Strong Mindsets For Media Success


(By Jeff McHugh) Reaching your goals, feeling confident and finding success as a media professional depends more on mindset than most people realize. According to Merriam-Webster, mindset is “a mental attitude or inclination.” Everyone has natural, built-in inclinations. The best of the best chooses their mindset, and that mindset is how they reach excellence.

This week I coached a group of media professionals in Washington, DC. Their work has them interacting with intimidating C-Suite executives, political power brokers and world leaders. Despite their impressive roles, many struggled with imposter syndrome, negative self-talk and stage fright.

Mindset was a recurring theme as we collaborated on these barriers throughout the day. Here are examples of strong mindset that I used to get them thinking in a new way. Some may also help you in your career as a broadcaster and podcaster.


Like many actors, Michael Keaton hated auditioning for jobs. Audition after audition became tedious as he tried and failed to land a role. One day, Keaton changed his mindset. He was no longer going to an audition to get a job. The audition was the job. He was going to work.

If he did not get the job, Keaton was unemployed. But his new attitude was, “I went to work today.” Keaton’s mindset led to stronger audition performances and was an early step in Keaton’s long, successful career including blockbuster films like Batman, Beetlejuice and Birdman.

Great morning radio shows bring their A-game to every part of their show, even if it is drudgery or seems unimportant. If it is not possible to do a segment, appearance, social media post or podcast well, they consider not doing it at all.


Many coaches set high goals, but famed NCAA basketball coach John Wooden’s mindset was that players focus on the daily steps that lead to winning instead of focusing on goals.

Wooden’s motto was, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” By focusing on daily practice, Wooden won ten NCAA championships, including a record seven in a row.

Successful broadcasters and podcasters have a Nielsen ranking or audience number in mind they would like to reach, but they rarely discuss it. Their focus is exclusively on the daily preparation, ritual and practice that leads them to that number.


NFL coach Vince Lombardi’s mindset was to focus on positive feedback, showing his Green Bay Packers game films where they displayed perfect execution. Most coaches had a mindset of leading with fear and motivating with criticism. Lombard’s focus on successes helped his team win the first-ever Super Bowl.

Media presenters also find their top performance when they surround themselves with authentic positive reinforcement. They also limit self-criticism by mindfully writing down positives as they review audio or video of their delivery.


Another actor, Geena Davis of the films Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own told InStyle Magazine how she learned a mindset of positive self-talk as she practiced archery:

“I would shoot an arrow, and my coach would say to me, ‘What were you just thinking?’ ‘Uh, I was thinking, “I suck.”’ Then he would be like, ‘Well, we have to fix that.’ I became aware that I was doing this all day long, telling myself that I was awful and embarrassing. So, it was really helpful to change all that. ‘I’m doing the best I can. I’m trying my best’ — that’s the conversation I should be having. It impacted my whole life.”

Davis’s new mindset propelled her into the semi-finals for the Sydney Olympics.

Every on-air host misses the target sometimes. Replace negative self-talk like, “I am terrible at this” with “I am learning how to do this better” and “I am improving,” and you will.

Jeff McHugh is known for developing remarkable talent for both morning and afternoon drive. He brings an uncommon mix of positivity, creativity, and strategy to the shows that he coaches. He is a member of the team at the Randy Lane Company. Reach Jeff at [email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here