Through the years, I have been very fortunate to have some wonderful interns come through that wanted to make working in television their career. You can tell quickly who is soaking up all the knowledge and those who are going through the motions.
Either way, I tell all the interns this same story I am about to share and it is one of humility and just being a genuine and good person.
When the “Big Joe On The Go” segments started back in 2003, we were very fortunate that what we were doing was resonating with people in Middle Tennessee. After a few weeks, we were getting recognized here and there and the emails started to come in and telling us about things happening that would be fun to cover.
Fast forward to the spring of 2006 and the segments were going great and we were getting recognized more and more and it was a great feeling knowing people were watching what you were doing.
One day, my cameraman, Anthony, and I stopped at the old K-Mart on Gallatin Road next to Briley Parkway. I have no recollection of why we were there but as I was checking out, a lady came up and asked for my autograph. That had never happened and it was very cool as I thought I had reached Mick Jagger level.
Boy, was I about to be humbled.
“There you go. Hey, I see you have another autograph, who is that?”
“Oh, that is Lelan. The weatherman over at Channel 5. He is right over there.”
And I look over, and I do see what a Mick Jagger level of popularity really looked like. There was a line of people waiting to get Lelan Statom’s autograph. Not just a few, but a long line that had gathered.
From the side of me, Anthony is crying laughing. In fact, he was bent over from laughing so much and he has tears in his eyes. I wanted to know what was so dang funny.
“Dude, you might think you are famous, but you ain’t Lelan famous!”
Lelan sat there and signed for everyone waiting and I went and also got in line. I finally made my way up to the front and he started laughing when he saw me and I asked if this was an event he was promoting.
“No sir, just picking up a few items for the house,” he said. We talked for a few and he went on his way.
He stood there for 30 minutes and treated every single person as if they were the most important in the world at that moment. Anthony leans over and says: “That is exactly how you do it. Every person will leave and tell their friends about seeing him. Not that hard to be nice. Remember that.”
Now you know why I tell that story to every intern that comes through. I actually tell it all the time because it contains humility and humbleness.
Here is me, thinking that I give one autograph and my next stop is a star on Hollywood Blvd. Meanwhile, I see the humbleness of someone that understands what being kind and genuine is all about. There is a reason he has been so popular and that so many people have been watching him for many years on Channel 5.
As someone eloquently told me many years ago, “It takes just as much energy to be nice as it does to be rude.”