Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A glimpse into the life of . . .

                     KATI PIPER

One of the best contenders I can think of for the title 'America's Sweetheart,' Kati has a heart of gold. But don't let that fool you into thinking she's naive or a pushover or anything of the like, because she also has courage, determination, wit and a fantastic work ethic we could all stand to learn from.

I met Kati years ago through figure skating, and even though we mostly just stay in touch through random 'likes' on Facebook, it's been fun watching her career and confidence progress through the years. This girl has a really cool job and an even cooler attitude and has worked hard to get where she is today. Lucky for us, she agreed to share some of her smarts, so listen up!

Current profession: My current title is Post Creative Coordinator for CMT and Stage Manager for Fox Sports (on the evenings and weekends for the NFL and NHL). As a post creative coordinator, it is my job to oversee the workflow and assist with a lot of the images and graphics that are put onto our network from music videos, TV shows and movies that air on the channel. We just wrapped up one of our country music award shows, CMT’s Artist of the Year, and are now gearing fans up for the re-release of The Dukes of Hazzard series.

As a stage manager for Fox Sports, I spend the majority of my time with the announcers or down by the locker room assisting players with microphones for interviews in between quarters/periods. It is a blessing to be surrounded by two of my favorite passions: music and sports. 

First job ever: My first job ever, besides baby-sitting, was a waitress at the Depot in Jamestown. I was an awful server and looked ridiculous in a bow tie, but I learned a lot from that job. I now have a ton of respect for servers when I eat out. It’s not easy juggling trays or getting orders perfect every single time. However, the free Knoephla was always worth it!

Dream job: My ideal dream job would be to write music scores for movies, but since I’m not that musically inclined (hence why I chose to work on the other side of the business)…my dream job would be to write my own sitcom. Growing up I was strongly influenced by the TV show Friends

How do you NOT love this!?
Everyone that knows me will tell you what a huge fan I am of the show, and I’m known to quote it on a daily basis. It’s never been about the romance or the quirky jokes, either. I have always loved how relatable it is at the age of 15, 18, 21 and now 27. I would love to be able to write for an audience that would feel the same way. I toy around with the idea a lot; it’s just a matter of time before I actually take the leap and try to pitch some ideas to the people who can make it happen. 

Your job is so cool! How did you break into the industry? I found myself at CMT after applying to their internship program when I was a junior in college. I had never even been to Nashville, and was interning for the Dept. of Health in Bismarck, ND. I never thought I would actually be accepted into their internship program and kind of shrugged it off. Then, after my last final before Christmas break, I got the offer. I will never forget when I called home to tell my parents the news - I had forgotten to tell them that I had even applied. Luckily for me, they were just as excited as I was, and we were packing a U-Haul the day after Christmas to head south.

After interning for CMT not one, but two semesters, I was offered a job as a production assistant on the reality show CMT’s Gone Country. I ended up skipping my graduation ceremony for it and jumped right into the world of being a production assistant working on a live set. The hours were brutal, but I felt more alive than ever. It was everything I could have ever dreamed of what a live TV set would be. This opportunity led into so many others (Nashville Star, CMA Awards, CMA Fest, live red carpet shows…) that I finally found myself hired on full time with CMT Insider, which is now called The Hot 20 Countdown

We would interview artists each week, join artists on the road, travel to their home towns, attend concerts….you name it. If it involved anyone in country music we were there. I started out here just doing the initial grunt work of normal PAs, but the work quickly grew into writing my own scripts, helping film interviews and soon interviewing artists on my own. My very first interview was with Colbie Caillat. 

I worked with CMT Insider for five years before my position was taken out by a round of layoffs, which are very common in this industry. Somehow I proved myself to other departments and was hired back on in no time. And I have really enjoyed learning a whole other side of the industry. I’ve really been able to dive into the creative and design side. Even though I am very new to it, I’m always in awe of the talent my co-workers around me can think of and create.

What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing the same (or a similar) profession? My main advice that I always give, especially to college students, is INTERN. Wherever you want, go and INTERN! Interning opens up so many doors after college. I know the only reason I am where I am today is because I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a chance. Plus, as I look around my office I can tell you that the majority of them were hired on after their internship.

Cringeworthy workplace behavior young professionals should never get into the habit of doing: Feeling entitled. Sure, you were a rock star in college and your parents tell you you’re great, but when you come into the workplace you’re working with a lot of other great people too. The work isn’t always going to be fun; it’s going to be work, and it needs to be done. Secondly, smelly food in the microwave is a big no-no, along with not cleaning out the microwave if your meal is the one that looks like the bomb went off inside of it.

What has been the biggest challenge so far in your career path? My biggest challenge was definitely dealing with being laid off at the age of 26. It kind of threw me into a tailspin of emotions and wondering what on earth I was going to do with a mortgage and car payment. I had networked a lot around town, but it seemed like every company had taken a hit and was on a hiring freeze. So there were a lot of us all in the same field needing the same jobs. I was blessed to know some wonderful people who took me under their wing and hired me for events until a full time position opened back up at CMT.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned throughout your 20s so far? I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my 20s so far is not to sweat the small stuff. My mom always used to say it growing up, and I don’t think I fully understood it until I was out on my own. You can’t control everything or anyone around you. You’ll have really good days and really bad days, but if you stay positive and realize that tomorrow is another day to be better at your job, run that extra mile, not eat the free cake in the break room…you really will be able to live a happier life.

When you are 50 what do you want to be able to look back and say about your life right now? When I am 50 years old, I hope I can look back and say, “Gosh that was fun!” I also hope that I am sitting in a room surrounded by the Emmys I hope to win someday. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that is a constant day dream I have. Someday, someday…

On a health note, I hope the changes I’ve made to my health the last few years will make an impact. Staying fit and eating right, I hope to be able to thank my younger self for being wise and providing the right nutrients to keep my body healthy.

How do you define success? Hmm..I think success is different to everyone, but I would define success as being able to look back at my life and say, “Yeah, I did that.” In my mind it’s not becoming a CEO. I want my work to influence people. Whether it is making that person laugh, feel joy or just having some sort of connection that makes them think, “I’m glad someone out there feels the same way I do.” Hence, my dream to write a show that makes you feel as though that character is based on your very own life.

Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally? I have to give most of the credit to my older brother, Matt. He set the bar pretty high when we were kids. Plus, he has always been one of my biggest supporters. Matt is very analytical, and I am not. I know I can always count on him to be straightforward with me even when I don’t like the answer, but he’s also my big brother and still loves to push my buttons. However, now when he pushes me it’s to be better than I think I can be.

Fitness has become a huge part of your life in recent years. What is your favorite way to work out? I drank the Crossfit juice back in July and have been addicted ever since. Now, I’m not like the crazy crossfitters you may see on the news or on Youtube, but it has become my obsession. I crave it when I’m not able to go. It’s amazing how strong your body is, and to see results even after a week. Our coach has us keep journals so we can track our progress. I can jump a foot and a half higher than when I started, and can squat almost 40  pounds more now than this summer.

What other hobbies and activities do you enjoy in your spare time? Running…well, scratch that. Enjoy and running do not go together in my book, but it’s the challenge from it that I like.

How awesome is that shirt!?
I am gearing up for my fourth half marathon which will be at Disneyland on January 19th. My best friend from high school and I got the crazy idea to run one together three years ago and ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2012. It was so much fun!! We both had tears in our eyes as we crossed the finish line together. This will be our second race together, and it’s just a fun way for us to keep in contact. She’s in North Dakota, and I’m in Nashville, so we will constantly text and motivate each other on our runs. I know if it wasn’t for her, I never would have thought about running more than a mile!

I also love to go to concerts. Nashville has an abundance of live music venues. I love this city so much because of it. You can walk next door or across the street and you could be hearing the next big artist and not even know it. We’re known mainly for our country music, but there are so many other types of musicians that you can hear any time of day. We’re fortunate.

What is number one on your bucket list? To go on an African Safari. I keep waiting for that Groupon!

Favorite ice cream flavor: You will always always find Edy’s Mint Brownie’s ice cream in my freezer.

Thank you, Kati, and good luck on the 19th!

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