“Dani, I’m so sorry.”
I heard these words at 8:49 on a Sunday morning, one minute before I was scheduled to begin a live interview on WBFF, the Fox affiliate in Baltimore, my hometown.
“We’re having a communication issue with our producer,” Shelley Orman, the show’s host, told me. “We have no information. I have no idea what this segment is even about.”
I’d spent hours writing up a detailed plan for the segment. I’d organized the visuals with precise instructions. I’d sent it all to the studio weeks in advance. I’d woken up at 6 a.m. and trekked through a snowstorm to get there at 8:20, as instructed by the producer.
And now I learned none of it mattered. It was 8:49 a.m., and they had nothing for the 8:50 segment.
“I completely understand if you want to cancel,” she continued. “We can’t possibly do your segment as planned.”
That’s when I made a choice.
“It’s all good,” I told her, 30 seconds before we went live. “We can wing it.”
She gave me a blank look, trying to figure out if I was serious.
“Here’s the deal,” I said. “I’m going to talk about why successful executives so often nail their professional goals, but struggle with their personal goals. Then I’ll explain the importance of community for fitness. Then I’ll mention our Facebook group, Busy Baltimore Fitness Tribe, which viewers can access for free. That’s the whole point of the segment, so let’s stress that.”
The camera guy gave us the 10-second notice.
“Look, since you don’t have the script, I’ll just keep talking until you jump in and ask me a question,” I said. “Cool?”
No, not cool. But she was a pro, and I seemed confident enough, and anyway it was too late to do anything else. The cameraman ticked off the final seconds on his fingers, and the interview began.
Orman opened the segment with a random line about fitness New Year’s resolutions. (It was mid-January, so it wasn’t a complete nonsequitur.) The control room threw up a generic stock image of a gym on the screen behind us.
And we got through it.
I’ll admit I’m disappointed. (Although, to be clear, I’m not blaming Orman, the station, or the producer. They all did the best they could with an unforeseeable situation.) The segment wasn’t anything like the one I’d planned so meticulously, and rehearsed so diligently.
But when I stepped off the set at 8:55 and checked my phone, I saw our Facebook group had already received 30 new member requests.
That’s why I wanted to write about the experience. I’ve learned over the years that things won’t go the way you planned. In fact, they’ll often go wrong. Perhaps even horribly wrong.
Even if something goes mostly right, that means some part of it went sideways. In those moments, all you can do is make the best decision possible, and proceed with 100 percent conviction.
This particular decision on a snowy Sunday morning worked out. Others haven’t. Some of them, in retrospect, were so crazy they couldn’t possibly have worked. But I got over the embarrassment or monetary loss or whatever price I paid for those bad decisions, and I’m still here.
Going on live TV with an unprepared interviewer might’ve turned out to be one of my all-time worst. But if I hadn’t at least given it my best shot, I would’ve regretted it for the rest of my life.