“Dan Davis…’HDH Sports!” His voice was deep and booming, and the studio microphone caused it to echo with spectacular richness.
He was the sports anchor for WHDH a.m., big-time radio in Boston in the 70’s and 80’s. And he was really good. Also, turned out to be a great guy.
While interning at WGTR a.m. (small-time radio in my hometown of Natick, Massachusetts) as a 21 year-old wannabe sportscaster, I met Dan when we both covered the annual U.S. Pro Tennis Championship at Longwood in Brookline. I asked if I could visit him at the station some day and watch him work. He kindly agreed.
While there, he did some great teaching and provided me with many of the inside aspects of broadcasting.
But, what impressed me more than anything was the following exchange:
At one point, he told me that when conducting an interview for a story in which only one answer would be aired, to – rather than asking a bunch of questions and sorting through all the answers later in order to find the best one – simply ask one question; the one I would eventually use.
“Ahh, of course, Mr. Davis” I agreed. “I’ve been doing it all wrong. I’ve been asking a lot of questions because I haven’t had the confidence to know which one I’m definitely going to use. I’ll do it your way from now on. Thanks!”
He then paused, thought about it and said, “Actually, Bob, I was wrong. Eventually, after you’re experienced enough, you should do what I said and ask just one question. For now though, until you have the confidence you need, keep doing what you’re doing. Ask as many questions as necessary in order to get the right one.”
Notice his first five words: “Actually, Bob, I was wrong.”
Sure, I learned a “good” lesson in terms of asking questions.
I learned a “better” lesson in seeing a pro – a true pro and a confident and humble man – who could admit to his young “protégé” that he was wrong.
Over the next 30 years, I’ve continued to notice; great leaders, great people, the truly confident, the real winners, not only know they make mistakes, but admit to those mistakes, as well.
What a winner. “Dan Davis…’HDH Sports!”