The next time you are looking to hire someone for your team and you see a resume, perhaps mine, with "television producer" on it, take a second look. Producing a show is a lot like founding and running a business — you need a message, a team, content or service and great execution. Any company will benefit by having a producer as a consultant or on staff.
Career-reinvention coach John Tarnoff explained during a radio interview on midlife career reinvention that we all have transferable work skills. I would add that television producers have carefully-honed skills that are particularly suited for businesses and brands. We are excellent big-picture leaders, storytellers and managers who are trained to work under extraordinary pressure.
Producers can direct a department, coordinate a live event or conference and produce a corporate video. If a company needs in-house help for coordinating an on site-video conference, media training or handling public relations with the press, a producer knows how to juggle those responsibilities.
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Here is a list of 10 transferable skills that producers bring to businesses:
1. Team builders and leaders
Just like the employees of a company, producers are usually part of a bigger team where they are charged with leading a production. Business owner Andrew Schmertz, co-founder and CEO of Hopscotch Air, Inc., is, like me, a former television executive producer.
"If you are a producer, you need to involve your staff in the production of the entire program and encourage employees to ask for help and guidance from each other," he says. "Include people in the decision-making process, even when it is outside their job titles.”
Communicating with your boss or staff is key. Whether writing or speaking for a three-minute segment or an hour-long special, producers must connect to a diverse audience.
Anjie Taylor, a supervising producer and writer at The Talk, chimes in: "Producers have the ability to write quickly, with clarity and in a style that fits the business culture we are in. The person who best commands language will always be an asset and will usually stand out."
3. Big-picture planners
As a business owner, you are always thinking broadly about the company and all its components. Producers are big-picture planners.
Investigative producer David Manoucheri confirms this: "Any program has a lot of moving parts that have to fit together like a puzzle. You have to know how it all fits. We have the ability to make the necessary changes without being too married to something. Producers see the big picture."
4. Major multitaskers
Companies expect employees to perform more duties than ever before, and producers have extensive experience wearing many hats and juggling several balls at one time and dealing with all types of people. Shelly Heesacker, a field director and producer for national shows, says something as simple as making nervous people feel comfortable is a paramount skill for getting anything done.
5. Constant connectors
Producers are great networkers. I have acquired an eclectic list of contacts over the years that I can turn to when necessary. And if I don't know someone, I definitely know somebody who can connect me.
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6. Rock-star negotiators
Business people negotiate every day, whether it is for themselves or their companies. The goal is to eventually make the deal.
"Every TV producer knows 'no' is not a final answer — it's just the beginning of a dialogue on the road to 'yes,'" says Katherine Ann, a senior supervising producer of an Emmy-winning nationally-syndicated talk show. "We are used to outsmarting roadblocks."
7. Terrific troubleshooters
Most producers realize the importance of staying calm under pressure. Producers cover wars, disasters and reality-reunion shows gone amok.
"Producers know how to be a solution, not a problem," says former CBS News manager Nanci Ross Weaver. "When all falls apart, we have plans B, C and D before reporting in."
Senior casting producer Sharon Nash Alexander says producers are great troubleshooters and are flexible.
Executive producer and showrunner Eric Streit adds, "We know how to go into any situation at any spot on the globe, take stock of our resources and then adapt to create successful outcomes."
8. Super salespeople and marketers
Imagine an employee being able to creatively tell your brand's message in only 30 seconds to anyone who will listen. When producers aren't producing a show, they are concisely selling ideas to their bosses.
Producer Ava Odom Martin says, "We are able to break through the intricacies of your business to tell your story in the elevator speech."
9. Master money savers
With companies constantly cutting budgets, money needs to go far. Shows are notorious for wanting a lot of production with little resources. Producers know how to stick to a budget. If we cannot afford something, then we can probably negotiate a deal to get whatever is needed in even the most unusual situations.
10. Organized time managers
Every company wants their employees to put out as much work as possible in a day. Producers understand the value of time, money and meeting a deadline.
Emmy Award-winning talk show producer Joyce Coleman Sampson maintains that "it is extremely important to be organized and pay close attention to details. Effective time management is key because time is money."
Producers bring these 10 skills and more to the business table, and as I like to say, once a producer, always a producer. If you are an employer searching for that certain someone to add to your team, a producer is that person.
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