It’s hard to believe that this month marks more than 20 years since my 15 seconds of fame on CBS’ hugely popular reality show, Survivor: The Australia Outback – The Reunion. I’ll never forget that hot day on the CBS television lot in Los Angeles, California. After more than an hour waiting outside alongside other special guests, mostly CBS Survivor sponsors, my Reebok colleagues and I were guided to our section inside the Survivor Reunion studio.
About an hour before the live show began, a show staffer approached us and asked if anyone wanted to pose a question to the Survivor contestants during the broadcast. I thought about it for not nearly enough time before I heard my mousy voice squeak out, “I’ll ask a question.” After discussing and framing my question with the staffer, I was given a few directions and rough timing for the moment I would be cued to stand at the microphone located about five feet from my aisle seat. Being a public relations professional, I recognized that this would be a once-in-a-career opportunity to give my employer a shout-out in front of a captive global television audience.
If it were not for my watching the replay video, recalling that moment would be impossible. It was such a blur. But I do remember being surprised I’d even made it to the mic stand without tripping or passing out while talking. Although I worried that my fear would be paralyzing, making me unable to put one foot in front of the other, I found the courage to survive the unknown.
Surviving the unknown has been a heartbreaking part of my reality lately. In mid-April, I lost my father. Although he lived in Cincinnati and I live outside of Boston, my father and I were very close. He was my best friend, my supporter, and my rock. How would I continue to find the courage to move forward, the confidence to step up, and the poise to stand out? My father taught me everything I leaned on when I stood in front of 28 million CBS viewers. Daunting times compel us to recall life lessons, real experiences, and special moments to pull us through. Many of us encounter difficult times that threaten to paralyze our growth and shatter our beliefs. When that happens, we must dig down deep to find and lean on whatever reminds us that we have the strength to not only survive, but to thrive.
Denise Kaigler is the founder and principal of MDK Brand Management, a firm specializing in brand strategy, business consultancy and career coaching. Prior to launching her business in 2015, Denise held senior, executive and C-suite roles at several global brands. Denise is the author of Forty Dollars and a Brand: How to Overcome Challenges, Defy the Odds and Live Your Awesomeness, available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is also the creator and executive producer of Brand Rewind ™, a multi-media experience that explores the actions and behaviors of personal and business brands and empowers others to learn from them. Sign up for the Brand Rewind ™ newsletter and subscribe to the Brand Rewind Live YouTube channel by clicking here.