Excerpted from former CNN and CNBC anchor Nicole Lapin’s new book “Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career,” out March 21.
It was Christmas Eve, and I was at the anchor desk for the evening newscast.
Believe it or not, I loved working holidays. I don’t have a family of my own, so I would always volunteer to go in on Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s, when most of the bigger-deal people would want to take time off. By working those days, I got to fill in for the higher-profile jobs.
“Are you ready to swap out?” asked the anchor on after me, who didn’t even want to be there but got the short end of the time-off stick, as she was relieving me to do her show.
“Oh, yes, of course,” I said, looking uncomfortably at the mess I’d made of the laptop on the anchor desk. “Sorry. I got some cranberry sauce on the keys. I’ll get one of those wipe things to get it out.”
“It’s fine,” she said, clearly not happy to be there. “I have to log in and research a couple of things.”
“Of course. Let me sign out of my e-mail,” I said, X-ing out of my browser.
I was thinking, “Sor-ry, sister—just because we are working on a holiday doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat like it’s one!” I took out my earpiece and went to the break room to finish up my plate o’ festive goodness.
After her show, she came over to my table. “I didn’t wipe off the keyboard,” she said snarkily, “but I did wipe out your search history. Enjoy your dinner,” she said as she turned to leave.
Those laptops you see behind the news desk on TV aren’t there for show; anchors use them to research stuff, look at scripts, or check important e-mails. I, however, was using it for something else, too. While I was on set, I researched, yes. I looked up scripts, yes. I looked at important e-mails, yes. I Googled myself, yes. I actually Googled myself…a bunch of times.
I had never thought to clear my history so that no one else could look at what I was searching for online. And while a lot of things we search for online are embarrassing and likely not things you want to share with others, Googling yourself (multiple times at that) is probably one of the worst.
I was busted. And mortified. Surely she thought I was a total self-absorbed narcissist. But in fact it was the opposite. The truth is, I wasn’t the most self confident person when I started on air. And the more exposure I got, the more self-conscious I became. Googling myself became an obsession that I indulged any time I had Internet access. As my career on air grew, I got to a point where I Googled myself no fewer than five times per day.
This incident was a wake-up call. My searching had become obsessive, unhealthy, and now had resulted in embarrassing myself in front of a colleague I admired. It had to stop.
Monitoring your personal brand is one thing, but as I learned the hard way, it’s easy to take it way too far. The only thing I do now is have “Google Alerts” on my name. That way, I can see immediately when an article I wrote has come online so I can share it with my network. I never randomly Google myself anymore, so I don’t have to worry about having another embarrassing-search- history encounter. One of those was enough for me to avoid another potentially sticky situation at all costs.
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