The three surprising experiences that shaped my marketing and writing career

Cara Szellemes
7 min readApr 12, 2021

Yesterday I was flipping through my early work portfolio and realised just how much has changed since I first started in marketing and communications.

I’ve had many wonderful opportunities and experiences, but three surprising experiences shaped my career as a marketer.

A long time ago in a land far, far away

I was working for my college newspaper when we heard talk show host Larry King was speaking at a public event in Tyler, Texas. I clamoured to cover the event.

Bemused, my boss said I could cover the event, but that I’d have to ask a question about NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. He scribbled down a question and sent me on my way. I didn’t give it another thought until I got to the event. After all, I was barely out of high school and my life was pretty much about boys, drinking and studying. Plus, I was about to meet Larry King.

I rocked up to the event with my friend Lori, who came with me to take photos.

The meeting was in a Grand Ole Opry theatre in Tyler, Texas and it was packed with middle-aged cowboys and women with floral collar shirts, carefully curled hair and blue eyeshadow.

Larry’s talk was amazing. I sat there, mesmerised, as he shared his life story.

Afterwards, he took questions from the floor. Now was my chance. I shot my hand in the air.

When Larry pointed at me, I was so nervous I just blurted out the question my boss had given me.

The room went quiet and Larry looked right at me, and asked: “What do you think?”

You know that experience when you zone out and you’re not listening. Then a teacher or a parent asks you a question? It happens a lot for people with ADHD, people like me.

And that’s exactly what I experienced at that moment.

I froze.

My face was burning, and I could feel all the tobacco-chewing cowboys looking at me. I had to say something, anything, but my mind went blank. In desperation, the words “I think it’s okay” fell out of my mouth.

Then the entire room erupted in laughter. I just went white.

I realised my error right away. Larry King was famous for deflection. It’s why he was such a great TV and radio…

Cara Szellemes

Amazon №1 Bestselling author of Your Brilliant Un-Career, Web2 and Web3 Content Strategist, Founder of 180Selfcare and Your Story Bank.