Star Power: What I Learned From Four Celebrities

Over the years, my career in communications – from radio to public relations and back to radio – afforded me so many opportunities to meet some well-known, seriously talented, super-smart people. Sadly, I took many of those experiences for granted and most are now a blur. But a handful really stuck with me, providing little life lessons I’ll always cherish. Wanna hear about a few?

 

Celeb: Kenny Loggins

Life Lesson: I am talented and capable.

How: I was barely 19 when I interviewed Kenny Loggins and I was so green. It was just the two of us with a tape recorder in a private room; he dumped out an entire cup full of vitamins and supplements on the table and swallowed them throughout our half hour conversation. Pretty distracting, but I carried on. But after we wrapped up, he told his manager – in front of me – that it was the best interview he’d ever done. I left there feeling so validated, realizing I had power as a journalist to make or break an interview. That was big for me.

 

Celeb: Judy Blume

Life Lesson: Always strive to be a kid at heart.

How: A decade ago, I spent three days in Miami with Judy Blume as part of a PR campaign I was spearheading. She was kind, but set in her ways and wanted things just-so. For instance, she threatened to move hotels if the luxury one I had booked couldn’t find her a beach-side room with a window that opened. She was married to her schedule. She ordered meals like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. But when we got to her old elementary school, where I had arranged to do media interviews and a read-aloud session with kids, Judy Blume changed. She softened. She giggled. She rushed from room to room, remembering every detail she could about her days there. She was so delighted and engaged that she threw us off schedule. It was a great relief to me, knowing that her seven-year-old self was still within her – full of wonder and joy and spontaneity. I realized then we all need ways to keep that child within alive and well.

 

Celeb: Maya Angelou

Life Lesson: Everyone has something in common with me.

How: First, let me say talking to Maya Angelou is like talking to a poem. She chooses every word carefully, with such passion and purpose. We spoke in the mid-90’s about fostering empathy and self-esteem in kids. Something she said has stuck with me ever since: “Human beings are more alike than we are un-alike.” That changed the way I look at every new person I meet; rather than be nervous about how our differences might keep us from clicking, I look for what we have in common. And the same goes for people I already know; trusting we are more alike than not increases my compassion and empathy for them {and for myself!}.

 

Celeb: Mister Rogers

Life Lesson: Always speak from your heart.

How: By the time I interviewed Fred Rogers, I’d discovered how two-faced many personalities can be; they don’t all live up to their oh-so-positive public personas. So, I had my doubts that Mister Rogers was the same guy in real life that he was in his friendly TV neighborhood. I was wrong. He was the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate person I’ve ever interviewed. It struck me how centered and genuine he was and I remember thinking, “this is what it really means to speak from your heart.”

 

Ever learned something special from someone you admire? Share your star-studded life lessons here – I’d love it!