National Stuttering Association

Joe BergrenMarketing Director

    Joe Bergren

    Los Angeles, CA
    Content Producer

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    I’m a content producer for ET Digital, primarily writing news and feature video packages that publish on ET’s many platforms. These include ETOnline.com, ET Live, YouTube and more.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    This might be a common response here, but certainly instances where I’ve needed to request assistance. In my case, it would be steps in the production process that require vocal performance. Since I happen to work with a wonderful team of true professionals who have been nothing but supportive, the actual ‘challenging’ aspect here is only the self-imposed anxiety that can happen when asking for accommodations.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? If so, how did you do it and how do you currently disclose your stuttering to unsuspecting co-workers, clients and or customers?
    I did not. Many people knew me before I moved into my current position and were aware I’m a person who stutters.

    In other situations, I’ve had to assess the best strategy for both disclosing to individual co-workers, as well as groups of people. Each context has its own set of variables that influence my approach. Overall, I usually try to capitalize on organic moments where an opportunity has presented itself for me to segue into disclosing my stutter. This includes during very casual, even mundane conversations, and more formal discussions.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    I usually take a few moments to consider my fluency options (so to speak) for what I need to say during a meeting or discussion. In one way or another, it’s something I’ve instinctively done going all the way back to group assignments in middle school. An unintended (albeit very welcome) side effect is that you end up listening very intently to what each person is saying. You have to. One reason simply being that jumping off what someone is talking about is a bonafide speaking shortcut. And in order to utilize those moments, I give my full attention to anyone who has the floor. The macro benefit here is, of course, showing my peers that I believe what they’re saying is important and has value. Because it does, and for me — in more ways than one.

    Overall, this could be simplified to the more cliche notion that people who stutter become great listeners. Which is true. Part of the joy of being in this community is witnessing the many ways stuttering has us leveling up in these spaces.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    In an abstract sense, it would be having started in a position where “entry level” could not have been a more accurate description. From the perspective in my current role, it’s incredibly fulfilling to see how I’m able to apply what I’ve learned to the new experiences that greet me everyday.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    Continuing to produce stories in the online media landscape and identifying what storytelling structures connect with audiences the most. I am working toward multiple trajectories, all of them focused on connecting people with themes and subjects I’m passionate about. This will hopefully include long-form content, digital and real-world mediums, blue sky brainstorming, diverse collaborations, and helping people tell THEIR unique stories.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    Recognize moments where you can open up about being a person who stutters to co-workers, peers, clients, etc. Invite those moments, even. Roll out the red carpet for them.*

    Speaking only for myself here, it’s been easy to forget how much it’s influenced who I am, where I’m at and what lies ahead for me. Sharing that with other people isn’t just about disclosing for professional or practical reasons. In the past, I’ve realized how leaving out such a significant part of one’s life creates an incomplete picture of yourself for everyone to see. The journey with that ongoing a-ha moment has fundamentally made my professional life better and, dare I say it, more fun.

    Lastly, don’t be afraid of any presumed challenges and awkward situations that you’re going to encounter. Not to say there won’t be obstacles and maybe even countless awkward moments on account of being a person who stutters. After all, it’s our lot in life. But the endurance we gain from them absolutely cannot be matched.

    *(why yes I do work in entertainment news why do you ask.)