Lessons Learned from a TV Interview

I accepted an invitation to chat yesterday on a real time video multicast – a medium formerly known as Live Television. The program was Money Moves on Bloomberg TV, and I was invited as an expert on cyber security. I learned a few lessons about the medium.

1. I’m an Expert!

No one told me what questions I’d be asked;  I was expected to impart wisdom to millions of viewers without the benefit of forethought, since dead air is apparently a major bummer.

I was hoping to talk about Bessemer’s outlook on cyber security – our interest in startups like BillGuard and Nominum that facilitate trusted online experiences so we can all shop, play, job hunt, date, work, rally, and whatever else we do on the internets. That means mitigating the cyber scourges that repel us from the web (malware, cyber attacks, identity theft, online stalking, privacy intrusions, spam…) and helping us take control of our identities, reputations and data.

But instead the hostess Deirdre Bolton asked me about her topic of the day, Palo Alto Networks. I am not an investor in Palo Alto Networks (though I wish I were). I don’t work there, and I’m not a customer. But apparently I’m an expert on them.

2. There’s no Delete key on TV.

I did get a chance to talk about some of my favorite companies – Skybox, Lifelock and Reputation.com. I also said some nice things about Endgame, except that I forgot to mention their name!

So I learned that it’s really hard to think on your feet. Blogging is way easier than live interviews.

I do have to say that Deirdre is impressive. I knew you had to be way more attractive than me to be on TV, but I didn’t realize that you could also be wicked smart. Before I went on the air, I watched her juggle stories and guests with aplomb. I know there’s a research staff behind her feeding her background data, but she ingests all those notes in real time and formulates her own probing questions. During commercial breaks, she talked with me quite intelligently about cyber security, and when I recognized her ability to keep all these conversations going, she quipped that it’s great to make a living out of what used to get her trouble in school.

3. Never sit on a swivel chair when on TV.