Today I made my debut appearance on national radio, speaking on Woman’s Hour about makeovers. I write “debut” as though it’s going to be a regular occurrence but I’m pretty sure it’ll also be my last. I mean, I wasn’t totally terrible. I didn’t just sit there and sob, even though I’d spent the past thirty-five minutes alone in a soundproofed room, face to face with a massive BBC clock ominously counting down time (which for some reason made me feel like I’d turned into the 1970s test card girl, minus the noughts and crosses and the scary clown).* And then when I finally did get to speak, I controlled myself. Even when searching for a metaphor to describe how not all of us can be beautiful, no matter how hard we try, I didn’t just blurt out “you can’t polish a turd”, even though that was the phrase I couldn’t get out of my head (in the end I settled for “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”, which I nevertheless described, incorrectly I fear, as an analogy). Anyhow, avoidance of major disasters aside, I don’t think I did Brand Me any particular favours this morning. Just as well I had to dash off for a one-which-turned-into-three-hour meeting on real-life work-type things to take my mind off the experience.
Everyone on Woman’s Hour was pleasant and, apart from me, professional, including the woman I was sort-of debating with. The things that Kubi Springer said about workplace judgments and first impressions did not sound factually incorrect, nor indeed incompatible with how I live my life.** I’m not some noble warrior against workplace styling; I too dress up for work and have a work face and a work voice (and a “radio voice” too, apparently, not that that will get much use after today). Even so, there were lots of things I wanted to add but didn’t because I was too busy stopping myself from saying other things. This strikes me, within the context of a conversation about makeovers and personal branding, as poor brand management. If only I’d arrived with a clear marketing strategy in place – got to the essence of the Brand Values of Me – I just know I’d have put on a slicker performance (and who knows, it might even have involved the mention of turd-polishing; after all, that’s maybe the kind of thing a kooky Bridget Jones type would say and for all I know such a type may embody the values a branding consultant would say I ought to espouse).
It would, of course, be cheating to add all the cool, totally unassailable arguments I meant to put forward this morning to a blog post.*** It’s not really the rules of a radio debate, one which I lost because I was too busy worrying about metaphorical turds and staring at the walls in desperation, trying to remember some GCSE physics in order to explain the soundproofing (which would at least have given me a sense of achievement). Indeed, it’s all left me feeling as though maybe I do need a rebrand, not an appearance-based one – I’m resigned to my un-polishability – but one of those in which you become one of the Imaginary Confident People who Fakes It To Make It i.e. the person who everyone thinks everyone else is. Do these things work? I imagine not, as I have been trying, on and off, for years (I intermittently get pop-up reminders on my netbook calendar telling me that a year ago today I decided to be confident for ever and ever and look how brilliantly the past year’s gone and how ace the next year etc.. etc. … As expected, these “reminders” always make me feel a bit rubbish, really).
Anyhow, I wasn’t as bad as Boris Johnson yesterday. And my dad liked it and my auntie rang my mum straight away to discuss my celebrity status. So it’s not a complete disaster. And it’s not as though tomorrow I’ll be straight down to Waterstones to panic-buy “personal development” books. After all, I’ve got a Kindle for that, plus a presentation I have to do first thing tomorrow – and office presentations always make your life into a scene from a sitcom, in which being an un-branded fool is permissible, nay essential. Hence it’ll all be fine. Providing I don’t have nightmares about that sodding clock.
* It also felt a bit Clockwork Orange, which is odd, given I’ve neither read the book nor seen the film so I’ve absolutely no idea what I mean by this.
** Not that I’m able to quote anything she said, seeing as I’m too scared to listen to the recording. BBC iPlayer gives me a year in which to psyche myself up.
*** Pretending such arguments exist without actually presenting them isn’t cheating, I’ve decided.