travel, Uncategorized, writing

What I Learned Filming a Reality TV Program

A project I started on well over a year ago finally premiered on HGTV this week and I’m so excited to finally have seen it! For me, this means a lot more than “15 minutes of fame.” I’ve learned a lot from this project and although I wasn’t 100% lined up with everything in place as I wanted before going on national television (like having more updated info prepared on this website), I did get enough ready on my travel website, Inspiration Trips – the primary business focus from the show, to be content for now.

Persistence – Don’t be afraid to follow up more than once when it’s important to you

My first lesson was about Persistence – my persistence to continue following up with the show’s producers when things were moving slowly finally paid off. You see, I’m a very easy-going and passive type of person in most cases. Doing more than one follow up to gain business or a job is a bit excessive for me. I don’t want to be a pest to anyone and I’m not that great at self-promoting the same thing over and over again. I’ll show off something once or twice and then move on, especially if I am bored of results seemingly going nowhere. This is why I was never good at retail sales and that many of my personal projects have not finished to completion.

For this show to get approved I continued to follow up at least once a month for nearly a year. During this time I submitted an application, photos, videos, and more videos. Each time making sure I provided exactly what they needed. I did whatever it took to make their job easier to say yes.

Learning to be persistent is important when it comes to being a freelancer or having your own business. I understand this part, but doing it is slowly sinking in for me. I think part of the problem has been too many bad past experiences and allowing other people’s opinions weighing me down. I don’t want to offend or come across as too strong or aggressive. I’m also very critical of my own work and don’t always believe it’s good enough.

Confidence – They say it’s a sexy trait and I agree it opens doors

Having confidence was the next part of my learning. For years I’ve been told I should write a book about my life. I do understand that my life is not traditional and that many people live vicariously through my travel stories that I share. Although I’ve always lived and worked in very touristic destinations when I was in the USA, moving to another country made me quite popular within my own social network. Especially as I did it not because of a military move or becoming romantically involved with a foreigner, I did it simply because I saw and opportunity and took the risk to follow a dream of living here.

Many people won’t take that risk because they see it as too big or impossible. I learned long ago to stop thinking thoughts like, “Oh, I could never do that because…” I caught myself once saying that and then a few days later I couldn’t shake the thought, “Why can’t I do that thing again?” My answer that time seemed trivial and I found a way to make the fantasy work out. Now I stop saying, “I could never…” and just think, “Why shouldn’t I?”

While living in Rome I had many people that would contact me when they were there on vacation or even introduce me to their employers who were traveling there. It didn’t matter that I was offering touristic services at the time or we were even close friends, people wanted to visit with me and I enjoy welcoming them.

In this area of my life, I’m confident about my hospitality skills and providing assistance to others. I have always enjoyed it, especially if it involves entertainment and traveling. I knew my story would be interesting for the television show.

There are other areas of my life where I have less confidence in myself. These areas are where I still struggle and continue to work on improving them. The only way to become more confident is to stay persistent and keep practicing.

Patience – Letting go of your expectations and being patient is a secret to reducing stress

I generally have a lot of patience for most things. Living in Italy has certainly taken this to the next level. The waiting on bureaucracy here is no joke. So, waiting a bit longer than the estimated timelines of everything I was told has become usual for me. I don’t worry nearly as much as I used to when things aren’t happening in the time frame that I expect it to go. Everything seems to work out just as it should.

From the filming to the show’s airing, everything has worked out perfectly for me. I’m now enjoying the results of the physical time spent working on this project and the waiting time to see the final outcome.

The area where I need some more patience is as I’ve mentioned above – practicing more persistence with myself and having self-confidence in areas I am still improving.

Preparation – Paving the road to where you want to go makes it easier for opportunity to find you

There’s a famous quote by the Roman philosopher, Seneca the Younger, that goes, “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.” This is absolutely true. What may look like I am lucky to lead a beautiful life in Italy, I can tell you that it hasn’t been without a lot of struggle and preparation to get to where I am now.

I still don’t really consider myself successful yet. But in many areas of life I suppose I am. I’ve come a long way from the lowest point in my life when I was facing failure of all kinds. So much so that the stress was starting to affect my health. I ended up walking away from it all and starting over. I stayed focused on doing one thing – making sure that I did work that made me happy and knowing when to walk away from or say no to situations that don’t feel good.

I have many varied interests and even now do more than one “job” at a time, but over the years I’ve been narrowing things down to find a balance of doing work that keeps me happy and creative while still finding time to pursue other activities that are more for fun. I don’t give much time to activities or people who are not in alignment with my interests either personally or professionally.

Reading, researching, and feeding my mind with useful and uplifting information on a consistent basis, while might seem boring or time consuming to some people, has been key in preparing me to put together a business that supports my passions. This sometimes has even included working in negative situations for other people so that I could have the experience to create a business knowing what I don’t want in my own business. Even if unpleasant, I look for the learning experience in each situation.

When working with the producers of the show, they had a lot of information about my life that they had to narrow down into a more simplified story to fit their show’s format. They chose one angle of my life – my travel operation – and wrote the show so that we focused on this one personal aspect. This is where my “luck” happens.

While juggling the many working activities I do, I had to decide on the most important aspect to be prepared for when the show aired this week and that was to be sure my travel website was up to date and looking good.

Promotion – you are your biggest cheerleader, be shameless

Not wanting to be too much of an attention wh*re (please excuse the language), I typically post some updates and photos on a regular basis but not repeatedly on social media. My promotion for this show was an exception. I made a few announcements when I first learned of the airing date and promised everyone in my social media circles that I’d give plenty of reminders as the day became closer.

I kept my promise. I’ve been more active on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram this past week posting images and status updates regarding the show and adding blogposts to my Inspiration Trips website making certain it was prepared with enough of the important info I needed to show my services. It’s not every day that most people get to be on a national TV show that’s syndicated around the world. If you’re “lucky” enough to have this kind of exposure, it’s important to leverage this kind of publicity if you are trying to grow a business.

When promoting something, getting creative with hashtags across social media channels helps to expand your reach beyond your usual following. Of course, it should be relevant to the thing you are promoting or you could turn people off. If you can time it with a big media event, then it’s an advantageous time for growing your following.

As a result, I’ve seen my following numbers increase again even before the air date.

Fame – Using my new-found popularity for good

With publicity that comes from such as a well-known national TV show there is a period of fame. Outside of my usual social networks I’ve received contacts, friend requests, and emails from many people in just these first days after the show. Not all are interested in my travel services, even if that was my hope to grow my business.

So far, I’m enjoying the attention as it’s all be good up to this point and most people do behave themselves. I don’t know how long it will last, but I did expect for it to happen.

Being on TV makes you an authority in the eyes of some people. With that understanding, I feel a responsibility that I can inspire people and offer advice. For that reason, my next post will include a list of FAQs about the show and life in Italy.

Missed the show? You can see it online now on HGTV’s House Hunters International and on YouTube*! The episode is called “Amalfi Coast Reboot.” I thought the name they came up for the episode was quite clever. What do you think?

If you enjoyed my post, please show some love – share it, like it, or make a comment below.

*Edit note May 23, 2017: The video on YouTube was posted by someone who violated the copyright laws (it wasn’t me!) While I don’t condone such activity, I also appreciate that it was made available to people residing outside of the USA and that I along with several friends and family could watch it. However, with over 3500 views in less than 24 hours the show was removed. I’ve since found another account who has posted the show. I can’t know for how long this will last. Do a search for House Hunters International 2017 and look for the show’s title “Amalfi Coast Reboot” to find it.

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