Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So You've been Rejected?

I remember like it was yesterday and yet it was some 35 + years ago. Funny how rejection has a way of leaving an indelible mark on your memory.

I had just created a voice over demo and was thrilled to learn that "Marvelous" Marv Brooks (WPGC "Good Guy" and Program Director) had agreed to listen and review it. Of course, back in the day this was analog.... submitted at 7.5 ips as a reel to reel tape .

If you grew up in the D.C. area then you recall that Marv was a bit of a radio legend. He had great voice with amazingly clear dic-tion. Marv Brooks spent years on air with "Good Guy Radio" WPGC (top 40 radio) and then went on to provide voice overs for agency's, the voice of the Capital Center, provide the play by play for the Washington Capitals and served as a radio Program Director.

Virtually all of us were cigarette smokers back in the '70's...and believe me Marv was a chain smoker. One afternoon, I presented my tape to Marv and with his "Kool" cig dangling from his mouth he threaded it on the TEAC...hit play....and away we went. Marv listened...focused... almost no expression . As my demo ended, Marv hit rewind, opened the tape box and placed the tape in the box. (pause) "Well, Jimmy"..he said. "Some people have it and some people don't and YOU don't!"

BAM! Hit me like a ton of bricks. (I know many of you reading this are saying....he was correct! Ha Ha.... very funny!)

I was crushed. What was I to do with this? Was I that bad? Did he mean for me to give up and find something else to do for my life's work? You know the feeling, as if someone had just punched you in the stomach. What started as depression quickly moved into frustration. Then, I just got pissed off! "Who the hell does he think he is?"

I would take his blunt comments as a fact almost made it my mission to prove him wrong.

Several months later, I created a new demo. This time I submitted it to Dave McNamee Program Director of WMOD-FM in Washington D.C. Dave was also a chain smoker. I remember meeting Dave at the WMOD/WOL studios in Georgetown. I told him how confident I was that I was going to be his next hire! (where was the humility?) He smiled...almost in a sarcastic way. Dave threaded it on the tape deck ....listened a bit and stopped the tape. He said. "Thanks for coming in". End of meeting. "Not again!" I thought.

A few days later my phone rang. It was Dave McNamee. He said..."after reviewing your tape....I wanted to let you know.... it was among the worst demos I've ever heard! But. I hear potential and I like your confidence. When can you start?" Amazing.

I'm sad to report both Marv Brooks and Dave McNamee are gone each taken by Cancer. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to let each know how grateful I was for the bluntness, candor, guidance and opportunity each had given me.

Talk about how to stay focused and positive without fear of rejection. Check out these examples:

An account executive I worked with in radio had a jelly jar of pennies on his desk. I remember reaching into my pocket to contribute to his collection. He said thanks but no thanks....that he knew how many pennies were in the jar and that he used them regularly. "I dump them out once a week" he said. "Then I start making phone calls for potential clients. I place a penny back in the jar after I make a call. I won't stop making calls until I've been through all the pennies. If I did not make a sale I'll start the process all over again." I'm not sure I could do that but I certainly admire the strength of character, the will to increase the odds of acceptance or success and to simply move on to the next "penny" after rejection.

And then there's the amazing example of rejection that Steve Jobs received when he presented the idea of a personal computer to IBM. They rejected Steve flat out! The idea of a personal computer appeared foreign to the IBM vision. The company did not foresee computers used for anything but business. Whoops.

Steve Jobs of course went on to form Apple....and the rest is history.

Here are a few favorites quotes on rejection:
  • "Actors search for rejection. If they don't get it they reject themselves!" ~ Charlie Chaplin
  • "Lukewarm acceptance is more bewildering than outright rejection." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
  • "If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again." ~Flavia Weedn
  • "Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out."~Edwin Markham
Here's something I think you'll enjoy! Cristin O'keef Aptowicz is a wonderful young poet comedian and author. She recently performed "Notes on rejection" at Brown University . To view her performance on You Tube click the link on the right.

I love to audition and do so every day not just for the opportunity of securing a new project but to keep on my "A game". Frankly, it's a great way to practice. I submit auditions confident I'm ideal for a particular project or part, only to find out that once again... I have been rejected.

Today, I find it much easier to say - "C'est la vie"!

Inside Studio A.....I'm James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.


mmullaney said...

I remember one such Program Director...not a chain smoker, but he did have an insatiable lust for bagels...I was doing my first ever overnight shift...nervous as hell...and in my best Boston accent (unaware of it at the time) I proudly backsold a song for the first time on radio... 929 WB-O-S, that's music from Paul McCaht-nee, send that one out to dor-chess-tah, love the way Paul plays guitah! Hot Line rang...the PD, who had to be re-thinking his choice to put me on...but he later saved me from an on air panic attack, forcing me to get though it cause he knew I needed it. That PD's name? James Tyberius Herron. Jim, you are the man, and indeed, our failures shape our success, not vice versa. Now put down that cigarette!

Inside Studio A said...

Thank you Mike!