“Raconteur” is a noun that means a person skilled in telling anecdotes. Raconteurs are gifted story-tellers, able to spin amusing tales from everyday life.
If ever there was the perfect example of a brilliant raconteur it would be James Brayshaw.
When I came back to live in Adelaide in 1995 my first role at SA-FM was to anchor the Steve Bedwell breakfast show. Working with Steve had it’s challenges that’s for sure, but his sports reader who started on the same day I did was someone I liked from the moment I met him.
James was still playing cricket for South Australia at the time, he was a very good middle order batsmen, like his father, and was also interested in following in his Dad’s footsteps as a sports journalist.
Hence the role at SA-FM.
James would read sport in the news updates (I still can’t believe we had a budget for a breakfast sports reader) and because he was such a funny prick Steve would keep him in the studio during the songs to amuse us, a court jester if you will.
To this day, I haven’t met a better story-teller.
All through his junior sporting career and well into his 20’s, James would make a habit of lighting up every dressing room he walked into. He had this wonderful gift of being able to hold an audience with his stories and anecdotes.
So let’s get the timing right here.
James started at SA-FM in 1995 but it wasn’t till 1999 that he finally found his feet in the lead male role on the breakfast show.
Why did it take 4 years?
- James was largely unaware of his talent.
- The station wasn’t alert to his potential.
When these were addressed, James became a star.
The first step was to help James see that he had a unique gift for story-telling and to provide him with the airtime, the encouragement and the feedback to help him improve.
Looking back, the person that needed the most convincing about James’ talents was James. But the more stories he told, the more confident he became.
It’s important to note that his confidence came from the positive reinforcement he was now getting from his content director Phil Dowse.
As Marcus Buckingham author of “the one thing you need to know” writes;
“Excellence is rarely a function of one-off achievement, but rather is a result of repeated practice and incremental improvement. Your job as a manager is to notice these incremental improvements and celebrate them.”
Eventually James’ confidence became a swagger and today that swagger has evolved to a point where you’re now hearing a broadcaster who is in complete control of his talent and his career.
So my other key take-out is this. If you’re a content director you should be in a constant state of high alert to the potential of every individual on your team, whether they’re on the air or off the air.
Once again to quote Marcus Buckingham;
“Great managing is about release. It is about constantly tweaking so that the unique needs and the unique style of each employee can be given free reign.”
Imagine if there’s a young James Brayshaw going unnoticed in your team right now?
Sometimes the only thing a talented individual needs is a gentle push from someone who believes in them. As content director it’s your job to be that person.