Priya Sam is a former television journalist, Toronto influencer, and now successful podcast host. She's had a lifetime of experience covering stories relating to crime, breaking news, politics, and more. After years of working in television, she took a leap of faith changing the course of her career journey entirely. Her new podcast, Turning Point, is at the top of our "2021 Must Listen Playlist" and we were lucky enough to chat with Priya about her career journey, turning failures into turning points, and never giving up.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your podcast.
I would describe myself as an eternal optimist who is ambitious and loves meeting new people and hearing their stories. I worked as a television journalist for about 6 years. During that time I was a reporter, weather presenter, news anchor and morning show host, and I was lucky enough to meet a lot of inspiring people and learn about a variety of topics. I covered everything from crime and breaking news to politics and entertainment.
When I left television for a job in tech, I always planned to venture out on my own. I had a passion for long form interviews and that’s why a podcast seemed like the perfect fit. I also have a YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews, I hope to do more in-person episodes when the pandemic is over!
How did you come up with the idea for "Turning Point"? Did any specific event lead to the idea?
As a journalist, the stories and interviews that really stuck with me always involved people who had overcome obstacles or tragedy, or taken a leap of faith that led them to do something inspiring. That’s what led me to start a podcast that focused on turning point stories. I also have a passion for diversity and inclusion, and the guests on Turning Point are as diverse as the stories.
It took me a while to come up with the perfect name though. At one point, I was thinking about calling it “On the bright side with Priya Sam” but as I started to make lists of the kind of stories I wanted to tell, I realized that some would be heavier and address difficult topics. I also went through a phase of trying to make all the words start with P, like “Pivot Point with Priya” but eventually I realized I should just go with my gut and keep it simple and straightforward; that’s how I landed on Turning Point.
What has been the biggest turning point in your life?
I would say Turning Point. I had dreamed of having my own show for a long time. When I worked in television, I felt like the only way to make that happen was to get a network executive on board. Eventually I realized there were so many other options thanks to social media.
I also feel so empowered to be doing something my way and this was a big turning point for me in terms of my confidence in my abilities. I get to make the decisions, choose the guests and have ownership over the voice of the branding and promotion. It’s been such a rewarding experience in every way.
What advice would you give to someone who feels like they've hit a wall in their career?
What really worked for me is reaching out to people whom I thought had interesting jobs and learning more about them and how they ended up where they are. I started doing this when I was considering leaving television and I learned about so many interesting career paths. Before I talked to others, I worried that I didn’t have enough transferable skills. Hearing different perspectives and learning about skills needed for other jobs made me realize I had more to offer than I thought. That’s how I found out about the job I have now at Hootsuite. I met another former journalist who held the same position and she was able to show me how she found a new way to use her presentation and storytelling skills from television in a completely new way.
If you have the option, I would also say to try and take some time for yourself to journal and meditate. I didn’t have the opportunity to do this, but I wish I had. I think it would have offered me more clarity as I was making some big decisions.
How do you think someone should approach a major failure? How can they make it into a turning point?
I’m glad you asked! I’ve realized through doing these interviews that there is so much value in talking about our challenges and failures. So many of us are taught to feel shame and embarrassment when something doesn’t go as planned but these are often such great learning experiences. Also, chances are someone else has made the same mistake or faced the same challenge and in sharing we realize we are not alone and there is a lot of comfort in that.
It may be hard to see in the moment, but my biggest piece of advice is when something doesn’t go as planned or isn’t what you expected, think about what you can learn from it. That learning is what can turn a failure into a turning point. I would also say that when you can, share those situations with others and give them a chance to learn from them, too.
What's one thing that all of your podcast guests have in common?
They are all so inspiring! I’ve learned something from each of them. We’ve covered some topics that aren’t easy to talk about including stereotypes, generational trauma, racism, and domestic abuse. Each guest has given me and my listeners and viewers a new perspective. In a long interview, you really get the opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes and each guest has offered a different way of doing that. I’m so grateful to all of them for sharing such personal parts of their lives.