What were you passionate about when you were 12? Are you still passionate about the same thing now? Paul Gambaccini reckons that it is the golden age of 12 that you will remember for the rest of your life, and the passions or hobbies you had then will stay with you forever.
When Paul came in to speak to us on Wednesday, it was my job as the current intern at The Minimart to review the event. I am sure that everyone in the room will have taken something away from the session, however, as a third year student intern trying to get a foot in the door of a notoriously competitive industry, I found it particularly inspiring.
Paul first realised his passion for music and the radio when he was still a young boy. He was listening to the radio with his father and as his father left him to get ready for work, the music track changed to Elvis. Paul was scolded for listening to it and it was also the first time he had heard his father swear. It was at that precise moment that Paul knew that the music he enjoyed was something special.
Throughout the talk, Paul kept referring back to this lifelong passion he has for what he does and the importance it had in driving him on to succeed.
Paul stayed true to and followed this passion, despite receiving opportunities that many people would jump at, to divert away from it: one of my favourite parts of his whole talk, was his description of turning down offers from both Yale and Harvard in order to attend Dartmouth- simply because it had a better radio station. His message was simple; when you know what you want to do, the choices you face are easy.
We were all captivated by the stories of celebrities he’d met. But even these stories had a message in them. His analysis of the process of releasing new records was particularly relevant to the industry we work in. Back in the old days, artists would continually release new material, staying fresh in the public eye. People just weren’t able to forget or know what it was like to live without them. The Beatles, for example, would release 2 or 3 albums a year plus a string of singles, yet now, artists can go years before releasing an album, which has all their material from that period on it. It’s easy to see why so many artists come and go so quickly. The music industry could benefit more from thinking of their artists as brands, and managing their creative output accordingly.
The point, he summed up, was ‘don’t go away.’ It’s no good to be able to produce a great piece of work every so often, but do nothing much in between. If you’re not producing work consistently and on a regular basis, you may just be overlooked for someone who is.
But by far the best advice I took from Paul’s talk was ‘things are done by the people who do them.’ Paul is certainly a doer- we can see this from the fact that he was the youngest manager of the Dartmouth radio station in its history at the age of 20 whilst still managing to gain good enough grades to get a scholarship to Oxford University to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics alongside Benazir Bhutto. So to all those students, myself included, who complain of too much work, yet spend all their free time in between lectures partying or playing video games- if Paul can run a whole radio station, I am sure we can at least get a work placement in our chosen industry or maintain a blog!
The ‘go-getter’ attitude that the above quote embodies also reared its head when Paul managed to secure an interview for Rolling Stone Magazine with Elton John, which ultimately got him noticed by the BBC. Whilst at a concert at The Royal Festival Hall, Paul saw Elton John heading towards the bathroom. Most people would probably be intimidated by the fact they’re in the same room as the star- not least a young reporter, still out to make a name for himself. But not Paul, who seeing this as a golden opportunity, followed him into the bathroom and asked him directly, would he give him an interview? Elton John said yes, but referred Paul to his manager. Nothing happened straight away, so Paul kept in regular contact, not pestering, but staying on their radar, until finally, they realised Paul meant business and gave him the interview he desired at a time which was good for them because Elton was about to tour America.
Overall, the most important thing that I, and others in the room learnt from this session is that you if are truly passionate about something, the key to success is to follow it and not hold back because of any doubt that it may not be achievable. Things are done by the people who do them.
Adam Roberts (Intern and future planner)