Name: Griffin Hammond
Class: Heartland Class of 2005
Degree: Associate of Arts
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Colleen: Hi, I’m Alumni Relations Director Colleen Reynolds. This Heartland alum in our spotlight describes himself as unambitious. But yet, he’s now in New York City working for the largest media outlet in the United States, Bloomberg Media. Meet Griffin Hammond, who received his Associates of Arts degree from Heartland in 2005. We begin by asking Griffin how he managed to land such a prestigious job.
Griffin: I have been thinking about this a lot recently and I put it into a video to kind of share what I was thinking, cause I feel weird that I’ve never really been an very ambitious person. Like the people I work with now, they knew they wanted to be an executive producer in television, and they are now. But they started as an NBC page and they did all the steps to get to that position. Where as, I do not feel that I ever know what I want to do, and I don’t have a goal of where I want to be 10 years from now. But my philosophy has just been, do what I love, try to do it as best I can, make sure that people know what I can do, and kind of see where that leads. And I’d be willing to accept opportunities when they come my way. I think for me this is kind of a scary one, like being willing to get up and move, but it was such a cool opportunity, of course I had to move on it.
Colleen: That was one of my other questions, was it difficult; was it a hard decision, to take the job?
Griffin: I think it could have been a lot harder, if it wasn’t New York. Cause I went to school here for a couple of years in film school, and my wife, Amy, has visited here a lot with me, and we have considered a move here for several years. Like if that were to happen, how we would be comfortable with it. We we’re kind of waiting for the right opportunity and this was a job that sounded exciting enough, that paid well enough and we could afford to live here. We had to lose two-thirds of our living space. We went from an 1800 square foot house to a 600 square foot apartment, so that was tough. But everything else about the situation was good enough that it made it an easy decision.
Colleen: So tell us exactly what you are doing for Bloomberg. And maybe walk us through a typical day. There is no typical day.
Griffin: Yeah, there is definitely no typical day. So, my title over here is just film maker, which I like. It’s just broad and they are definitely tasking me with a lot of different things. But what is happening over here is that we have- a week from Monday- on October, 6 which is a Monday, we have our new website launching, Bloombergpolitics.com, and we have a new TV show launching, called “With All Due Respect”. And that is going to be a Monday through Thursday show that is going to air 5 p.m. Eastern time, 4 Central, Monday through Thursday on Bloomberg, on cable. It will also be live on the website, so if you go to bloombergpolitics.com at 4 p.m. central time next Monday, you’ll see the premier of the show and you’ll also see all the coverage that we’re doing. So we have like a whole news team here, Bloomberg is actually a gigantic news organization. I think we have about 5,000 reporters. We have more reporters than the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times combined. And the Bloomberg Politics is a new segment of this company. And then we’re launching everything next week. But in the meantime, we’ve been preparing content, we’ve been acting like we have a live show and a live website, and I have been shooting a lot of content. So I’m shooting stuff for the web, I’m shooting stuff that might land on the TV show. I guess I probably can’t tell you who I’ve been filming with, but I’ve been meeting a lot of head of state, I guess, I’ve been seeing a lot of Secret Service recently, because I’ve been running into a lot of people. I shot some stuff with Bill Clinton a few weeks back. I was in Iowa, for the Steak Fry, and got to shadow Mark Halperin, my boss, and host of the TV show, who was talking to Bill Clinton. That’s the thing, the show is hosted by these guys, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann who are the authors of the book Game Change, and they did a book called Double Down, they did an HBO movie. These are two that are in political quarters who are now running Bloomberg Politics and will be the day-to-day faces on the show. A lot of my job is going where they go and filming cool interviews and talking to politicians.
Colleen: Are you involved in actual questioning of the people, or are you serving kind of like camera man for the other reporters?
Griffin: I’m definitely both. I think they hired me because I’m OK on camera. So I guess I kind of consider myself a reporter in some sense. I think I’m about to go to D.C. this and I think it will just be me, so I’ll be shooting and editing, and being on camera. But of course when I’m with John and Mark, they have much more experience, so I let them ask the questions. And that’s what I like about this job, they didn’t hire me to be a camera man; they hired me for my whole skill set. I’m glad that I get to do everything that I love.
Becky Gropp (HCC Marketing): How did they find you to hire you?
Griffin: Seems to me like Josh Durangel who is the higher up boss, he oversees like all media at Bloomberg, he’s a big deal, he’s a cool guy, he’s came from Time Magazine, major up and comer powerful guy in media. But I got a call from him one day. I didn’t know who he was, and I just thought that he was a reporter for Business Week, the magazine. He asked me if he could talk to me and he had said something about how he liked the documentary and I just assumed just because this was back in May or June, I think the lawsuit at the factory that makes sriracha, the lawsuit had been dropped, so I had been getting some calls from reporters, I just thought he was another reporter asking for comments. Then when I got on the phone with him he was like, “I loved your sriracha documentary and would you ever consider doing that kind of work for us?” And I was kind of taken aback I didn’t realize he was going to offer me a job potentially. But we left it at “you should come out to New York, we’ll tell you what we’re doing, and we’ll take it from there.” So maybe a few weeks later, I was able to schedule a trip up to New York and I came here to the Headquarters, but I really didn’t know what they were doing. I didn’t know that it was going to be a politics focus, it was only like the day of the meeting, the day that I came in, that I learned who I was meeting with, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and Josh Durangel and I was like “oh ok, now I think I see what’s going on. It’s this Bloomberg Politics thing they’re starting up and I guess they want me to be a part of this.” And it was a great interview, I feel like it was the best interview I had ever been a part of, probably because I didn’t feel like I was interviewing. Because they had asked me to come, I didn’t apply for this thing, so it gave me a lot of confidence to walk in and know that they wanted me there, and I think not knowing everything about the position actually helped me.
Colleen: It’s always about a good fit, and I imagine that they liked your style, your authenticity. Don’t you think that is something you bring?
Griffin: Yeah. Well, and I do remember that Josh, when after that interview they offered me a job. I came in for a few days of meeting people and somewhere in the middle of all that, they called me up and actually offered me a position. And I remember he said something about that people liked my temperament, and so that did strike me that there’s probably something about my “midwesterness” that people liked.
Colleen: What other advice would you have for our students here about, sort of an approach to life and career?
Griffin: Like I said, I’ve often worried that I’m not ambitious enough. I mean, I think it’s been a fear of mine since I graduated high school that I don’t know what I want to do. I think a lot of people are in that boat, that they don’t know what they want to do, especially at the college level. And then you look around and there are those crazy people who do know exactly what they want to do and they know exactly every step it takes to get there. And so its intimidating, you feel like you’re never going to accomplish anything, and I’ve been that person a lot and I think now that I have had a few jobs and they its leading to good places, cause I feel like maybe I’m validated that I didn’t necessarily need to be that super ambitious, knowing-the-future person. That I think if you focus on figuring out what you’re good at, and what you like to do and doing it as best you can, and I think importantly, making sure that people know what you’re capable of. And I mean, some of that, I think, is has helped that I have a YouTube channel and I have been able to show people my work. And not every position is tailored to that sort of thing but if you can make sure that people around you know what you’re capable of, if you’re networking, that’s where every job I’ve ever had has come from; its people thinking of me when something comes across their desk. And that just won’t happen unless you’re making people aware of what you can do.
Colleen: You know, 90 percent or more of our graduates stay local. So taking your advice maybe one step farther, what else do you think they should be doing to kind of put themselves out there?
Griffin: So, I remember my dad (when I was in high school) was always telling me I need to be networking and when I was going off to college he was always talking about the eloquent of networking, and I didn’t know what that was. I should’ve asking him. But I think I just thought that sharing business cards with people, it just seemed like something that business people do, and like what is that? Or going to conferences. And those things are important, but in my world, in filmmaking, I realized networking is really just participating in online communities. For a long time, I was part of this website called FilmFight and that’s how I met a lot of the people that have given me work in my career. I met my wife there, it was a website where we put out videos and competed against each other. And I didn’t even know it was networking at the time, I just thought, “oh this is a lot of fun I like video production here’s a way to have some fun and compete,” and I didn’t realize the value of meeting these people, and now a lot of the people from this website have gone on to do big things and are producing motion pictures and they’re working at big companies. So I think you just need to find like-minded people. That is what networking is, I mean, if you’re on campus, find the people that do the things that you like to do and work with them. And you don’t realize it now, but 10 years from now when one of them is in a better position than you are and they have a job opening at their company and they know that you’re talented because they remember working with you, that’s networking. That’s where your next job could come from.
Colleen: As you think about the time you spent here, which is just part of your path, what role do you think Heartland played in eventually having you wind up in New York City? Was there something that happened here, or a mentor or somebody you met, or just an experience that you had?
Griffin: I was there to get my gen eds (general education courses) out of the way. I took like mass communications or something, and I remember I produced some video for that class and it offered me another chance to hone my skills and to try some things out. Then after I graduated, I was employed by Heartland a few times to make videos, and I think in a career like mine, in video production, I know in a lot of careers this could be the case, but every project we do it is just building towards the next one and trying something new out and getting better. Every time I make a video I try to do something I haven’t done before so all of that has built a toolbox that I am now able to use in my job that has got me here.
Colleen: What has been the most surprising observation that you can make either about being in this job and doing what you’re doing, or even living in a place like New York City, or maybe both?
Griffin: Suddenly I’m not relying on a car anymore. So everything that we could need is walkable. But it is also seems like, you don’t notice things. Like if you’re walking through Bloomington, you see everything and you can appreciate everything, and I think in New York sometimes we’ll just walk past the place we’re looking for because there is just so much. So it is kind of intimidating to like want to try all these restaurants and go to all these places and just knowing that that’s impossible. I mean, even in Bloomington it was hard to get to every restaurant, we wanted to do that, but yeah it’s cool that we can go to the Comedy Cellar on Monday night and run into Louis C.K. I never wanted to be part of the giant Hollywood machine, so I think trying to find a way to do independent things by myself or small documentaries, and now this kind of job. We are in a world now where there are a lot of companies that need people who can work on their own and complete a project, and I’m glad I’m able to find that kind of work. I don’t know if I’d be happy. Everyone who sits around me has a traditional news background, and it is intimidating. But I think I just need to keep reminding myself when I’m sitting in a meeting and someone gives me a compliment on my work, I just have to remember I’m doing something that not everyone has those skills, like there are unique skills that I have. And maybe I don’t know everything about politics the way Mark and John do. And sometimes I’m in meeting where everyone around me sounds like they know way more about the topic were talking about, but then I have to remember I know how to compress video correctly for the internet. Like I know H264, I know things that not everyone knows, and that’s why I’m here. I have to remind myself, but they have done a great job of letting me know when they appreciate my work and letting me know why I’m here. So I don’t feel too intimidated. It’s a good team here.
Colleen: You can catch Griffin's work online at Bloomberg Politics. Thanks for listening, I'm Alumni Relations Director Colleen Reynolds.