I just got off the phone with a new client, from an industry that is largely foreign to me. I'm getting up to speed on terminology and context. When it comes to understanding the field, frankly, I am like a kindergartner on his first day of school.
There are more than a few publicists out there who have much more insight into the history and nuance of this industry than I currently possess. So why in the world did I get hired?
It helps that they respect my track record, including my long time in journalism. And I had a terrific advocate, whom they respect, going to bat for me. But beyond those ingredients, another key stems from something I have in common with my twin children (whose first day of kindergarten was all of four weeks ago): they ask an awful lot of questions. And, of course, my answers lead to still more questions.
I've never counted, but I wouldn't be surprised if I answer a few hundred queries a day (I can only guess how many my wife, who spends more time with them, answers.)
Sometimes my children ask silly questions. Sometimes they ask the same question over and over again. And sometimes they ask absolutely amazing questions that make me pause, really reflect, and then venture the best answer I can muster at the moment.
My journalism career was filled with thousands of assignments in which I was literally learning a topic on deadline. So it doesn't faze me when a prospective client, far afield from my own background, comes along.
A look at the wide-ranging list of my current and past clients underscores that point. With each new client, I apply the same fundamentals of identifying, developing and then sharing compelling stories across a variety of communications channels.
And each time, as long as I continue to ask questions as relentlessly as my children, I bring that much more insight to the next client.