A good portion of this blog will revolve around horse racing, with content ranging from analysis and selections to lists, columns, and other fun stuff. However, I don’t want this website to be solely racing-related, as I’ve done a lot of other things that I’m very proud of.
From time to time, I’ll post retrospectives or thoughts on certain things for various reasons. Sometimes, it’ll solely be because I enjoy telling stories. Other times, it’ll be because I have experiences that could possibly benefit someone who’s reading and going through something similar. There may be other motivations behind this stuff that I’m not even aware of yet, but at any rate, this is one of those times where racing takes a back seat.
Every once in a while, I get asked for career advice from people looking to enter horse racing, or broadcasting, or the professional world in general. I think it’s the duty of people being asked to provide the best answer possible in this situation, and that’s not a responsibility I take lightly.
My responses have varied over the years. Now that I’m a little bit older, a little bit wiser (or so I’d like to think), and a little bit more familiar with the way the world works, I’ve finally settled on a two-pronged response to the question, “What advice can you give me?” I’ll analyze both in detail.
1) Bet on yourself.
This sounds really simple, but it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you put faith into your skillset. This goes for pretty much any discipline you can think of. I’m a believer that, if you’re willing to take chances for the opportunities you want, sooner or later, someone WILL take notice.
I gambled on myself in 2013, when, with the help of my parents (Dad and I took turns driving, Mom helped with a necessary car repair before making the trip), I moved cross-country. I knew nobody in Southern California except my boss, I knew nothing about any places to live, and it was downright strange getting accustomed to living 3,000 miles away from where I was born and raised. Well, except the whole “football games start at 10 a.m.” thing, which took zero time to get used to, but I digress.
I won’t go into the myriad of personal or professional reasons why I moved, but doing that opened up as many doors for me as anything I’ve ever done. Personally, my quality of life shot through the roof, due in no small part to one particular person I met shortly after moving west. Professionally, I went from being a local turf writer in a small city to becoming a respected handicapper on a national stage. If I hadn’t been willing to move cross-country and hit the “reset” button on my way of life, none of that would’ve ever happened.
Mind you, I’m not saying it’s wise to pack up and go somewhere on a whim. What I AM saying, though, is to be confident enough in who you are and how you live your life to take chances and do things that advance you to where you want to go. If you’re not satisfied doing what you’re doing, look at what you can control and do something about it.
2) Don’t ever let ANYONE tell you that you’re incapable of doing something.
Okay, gather around, it’s story time.
Back in 2010, after returning from my internship at the 2010 Winter Olympics, I sat down and plotted a course of action into how I was going to get my first-ever real job. My idea was to blast my resume to the athletic departments of every college or university with a Division I program, thinking that, sooner or later, a door was going to open.
We’ll get to the results of that in a bit. I got a myriad of responses to these inquiries, including several very nice messages of, “no thanks,” and a few interviews with some very nice people. By and large, the people who work in college athletics recognize the struggles of breaking into the business, and I was able to learn a lot by doing what I did.
I only got one response that made me question the wisdom of what I was doing. I won’t name the school in question, but I will say it was a major athletic department. I still have the email in my mailbox, in a separate folder off to the side, just in case there are days where I need some encouragement.
“I will be honest with you and tell you that, from my perspective in the radio broadcasting part of the business, your chances of getting your first job out of college on the air broadcasting for a Division 1 level network are nil.”
That hit me pretty hard when I read it seven years ago, and even now, the impact isn’t lost on me. I firmly understand that the writer of those words probably didn’t intend to come off in a negative light, and was probably trying to give a young kid some idea of how the business worked. For better or for worse, though, the words you see italicized have been a driving force in a lot of what I’ve done to this point in my career.
Fast-forward seven months. After searching for the better part of a year (as most 2010 college graduates were, given the economy), I finally landed an opportunity to show someone what I could do in a broadcasting/multimedia environment in exchange for a paycheck.
The place? Siena College. A school with a Division I athletic department, where I had a big hand in broadcasts for soccer, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse.
The writer of that email probably has no idea what I’ve been up to all these years, or how much what he said motivated me (inadvertently or otherwise). If he’s somehow out there reading this: Thanks for what you did for me…even if you didn’t mean to do it.
That concludes the first-ever full-on blog post here on AndrewChampagne.com. It’s a big racing weekend, with two Kentucky Derby preps on tap for Saturday and a mandatory payout in Gulfstream Park’s Rainbow Six set for Sunday. I’ll have a few posts up looking at those cards in the near future.