This month, for our Legends Book Club, we read Audition: A Memoir by Barbara Walters, who is considered to be the most important woman in television. Not only did her career reach legendary heights, but she also pioneered the way for many female television journalists. But she wasn’t always at the top. In fact, like most of us, she started at the very bottom. So what were some of the keys to her legendary success? Here are 5 things Barbara’s life and career taught me:
1. Always do your best. This seems like a no-brainer, but let’s be honest, there are times when we’ve all given things less than our best. But even back in her very early days of writing press releases, Walters was always determined to leave her mark of excellence on every project she touched, which has clearly played an integral role in building her impeccable reputation.
2. Be prepared. Whether it was election night coverage or a celebrity interview, Walters always did her homework to make sure she knew every fact, every name, every minute detail about the person or situation she was reporting on. She immersed herself in it, made herself an expert, and, as a result, was always ready with another question or prepared to act when a time-sensitive opportunity appeared.
3. Be honorable. There were many times in Walters’ life and career when people tried to tear her down – bosses who refused to give her a raise despite her growing ratings, male co-anchors who antagonized her on-air, ridiculous stunts pulled by her competitors – but rather than stooping to their levels, she navigated those difficult situations with grace and honor. Often times it meant being the outcast, the center of gossip, or the butt of hurtful jokes, but by taking the high road, she eventually came out on top.
4. Cherish the memories. One my favorite parts about Walters’ memoir, was hearing about all the mementos she’s collected over the years: a note from John Wayne, a decorative box from Jacqueline Kennedy, a photo of her and Castro boating in the Bay of Pigs, just to name a few. These special things will always keep alive the memory and essence of the wonderful journey that’s made up her life.
5. Do it for the love of it. It’s easy to see that Walters is deeply passionate about television and journalism. She didn’t get into the business for the money – in fact, she was paid less than her male counterparts for years – she got into it (and stayed in it) for the love of it. Despite everything else, this seems to be at the heart of her success.
What did Audition teach you?
Check back tomorrow to find out what we’ll be reading in April!