Fearless as Possible (Under the Circumstances) by Denise Donlon
Mar 9, 2017
I came to Canada in 1999 which meant that a lot of the media culture of the early 2000’s have passed by unnoticed. We never had cable television so I only knew about Much Music from friends plus it took a good couple of years to fully acclimatize and find my own space in this new world. I remember going to Toronto as a 16 year old for a modelling gig, walking by the Much studio on Queen street being completely mesmerized anyway. Rick the temp (or intern as I like to call him) might have been on air at the same time but I didn’t really learn much about him until later, when he joined the team at ET Canada. Regardless, I now know he has worked his a** off and made a name for himself and that is very respectable (Rick if you’re reading, well done!). One day I was watching ET at my mums and right before the end credits Rick mentioned a new book release by one Denise Donlon, an important woman in the Canadian media and she was the one who gave him his first job (funny enough I actually heard that a couple more times from various Canadian media personalities since then), that immediately peaked my interest. I know from my own experience how some really amazing people can shape your future and the fact he made a personal shout out to the author made this book so much more important to me.
the book 'ultimately [is] probably more for young women who maybe want a career in the Canadian cultural industries'.... As I raise my hand with eagerness
I ran to Chapters and got my copy straight away. My book tastes are as scattered as my brain, I’ll ready anything from youth fiction to fantasy to biographies. If it’s a good book I don’t discriminate. I do, however, always seek out books about the entertainment, fashion and blogging industries. I’m lucky to call this my full time job but know that the learning never stops. What more is that the most valuable lessons can come from other people’s experiences. Speaking to veterans of the industry has already helped me along my own path, so reading their stories is in and of itself a very educational experience. The most important lesson I have ever learned is that people who are older, and more experienced than you can provide a lot of great insight, and even though technology and ways in which business is conducted may change, the way people establish relationships rarely does. It’s something I always try to pass along to anyone that ever asks how to succeed in this industry.
I don’t have a mentor, my mother of course is an amazing support system and my brother dishes some unmatched advice, they are the people I turn to the most but they don’t know the space that I work in, they don’t know the rules and sometimes things do get lost in translation. A female mentor who works in the same or similar industry would be a HUGE asset and I envy anyone that has that in their lives. Books, especially those written by successful women in business, serve as kind of place holder for that unfilled role. I wanted to talk about Denise’s book as my first book review because she could ultimately be the mentor I never had, and because you never really stop learning I will never stop searching.
The most important lesson I have ever learned is that people who are older, and more experienced than you can provide a lot of great insight, and even though technology and ways in which business is conducted may change, the way people establish relationships rarely does.
The very first thing, in fact that I heard Denise say, in one of her radio interviews, is that the book ‘ultimately [is] probably more for young women who maybe want a career in the Canadian cultural industries’…. As I raise my hand with eagerness.
Denise’s career path starts with promoting concerts at the University of Waterloo, her story goes on to chronicle her path through the ever changing Canadian (and global) media landscape. With the drastic change in the music record industry in the early 2000’s and the Napster disruption, as a president of Sony Music Canada she faced a number of challenges along the way. Her acknowledgement of those challenges to not only work in a very fluid industry but also as a woman in business serves as a very valuable insight. In 2008 she moved to CBC Radio and soon after became ‘restructured’ out of her role as executive director and luckily for all of us went on to write a book.
...the ASS isn't going to kick itself!
Something that resonates strongly with me is her attitude that you should always remember to be grateful. Being a woman made it hard for her to find a mentor as well, often quoting Ginger Rogers saying she did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in high heels. Working REALLY hard (even going into labor on air!) hits very close to home. Hello! I did a modelling job on the day of my wedding ha! Dealing with the impostor syndrome is another very relatable theme. Always feeling that you can do better and work harder? Something simple like taking a nap sets on feelings of guilt? You know how they say that misery loves company? Reading Denise’s book and learning that all the things I go through internally are not exclusive to me and probably only exist BECAUSE I work as hard as I do, helps to make me feel a little more normal. So just like all the hard working ladies out there I will continue pushing the rock up that never ending slope because the feelings of accomplishment are far better than those of giving up.
For anyone that is interested in the media landscape, in Canada, or anywhere in the world for that matter, this book is a testament that if you THINK you can then you actually CAN. Thank you Denise Donlon for being that mentor across the page to all young women who need the reminder that the ASS isn’t going to kick itself!
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