Creative Lives Interview With Media Coach, Andy Johnson
Andy works as a media and presentation coach and hosts events and podcasts.
His clients include the National Trust, the National Farmers’ Union and Advertising Week Europe.
For 17 years, Andy was a BBC presenter and reporter, where he presented the BBC 1 current affairs programme Inside Out. He also presented live from the London 2012 Olympics as well as regularly appearing on BBC Breakfast, Five Live and the Radio Four Today programme. He lives in Manchester with his wife Jay, their dog Bosley and four chickens.
How did you pursue and achieve your current creative job?
I took a leap of faith, backed by the safety net of voluntary redundancy.
I’d worked at the BBC for 17 years presenting and reporting.
When the first round of job cuts was announced, I applied for the above and carried on working. One day as I walked into work at MediaCityUK, one of the HR people stopped me and told me in a loud stage whisper, ‘You can go if you like’.
That’s how it was broken to me!
I took a bit of time to think, but realised it was a fantastic opportunity to break free and do something else with my life. I have never regretted that decision.
What are the advantages to working as a media coach, today?
Flexibility and being your own boss. There is no office to traipse to every day. I set the agenda and the goals.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a creative?
As a one-man band, keeping all the plates spinning. I don’t employ anyone else so it’s all down to me. That being said, Manchester where I am based, is not only an outstandingly creative city, but the people are fantastic. I have had huge amounts of help and support with nothing expected in return. Amazing.
How do you deal with the inevitable ups and downs of leading a creative life, constantly pushing your art out into the world?
I have a great wife and support network of family and friends. We all lean on each other. You have to develop a thick skin in business and learn not to take things personally – that takes time, but as with anything you learn from experience.
Can you share any tips for building confidence?
Believe in what you do and set yourself goals. Treat people with respect, and think positively. You will fail sometimes, everyone does, but learn from that and keep moving forward.
What are your career highlights to date?
BBC wise – making films with Johnny Marr, Sir Bobby Charlton, a 50 minute documentary for BBC World on John Lennon’s first group The Quarrymen and presenting live from the 2012 Olympics.
Now, I love hosting live at Advertising Week Europe in London, where I’ve interviewed the likes of Stanley Tucci, Piers Morgan, Lauren Laverne and David Haye. My media coaching work – getting people prepared and confident for broadcast media interviews – takes me across the UK working with National Trust and National Farmers’ Union. I’m also writing and presenting a podcast which I love doing.
Who inspires you?
My wife Jay for the constant love, support and care she offers me, and my two brothers Sean and Chris, for being the two constants in my life and for being there through thick and thin. I’m very lucky.
What’s the greatest advice you’ve been given?
Be yourself. I think so many people try to put on an act or a show, we all do it from time to time, but being YOU is what counts. Don’t try and be what you THINK people expect you to be. Also be kind. Kindness is a hugely underrated value – it is so important.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the future?
I want to continue to grow my business and give Jay and myself a happy content life.
Find your contentment. For me it it’s not about flashy cars, houses or material things. It’s the simple things. Gardening is my therapy. I grow my own flowers, fruit and vegetables. Once I’m outside in my poly-tunnel accompanied by the sound of birdsong, that to me is bliss. Everyone has to find their own idea of contentment.