Monday, September 19, 2011

Picking her priorities: Susan Wood

While discussing “hooks” at a  non-fiction writing workshop led by Graham Reed, he advised us to pay attention to “what you remember the most. What you notice is what other people will notice”.
The thing I noticed about Susan Wood was how very normal she was – and by normal I don’t mean ordinary.

Ordinary is hardly the word for a successful journalist whose courage is almost as famous as her career.

As well as taking TVNZ to employment court (she won) she quit as general manager for the Takapuna Beach Business Association after only a week in the role because insufficient funding would not allow her to take the village as far as she believed it could go.
Not content with an impressive resume that showed her working alongside Paul Holmes and presenting more than one successful prime-time show, Susan graduated with an MBA from Otago in 2001.

So, I was relieved to discover a down-to-earth woman with a great sense of humour who is more interested in her family-Susan has two sons -and friends than in being a celebrity. What's more, one  who makes a really good cup of tea.
“I did the MBA to show I have a brain,” she explains as she pours the tea.

Even with an MBA and leveraging her extensive media knowledge, it took Susan longer than she anticipated to find her niche once she moved away from mainstream media.
“Because I have had such a public profile, there is a perception around that profile and around what I used to do that is, in fact, incorrect.
“People were making assumptions about what I could do, or would be prepared to do, that just weren’t true.”

The experience gave Susan time to gather herself and decide what was important to her, what she wanted to do and who she wanted to work with.
“You know, if I can’t look someone in the eye I can’t be bothered working with them.”
“I’m not going to validate someone else just for a pay cheque.”
The result is Wood Communications and a group of carefully selected clients, many of whom which are not-for-profit groups.
More than just public relations, Wood Communications offers writing, video, communications and anything else its clients need.
“If it feels right I say yes and figure out how to do it.  I’ve had to learn how to do a lot of new things,” she says with a laugh.

Women, according to Susan, are wired differently so they respond differently – but rather than worrying about it they should simply learn to work with those differences.
“You know there are some brilliant women’s networks out there.  We have to look after each other as much as we can.”

It’s important, she believes to encourage, the next generation of women and share experience and knowledge with them as much as possible.
“I want to see good people who work hard do well.”

The greatest thing about her new lifestyle is the flexibility it affords.  The days of having to be at studios at four for make-up and worrying about missing cues behind her, Susan is free to set her own work schedule and time.
“I can march to the beat of my own drum,” she says with a grin.
“I'm not really a morning person but I do get my best ideas in the shower.  I’m an evening worker though.  I feel like I’m getting my niche sorted, that I’m on the right path – I want to continue with that, continuing to get the balance.”

Balance is the key for Susan who is a devoted mum of two boys in their late teens.  Being present and sharing their lives is a high priority for her as is being there for her friends.
“If people want you near when they’ve got issues it’s something really special. I think that’s pretty cool.”
The keys to success for Susan are simple.
Be true to yourself in every way, she says, and treat others in a way you’d like to be treated.  She also believes it’s important you appreciate what you have and what you have achieved as you go.
She settles her cup down and stands.
“Oh can I add one more?  Make sure there is enough love in your life – that’s what matters."

©2010 Angelique Jurd – All Rights Reserved.  

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