Welcome to the first of my regular series entitled My Light-Bulb Moment. This new series highlights a "blinding flash of insight", business, cultural and sports leaders have had in their career, and how this changed their lives forever.

Carol Hirschfeld

Starting her broadcasting career as a subeditor with TVNZ, Carol Hirschfeld eventually became a current affairs director/producer for Frontline and Assignment. In 1998 she left TVNZ to become co-anchor for TV3's 6pm 3News with John Campbell. In 2005 Hirschfeld moved to the weekday current-events show Campbell Live as producer, taking the role as presenter on Fridays. In August 2009, Hirschfeld left to become head of programming at Maori Television.

Hirschfeld's Light-Bulb Moment

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In her first role as subeditor on a nightly current affairs show, Hirschfeld's job was to put together a five-minute bulletin with key stories of the day. She remembers "for about a year I remained unsure about whether or not I had the right kind of skills for working in television".

She then moved into a new role which saw her filming and making her own material. One night she was in the newsroom when a story she produced was broadcast live.

To her joy, she watched people laugh and respond well to the story she had personally created. She suddenly understood what she most wanted to do in her life was to connect with other people through her work - "to move them and to make them think!" This "light-bulb moment" was the ignition to fuel her successful career in television and media.

Connect with your audience

Today Hirschfeld believes connection and relevance to the audience remains the crucial factor in her work. As a business leader, she says, "regardless of what sphere you work in, maintaining a connection and relevance to your customers, clients or audience is the key to success.

"It is a truly difficult process which requires constant focus."

The 'busyness of business'

In the "busyness of business" it's so easy to detach yourself from the people who really matter - your customers. And as an employer you must reinforce to your team that this vital link is part of every conversation and interaction they have with a client.

I'm renovating my house and recently walked into a local bathroom supplier to buy complete fittings for two bathrooms. I said to my wife on the way in: "I am only going to walk into this type of shop, with this sort of money, maybe twice in my life."

But the saleswoman (if you could call her that), was distant, unhelpful and disengaged. She had lost her connection to us, her audience, and a large order for two complete bathrooms went to another firm.

The way forward

No one can have a successful business without customers. Remember, like Hirschfeld, that true and honest connection is the key to success.

If you have had a blinding moment of insight (a light-bulb moment), please email me as I would love to hear about it.

* Tom O'Neil is an award-winning business speaker, international author of The 1% Principle and Selling Yourself to Employers, and chief executive of both CV.CO.NZ and Achievement.Expert.com. You can contact Tom direct at tom@cv.co.nz.