I just got back from my book publicity swing through New York after appearing on Fox and Friends, CNBC’s Squawk Box, Bloomberg News and more. It wasn’t a good week to be in Manhattan. I’m saying it was cold. If you see something pink and frozen on the sidewalk in Midtown, that might be my ear.
Before I tell you my most embarrassing moment, I have to give you some background. Television hosts rarely have time to read a guest’s book before an interview. So the publisher provides a handy summary to guide the interview questions in the right direction. Sometimes the summary gets misplaced, or the host prefers to wing it and go off script. That’s when things get interesting because I only practice my answers for the main themes in the book.
Host Pimm Fox, for Bloomberg News, was interviewing me live on camera Wednesday and asked a question about a minor but interesting topic in the book that I wrote over a year ago. I suddenly realized, on live television, that I didn’t remember part of my own book.
It was my last interview of the day, and those types of days have a 3 a.m. wake-up call, which my California body was still registering as midnight. This was the second day of that schedule. I have to tell you, time stands still when you’re on live TV and you have no idea what should be coming out of your mouth.
I took “media training” years ago before my first book tour and they prepare you for that exact scenario. The trick to digging out of that hole comes from understanding that the audience doesn’t care about the question itself – at least not for a book interview. They only care if the author says something interesting. So instead of answering the question as it has been asked, you respond as if a different question had been asked. The audience hardly notices.
But as I said, I was sleepy, so instead of smoothly changing the topic, I admitted on live TV that I couldn’t remember part of my own book. I think I sprayed perspiration all over the newsroom like some sort of cartoon porcupine shooting its quills. It wasn’t my finest moment.
But after the horrifying confession my media training kicked in and I babbled about something. I’ve heard that it doesn’t look as awkward as it felt, but I have a hard time believing it.
On the plus side, I have the sort of job in which all bad news today is tomorrow’s content for comics or blog posts or books. And after the initial flop sweat moment, I usually come to think of my embarrassments as highly entertaining in a strange way. I guess you could say I have a love-hate relationship with embarrassment. That’s a lucky personality trait in my line of work because – if you haven’t noticed – sometimes I fail in very public ways
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.