Meets a lot of liars, fakes and wannabes in her job.

Because I meet a lot of peo­ple, the chance of meet­ing idiots is much high­er. It makes it very easy to lose faith in human­i­ty. I’ve just fin­ished a job where every day some­one emailed in to tell us that the solu­tion to any prob­lem was to ‘shoot the f*****s between the eyes’.

Thank­ful­ly, you also meet some peo­ple who com­plete­ly restore that dwin­dling faith. Peo­ple who you look up to as role mod­els, and who are excel­lent humans.

My first ever lead­er-crush was a jour­nal­ist called Gra­ham Adams. You may not have heard of him, but he’s been in the game forever, flit­ting between high qual­i­ty pub­li­ca­tions like North & South and Metro. He writes pro­lif­i­cal­ly and on thor­ough­ly unex­pect­ed top­ics, from being an ugly wom­an to why Auck­land needs to stop call­ing itself a ‘glob­al city’.

He took me under his Hawai­ian shirt-clad wing while I was an ten­nage intern at Metro. And if I can make a claim to any sort of tal­ent, it’s because he brought it out of me.

He’s my role mod­el because he has always col­lect­ed and nur­tured up-and-com­ers. He is a some­what grumpy, some­what bald­ing, lit­er­ary moth­er hen. He sim­ply believes in help­ing good writ­ers get bet­ter. And see­ing peo­ple who pro­mote tal­ent­ed new­bies, with­out self­ish inse­cu­ri­ty or jeal­ousy, is both rare and beau­ti­ful. I also admire his fear­less writ­ing ethos; he taught us that we should write unex­pect­ed sto­ries that tell the truth unashamed­ly. He was also not afraid to tell us when we were writ­ing pre­dictable crap.

But what I admire most about him is that he has nev­er tried to be famous. He has nev­er been inter­est­ed in pan­el appear­ances, inter­view oppor­tu­ni­ties or becom­ing the new AA Gill. He reck­ons that would be as rel­e­vant and help­ful as tinea. He doesn’t use Face­book, or have a burn­ing desire to be Insta-famous for his gym self­ies and home­made spir­uli­nas. Instead, he focus­es on cre­at­ing work he is proud of.

This leaves him free to be cre­ative­ly bril­liant. Peo­ple who cre­ate work because they want peo­ple to like them are always going to be stunt­ed by the fact they have to get pub­lic approval. But peo­ple who make art for the sake of art, can cre­ate mas­ter­pieces. So by ignor­ing the pur­suit of fame, they can focus on mak­ing the good sh*t.

Gra­ham, and oth­er writ­ers like him who I met before I ever thought about being a jour­nal­ist, have com­plete­ly rede­fined the way I look at my career. Before I met him, I had no idea what I want­ed to do. But by being around him, and oth­ers like him I learned how pow­er­ful the sin­gle-mind­ed pur­suit of hon­est writ­ing is. And more impor­tant­ly, how the chase for recog­ni­tion stops you mak­ing any­thing worth­while.

So I took on the­se val­ues and tried to become a writer who focus­es on mak­ing impres­sive work that is hon­est and unex­pect­ed. And to care about that, not about becom­ing famous. I car­ry this into every piece of work I do — whether it be writ­ing, or TV, speak­ing or radio work.

Gra­ham might only be a role mod­el to about a dozen peo­ple. May­be more… I wouldn’t real­ly be sur­prised if he had a fan club who col­lect­ed his used tis­sues. But to me, and oth­er young and eager writ­ers, he and his val­ues have fun­da­men­tal­ly shaped the way we work. He’s proof that you don’t have to be famous to be a role mod­el. In fact it’s prob­a­bly bet­ter if you aren’t.

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