Having spent quite a bit of time on travel the last several months, I have had the unique opportunity to see more than my share of daytime television. I am far from a “regular” TV person, but I am somewhat aware of the major personalities and stories of the infotainment world. Well, I know of Oprah, Katie, Regis, Matt, Meredith and the usual “one name only” crowd. What I did learn is that Katie Couric has a daytime talk show…last I knew there was a kerfuffle about her being an evening news anchor…shows how up I am on things. Point being, it might be time to add to the Dilbert Principle and Peter Principle; might I suggest the Katie Principle.
After a little google research and reflecting on what I had seen over the last decade of infotainment and evening news, the Katie Couric career arch serves as a great lesson. By every standard, she was excellent on the Today Show. She was the gold standard of morning TV journalists and “soft news”. She had crossed into doing a bit of everything; journalism, entertainment, hosting, and was to a degree a pop culture icon. Katie Couric had become just Katie. When you can go by one name, you have made it.
Yet, in light of all the success, Katie Couric wanted to go one step further. She wanted to anchor the evening news. She wanted to do “hard news”. In television journalism, anchoring the evening news for one of the Big 3 networks is the pinnacle of the profession. Credit to her, she went for it. By all accounts and by any matrix of evaluation, it was a bad move for all. In the end it was a classic case of poor job matching. She was not right for the job, and the job was certainly not right for her.
All of this leads me to flipping through channels or wandering airports, and there she was, back on daytime television. I have no idea what the ratings are or what the dollars are, but I do know that what I saw was someone in their element. It was immediately clear, Katie is great in that environment. I saw enough of the CBS Evening News over those two years to know she was not in the right spot. But her new show – it works.
Realizing and embracing what it is you do really well is the key to success. Simple really, know what you are good at and do it to the best of your ability. However, the issue comes when our ego drives us to overreach. Absolutely we should all be driven to reach our fullest potential, but we should also have a sense of what that potential is. It is a delicate balance, stretching vice over extending. And that is what I learned from flipping on the TV in one too many hotels over the last three months…I saw someone back to doing what they do best. Well done Katie.