I provided an update yesterday about a Mint Lounge story featuring me. I thought some might find the story behind the story useful. So here goes.
After my initial interaction with Sidin (the writer), the process running up to this piece was a little scary since it was my first interaction with the media. Developing a severe case of coldfeetitis, I tried to get out of it but Sidin was persistent. Later, I realized that a little attention was probably good for Mavrix. Generally an introvert and a private person, I had already gone out of character by writing on this blog, tweeting and publishing my various online identities for the world to see. Opening up for the interview was a big but logical next step. I needn’t have worried. Apart from being a funny guy and a good writer, Sidin also happens to be a good listener and conversationalist, and put me at ease immediately.
While the interview ended up being a pleasant experience, the photo-shoot was anything but. After what seemed like a hundred odd clicks, I became very conscious of my plasticky, artificial smile. [Note – This was not the photographer’s fault. It’s me – I am the opposite of photogenic.]
After all this hoopla, I fretted and wondered if I had blabbered too much. Despite reassurances from friends and family, I secretly wished that the interview would be swept aside in favor of a bigger, juicier piece. Or that it would be a small piece, buried in small type, deep inside the newspaper.
It was anything but that. On the morning of the August 13, Google Analytics showed a spike of traffic on our website. My friend Google also informed me that the article had indeed been posted. I clicked the link and browsed through what seemed like a rather long piece (“Did I say all this?”). My mind went blank and I read the words without registering their meaning. I posted the link on my Facebook wall and went on to attend the business of the day. On my way back home, I bought the newspaper. When I opened the page that had the feature, I almost fell off the chair. Staring at me was the most ginormous photo of me I’ve ever seen. And the article was a full-page feature (“Did I really say all this?!”).
This time I actually read the article. And as I read it, my vital signs got back to normal. It was OK. I hadn’t made a complete ass of myself. Sidin had not written an exposé about me. A few congratulatory phone calls, Facebook comments/likes, emails and LinkedIn messages later, I actually began enjoying my 15 minutes of fame.
Now that it’s all over and I am back to the comfort of obscurity, I’d like to share of my takeaways with fellow start-uppers who are yet to go through their first media interview:
- Put yourself out there. Social media, specifically Twitter, is probably the best way to have access to people who are otherwise not easily accessible. A very important part of putting yourself out there is about discovering interesting, cool people who are related to your field. I have been active on various social media platforms for just about a year now and I am still keep coming across fantastic people.
- Trust your instincts. Once I got comfortable with Sidin, I shared a lot more with him than even I’ve shared with some friends. I don’t regret that.
- Be honest. Or stay away from topics that you don’t want to talk about.
- Don’t force your agenda. Some of my well-wishers told me that I should have spoken more about Mavrix. I respectfully disagree with them. This feature was not about Mavrix. It wasn’t even about me. It was about how liberalization impacted careers in India. I would be really ticked off if I were a reporter and someone blitzed me with information I was not interested in. Mavrix’s day in the sun will come.
Oh, and if you still haven’t read the post, it’s here.