“The Best Opportunities Are Often Created By Open Dialog” 5 Insider Tips with TV Commentator, Trae Bodge
I had the pleasure of interviewing Trae Bodge, an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, beauty, tech, apps, toys and gift guides. She has appeared on dozens of TV shows, including Rachael Ray, Today, the Harry Show, Inside Edition, CNBC, MSNBC, and dozens of network affiliates. Trae is a contributing editor at Woman’s Day magazine and produces regular content for USNews.com, LendingTree.com, WomansDay.com and RD.com. Her work has also appeared in or on USAToday.com, First for Women, Time.com, Woman’s World, Marketwatch, MSN Money and Yahoo Finance. Trae has served as a judge on product-awards panels including Redbook andParents magazines, and has been featured as a beauty tastemaker in Elle, Redbook, InStyle and Essence. She is also a sought-after brand strategist and co-founder of the cult cosmetic brand Three Custom Color Specialists.
What is your “backstory”?
After working for beauty brands early in my career, I launched my own, Three Custom Color Specialists, with two partners. After running the business as a team for a decade, I felt like I needed a change. While interviewing at various beauty brands, I started writing for a few websites covering budget living. I ended up freelancing at RetailMeNot.com and eventually became their national spokesperson for TV, print and radio. I was on their internal PR team under marketing, and it was a very multi-faceted role that I held for almost four years until the company went through layoffs. I’ve been freelance for two years, and I’m loving it!
Who are some of the most famous people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Rachael Ray, Mario Lopez, Steve Harvey, Hoda & Kathie Lee, Harry Connick Jr…Celebrities are just like us–only more successful in a certain way–so I don’t get flummoxed in their presence. I’d say that meeting Steve Harvey was probably my funniest celeb meeting…naturally! I can’t do it justice in print, but he thought my name was Tracy instead of Trae, which was secretly amusing to me because Tracy is actually my birth name. He fussed about it in front of the audience, saying, “Who’s Trae Bodge?” Me: “I am”. Steve, looking confused, “You’re name’s not Tracy?” Me: “No”. Anyway, it was so funny that it ended up in his blooper reel that year.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
Along the lines of the above story, my name has been the root of many funny moments over the years. JD Roberto, who was the host of the now-defunct cable show Better.TV, used to shout my name — à la, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” — whenever I came on set. Chris Wragge, from CBS2 in New York, proclaimed on air that Trae Bodge was his favorite name, and a TV producer I work with regularly admitted that my name has become an adjective around the office (positive, thankfully!), i.e., “That’s so Trae Bodge!”
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m fortunate to work with a variety of companies, which keeps things interesting. In terms of what’s exciting me right now:
· One of my long-term clients, Gift Card Granny, will be launching something really innovative that I am excited to work on. (It’s hush-hush for now.)
· I’m working with Invisalign on a parenting campaign. I love covering parenting, and my 11-year-old daughter is involved with this one, which makes it extra fun.
· This year, I am serving as the consumer-finance expert for Woman’s Day magazine. I’ve wanted my own column for a long time, so this is a bucket list opportunity.
· And in a return to beauty, I will be serving on an advisory board for a beauty VC firm, presenting them with interesting brands and advising the board and the brands they invest in.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Powerful women in history inspire me, but I find today’s powerful women especially affecting, like Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Malala Yousafzai, Kamala Harris…
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in journalism?
Be prepared to find other opportunities to supplement what you earn writing. Unless you are regularly booking major features or have a successful book, it is very difficult to make a living just by writing.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
That’s a grand question:-) I don’t have a lot of time to volunteer, but because I have the opportunity to evaluate so many products, I donate many of them to local charities throughout the year.
I also think that you can do a lot of good by supporting those around you. I’ve mentored at-risk women and recent grads and I make it a priority to see colleagues regularly to provide and receive counsel, share resources and make relevant introductions.
Lastly, I feel that my job as a parent is to send a good human out into the world, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?
As long as I am doing interesting work, I don’t really struggle with drive. Work that makes me think, learn and grow keeps me going. If my motivation is flagging, I make a coffee or Rosé date with a work friend to recharge.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I wouldn’t say that any one book has impacted me enough to name it here, but I am an avid reader — non-fiction, mostly — and reading keeps me sharp and curious. There are so many authors whose work I love, but I often come back to Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, John Irving, Russell Banks, Alice Walker…I could go on. Also,what impacts my life day-to-day are my relationships, whether it be friends, family, colleagues…I am fortunate to know amazing people.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
I am not a trained journalist. (I still consider myself to be an interloper in the space after all these years!) I learn as I go, but looking back, I wish that someone had sat me down and shared the following basics:
1. How to use resources like HARO and Facebook groups to find solid, reliable sources
2. Best practices for building a database of experts and publicists, rather than going back to square one with each story. And how to leverage that database to conduct research and field pitches.
3. How to evaluate opportunities and manage my time so I don’t get overextended. It’s ok to say No.
4. Networking and attending events is essential. Sometimes you have to get out of your house and show your face to make things happen.
5. How the best opportunities are often created by open dialog, whether it’s trading information with colleagues or simply asking an editor if they are looking for writers.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Rather than a one-on-one, I’d love to sit in on brainstorming sessions at a company that is doing something disruptive and innovative. Being in a room with great minds and participating in the creative process is something I really enjoy — and miss now that I’m on my own.