By Natalie Cunningham
Quick - name five careers you consider to be extremely interesting. Was small town journalist on your list? Because it should have been. For those who can find beauty everywhere, and love to seek out a good tale, journalism is the most interesting of careers. There are few professions that allow you to meet more people, be creative and hear more amazing stories than writing for a local news source.
Since journalism is such an interesting and fast-paced profession, it would only make sense that the people who choose this career would be exciting themselves. Lisa Barbella of Surfky.com does not disappoint.
She may not be a Kentucky gal, but she clearly sees the joys and intrigue that can be found in the Bluegrass. We could not have been happier to meet with her and hear about her puppies, love for sushi and the simple, insightful truths that came out of the 100-Acre Wood.
Name: Lisa Barbella
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Occupation: Regional News Director at Surf Kentucky News
Approximate Age: 25
Favorite bourbon? Maker’s Mark. They use wheat instead of rye in the mash, which I think gives it a much smoother taste. Plus, the bottles are gorgeous!
Favorite bean? Black beans, especially in tacos.
Are you from Kentucky? Where?
Nope. I grew up on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands and have lived all over the U.S. in the last several years. Maybe one day I can earn the right to say I am from Kentucky!
Do you consider yourself to be sassy?
Absolutely. There is a certain level of tenacity and boldness that is needed to succeed in the business I am in, so I see a little sassiness as an asset.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The thought of chasing down that next story. I get to meet new people every day, learn new things, and share that information with the public. It is sort of like getting to be a student forever! That and my two dogs barking and pawing at my face.
What is the biggest business challenge you face right now?
SurfKY.com has been serving western Kentucky for several years, but we just opened a bureau in Lexington a little over a month ago. Right now our biggest challenge is getting the word out about our organization in this part of the state. We are the new kids on the block right now, but trust me we are the kids you want to get to know!
What’s a great movie you recently watched?
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. It is a documentary about the flaws in the American healthcare industry that are keeping people sick and preventing doctors and nurses from caring for patients in a way that makes sense. There is a lot of disease management, surgery, and pharmaceuticals and very little focus on preventative care, nutritional counseling, and incentivizing people to adopt healthy behaviors. The U.S. spends way more money on healthcare than any other country, but our health outcomes don’t reflect that at all.
When do you know it’s time for a vacation?
Everyday should have a little vacation vibe to it, even if it is 15 minutes relaxing with a book on the porch. As for real vacations, I try not to go for more than a year or so without spending a little bit of time near an ocean.
What’s one of your leadership secrets?
I think realizing that not everyone thinks and operates the same way I do is vital to leading others and working well with others. A lot of the time when I am not getting the results I want from someone it is because I haven’t taken the time to look at the situation from his or her perspective and evaluate what support that person needs from me. Everyone has their own challenges and their own ways of reacting to situations and it is important to note that.
When you’re off work, where can we find you in Lexington (or surrounding areas)?
Out for sushi every chance I get, brunch at Alfalfa’s, at the pond behind my place, or sometimes hiking at my boyfriend’s “secret” spots.
What do you look for in an employee or business partnership?
Honesty and a good work ethic. Nothing gets on my nerves more than laziness and lying and nothing is more destructive to a work environment.
What’s a quote or saying that gets you through the tough days?
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” –Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne was such a wonderful writer who could express some really profound things in such simple ways. A lot of useful life advice came out of the 100-Acre Wood.
How do you relish your successes?
By sharing them. I am fortunate to have a really great group of friends and family that cheer me on and genuinely relish in my successes as I do theirs. As the Law of Conservation of Pain and Joy says, "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased.”
Why is it important to buy from local businesses?
Nobody knows how to best serve a community better than the people actually living and working in that community. That is what is so great about SurfKY.com. We have reporters with their boots on the ground here covering what is happening in our readers’ own backyards. We are able to cover some of the hyperlocal stories that often get passed over by news organizations. We know our readers care about things like local government and school events. Plus, local businesses give a town its unique flavor and character!
What would you be doing if you weren’t a journalist?
One of my dreams is to build a house on a big piece of land and raise therapy dogs. Therapy dogs provide comfort and stress relief to victims of traumatic events, people who are very ill, people suffering from depression, and anyone else that could benefit from a little companionship. Animals can be such an effective source of relief for people who are suffering and dogs in particular benefit from those relationships too.