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Jan 16 / King Kaufman

What you can learn from Lance Armstrong’s interview: It’s not about Lance

Lance Armstrong and Oprah WinfreyYou may not have heard this, but Lance Armstrong reportedly admitted to years of performance-enhancing drug use during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that will air Thursday and Friday on her television network.

This shocking news—Oprah Winfrey has a television network!—is a learning opportunity, and Vicki Salemi of Media Jobs Daily offers up Three Career Lessons to Learn from the Lance Armstrong Interview.

Here they are. This is going to seem a little silly but it’s not:

  1. Be honest
  2. Go for the big interview
  3. Prepare, prepare, prepare

The first one’s kind of obvious. Do the right thing, kids. The second is about taking chances, or, as Salemi puts it, “Why not go for the brass ring?” Winfrey says she sent Armstrong an email asking for an interview last year, not expecting a response. But she got one, and she called the eventual sit-down “the biggest interview I’ve ever done.”

I think her 1993 talk with Michael Jackson was bigger, but we’ll let history decide.

What was the worst thing that could have come from Winfrey asking for that interview with Armstrong? Nothing. Silence. It’s good advice: Why not go for the brass ring? Think you could do that gig but they’d never hire the likes of you? What the harm in trying for it? Think that august publication will never publish your stuff? What do you lose by making the pitch?

As for the third lesson, Winfrey says she prepared for the interview as she would for a college exam. If you’re anything like I was in college, that’s terrible advice, but I think she means she prepared a lot, not just barely enough to get by.

I have learned since college that this, alas, is a very good idea.