Podcast: Kate Delaney on Embracing Your Wow
Professional interviewer Kate Delaney—sports radio broadcaster, speaker at Leadercast Women 2019 and author of Deal Your Own Destiny—has interviewed more than 16,000 people throughout her career. And when you’ve interviewed that many people, the lessons learned are endless: For example, she’s discovered what it really means to be tenacious, how to leverage mentors and how to not rest on your laurels.
In this episode of the Leadercast Podcast, we chatted with Kate to learn the challenges she overcame in sports radio and how to find and embrace your wow as a leader. Read on for an inside look at the episode or listen to it above.
The radio is not known for being saturated with female voices, especially on sports stations. “It took 500 rejections for me to get my first show as a sports talk show host,” says Kate. With so many rejections, she could have decided that sports news just wasn’t for her, but she didn’t. “Part of it is the tenacity that I just never give up,” she says.
In addition to tenacity, Kate attributed her success both to her relevance and her relatability. “The personality part is very, very big because if it's not entertaining, then people won’t listen.”
She broke into the male saturated field once she won over the gatekeepers. “It was convincing the gatekeepers that a woman could be relevant, funny, engaging and could entertain,” she says.
That experience allowed her to interview thousands of people. Through her conversations with professional athletes, Kate found three common traits that set successful leaders apart from the rest.
“One of the things that I've learned from every single athlete that I've interviewed, male or female, is they had tenacity. They weren't going to give up. Even if they got knocked down, they were going to keep meeting those challenges,” she says. They don’t allow negativity to persuade them to give up; they focus on the positive and keep trying.
2. A Winning Mindset
“They have to have that winning mindset,” Kate explains. “So they work on their minds and their bodies.” A winning mindset includes having specific goals, both short term and long term, actually written down and reviewed regularly, if not daily.
3. No Complacency
“They constantly challenge themselves to go further, faster, bigger, better—whatever it took,” Kate says. “It was critical to see where that line was and keep moving the line to get better and better and better.” Leaders who overcome challenges don’t rest on their laurels. They go right back out on the field and keep moving forward.
EMBRACING YOUR WOW
Kate identifies three ways we can carve our own paths as leaders. She calls it, “What’s your wow?” and she writes about it in her book. They are:
1. Go all in.
“At some point, once you make the decision, that’s it,” she says. “You’re doing everything you can to make whatever it is happen.” Not that it happens overnight. Commitment on that level also takes some patience.
Kate shares that, for her, some of the hardest things to let go of were other people’s expectations. “They said, ‘You’re smart. You could do this, you could do that. Why are you doing this?’” They were well-meaning, but they really just wanted her to give up. She didn’t, of course. She made a decision and stuck with it.
2. Rely on mentors.
In her book, Kate calls this idea “stacking the deck.” This is the opposite of the well-intentioned discouragers. “It’s having advocates around to keep you primed and pumped up,” she explains. Your advocates can give you sound advice, remind you that you’ve got this and support you no matter what. These mentors are encouragers who keep your confidence high.
3. Have self-confidence.
Confidence is so important, especially early in your career when you’re finding your way. “The way that I built my confidence is that I had people who helped me along the way,” Kate says. She also used these three confidence-building strategies:
- Meditation: Kate learned to meditate to quiet her mind and focus on something positive every day. Even if it was just 10 minutes, it made a difference.
- Reading: Another strategy was reading books. “That kept my confidence high because I would see what other people had to overcome to get where they were,” Kate says. Reading business books and biographies inspired her to recognize how essential confidence is in so many success stories.
- Plans: Kate suggests making a business plan, especially for entrepreneurs, so you don’t get tripped up by operating costs. “Get a business plan, have an idea of what your vision is and make sure you look at that vision every day,” she says. “What's your unique proposition? I call it, ‘What's your wow?’”
Kate says a leader worth following is someone who lets people fly. “They let people do what they do best, they’re not hovering and micromanaging you, and they're celebrating with you,” she says.
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