5 WAYS TO NAVIGATE A MODERN WORKPLACE
BBC broadcaster Mishal Husain has interviewed everyone from Malala to Boris Johnson, and was Prince Harry’s choice to conduct his engagement interview with Meghan Markle. As she launches a new career guide, she shares what she’s learned...
Remember, success isn’t innate
Often, we look at successful people and believe they were born with a particular skill set, without thinking about how long they’ve been honing their craft. I want to demystify that because it’s not the case. I don’t think the cult of the ‘superwoman’ does anyone any favours. In the last few decades, women have broken so many glass ceilings, but we still have underrepresentation to deal with, and need every tool in the box to tackle that. Those tools come from sharing our knowledge and I’ve personally benefited from other women’s help and insight in my career. Skills like how to pitch or negotiate are tricky – you don’t get to do them often, so it’s hard to build up the experience that enables you to get better. This is why we need to share what we’ve learned with one another.
Learn from mistakes, but don’t dwell on them
I’m very self- critical and I’m never going to be the kind of person to think, ‘Oh well, that didn’t go well,’ and not give it a second thought. I will always give it a second thought. My challenge is to make sure I have that conversation with myself in the most constructive way possible, and
guard against dwelling on things for too long in a disproportionate way. Accept there will be times that things didn’t go the way you expected. You don’t want such a thick skin that you don’t take lessons on-board, but the trap you must avoid is losing your nerve for the future. Register what’s happened, figure out what needs to be learned and then turn the page. It will happen at every stage of your career, but it does get easier.
know that everyone gets nervous
I interview a lot of politicians, but the Meghan and Harry interview was a very different kind of moment. I had to work out not only what I wanted to ask, but how I wanted to ask it. Did I feel nervous? Definitely. I get nervous all the time and I’d be worried if I wasn’t. But if something important is going to happen, you have to rise to the occasion and I need nerves to channel that: they help me think fast and on my feet. Whenever I go into schools, it’s one of the most frequently asked questions, and I always emphasise that nerves are a necessary part of performance rather than something to dread.
resist the urge for perfection
I’ve been at the BBC for 20 years and a journalist for 22. When I look back at how I used to work five or 10 years ago, I was a lot more of a perfectionist. Now, because of the hours I work, it’s often a real race against time to get everything done – I’ll arrive at work and find a stack of briefs on my desk and a guest waiting in the US to speak to me at 4.15am, with only two hours to do it all. It means I haven’t got a minute to lose. But it’s been a really good exercise for me because I’ve had to stop agonising over every word and it’s made me a far better journalist.
Don’t make Decisions about the future until you’re there
I’m conscious I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had an income level that has allowed me to afford the childcare I’ve needed, but as a working mother it’s important to remember that things change, frequently. At the beginning, I had three children under two. I thought, ‘How can I go back to work? Who is going to look after them?’ But because I took it step by step, it worked. I worried about doing international travel with work, but it happened. So don’t write off what your career could be based on your family life or one particular moment. Try and take a longer-term view, pace yourself and think, ‘I’m not saying “never”, I’m saying “not right now”. ‘ The Skills: From First Job To Dream Job What Every Woman Needs to Know’, is out 6 September (£16.99, Fourth Estate)
i get nervous all the time – i’d be worried if i wasn’t
prince harry handpicked mishal to do his and meghan’s post- engagement interview