Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Real Comeback Kid

Mark Curtis begins his book, The Age of Obama: A Reporter’s Journey with Clinton, McCain and Obama in The Making of the President 2008

with the story of how, when he was 5 ½ years old, on election day 1964, he stayed home from school in his small Wisconsin town and listened to the election coverage with his mother, a news junkie who faithfully watched Walter Cronkite while she ironed.

Mark was fascinated as the results came in from each state, although he had never travelled outside of Wisconsin. His mother bought him an atlas so he could see where Florida, New York and California were.

Is it any wonder that Mark became a political junkie like his mom?

Mark’s love of the process, personalities and drama of politics is evident in his book, which spans the 2008 election from the Iowa Caucuses through the primaries to the eventual, historic election of Barack Obama.

Mark was a guest on our March show

to talk about his book, a candid chronicle of his journey to over 30 states as a freelance reporter/political analyst covering the election.

The book is warm, real and insightful.

But what I enjoyed most was Mark’s relentless enthusiasm and optimism—and his inspiring story as the ultimate “Comeback Kid.”

Mark spent over two decades as a traditional journalist, including almost ten years as the co-anchor of the top-rated “KTVU Morning News.”

At the age of 48, he was let go by a manager who told him:

“Mark, if I could use a sports analogy, you’re Kurt Warner. You took us to the championship, but now you are on the second team!” He really said this! It was as if to say: “Mark, you’re a ‘has been,’ and your best days are behind you.”

A little scenario that might seem all too familiar right about now, especially to Baby Boomers who have worked hard their whole lives, only to learn that they are easily expendable.

So what did Mark do?

Maybe he cried silently into his pillow or drank too much cheap white wine or made Voodoo dolls of the TV executives.

(That’s what I’d do!)

In the short run, we don’t know, because Mark doesn’t dwell on this.

What matters is what he did in the long run.

He reinvented himself:

"Rather than walk away in defeat, I had been encouraged by my friends to transition to the “new media and to embrace it."

When you read the book or meet Mark, there is (astonishingly) not a hint of anger, victimization or defeat.

Only profound passion for what he is doing now and a work ethic and daily work schedule that blows you away.

I don’t know much about sports, but I do know that Kurt Warner came back, leading the Cardinals in the Super Bowl.

As Mark wrote on his blog on Super Bowl Sunday:

"Cheers to all my fellow “has beens” who’ve fought back after being counted out!"

Cheers, indeed!

Thanks, Mark, for being an example and an inspiration!

1 comment:

she said...

i loved this interview!!

"go marc curtis and go bloggers!" love, ~s.