So another week, another episode. This one is with Declan Fahy who is a Journalist that has worked for the Irish Times, the Daily Mirror & the Longford Leader. He is now a professor in DCU in Communications & Journalism, and a published Author with the book ‘The New Celebrity Scientists: Out of the Lab and Into the Limelight’. He’s also a friend that I grew up with in Longford, which made it all the more enjoyable to record.
During the conversation, we talked about Declan being from Longford, but being born in Zambia as his parents were travelling and living there at the time. Declan talks about his love of books and reading from a very early age and this has stayed with him all the way through his life. How this lead him to a Journalism degree in DCU starting in 1995. We discuss Declan’s experience moving from Longford to the big smoke and how this took time to get settled in.
Declan talks about his first job in Journalisim at the Longford Leader after a very straightforward interview with Eugene McGee. It was a great first job. He was immediately thrust into reporting around the county for the paper. The thrill of his first published article is still vivid. He looks back on the great fundamentals he gained in this role reporting on under 10 GAA matches. 🙂
Declan took a class on the history and philosophy of science in 2nd year and really found a passion for this which set him on the path for specialization where a lot of things seemed to click. In summer of 3rd year, Declan got a placement with the Irish Times and this was another key stage in his journey. Another great opportunity. He got a chance to publish articles and attributes some bit of luck to this but ultimately lead to him moving his career to the next level. Confidence and self-believe soared during this time.
Next, Declan did a masters to study how science was communicated. Once this was done, Declan decided to do some work on the front lines and went back to the Irish Times for a period. Another big break came for Declan in the early 2000’s when the foot and mouth disease broke out and Declan was heavily involved in this over a 6/8 week period where many of his articles were front page news.
The next challenge for Declan was with the Irish Daily Mirror and this brought a new set of challenges and learnings. It gave Declan a new perspective and environment and the opportunity. This period helped Declan work better and punchier and learning how to connect quickly with people.
Declan then got to the point where he felt timing was right and moved back to DCU to do his PhD. During this stage, he learned a lot about himself researching and writing. Declan talked about the journey to get to the Final output of the dissertation and a 2 hour exam. We talk about this and how challenging this was. It has been one of Declan’s proudest moments to date and helped him form the foundation for his book. Learnings from it included the value of having a good rhythm of work and the value of good supervision and mentoring during the process.
Declan then decided to move to Washington to teach Science and health journalism. This was a dream move. We talked about the process for applying and successfully getting the position. Lots of learning here and how all skills learned to-date helped him get this position.
During the 5 years in Washington, Declan really gained a good understanding of the complexity of the vastness of the states. It was a great eye opener on American academics. The need to be a good teacher, researcher, and administrator was key in American University. Declan gained lots of great mentorship, advice on writing and teaching.
There were so many great tips from this conversation. Productivity, getting more done, making time to get things done. Focusing on the top 3 things you’re working on. Hard work, perfection is the enemy of good enough, learning fundamentals, getting into the rhythm of work, writing on work and returning to it a few days later, developing a system and set of rules to write by, moving things along, getting feedback, the process of writing and Declan’s approach.
In the last ten minutes, we talk about work life balance, planning and logistics with a young family. Being a flow state, importance of exercise (cycling, Pilates, gym), nutrition, diets, book recommendations (of which there are so many great ones below), decision making, focusing on the important, Stoicism, and we wrap up with Advice on finding out what you like most. Find out what you don’t like early and try different things!
Declan can be reached on via the DCU website here
Twitter – @Fahydeclan
- The New Celebrity Scientists: Out of the Lab and Into the Limelight.
Declan Fahy (2015) The New Celebrity Scientists: Out of the Lab and Into the Limelight.
- Tom Wolfe – The new Journalism, The right stuff
- Michael Crichton – Jurassic Park, the anadromous strain
- Todd Henry – The Accidental creative
- Cal Newport – Deep Work
- Dave Allen – Getting things done
- Tim Caufield – The Cure for Everything
- Seneca – Letters from a Stoic
Thanks for reading and listening.