.
But because of that, I then frequently went on the morning newscast to talk about student government issues and Have you sold enough magazine subscriptions or sold your candy yet for our fundraising, things like that. And I also spoke in front of all the students 1200 at the assemblies. Now, most people would be scared to death of that, especially in junior high school. But I had had just a couple of opportunities to practice and get more comfortable with it. And the more I did it, the easier it got. And that's how I started off my career in front of a camera.
So why do I tell that story people do often ask me? If they're going to spend a whole day with me and media training your presentation? How did I get started? So I have to tell them something. There's always the assumption that I was just born naturally with this gift of gab, and I've been doing it perfectly Oh, no. It was sort of accidental.
It was sort of lucky. I wasn't any better than anyone else. I was nervous like everyone else. So that's why Tell the story just makes people feel a little more comfortable with me. It gives them a sense of where I come from. This is typically not one of the most important points I want to stress.
But if I know people are curious about it, it is something I delve into just gives them a little more comfort, a sense of who I am. It also makes me seem a little more down to earth, because I'm kind of making fun of the fact that I don't have thick black hair anymore. That's why I tell the story.