The thing about Opportunity is she doesn’t necessarily arrive after you’ve lost five pounds, gotten out of your sweatpants, whitened your teeth and brushed your hair. Opportunity is quite stubborn about being on her own schedule. She’s kind of a brat that way. She shows up when she feels like it, whether it’s convenient for you or not. That’s why you have to be sneakier than Opportunity. I’ve found the best way to outwit Opportunity is to make a habit of being Camera Ready.
Being Camera Ready means you are at your best. You stay in shape, you have a healthy diet, you’re sensible about sleep, you have an efficient morning routine and you know how to pull yourself together quickly. Being Camera Ready requires a haircut that works and is up-to-date, ready-to-go clothes that fit your lifestyle and size and aren’t hiding behind a jungle of garment nostalgia.
In her book “What Self-Made Millionaires Do That Most People Don’t,” Ann Marie Sabath says millionaires don’t waste time fussing over themselves too much – they stick to a look that works for them, they maintain it, and they can count on it in a hurry.
Being Camera Ready means you are in shape mentally, as well. You are excited to get out of bed, you pay attention to current events, you look forward to engaging with the world and you are anxious to jump into your day. You know who you are and why you do what you do. You have purpose, enthusiasm and intention about moving toward your goals, which you actually have. You are passionate about others and about life, and you show it. You are an eager participant in the world. Your glorious spark is contagious. And the world is delighted to catch your fire. You are ready for Opportunity!
Take Marie Osmond, for instance. I met Marie in a television station lounge just before a noon news program was about to start. She was the featured guest. And, because it was lunchtime (and because I am a journalist), I was eating my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The then-22-year-old Marie was also eating – Kentucky Fried Chicken – with her fingers, over a flimsy paper napkin on her lap. I was horrified. Did Marie not understand that she would be on the air in a matter of moments and the Colonel’s special recipe could be a special recipe for disaster? Is there anything messier? I considered rushing to her side with some damp paper towels and a tiny mirror. What if she got grease on her face, in her hair, on her outfit?
Before I could run to her aid, she got the call that we were in a commercial break and she was at the top of the next news segment. I was stressed out. Marie was not. She swallowed her bite, wiped her hands, discarded the napkin and calmly took her place in the studio with her big, brave Osmond smile. Did she even check her teeth? No! I don’t think she did! That’s because Marie knows she’s Camera Ready. And in that instant, I knew I wanted that same kind of self-assuredness – that sunny, sparkly KFC Confidence when you know you look great, you feel great and you are ready to greet the world, teeth first.
Susan Hyatt knows what I’m saying. She’s all about empowering people to be at their best. As she explains in her book, “Bare,” she brings on the hair extensions and fake eyelashes. She even invested in a pair of spectacular, more-permanent embellishments – I’ll let her tell you about those. Do these things make her a better person? I would argue, yes. Yes, they do!
Much like a knight in days of yore going through his ritual to get his mind in the game, Susan has her own armor, breastplates and all, if you will. She does what makes her feel confident and at her best. I have no doubt Susan could take a bite out of a sticky, stringy, greasy-delicious KFC drumstick on her way to a podium to face a stadium full of people and deliver a rousing self-conscious-free motivational speech! She knows she looks great, which makes her feel great, which makes her super happy and excited about whatever is about to happen next. And when she smiles at us, we smile back at her. Are we looking for chicken in her teeth? No. No, we’re not! We’re taking in her whole perky being.
Being Camera Ready takes preparation, practice and a sincere interest in other people. Why? Because being Camera Ready is all about your involvement in the world around you. You’re curious and paying attention to your environment – the people, situation, scenery, details and yes, Opportunity, because she’s probably there, too. Being Camera Ready creates confidence and is a beautiful way to show respect for yourself and others. It means you have brought your best self to the party and you have shown up to interact.
When you are in the habit of being Camera Ready, it doesn’t take a lot of planning, shopping or effort. And, I can tell you, if you are not Camera Ready, you will miss out. The worst part is you’ve taken yourself out of the action.
As someone who interviews people almost daily, I can tell you it’s a pretty common occurrence that people freeze and back away when suddenly the spotlight is on them. Being Camera Ready means you have a response when Opportunity wants to engage. So, practice – with your thoughts, conversations, attitude, appearance, health and purpose. Volunteer when Opportunity invites participation. Step up, introduce yourself, “look alive,” as my mother would say. Bring on your KFC Confidence. If you don’t think you are interesting, adopt a hobby or an exotic pet, take classes, travel.
I found myself surfing alongside a lifestyle model named Brianne in Maui one sunny morning. She makes money by living her life, her lifestyle, on camera. Wet or dry, she brings her Osmond smile and fearless composure. And, click. She’s in a magazine, enjoying her life, earning a living. Everything about her beams with the joy of who she is and what she’s doing. And, that’s attractive. She lives Camera Ready.
Join me in this pre-COVID exercise. Let’s make you the surfer. You’re having a playdate with the Sea and the Sea wants to roughhouse. You’re getting “maytagged” – a term kayakers use when they’ve been thrashed around by a body of water as if they were in a washing machine. So, after hours of this, you may be a little scraped up from being rolled and dragged across the sandy, rocky ocean bottom and your eyes feel like they are floating in little buckets of saltwater. But, you have been living in the moment and are ecstatically happy. You switch out of your swimsuit and into whatever is in your car – which is probably the most beat-up pair of cut-offs you didn’t know you owned and a faded, stretched-out shirt given to you at a Padres game when you were 16. Why do you keep these old clothes? No one knows. Did you bother combing your hair, or applying some lotion or even Chapstick? Nope.
And now, you’re hungry. You are going into a lively restaurant where there are many humans and if you thought about it, you might realize you would not even chance taking out the garbage or walking to your mailbox looking like this. But here you are, dressed in rags, sunburned and surf-rashed with swollen eyes and wild hair.
The place is soooo crowded. And you feel soooo fortunate to get one of the very last tables. As you walk all the way through the restaurant, past the stage with the ukulele player and his hula-dancing wife, you notice how everyone else actually did comb their hair and put on real clothes. You may begin to feel a little uncomfortable. Could you look worse? Probably not. Do you want to engage in a conversation with a stranger like this? Did you bring your outgoing self, ready to sing along in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and jump in with your own hula moves? I’m thinking not. So, you find your chair, avoid all eye contact and focus on a spot on the exit door to stare at. Yes. Good idea. Let’s take the food to go and exit.
And that’s exactly when Opportunity shows up. Before you can say “Remington Steele,” the exit door opens and you lock eyes with – wait for it – Pierce Brosnan, in all his smiling, 6-foot-1, Irish movie-star handsomeness. And, guess what? He looks better in person than he does in “Mamma Mia!” He is the epitome of Camera Ready. You also notice, there is only one table left in this family restaurant and it’s within a scrunched-up arm’s reach of you. Yup. And that’s where the Tiki Man Pizza wait staff is delivering James Bond. Now, consider what you would give to be Camera Ready at this moment.
If you think this cannot happen, I’m here to tell you it happened to me.
In my fantasy world, Pierce and I shook hands as he squeezed his tall, dark self by me into his chair. His wife, Keely Shaye Smith – a journalist and film producer – and I hit it off immediately. We talked about our next projects. And she says, “I need a writer. Are you available?” We had a spirited conversation, huge laughs and made plans to meet up again soon at another local restaurant, with hula dancing.
Sadly, this is not how it went.
Instead, Pierce squeezed by me and I stood up to give him more room. That’s right. I tried to back away from Pierce Brosnan. He shook my hand and in his most charming booming Irish accent, said my name! “You’re a very Bonnie Bonnie!” Keely was kind and wonderfully approachable and James Bond was calling me pretty. I was struggling to look him in the eye. I was shaken and stirred. My posture was begging forgiveness for showing up anywhere looking like this. Pierce and Keely lingered and were thoroughly enjoying the neighborhood hangout. I wanted to bolt.
And, you might say, “Bonnie, give yourself a break. You were surfing all day. Of course you weren’t at your best. So what if you’re scraped up and bruised with out-of-control frizzy hair, bloodshot eyes and draped in the worst possible clothes you own? You were simply caught off guard!” But then I would say, “That’s a great excuse, but it doesn’t change the outcome or the fact that my cutoffs were clinging to me by threads. And, by the way, I have no doubt Brianne back in Maui would have been Camera Ready. So what’s my problem?”
The point is, I believe both Brianne and Marie could have been pummeled all day by waves, scarfed down KFC or Tiki Man Pizza and still have had an engaging, maybe even life-changing conversation with Pierce and Keely, because they understand the importance of being ready – Camera Ready. This, I believe, is why some people seem lucky. Good things happen for them because they show up, ready for Opportunity.
Truly, anything can happen in life because that’s the thing about Opportunity. She loves a surprise and she will bring it. But you have to bring it, too. Know what makes you feel Camera Ready and get to that place. You want to be out there showing off your best moves, you’re I’m-having-so-much-fun-you’ll-want-to-come-hula-with-me attitude and your sunny KFC Confidence.
Trust me, because what’s not fun is slinking away and hiding behind a ukulele player and his hula-dancing wife in a tight space.
Honestly, wouldn’t you rather be having a finger-licking good time with James Bond? QCBN
By Bonnie Stevens, QCBN
Bonnie Stevens is a public relations consultant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.