A quarter of a century ago, I started what I thought at the time was my dream job.
This is the dream job I’d fixated on since making the decision to focus my career on rural journalism – a long and winding path to a career arrived at after having other doors closed to me.
I’ve always been a dreamer, somewhat driven, but also someone who hasn’t taken the most obvious or direct path to achieving my goals.
So, in November 1992 I started as a rural reporter with the national broadcaster, ABC Radio, stationed at the new studios in Dubbo, Central West NSW.
Given I’d been working towards this since starting an agriculture degree straight out of school, followed by a journalism diploma, then 10 months working as the volunteer news director at a community radio station (an after-hours position on top of working full time at a research centre), it took five years to secure this job at the ABC. I was only 22 years old.
Not long into the dream job and I fast discovered what it was to be a very small cog in a very large organisation, answering to unsympathetic bosses hundreds of kilometres away and working day-to-day with difficult people only interested in their own advancement; their eyes set on bigger and better posts.
Added to this was the stress of the job – long hours starting at the crack of dawn, a huge region (covering from Dubbo to Wilcannia, and north to the Queensland border) that I was expected to travel across frequently, working on emotionally draining stories of rural communities trying to survive the drought of the early 1990s, along with bank foreclosures, suicides and depression. In between were the perennial stories of cropping forecasts, field days and harvest.
After four years, I’d had enough. I spent the last six months of my time with the ABC developing a plan for the next five years, setting up contacts to go out on my own.
My mission was to help people tell their stories more effectively. I’d seen so many come through the radio studios with great stories and a lack of confidence or skills to tell them well.
Twenty-two years later, I’m pretty much still doing that even though the media and channels of storytelling have changed enormously in that time. I still laugh when I think of the analogue radio studios, typewriters and fax machines with rolls of thermal paper that I left behind in 1996 when everything I do today is digital.
I’ve lost track of some of the jobs I’ve done and people I’ve worked with over that time, but as I head towards a 25-year business anniversary in the next few years, I look back at where it all started – in the radio studios of ABC Western Plains, Dubbo, and I feel a huge sense of achievement and pride in what I’ve contributed to the rural and regional communities and industries I’ve worked in.
I tend to be less rigid in my planning and goal setting these days, allowing for more room to continue learning, discovering new interests and skills along the way…but it’s hard to change old habits.
I do have another 25-year plan – broken down into five-year chapters. It’s always directed by my passions, my strengths, and my desire to continue learning, but underpinned by my values and beliefs that I can do anything I wish to.
If you’re interested in some help with telling your story, connect with me today.
* My office will be closed for the summer from 15 December – 30 January inclusive. 2018 projects are being considered prior to 14 December.