For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to BT Sport presenter GREG JAMES.
A radio broadcaster since his teenage years, Greg has been with Radio One since 2007. A longtime sports fan, he’s also made his name on 5 Live’s ‘Not Just Cricket’, and the same channel’s ‘Fighting Talk’.
Since November 2016, he’s been on board with BT Sport’s cricket coverage. To mark this new venture, he talks to HuffPostUK about the lessons he’s learnt so far, and how he’s realised comparison is futile...
What do you do to switch off from the world?
I’ve become really good at having proper time away from my phone. That’s important because it can be such a distraction, particularly as I love coming up with things for Snapchat and Instagram etc. It’s a huge part of my job and therefore my life but I’m good at putting it to one side.
If I have time, I’ll watch any sport to take my mind of things and if I need to de-stress and only have half an hour, a quick blast of the Alan Partridge audiobook sorts me out. One of my favourite things in the world.
How do you deal with negativity when it comes your way?
I think it’s good to be aware of yourself and how you’re coming across to some people, so sometimes it’s useful to hear some criticism. I’ve got to a point now, though, where I believe in what I’m doing and I’m confident in everything I tackle. It takes time to get to that point, though, and it’s been hard to learn how to deal with negativity. But the best thing I did was to remember to not take anything too seriously, you’re only around for a short amount of time in the world, so it’s best to stop worrying and enjoy everything you do. You’ll go mad otherwise, and if criticism starts affecting your performance, you’re done.
When and where are you at your happiest?
With a beer in hand, sat next to my dad watching any cricket, anywhere.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Everything that’s happening to you (good and bad) is supposed to be happening to you. Accept and enjoy it all. The worst stuff might even be the most important, because it could be clearing the way for something even better.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn along the way?
It took me a few years to stop comparing myself to everyone else on similar career trajectories. The moment I did, everything became easier and you realise that you just have to create your own lane and be authentic to yourself. It’s natural and healthy to look around and be aware of the rest of the industry, but you shouldn’t be obsessed with finding ‘your place’ in it. The best people don’t ‘fit in’.
What would you like to be able to tell your 13-year-old self?
Your gut is good, trust it way more often than you’re going to do. Also, you’ll grow into your big nose. Oh and don’t get too hung up on girls. There’s A LOT I’d like to go back and warn myself about.
What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
- Make a success of BT Sport’s cricket coverage and enjoy every moment of it. As a cricket nut, it’s a real privilege to be asked to do this job.
- I have two children’s novels coming out in the next two years and am developing a brand new comedy so I want to keep writing as much as I can because I love it.
- Spend some proper time travelling the world. At some point I’ll have a gap year and grow my hair.
What do you think happens when we die?
Weird question. I don’t think I’ll come back as a swan or anything, if that’s what you mean? I’m not religious so I believe that it’s game over when you pop your clogs. So aside from my family and friends being a bit sad about it, to answer your question, not much really.
When or where you have been in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
I met The Rock recently and his arms were bigger than my head.
What quality do you most prize in your relationships?
Trust, kindness and pissing our pants laughing. If you can give me those three things, I’m in. Also, I like kind faces.
What keeps you grounded?
My job actually. And my listeners/fans. I hate using the word ‘fans’. I suppose ‘followers’ is better. Maybe not. Sounds like a cult. Anyway, my show or any interaction on social media between us is brilliant - it’s a two-way thing and it’s like a friendship.
The late Sir Terry Wogan (an absolute hero of mine) on his last R2 Breakfast Show thanked his listeners for being his friends and it’s one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. If you’re connected to and have a genuine fondness for your listeners then you can’t go far wrong. They never let you get above your station.
What was the last act of kindness you received?
My mate Will is living with me at the moment and because I’m nice, I’m not charging him rent. Instead he regularly brings me home non shop-soiled Chocolate Oranges. It’s an arrangement I’m very happy with. Partridge fans will understand just how kind this is.
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