3 Things Anderson Cooper Taught Us About Media, Life and Perseverance
Anderson Cooper has made a name for himself in the world of news and media. Generally regarded as a positive presence in a field where so many anchors, hosts and journalists put entertainment over news value, Cooper’s background has shown a steady trail of hard work, attention to detail and compassion that has earned him a largely admired reputation.
And when All Points founders CEO and COO Jamie and Lauren Izaks got the chance to meet him at a presentation in Chicago, they took it. Lauren specifically has been a fan of Cooper since the beginning of his career and she was eager to tell him how much his life and passion has influenced her own professional career. Here are a few gems of wisdom they picked up from the Silver Fox himself.
Empathy is important
After reporting on tragedies large and small as a correspondent for Channel One and ABC News in the 90s, Cooper noticed a troubling pattern – the bad guy, per se, always got his or her story told. Segments about serial killers, school shooters and warlords were completely ignoring the victims’ stories, and Cooper noticed. He made it his priority to tell the victims’ stories, and it caught on with other news programs and anchors. He showed his personality, starting to chip away at the long-held mentality that anchors had none to speak of. He puts it best himself:
“I think the notion of traditional anchor is fading away, the all-knowing, all-seeing person who speaks from on high. I don’t think the audience really buys that anymore. As a viewer, I know I don’t buy it. I think you have to be yourself, and you have to be real and you have to admit what you don’t know, and talk about what you do know, and talk about what you don’t know as long as you say you don’t know it. I tend to relate more to people on television who are just themselves, for good or for bad, than I do to someone who I believe is putting on some sort of persona.”
Forge your own path
Some may not know that Cooper is American royalty – he’s one of socialite Gloria Vanderbilt’s sons. His father, writer Wyatt Cooper, died early on in Anderson’s life. His older brother, Carter, tragically committed suicide when Anderson was 21. This jump-started Anderson’s desire to pursue journalism and writing, (he was at Yale studying political science at the time of his brother’s death) as he has more deeply explored the theme of loss in his writing and journalistic work.
With such a storied background and undeniable family wealth, Anderson stands out even further as he truly paved his own path, traveling around Southeast Asia and Africa with a video camera, filming stories of war-torn nations to send back to Channel One in New York. His drive to succeed eventually earned him a full-time reporting job with Channel One, then subsequently his correspondent position with ABC which led to a co-anchor position on World News Now. Eventually this resulted in Anderson becoming the anchor of his own show(s) on CNN – Anderson Cooper 360 and Anderson Live.
Keep your eye on the prize
During his presentation in Chicago alongside colorful TV personality Andy Cohen, Anderson made sure to emphasize the importance of keeping your eye on the prize – identifying what you want and going for it. His entire career has been an exercise in being yourself and working hard – Anderson was one of the first news anchors to come out publicly as gay (as was Andy Cohen). He said that the only thing standing between you and your dreams is you – that if you want it bad enough, you can make anything happen.
Funny, charming and just simply fun to be around, Anderson Cooper proved to be just as delightful in person as he is on TV. His wisdom, work ethic and intelligence have earned him an incredibly successful career already – he is an inspiration to those of us working in media and beyond.
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