In a recent interview with Sophia Amoruso on the #Girlboss Radio podcast, Beth Comstock recalled a job interview early in her career that shaped the way she approaches her work today.
Comstock is the vice chair of General Electric, and the first woman to hold that position.
Years before joining GE, she wanted to be a television reporter. One of her first jobs, she told Amoruso, was at a TV service in Richmond, Virginia, where she spent some time behind the scenes and some on camera reporting on state government.
But she was convinced, she said, that she was going to work at one of the local TV stations.
“I made it my mission to call the news director [of the TV station where I wanted to work] every week. I sent him a tape; I called him, and he of course never took my call, and I found all these crafty ways to get on his radar and call. Finally his office said, ‘OK, he’ll talk to you.’ [I was] so excited.
“Oh my gosh, he ripped me. He was like, ‘Who do you think you are? You look like you’re 12 years old. Why would anyone put anyone like you on camera?’ And just, oh I was so demoralized, but at the same time, it kind of did build that confidence, like, ‘Buddy, you don’t know me.’ …
In my head I call him ‘Mr. Rant’ because he just ranted at me, and I was just devastated. But he also, he strengthened me in a way. So I actually in some ways kind of appreciate that that happened.”
Comstock gave more detail on how the experience with “Mr. Rant” shaped her in a 2014 LinkedIn post:
[T]he more his put-down rang in my head, the more determined I was not to allow his dismissal to define me. In fact, maybe I owe him a thank you. Sure, he dampened my spirits for a time. But he also helped me unearth a tenacity that has served me well since.
Comstock eventually went on to work at NBC, which was acquired by GE; she was one of the founders of Hulu.
Interestingly, GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt reportedly advised Comstock to be more confident earlier in her career, which also helped her become more tenacious.
Comstock recently told The Washington Post that since Immelt’s comment, “building confidence has been about putting yourself out there in a little way. … Just trying little things, and when they go well, challenging myself to do the next thing.”
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