Join Betty Liu for an in-depth discussion in this video Being interviewed, part of Betty Liu on Career Success.
- Well I firmly believe that people don't really change and they don't really take that leap until that fear of regret takes hold. So for the most part, a lot of us live in fear. And I do myself, right? I'm fearful I'm not doing a good enough job. I'm fearful I'm not taking care of my kids right. I'm fearful they're not going to get in college. I'm fearful I'm not saving enough money. We're all living in these fears, whether they're justified or not. And I think most people are.
And this, by the way, applies whether you have five dollars in your pocket or you $50 billion in your pocket. I mean, there is always a level of fear particularly for people who are very successful or want to be even more successful, this fear of not doing enough. But in terms of that change, right, that moment where you might be sitting at your cubicle and you're saying to yourself, why am I not starting that company? Or you're starting a company but you haven't gone and raised funds, let's say.
And you're saying, why am I not kicking myself into gear? I think that fear of regret is what drives people to go from not doing something to doing something. And I've heard this a lot with CEOs and entrepreneurs, very successful people, is that that fear of regret is a huge driving force, a huge motivator. You always think to yourself, if I didn't do this five years from now, would I regret it? And if you'd regret it, then you know that that's the right decision.
I mean, I had that same moment, and this was again, well I had this same moment when I was actually thinking about having kids, and I was a journalist at the Financial Times, I was rising well along in this career, and I didn't know whether or not I should take a break and have my two children. I didn't know it was going to be twin boys at the time. But I had my kids, and I was struggling with this sort of work life, you know, working mother, this whole balance that a lot of women struggle with early on, and I remember one time I went on vacation with my family, we went down to the Jersey shore, actually, and my dad noticed that a lot was on my mind.
And finally I said to my dad, I said, look, you know, I just don't know when's the right time to have kids. I feel if I have kids now, that that might ruin the momentum that I'm building at this company, but if I wait till later, it might be too late. You know, I was just struggling with this very real challenge, in my view. And my dad, who is this very, sort of like, straight, be a doctor, this kind of guy who would always take the safe path, you know, he just said to me, "What does it matter? Just do it, it will all come together.
This is a decision that, five years from now, you're going to regret that you didn't make. So just go ahead," and so I just said, you know what, he's right. I should just pursue what I really want to do, have kids, have a great career, and if the two don't match, then I'll figure it out somehow. And I never regretted it since. OK, so several years ago I was going to make a career switch from being a print journalist to being a television reporter. Now back then, that was a lot more rare to do.
Right now it's, everyone does that. People are writing for print, they're on television, they're doing video, they're producing their own videos. They're YouTube stars now, right? But that was not the case about 10 years ago when I first started. So one of the things I did was I started to just really learn the craft of television. I became a radio intern, I took a lot of people who were in the television industry out to lunch, and one person said to me, you know, you really need to get some training.
I think what you should really do is talk to someone, a television coach, and learn how to do television, learn the craft of television. It was a great piece of advice. So I sought this television coach out who happened to be based in New York, and I went to her office one day, and it was just, I don't know if it was a co-working space, or what not, but it was a sort of plain, white office, and she brought me into a room, laid out some newspapers, and said, "OK, start reading." So I started reading the newspapers. And she wanted me to read it the way a television anchor would read stories.
And I just wasn't doing it well. She kept telling me, "More energy, more energy!" And it got to the point where my interpretation of more energy was screaming. So after about half an hour I felt like I was yelling my words to get more energy. And I just got frustrated, and I just remember thinking to myself, instead of thinking about learning the class, I started thinking about all the terrible things that were going on at that moment. Her fee was too high, I didn't like her hair, I hated the stories I was reading, I was just getting frustrated.
And this woman could tell that that was happening, so she sat me down and she wrote on the board, look, she wrote on the board, opportunity plus preparation equals luck. And she turned to me and she said, "Look, Betty, I know you're getting frustrated, you know, you're hating everything about this moment right now, but I want you to study these three words. Opportunity plus preparation equals luck." And she said, "I know what you want to do. What you want to do is what a lot of people want to do, and a lot of people don't do it successfully.
So the thing that you're doing here, which is preparation, is what's going to get you that job. You have to be not only, you have to be prepared, and you have to have the right opportunity. You can have the opportunity, but if you're not prepared, you'll never get the job," so she said, "What you need to do is you need to, from this day on, focus on being prepared." And I remember thinking to myself, you know, she's absolutely right, you know, instead of being frustrated by the process, I should actually look at this and say, look at it with a better attitude, and say, what she's doing is helping me actually be prepared for that moment when I get that opportunity.
If I were to get that opportunity at that moment, I would not have been the right candidate. So from then on, I started to read it more and more. I read better, I was cooperating more with her and lo and behold, about a year later, I finally got the opportunity to take this job overseas with a television network. And it was that opportunity, I was prepared, and I finally got that job. And lo and behold, everyone would say to me at that time, "You're so lucky, you're so lucky you got that job," and I said "Nope, it was because the opportunity happened, I was prepared, and that equals luck." It wasn't because it dropped in my lap.
It was because I was prepared from that day on.
Learn what it takes to
- Find your passion
- Be an outstanding job candidate
- Interview well
- Overcome fear
- Make a career change
- Network and find mentors