Jump off the diving board

Andrew Norman has a disarming affect on people, which is probably what has made him great at interviewing some of the biggest names in music over the years. Maybe it has something to do with his small-town origins in western Nebraska or his warm laugh and the casually rolled-up sleeves of his hoodie. More than anything, it’s his open recognition of his fear of public speaking. He said he used to be sick for days before presentations. Now he makes multiple pitches for grants and sponsorship as the Executive Director of Hear Nebraska, a nonprofit he founded to cultivate Nebraska’s music and arts community to promote globally.

diving-board-524495-mOf course, his journey from western Nebraska to Hear Nebraska was not without many challenges. He often faced forks in the road: one path lead to money and leisure and another path lead to hard work and challenges. He worked as the managing editor of Omaha alternative newsweeklies Omaha City Weekly and The Reader before earning his master’s in environmental journalism at Michigan State University. After graduating, Norman considered two internships in Washington, D.C.: a well-paid internship writing press releases for the Environmental Protection Agency or a non-paid internship covering Capitol Hill for Congressional Quarterly.

He chose the internship that would most challenge him and began queuing outside of the Senate Chambers to catch Senators for quotes. One time, Norman was collaborating with another person on a story and had to get a quote from a well-known Senator. When he was called to ask his question, he froze with fright, but was able to get his question off, though he didn’t really get an answer from the spinning politician. As he describes it, he took a leap off the diving board, just like when he joined The Reader or went to D.C. He continues to take those leaps carving out a position in his non-profit as the Executive Director. His greatest advice then is take leaps off the diving board; do things that challenge you.

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