Travel so often requires us step outside of our comfort zones– in everything from finding our way in unfamiliar neighborhoods to experimenting with new foods to dealing with (alas) lack of Internet service. But this process of discovery and risk-taking (however small those risks!) is part of why travel also inspires us and helps us grow. Oftentimes, it’s the same with our careers: you have to step out of your comfort zone– and be courageous– to grow in your profession. GGG Alisha Davis shared some great insights on this topic when we chatted a few months back.
Alisha, as you may know, graduated from Harvard and reported for Newsweek before being tapped for an on-air gig with CNN Headline News. Then came stints with E! News Live and MTV News. Now, she’s a freelance anchor for ABC News Now, covering everything from pop culture to international news, as well as a freelance writer for GMA.
You came from a print news background. What was it like transitioning to on-air?
The first time I [did a guest appearance] on CNN, they could tell it was my first. I basically froze and hyperventilated. Jim Clancy, the anchor doing the interview, was just terrific. He turned to me and asked me one or two questions and said I was going to be great. That calmed me down.
Once you got the full-time job with Headline News, how did you get over your fears?
You know, I’m not really a “fearless” person. I actually get incredibly terrified, and ironically that’s exactly when I know, okay, you really have to ‘go for it’– in spite of the fear. [Learning to do on-air work] was scary, but I realized that at the end of the day, if you’re trying something new, there is a first time. If you’re paralyzed just because of that, you’ll never do it at all! You can come back five years from now, and it’s still going to be the first time. I remember interviewing Brian Williams early in my career. I got up the courage to put the mic in his face and ask him the questions. Then I realized I was holding the mic upsidedown. He said he did the exact same thing on his first interview. I told him, “I know you’re lying, but thank you so very much!”
Is being a news anchor difficult?
I wouldn’t call it difficult. Medicine is difficult–surgery is difficult! But it would say it’s not as easy as one would think. Anchoring is about being able to speak and hold a conversation, essentially at the same time as you’re figuring out the information to give and the questions to ask when, say, news breaks on the air. It’s more than reading the teleprompter.
You say your parents taught you to focus more on effort than results. What did they mean?
Growing up, it was always about whether you did your best, not how you did. I remember times I did my best and failed, and they said, ‘that’s okay, we saw how hard you tried.’ Then, there were times that I did really well– say, got straight A’s– but they weren’t impressed. It was always about how hard I worked for something, not the end result. As I’ve gone along in my career, I’ve realized that sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. But if I feel like I did my best, I can be happy with either.