Greg Otterholt doesn’t remember ever not being different. Born with his right arm ending just below his elbow, everyday tasks like putting on a coat and zipping it up were very different experiences for him than his peers. “That’s what life has been like over the past 53 years,” Greg said, “proving people wrong in a positive way.”
Proving people wrong in a positive way not only applied to his personal life, but also extended to his career. As a successful media producer with a long, varied career that includes serving as the videographer for the Seattle Seahawks’ Superbowl parade, disproving preconceived notions about his abilities is something that he’s had to do for years.
As a kid, Greg was interested in pursuing a music career and while he wasn’t aware of any performers with a disability like his, he admired Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. “These men have these sight limitations,” Greg said, “yet they could play instruments in a way that’s absolutely phenomenal.” They learned how to create processes to work around any barriers in order to achieve their dreams. Otterholt started doing that for himself. He quickly learned what adaptations he’d need to make in order to achieve success.
After graduating college with a degree in broadcasting, Greg worked part-time at a local news station as teleprompter operator. That experience opened the door to becoming a director, journalist, videographer, and on-air talent as a weather person and news anchor.
Knowledge of his own strengths, focus, work ethic, and broad experience in local news helped him transition to the dream-job he's held since 2007, running his own media production company, Hook and Pan Productions. His capabilities empowered him to produce commercials, shoot and direct, do voice overs, emcee, and market his company. He even writes and records original music.
Every job Greg has ever held contributed to his current success, even Greg jokingly added, his first job delivering newspapers—collecting money from customers is something he still does as the owner of his own business.
Greg’s accomplishments are a testament to what individuals can do when they learn to work beyond barriers, but statistics tell us there is still work to be done when it comes to removing barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Only 33% of individuals with disabilities are employed, compared to 77% of individuals without a disability, which is why stories like Greg’s are so important to highlight.
Greg's greatest career advice is to focus on what you can control. The best thing anyone can do is continuously improve and figure out how to be their best selves in all facets of life, because success isn’t a destination… it’s a process.
Learn more about Greg Otterholt’s story and career in the VirtualJobShadow.com “Media Producer” Job Shadowing Video.